Friday, June 08, 2018

Brooks Farm - Good Day Out with Kids

As summer is here and the weather is gorgeous, we are always keen to find out things to do with kids outdoors, even if it is Ramadan.

So what if it's hot and we can't drink, we can take the kids out for a picnic. Summer is something rare here and we had a good stretch of nice weather in May.

One of the places we took the kids out was to Brooks Farm. It's about half an hour drive up north, and the farm has a lot of activities for kids.

You can meet with some animals, take a wagon ride on the vast estate, go fruit picking (starting mid June), climb on to fire trucks, or jump in vast haystacks.

There's zip lining (for kids!) and even a mini water/splash park. Of course the most fun was jumping on the giant trampolines!

So do check it out. It's just a short drive from anywhere in Toronto.


Saturday, June 02, 2018

Did dumping Patrick Brown cost the PCs?

I am the perfect undecided voter.

I like the local Liberal candidate in my riding, but I am extremely unhappy with the Liberals (or, as I call them, Lieberals). McGuinty (well, McGuilty) looked straight into our eyes and said there will be no new taxes, and then proceeded to levy a health "premium". And did our healthcare increase as a result? No! Our eye care went away, and then our hospitals are reduced to "hallway medicine". When Wynne came, we thought we would be spared from the scandals, but no. Mismanagement and extremely left wing policies spurred the deficit on. Spending money like it's going out of style is never a prudent fiscal policy. So it would be extremely unlikely I would vote Liberal.

So let me consider the NDP. With the mismanagement of Bob Rae still fresh in our minds (anyone remember Rae days?), the NDP had a chance to turn the leaf. Instead, their policy calls for a dubious buy back of Hydro shares that is fantasy (to be polite). Subsidized daycare for all? Why? It would be a boondoggle for the ages. And who knows how much my taxes would go up under them.

So let's take the PCs. Under Patrick Brown, I would have gotten roughly the 'good' parts of the Liberal policies, such as protecting the environment, having a sustainable wage, and commitment towards transit spending. Brown also spent a lot of energy making the PC party very diverse and broad. He was the first one to honour Bangladeshi Canadians and make a Bangladeshi night at Queens Park. It is not a stretch to say I probably would have voted PC had Brown been the leader.
Brown knew that people liked most of what the Liberals were doing, but not the Premier. So he offered change, but not too much change. And that is why he was popular. And that is why the NDP is now popular.

Now comes Doug Ford. A man with no plan. No way to know how he will pay for all of his outrageous promises. A man who likes Donald Trump (less said about him, the better). A man who is running for job as Premier without knowing basics of how laws get passed in this province. A man who proudly says in a debate "we have to protect our own" when talking about a program to ship immigrants to the north. A man who nixed the badly needed LRT plan in Scarborough (remember Transit City?). If not for the Fords, Scarborough would have had proper transit by now. This man now wants to run our province and he couldn't even run a city. So how can I vote for him?

 So I am back to square one. And like me, how mant supporters did the PCs lose when Patrick Brown was set up and sabotaged? Who knows. Maybe it will be a moot point come election night. But boy, if it turns out the PCs get far less than what they expected, wouldn't it be fun?

Friday, May 25, 2018

World Cup 2018 - Group Stage Predictions

Group A: (Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay)

Host countries usually do well in the World Cup. Even USA got out of the group (with a surprise, and later tragic, win over Columbia) in 1994. Remember Korea's magical run in 2002, and Japan qualifying for the second stage as well? However I don't expect Russia to repeat those feats. Uruguay will easily top this group, but expect Egypt's Mo Salah to carry them through. Maybe it's my romanticism of being a Salah fan, but I don't think Russia has it.

My picks for this group: Uruguay, Egypt.

Group B: (Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran)

This is almost a no contest. Portugal are the Euro 2016 champions. They still have Ronaldo. Spain - despite being a pain to watch - are still Spain. Iran, Morocco - thank you for coming. Hope you enjoyed the goal fest. Have a safe trip home.

My picks for this group: Portugal, Spain.

