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April 2013

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Carly Rae Jepsen slams Boy Scouts, cancels concert over anti-gay policy

“Don’t call me until you’re inclusive of everyone” might not be a catchy single for Canadian pop star and “Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen, but these are the sentiments she expressed when backing out of a scheduled appearance at the Boy Scouts of America annual jamboree.

She released the following statement over her Twitter account on Tuesday:

“As an artist who believes in equality for all people, I will not be participating in the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this summer. I always have and will continue to support the LGBT community on a global level and stay informed on the ever changing landscape in the ongoing battle for gay rights in this country and across the globe.”

She follows the lead set by the band Train when they backed out of the same event last Friday.

Boy Scouts of America currently does not allow participation of “avowed” gay men and women or boys and girls because their stance is a “morally straight” one.

We’re still not sure what vows one takes to become gay.

Scouts Canada wasted no time in coming out with their own statement, reminding Canadians that they are devoted to inclusivity to all peoples regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

Scouts Canada youth commissioner Kaylee Galipeau was glad to take the situation to remind everyone of their inclusive stance, even going as far as extending an invitation for Jepsen to perform at their own annual jamboree in Alberta this July. So call them maybe?

Canadian Urban Institute calls for strategic regional research

Yesterday afternoon the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) unveiled its latest report, entitled “Strategic Regional Research: A Region in Transition.” The report comes as a result of Strategic Regional Research’s (SRR) belief that governments in the Greater Toronto Region are planning to follow an old industrial model that cannot respond to the ever-changing needs of developers, employers or employees.

The report says that the key to solving the Greater Toronto Area’s (GTA) transportations problems is a comprehensive planning vision that links transportation and employment. It found that the GTA’s serious levels of congestion can largely be explained by complex commuting patterns.

As of the release of this report more than 500, 000 jobs in the GTA are located in isolated offices parks beyond the Region’s transit networks. Many of these office parks are built on former industrial sites, set aside in the post war era, that were never designed to accommodate such a large workforce. As these clusters continue to thrive and their workforce expands, even greater stress is placed on already congested employment areas and the transportation areas the serve them.

Over the next 30 years, SSR believes the GTA can create another 500, 000 jobs, many of which will be housed in buildings that have not yet been built. The quality of life for those workers will be dramatically impacted by where those buildings are built and the transportation and infrastructure policies implemented today. If the GTA continues to see jobs concentrated in locations that do not have adequate transit service these areas could become less attractive to potential investment and employment opportunity.

The report recommends bringing together planning, economic development and infrastructure investment. SSR asserts that this is critical to preserving the competitiveness of the GTA and quality of life for commuters. It details potential policy solutions and describes what can occur to avoid making the mistakes of the past.

Three critical issues:

•Provincial policy promotes a comprehensive vision for intensification and connectivity; however, there currently exists a disconnect between regional and municipal policies affecting the location of distribution of employment.

•SSR believes that approximately 100 million square feet of office space, accounting for approximately 500, 000 jobs, is not connected to the GTA’s network of high order transit. There is currently no planning to address this issue.

•The next 30 years will see the creation of 500, 000 new jobs. There is currently a lack of coherent strategy for where the 100 million square feet of office space needed to house the jobs will be located.

“At present, there are two starkly different choices for the region’s workforce with dramatically different expectations for the quality of working life,” says Iain Dobson, a founding partner of Real Estate Search Corporation (RESC) and one of the report’s authors. “One is for jobs located in mixed use, pedestrian friendly, well connected areas like downtown Toronto and in locations adjacent to the subway; the other is for jobs located in isolated, low amenity office clusters beyond the reach of higher order public transit. Ways must be found to bring the positive attributes of both areas to the other.”

Dobson makes it clear: governments, developers and the private sector must work together to build transit and develop the economy in GTA. Further, this must be done in a non-partisan and non-bordered manner. Glenn Miller, a vice president with the CUI and co-author of the SSR report, makes the point that years ago Swiss politicians on the left and the right concluded that the environment was too important an issue to be divided among partisan lines. He believes transit and employment fall into the same category. All it would take is for local councils and governments of all levels to put aside their differences.

