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HAPPY FRIDAY: Here is a pile of baby sloths

Stress of the work week got you down? Not enjoying the tail end of winter? Watch this video of a bucket of adorable baby sloths to brighten your day/week/month/life.

These little guys live at The Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica where they are rescued or are referred to them for special needs care. Two Canadians took this video on a trip to eastern Costa Rica.

Sloths, God’s slow moving living teddy bears, come in two-toed and three-toed varieties. Their diet consists mainly of leaves, but the two-toed breed also eat insects. They are also the cutest things on earth. Happy Friday!

Questions raised after explosion in West, Texas

The investigation continues after a fertilizer plant explosion in Texas killed at least 14 people, including several firefighters and emergency responders. The blast, which happened on Wednesday night, was the strength of a magnitude 2.1 earthquake and resulted in half of the town being evacuated.  Local authorities are working with federal government agencies to investigate the cause of this devastating incident.

Occurring so soon after the Boston Marathon bombing, there were fears that this was another premeditated terrorist attack. The investigation is ongoing, but currently there is no indication that the blast was an act of terrorism or criminal activity. However, the plant had been fined in 2006 for failing to implement a risk management plan and had previously been issued a complaint over a lingering smell of ammonia.

Before the blast occurred, firefighters had been evacuating the surrounding area because of “dangerous fumes,” police said.

Rescuers are still searching for survivors. “We still are holding out some hope,” Tommy Muska, the mayor of West, Texas, said.

Mayor’s roundtable a resounding success

Political and community leaders from the Greater Toronto Area met Thursday night at the Harbourfront Community Centre to discuss the ever growing problem of transit in the region.

Answering questions from moderator and Toronto Transit Alliance Chair Sarah Thomson were Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, Oshawa Mayor John Henry, Chair of Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance John Tory, and, in place of storm-stayed Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, Mississauga Councillor Bonnie Crombie.

The event drew several influential audience members, including Toronto city councillors John Parker of Ward 26, Denzil Minnan-Wong of Ward 34, Shelley Carroll of Ward 33, and Metrolix CEO Bruce McCuaig.

The roundtable discussion functioned as a platform to spark conversation and involvement between different municipal governments and appeal to the province and federal government for aid in progressing on longstanding and frequently delayed and cancelled plans to improve and modernize the public transit and highway systems that connect the different communities.

While the panel’s answers varied in some regards, it was clear from the outset that they were all in agreement that transit was the number one priority facing the region. Oakville’s Burton drew applause when he stated that “there is a freaking emergency around moving people in our metropolitan area.”

While the group came to some conclusions — increasing property tax is not an option for any of the municipalities represented, higher levels of governments must be involved — the cooperative nature of the meeting was the biggest win of the evening. All involved were hopeful that the discussion would open the door to greater communication on transit issues in the region and lead to cooperation on a comprehensive plan for regional transit.

Women of the Week: Shauna Podruzny

“True success happens when you pave your own path, not by riding on the coat-tails of others.”

Many years before she would give me that advice, when she was 25, Shauna Podruzny was planning to go into environmental law. Armed with a degree in Environmental Spatial Analysis, it was the logical (and typical) next step. Her heart and passion, however, were not in it, so she decided to change paths and become a businesswoman.

It was a risk, given her youth and inexperience, but Shauna believes it was the smart thing to do.

“I was 25 years old and naïve about the business world, which looking back, completely helped me,” she says. “By not knowing what I was getting myself into, I was able to dive right in and start my own game plan from scratch. “

Frustrated by the lack of “high-quality, natural based” skin care, in 2004 Shauna started Blossom Bath & Body: “an upscale bath & body care boutique offering young independent brands that were not common in the Canadian marketplace.”

Over the years, the company evolved and in 2008 Shauna expanded the business into clothing, opening Blossom Lounge.

Now the owner of two storefronts—one in the Distillery District, the other in Unionville—Shauna’s decision to explore the world of entrepreneurship has proven to be a wise one. The secret to her success? Originality.

“I’ve never had the desire to sell what someone else has. When I think a line, whether it’s clothing or bath & body, has become too mainstream, it’s time to be taken off of Blossom Lounge’s shelves.”

This original streak extends to her advertising plans. She maintains a fantastic blog, Blossom Everyday, and uses it not to explicitly hype her products but to “sell a lifestyle.” Through pictures, Shauna shows the many personalities you can express using the Blossom Lounge line.

