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December 23, 2013

Vito Rizzuto, Canadian mobster, dies age 67

Montreal mobster Vito Rizzuto has died. He suffered heart failure yesterday at the age of 67.

Rizzuto was the head of Canada's biggest crime syndicate.

Update December 30th:

Mob boss Vito Rizzuto knew that he was seriously ill but delayed cancer treatment to spend Christmas with his family. The decision proved deadly for the 67-year-old mafioso, who collapsed in his home last weekend and died on Monday.

Rizzuto was suffering from lung cancer and had begun chemotherapy, but with Christmas approaching, the Mafia don ceased his treatment and had planned to resume treatments in January.

Rizzuto's wife found him lying on the floor in their home in Laval, just north of Montreal. The street Antoine Berthelet Avenue is also famous for Vito's father being killed there, shot through the kitchen window of his home. Upon discovery Vito Rizzuto was immediately rushed to hospital and his condition had deteriorated by Sunday evening.

Rizzuto's health problems weren't new and were publicly known. He had mentioned them in 2006, when he was extradited to New York to stand trial for his involvement in the 1981 murders of three New York mobsters. At the time the Montreal Mafioso spoke of "a spot on a lung", but the health problem was deemed minor and not a reason to delay his extradition.

While he was in prison Vito's father and son were both murdered - and afterwards a series of revenge killings took place as the Rizzuto family tried to determine who their enemies were and who needed to be killed to secure the family's safety.

But now with the death of the Montreal godfather and crime leader you might wonder who will step up to fill the power vacuum?

Rocco Sollecito, one of Rizzuto's most faithful disciples, is now believed to be his replacement. But only time will tell. Transitions from one mafia leader to another are seldom smooth.

Expect more killings in the future as the Montreal mafia has a power struggle to determine who will be the new leader.

December 14, 2013

Snow in Egypt for the first time in 112 years

The photo below is of the streets of Cairo, Egypt this morning. It is the first time that it has snowed in Egypt in 112 years! Further below if photos of the Great Pyramids of Giza and also the Sphinx, likewise covered in snow.

So if you have any doubts that global warming / climate change is real, here is your proof. (Honestly, explaining things to naysayers is getting pretty silly. The proof is outside but they refuse to accept it.)

What is happening is the hotter temperatures in the arctic is causing stronger winds which are forcing polar temperatures further south during the winter, resulting in bizarre / abnormally cold temperatures in places that normally don't get snow.




July 29, 2013

What if guys and girls switched roles at the gym?

What if guys and girls switched roles at the gym?

Below is an amusing video that takes punches at the different things men and women do at the gym.


Looking for a personal trainer in Toronto for training in your condo or local park? Look no further than Cardio Trek?

July 19, 2013

Emmy's snub the Walking Dead

Some people call it genre elitism.

It seems pretty accurate when you consider the #1 TV on television is The Walking Dead - which is technically a drama, and not so much an action show as some people might think - has been snubbed by the Emmy's again.

Emmy nominations this year gave more attention to Netflix and a lot of female dramas - but it has completely ignored the AMC's smash drama hit The Walking Dead which hasn't received a single nomination despite being the best show on television in the key 18 to 49-year-old demographic.

Less quality programs like Scandal and Nashville got nominations, but The Walking Dead got completely ignored.

And you have to ask why?

Well, The Walking Dead has been loosely described as a soap opera like drama - but with zombies as the backdrop instead of oil riches (like Dallas). And while shows like Dallas are perfect to receive and win Emmy nominations, The Walking Dead is seen as being too low brow - despite the high calibre of both its actors, its plots, writing, and quality production.

Shows like Mad Men and even Game of Thrones (which also has zombies and even dragons in it) are seen as being higher brow... Perhaps because GoT is based off of a bestselling series of books, whereas The Walking Dead is based off of a bestselling series of graphic novels.

In other words zombies and comic books aren't cool enough to win an Emmy, even if the writing, production and quality of their drama is off the scale.

It all kind of smacks of conspiracy - as if someone in the who's who of Emmy nominations has enough control to keep The Walking Dead out of the running on purpose.

After all, if it was done democratically then The Walking Dead would be guaranteed Emmy nominations. That means that someone in control is deliberately snubbing the show.

And this isn't really a conspiracy theory because it is the only logical explanation.

Federal government at fault for Lac-Megantic train wreck

July 19th 2013 - According to investigators a complete lax of safety protocols in recent years is at fault for the Lac-Megantic train wreck in Quebec. At which point investigators looked to see who is at fault for the lowering of safety standards.

Turns out it is the Federal Ministry of Transport, aka Transport Canada.

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board has recommended federal regulators urgently review railway safety procedures in the wake of the runaway train that killed 50 people in Lac-Mégantic, Que., earlier this month.

The TSB announced today that it has issued two urgent safety advisories rather than waiting for the results of its investigation, which is expected to take months.

Transport Canada should review its rules for securing equipment, including company-specific instructions, and ensure trains carrying dangerous goods aren’t left unattended on main railroad tracks, said the TSB.

Newly minted Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said she has directed Transport Canada to review the TSB recommendations on an “expedited basis.”