But do they have the political will to do so?

Only time will tell.

 

Breast cancer rates increasing in young women

Breast cancer has always been a scary thought for women over 40, but a new study by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that between 1976 and 2009 the rates of advanced breast cancer in women between 25 and 39 has doubled.

The study found that every year starting in the 1970s, the rate of advanced breast cancer in young women has gone up two per cent and it has shown no signs of slowing down. While it is still uncommon for young women to be diagnosed, 1 in 173 women in this age group is at risk of developing the disease. This is a result too significant to call a coincidence.

The scariest aspect of these findings is that survival rates for young women with breast cancer are much lower than that of older women. This is because the cancer behaves more aggressively in younger women. It is still unknown why that happens, but this makes breast cancer much more dangerous for women in the 25-39 age group.

The study found the increase amongst both white and black women living in urban and non-urban areas. This suggests that the cause or causes for the rise in cancer rates are widespread and could be due to a variety of lifestyle changes such as obesity, diet and birth control. However, the reasons for this trend have yet to be fully identified.

Rebecca Johnson, director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology program at Seattle Children’s Hospital, was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27, which is part of why she coauthored this study. She told the LA Times that she didn’t think 29-year-olds should run out and get mammograms now.

“But if there’s a take-home message, I would say that it would be awareness of the fact that breast cancer can happen even in young women and that it’s important for both young women and their doctors to be aware of this,” she said.

 

Botched Mila Kunis interview goes viral

Anyone who has been on the handling side of a microphone or notepad can tell you that meeting big names can be very intimidating.

When this inexperienced BBC Radio interviewer sits down with Mila Kunis to talk about her new movie he manages to derail the interview so badly that it turns into amazing comedy.

The young man ends up describing the debaucherous activities of his mates and making not so hidden attempts to ask the actress out on a date.

By the end Kunis seems to be enjoying learning about the pub and football lifestyle of this young Brit and declares the messy interview to be her favourite of the day.

Some guys have all the luck.

Bic Pens – for women

There’s finally a pen designed for women. I came across a video of a segment on the Ellen DeGeneres show and as always, with her wide-eyed innocence, she really put this bizarre product in its place.

Come on, a pen for women? Because we have more delicate, tinier hands than guys? Because we’re not able to wrap a couple of fingers around a great big guy-pen? Maybe it’s so that the good people at Bic can make pink, girlie-girl pens. Nope, that’s already been done. Although at this moment, as I look at the pens in my pen cup on my desk, I see no pink ones. I’ll have to go to the Bic store and pick up half a dozen so I never run out.

Seriously, what kind of baloney is this eye rolling marketing scheme? Are there really still guys on Madison Avenue who think this kind of marketing will appeal to any of us? I understand that there are still lots of products designed for women and lots more designed for men. I’m not looking for all of us to be identical here. But when it comes down to a product that’s so unisex, I’m appalled. And so, apparently, is Ellen. Have a look at her video here.

I wish I could bring some company to their knees and make it a joke at the same time just like Ellen does. There’s no greater put down than having people laugh at you, or at your pink pen.

I’m not alone with my shock over this foolish marketing. Shoppers have taken to the reviews section of Amazon to write hundreds of snarky, and often sarcastic, “reviews” of the pens.

“Finally! For years I’ve had to rely on pencils, or at worst, a twig and some drops of my feminine blood to write down recipes (the only thing a lady should be writing ever),” the reviewer wrote. “I had despaired of ever being able to write down said recipes in a permanent manner, though my men-folk assured me that I ‘shouldn’t worry yer pretty little head’. But Bic, the great liberator, has released a womanly pen that my gentle baby hands can use without fear of unlady-like calluses and bruises. Thank you, Bic!”

“My drawings of kittens and ponies have improved, and now that I’m writing my last name hyphenated with the Robert Pattinson’s last name, I really believe he may someday marry me. I’m positively giddy. Those smart men in marketing have come up with a pen that my lady parts can really identify with.”

Reviewer Dan Kaufman wrote, “Men, don’t stand for this. Aren’t there enough products specific to women already? First it was tampons, now these pens? What other products will I have to suffer the indignity of being unable to purchase just because I’m a male person?”