“I find that consumers don’t want products or services pushed at them, but when it’s softly presented, you have much better results,” she explains.

Incredibly smart in terms of the importance of social media in today’s world, Shauna uses these new programs to connect with her market in a way that print ads never could.

“There’s no excuse to not use these free tools, it should be fundamental in everyone’s work day,” she explains. “It gives you interaction in real-time with real people, and helps to build relationships with your consumers.  Not using these social media tools mean you lose valuable contact with potential customers.”

Customer interaction is very important to Shauna, and she is using what she has learned to expand her company yet again. Harper 76, her upcoming clothing label, is a collection aimed at women aged 20-40.

“Working directly with customers over the years has given me an advantage to know the classic styles everyone gravitates towards, season after season,” she says.

But Shauna’s life isn’t all about work. The mother of a 7-year-old son, Shauna admits balancing home and work life is “a daily struggle.” Yet she has found the way to manage the roles.

“I’m fortunate to make my own work hours so I make sure that when school is out for the day, my work is put on hold until he goes to bed. I think it’s important to show your kids that they come first, but to also show them the importance of great work ethic.”

It is clear that Shauna has a fantastic work ethic. This work ethic, and the path she created for herself, are the reasons why the Blossom Lounge brand will continue to grow in the upcoming seasons and Shauna Podruzny will continue to achieve true success.

FILMORES: A strip club marquee retrospective

Filmores Hotel, the notorious strip club along Dundas in downtown Toronto, has a new cringe-worthy message for their marquee letting patrons know that they’ll cover in the case that girlfriends or wives call.

IF ANGRY WIVES OR
GIRLFRIENDS CALL OUR
ANSWERING CHARGES ARE:
“HE JUST LEFT” $1
“HE’S NOT HERE” $2
“NEVER HEARD OF HIM” $20

Although thinking too much about any real marriage where a wife calls around to a nudie joint looking for her husband is enough to make you a touch ill, it is worth noting that Filmores has a long history of funny marquee messages.

Here is a roundup of some of the cheekier marquee messages archived online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers for up to the minute coverage on strip club signage.

 

 

 

Image credits [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

Women-friendly kickboxing club is ready to kick ass

Looking for a new way to kick butt and lose weight? MTKT Academy has opened a new location on the Danforth, and they are itching to get more women into training. Muay Thai Kickboxing, the latest trend in fitness, is a great way to improve both your mind and your aura. And that’s the way they planned it.

“We want to inspire people to make a lifestyle change,” MTKT owner and founder Warren Lee says. His academy helps teach a full healthy lifestyle, combining exercise, lifestyle and nutrition and free of negative influences such as smoking and drinking.

When designing his gym, Lee looked at what makes a successful restaurant: The most important thing is the environment, but the whole experience (environment, quality, price) is what keeps people coming back.

Lee purposely created a “non-judgemental” and “ego free” environment, aimed to empower women. The idea of a women-friendly club started after he took a women’s studies course in university, and because he feels women are loyal customers. Believing that the average gym is “too much testosterone and ego,” he wanted to create a good, clean location where people felt comfortable.

And they do. Classes are close-knit and attendees offer each other words of praise and encouragement throughout the training session.

Don’t worry if you aren’t super fit and spent 10 minutes figuring out how to pronounce muay thai. Lee’s classes are designed to accommodate fitness levels. On your first visit, Lee will find out your background, then place you according to your experience level.

Each class starts with a warm-up: skipping, core exercises, pushups, squats, pylometrics, etc. After warmup, participants are divided into several groups: Level 1 A, level 1 B, level 2, and level 3. If you are just starting out, you’ll join the level 1 A group, where an instructor will go over the basic moves with you. As you learn the moves and gain more confidence, you graduate to higher levels. Competitions are an option, but Lee says most people are more interested in the fitness and self-definition aspects.

Once in the groups, participants are taught technique geared to their specific skill set. Beginners are taught proper pad work and basic punches and kicking, allowing them to fight and protect themselves safely. “It’s fighting without fighting,” Lee says.

Above all else, MTKT stresses three main elements: A great workout, have fun and learn something.

“I’ve seen people come and transform both physically and mentally,” Lee says. “But they have to stick with it.”