Group C: (France, Australia, Peru, Denmark)

It’s hard to look past a strong Danish side with an on-song Christian Eriksen, but Peru are ranked 11th, ahead of Denmark. Yes, football rankings are a bit hit and miss, but Peru had a great qualifying campaign. Australia are no slouches, but they don't have the pedigree in soccer they have in other sports. They always manage to give a good fight and then lose. Cahill or no Cahill. France will blow everyone away in this group.

My picks for this group: France, Peru.

Group D: (Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria)

I actually expect Argentina to win it all again this year (and hopefully in a final against Germany), so will pick them to top this group (and also, Messi). The second place is a harder pick. The young Croatia squad is a strong one, while Nigeria is also no slacker. It’s hard to see Iceland getting much out of this group. Their dream ends here. Croatia vs Nigeria will decide the 2nd place, and I expect Croatia to win it. With probably a disputed penalty in the 90th minute.

My picks for this group: Argentina, Croatia.

Group E: (Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia)

Well, Brazil, despite the painful memory of 7-1 against Germany, is still Brazil, so expect them to top this group. The question is who will join them. Costa Rica may have done us all a favour by denying the Americans a World Cup place, but I don't see them repeating their 2014 heroics. Serbia hasn't been a power for so long, so it has to be the Swiss.

My picks for this group: Brazil, Switzerland.

Group F: (Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Korea)

They say football is a game of 22 players kicking a ball and in the end, the Germans win. So expect the defending champions to get out of their group in pole position, but they won't have it easy. All the other three sides are equally competent and would have gotten out of the group had they been in ANY other group. What a waste! I would have to pick either Mexico or Sweden, and I think it has to be Mexico for their firepower up front.

My picks for this group: Germany, Mexico.

Group G: (Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England)

This should be a straight forward campaign for England to get out of their group. Should be. Then again, this is England. Expect Belgium to top the group, and the English to huff and puff their way into second place. The heart wants Tunisia to qualify, but it probably won't happen.

My picks for this group: Belgium, England.

Group H: (Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan)

This is the hardest group to pick. Any one could beat anyone. Who cares though? None of them are strong enough to win the Cup. But they can all win their group. I would have to go with the flair of Senegal and the hardwork of Colombia.

My picks for this group: Colombia, Senegal.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Power of Voice

Take a look at this picture.
For many of you, this might not be such a big deal. Here's a food booth at a cafeteria and they have halal meat. So common here in Toronto.

But this is not Toronto. This is a city way up in the north of Ontario. Now let met tell you the story of the power of the voice that leads to this picture.

When I moved here in Canada, not only were halal stores far and few in between, but food and religious services in campuses across Canada were not very minority-friendly. In the late 1990s, a major Quebec university actually went to court to prevent the Muslim students from booking a room and using it as a prayer space. And there was a scandal as one of the universities were serving "vegetarian" food but the gravy was beef based, which incensed the Hindu students.

Now there had been Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) and Hindu Student Associations (HSAs) in Canada for a long time, but they had often been neutral in student elections, existing merely to organize some cultural events. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, that started to change. Both the MSAs and the HSAs started to actively participate in student elections. They would field candidates and promote candidates. Often many of these organizations would collaborate and coordinate to create a voice. After all, it's nice to have a student president who is friendly to Muslims (or Hindus), but only a Muslim or a Hindu student would know the importance of dietary restrictions and ensure school functions would either cater properly to a diverse student body or at least label their food properly. In addition to prayer spaces. After all, in a Toronto university, a Hindu pooja function set off the fire alarm. Letters of request written to the university had no effect.

Suddenly, these candidates started to win. And ALL of a sudden, you could see the affect. UTSC first got a permanent prayer space in 2001. Suddenly other universities followed suit. Halal became widely available across student cafeterias, as did proper vegetarian, vegan and other options. Prayer space fire detection system at the University of Toronto Multifaith Building now cater for pooja that will have incense and fire, etc.

These are not just mere stories or the achievements not just mere trivial issues. They are important to those who take their religion and their lifestyle seriously. MANY of the things we take for GRANTED today came about because SOME people ahead of us chose to UNITE, ORGANIZE, and create a VOICE.

The first step is of course to vote.

The second step is to run.

Be a Candidate.

Get involved in the political parties here. Know the issues. Knowledge is power.