Come on, Bic. Hire someone with half a brain for your new products department. Find someone who’s not a total sexist, someone who actually has contact with women in today’s world.

 

Toronto’s Best Patios

Spring is here, the snow has started to melt and it is now time for Canadians to start heading out to the patios. Enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine at some of the best patios that Toronto has to offer for lunch or dinner. You’ll love the atmosphere and the downtown locations.  Here are my top three patios.

1. Mill Street Brewery Pub

Located in the heart of the Distillery District, this quaint pub overlooks the cobblestone streets. The atmosphere outside is more relaxing and not as noisy as the interior. The patio is surrounded by creativity and a village with historic architecture. In case you want to head inside, they offer beer samplings and a brewery tour.

2. The Bedford Academy

If you’re in the Annex, be sure stop at The Bedford Academy. Although you may think it would be crowded with University of Toronto students, this is not the case. They tend to attract young professionals with a mix of students. The patio itself is relatively secluded and tucked away behind trees and greenery. The environment of The Bedford Academy is eclectic and the tables are near the mansion. The street is quiet and you don’t even feel as if you’re in the city.

3. Grenadier Cafe

Overlooking High Park is a beautiful and family friendly cafe. There are gardens nearby and the cafe has a beautiful wooden deck. It is reminiscent of eating out at a Provincial Park without leaving the city. The proximity is great for a walk or run in the park or watching Shakespeare in the Park. There is also parking nearby for the restaurant, which is an added bonus.

With the temperatures rising and the gorgeous patios that Toronto has to offer, it is hard not to go out for lunch or dinner. You won’t be disappointed with the scenery or atmosphere when visiting any of these three patios.

An open letter to the kid I may never have

Dear Daughter/Son (But I’d want a daughter more):

How are things?

I guess I should introduce myself. I’m your non-existent mother. I say that because we may never meet, because you may never exist, so I’d prefer to remain ethereal and somewhat magical. This isn’t a letter to mothers who have come before me or women who want nothing more than to be a mother. This isn’t a letter about the right to have you, or if I would or not, it’s a confession mostly.

I am sorry I may never have you. Currently, my age is 28, old enough to have you, and yet I still don’t. Here are some of the reasons:

Financial stability is out of the question as I am an arts worker, so there’s that. Being a Canadian actor is amazing when you get to work, but what good is living pay cheque to pay cheque when you want to raise a child in a world with financial certainty? (Well, as certain as it can get. Although I’m sure I’ll be fine— I’ve purchased cheap stocks that can only go up with Blockbuster, Atari and Enron.)

Then there is the shudder I feel in my bones at the thought of another human living inside of me. It actually makes me think of that scene from Aliens. This is in no way natural for me to think this way, right?

Not to mention the fact that overpopulation is at an all-time high, so even if I were ready to have a child, I’d probably adopt to cut down on our carbon footprint. You see? I am nowhere near ready to have children when I’m more concerned about eco-conservation than the want to grow a family.

Essentially, right now, I just can’t. And I’m sorry for that.

Dear little one, if you are to be born in the future, when things are different, I’d like you to know this:

I love you. I will always love you. I will do anything and everything to protect your heart from breaking, grow your mind to the best of its abilities and set you free to develop your own character and sense of being. You are worthy of great things, but keep humble as to not piss off anyone (and try your best during your teenage years). Stay positive as best you can. Be realistic and logical, but dream and vie for those dreams to become your realities. Spread kindness. In this, you will find love and your life will be full and rich regardless of finances.

Forgive your mother for her inability to get her ducks in a row upon the status quo calendar, and know that when you do come into existence one day, there will be no person loved as much as you.

I look forward to the day my fears dissipate and the stork brings a little baby to my doorstep. That’s where babies come from right?

Love,

Yo Mama.

Age ain’t nothin’ but a number

Betty Jean McHugh shows no signs of slowing down as she keeps setting world records in her age group. The widowed mother of three and grandmother of four, who has called North Vancouver, B.C. home for most of her life, set over 30 world records in distance running despite not discovering the sport until her early 50s.