 

Hot New Things: Grunge

Remember the ‘90s, when those wacky kids would buy an expensive pair of jeans, then immediately go home to tear massive holes in them? When wearing plaid didn’t mean you were a lumberjack? Well brace yourself, because grunge is back.

 

Carnaby Skirt

 

If you want to look feminine yet still follow the grunge style, this UNIF skirt offers you the best of both worlds. Classic grunge plaid with the accents to hammer down the point, yet also a classic miniskirt.

Available at Revolve Clothing.

 

Low Rise Denim Short


You don’t even have to cut the holes yourself. Perfect for when it gets hot. Or, where them loose over faux-leather leggings.

Available at Dynamite.

 

Triumph 1914 Black Mirage

 

Remember Docs? The ultimate in grunge footwear, they have evolved to offer some less clunky versions. Wear these and feel right at home in the grunge scene.

Available at Dr. Martens.

 

Belt Studded Leather


One of the major grunge styles is loose clothing cinched in by a kick-ass belt. And what’s more kick ass than studded leather?

Available at Dr. Martens.

Fighting against the rising McJob economy

They’re called McJobs: Low wage, low prestige positions with little chance for advancement and high turnover rates. Most often associated with the fast food industry, workers are at the whim of their managers when it comes to number of hours and time of shifts. Unions are strongly discouraged, and employees have been fired for attempting to organize them.

Today, for the second time, the McJob workers are fighting back. In New York City, several hundred fast food workers are striking, demanding higher wages and the right to form unions.

The first protest was held on November 29, 2012, and saw 200 workers from establishments such as Wendy’s, McDonald’s, KFC and Taco Bell holding an organized strike, with demonstrations held across the city. This time, they expect the turnout to be twice as high.

Although their issues are not necessarily identical to Canadians’ (we have higher minimum wage and our healthcare is covered by the government), the issue is still one that reverberates here. Many young Canadians, fresh in the workforce and clutching expensive diplomas, are cobbling together multiple McJobs at $10.25 an hour just to make rent. The fear: Is there really a way to move from the fast food world to the corporate world?

The world continues to change, with outsourcing pushing many manufacturing jobs overseas and the chasm between the haves and have-nots growing more pronounced. If today’s young workers don’t make a stand, their adult lives and the lives of the next generation may be very different from the one their parents experienced.

Are you ready to take a stand?

 

Finding Nemo sequel announced: Finding Dory

Ten years after the film Finding Nemo swam into our hearts Disney/Pixar is announcing that our favourite fish will be returning for a sequel.

The sequel, to be called Finding Dory, will centre around the adventures of the amnesiac Blue Tang who helped find lost baby Nemo in the first movie. Ellen DeGeneres is set to reprise her voice role and director Andrew Stanton will also be returning to spearhead the sequel.

It’s a wonder that it took a fish as forgetful as Dory this long to get lost.

The film will take place roughly a year after the events of the first film and will feature many returning characters including Marlin and Nemo.

Unfortunately the film won’t be hitting theatres until November 25th, 2015, but the good news is that the movie is in production — and this gives fans plenty of time to get in line for opening weekend.

Nancy Pelosi on empowering women

The 72-year-old Speaker of the House turned Minority House Leader is as much of a fixture in the landscape of American politics as the Lincoln Statue or the Washington Monument. Seeming to break barriers with everything she does (first female Minority Whip, first female Speaker of the House) it comes as no surprise that in her lifetime of devoted public service she has never shied away from promoting and empowering women in politics.

In a recent interview with Salon she explains that the biggest issue facing feminism today is the lack of women in politics.

“We need to have women in elected positions to make their voices heard and to get policy improved,” says Pelosi. “But the missing piece all along has been affordable quality childcare … If we’re going to unleash the intellect, the determination and courage of women, the clarity of thinking of women, onto the world, we need affordable quality childcare.”

The interview also touched on her thought about Malala, the Violence Against Women Act, and a few fun questions, like her love of chocolate and her favourite female heroine:

“I’d say Nancy Drew, because when I was a little girl I read those books, and it was always fascinating to me that her name was Nancy. I didn’t really know too many other Nancys except for my mother. And I can just see the books in the library and on the shelves in our home. Her moxie, her courage, and her curiosity were quite remarkable. It was quite remarkable when you think about it, that those books were written about a girl all that time ago. And they still have salience when I read them to my grandchildren.”

Join the conversation by Facebooking or tweeting at us to let us know who your favourite female heroine is.