Known in running circles around the globe as BJ, McHugh was born in Stanwood, Ontario in 1926, moving out west as a young woman with her future husband, Bob. She worked for many years as a registered nurse before retiring and channeling her energies towards running. Last month at the Honolulu Marathon, BJ set her most recent world record in her age group (85-90) with a time of five hours and 12 minutes.

BJ’s next race will be a half marathon in February and the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May. She looks fit and carries the same youthful gait as at an interview last year. I can feel her strength and confidence in her laugh as we chat over coffee.

BJ says, “Honolulu is my favorite destination marathon, which I have run seven times. I won my age group every time.” She says, “This is my first time I didn’t walk it. I just kept running. It is my favourite because I am never sore. It’s a warm climate and a beautiful start. This time there were three generations in our family who ran it.”

Her 58-year-old son Brent ran the marathon in three hours and 38 minutes; her granddaughter Ava, 21, running her first marathon, finished in four hours and 53 minutes. BJ says, “What was special was having the three generations there where my son was the first one to cross the finish and he would then run to meet us as we got closer to the finish and bring us in.”

BJ runs with her friends during the week for one hour followed by going to the gym; on weekends she does her longer runs. She keeps the same routine each week and on Saturday nights she has steak while on Sunday mornings she has waffles.

A truly Canadian proposal

In what could perhaps be the most Canadian of proposals, last Saturday Jaimie Baisley got a Roll up the Rim prize not listed on the side of the Tim Hortons cup.

When she and her boyfriend, Jeff Chapman, were enjoying their Saturday Tim Hortons coffee she rolled up her rim and got the unfortunate “please play again” message.

Her boyfriend asked her to roll up his rim and, lo and behold, there was a message of a different kind underneath: “WILL YOU MARRY ME?”

Baisley wasted no time in saying yes and posting up photos of the winning cup and ring to her Twitter feed for all to see, even getting a message back from Tim Hortons telling her that she had indeed rolled up a winner.

Join the conversation on our Twitter and Facebook pages to let us know what you think: would you say yes to a Tim Hortons proposal?

9-Year-Old’s Kickstarter Campaign Goes Viral

UPDATE APRIL 19: This project closed with a whopping $24,534 funded. That is almost 30 times the original amount requested, and the mom in charge has widely been reported to be a millionaire. This doesn’t pass the smell test. Rich folks — send your own kids to camp instead of duping others into giving you 24 grand.

Remember being nine years old? Who can forget the millions of fantastic ideas you had every day, the limitless energy, those mean older siblings who told you that you weren’t good enough, and raising $15, 000 in a project to prove them wrong.

Wait a second. No, there was no 15 grand back in our day. Kids these days…

Mackenzie Wilson is, however, a Grade 3 who has the fortune of living that money padded life now.

“My name is Mackenzie Wilson and I’m 9 but because you have to be 18 to have a project on Kickstarter, I’m partnering with my mom, Susan Wilson, who told me to say she’s 29 but I made her a birthday cake last week so I know she’s 43,” she explains in the online profile which you can check out here.

After her older brothers told her that she couldn’t be a role playing game developer, she and her mother started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $829 needed to attend RPG STEM camp.

Of course, one look at her Kickstarter page (started under her mother Susan’s name to circumvent the 18+ age requirements of the online community) and it is clear that she has the kind of parents who would do the entire science fair project and put the kid’s name on it to ensure an A+. I’ve yet to see a real life 9-year-old make a tongue-in-cheek joke about their mother’s age like Mackenzie does in her opening preamble, but hey, maybe kids have gotten wittier since my day.

The campaign to get Mackenzie to camp went viral and surpassed the $829 mark by a long shot, and as of press time the donations are at $14,878.

What exactly a 9-year-old is going to do with that much money is anyone’s guess, although we’re sure that Mom is probably pretty grateful for the windfall of cash.

Join the conversation with us on Twitter and Facebook and let us know what you think. Should there be limits to campaigns like this? Do you think mom and dad will use the money as intended for their daughter’s tech education? What the heck will a 9-year-old do with that much cash?