Lead investigator Don Ross said the braking force on the train hauling 72 cars of petroleum products wasn’t strong enough to hold it on the 1.2 per cent grade where it was left, unattended, by a single operator at the end of his shift. If proper safety procedures had been in place - procedures removed under the Harper government - the train would not have been left unattended.

As is the way with the Harper government all branches of government are being told to cut back on things considered "frivolous" and apparently public safety is frivolous and not worth burdening train operators with additional safety protocols and safety inspections.

Not having to conduct regularly scheduled safety inspections means Transport Canada saves over a million dollars per year in reduced staffing costs.

 Explain that to the 50 people killed by the Lac-Megantic runaway train.


July 1, 2013

Hearing Loss up, North Americans are not protecting their ears enough

With the number of people listening to headphones way too loud, it is a wonder more teenagers are not going deaf or suffering hearing loss from listening to loud music.

Instead the biggest contributors to hearing loss is people who have very loud professions. Jobs like construction work, mining, military, plumbers, carpenters, agriculture, firefighting, or manufacturing.

* I wish I could find statistics for hearing loss for musicians.


What I can tell you is that the percentage of people who are suffering hearing loss is going up - and is predicted to keep going up.

Why?

A multitude of reasons, including:

#1. Increased ignorance of how much damage loud noises can do - people choosing to ignore the damage being done to their ears, thinking that they don't need ear protection.

#2. Inadequate ear protection. Sponge ear protectors don't protect your ears enough when using heavy machinery or firing large guns (during military training exercises). People need to be using more powerful ear protection.

#3. Louder machinery. Call it an advancement in technology if you want. Machines are getting bigger and bigger, more powerful, and likewise louder. Thus machinery that did a smaller job back in the 1950s vs bigger machinery that is faster, stronger, and LOUDER are doing more damage to people's ears.

Thus it is clear that people (and companies / governments) should be doing more to protect the ears of their employees and soldiers. It is amazing that people suffering from hearing loss are not suing the company for not providing better ear protection - and ear protection training.

FACT - One in ten North American adults suffers from mild tinnitus due to their working conditions. What is worse, that statistic goes up the closer to retirement they get. It is not their age however causing it, it is their loud working conditions destroying their hearing over decades. Thus by the time they reach 65 many people who developed mild tinnitus during their youth are suffering from major hearing loss when they reach retirement.

If you think you are suffering hearing loss due to your work conditions, try contacting an audiologist or getting a hearing test. You can even get a free hearing test if you live near Vaughan, Ontario, or similar places that offer free hearing tests. The Omni Hearing Centre in Vaughan is just one of many places in Ontario that offer free hearing tests.

Thus you have nothing to lose by getting your hearing checked by an audiologist.

And if your hearing is going down due to your work conditions, that is grounds for a class action lawsuit for all of the employees working there. If other employees get their hearing checked and they are all suffering hearing damage then it is clear the company is providing inadequate ear protection.



June 10, 2013

Toronto needs a new vision of the future, says Edward de Gale

By Charles Moffat - June 2013.

Local charity worker Edward de Gale says Toronto needs a new vision of the future. And Torontonians need to be thinking both realistically and boldly about the future of Toronto as a city of the 21st century.

Now if you've never heard of Edward de Gale, don't feel alone. He isn't a celebrity or anything like that. But he does have some nice quotes on his website. Quotes like this one:

"Toronto needs a new vision of the future and we need leaders who are both bold and have realistic plans for the future." - Edward de Gale.

And he isn't alone. Many Torontonians feel the same. Myself included.

We have been bogged down with incompetent mayors like Rob Ford (the epitome of incompetence and corruption) and community leaders who are unwilling to invest in Toronto's future in a fashion which is both bold and realistic.

The problem is what is Toronto's future? What do we see it as being?

A financial centre? It already is that.

A manufacturing metropolis? Doubtful. Toronto isn't exactly known for manufacturing.

A tourist attraction. Yes, but our attractions are museums, art galleries, the CN tower (no longer the tallest free-standing building) and shopping... We have rejected the idea of a casino because they do more damage to the local economy than actually bringing in more tourists.

What we could use is a large convention centre - something that can host thousands of people coming to Toronto for business conventions, social events, home and gardening conventions, fishing and hunting conventions, etc. We already do host similar events, but ticket sales are limited because the Metro Toronto Convention Centre at 255 Front St West, Toronto is TOO SMALL.

The problem is finding funding for a new convention centre.

Well, I have a solution. Building a new convention centre is largely going to benefit the hotel and restaurant industry in downtown Toronto. Why not create a Temporary Occupancy Tax on hotels in downtown Toronto (closest to where the new convention centre would be built on the waterfront) and for restaurants downtown raise the cost of various permits and fees.

That was the cost of the convention centre is offset by fees being paid by the people in the industry, the tax is removed after a period of 5 years, the city coffers shoulders part of costs of building the new convention centre.

See. That is a realistic plan for boosting tourism to Toronto. It is just the right amount of boldness too.

An unrealistic plan would be building an underwater hotel, casino, restaurants and shopping mall. Such places already exist around the world - but is Lake Ontario an ideal location for an underwater hotel / casino / mall? Not really.

So yeah, completely unrealistic.


Underwater hotels and restaurants are pretty amazing - I have to admit that.

But this is Lake Ontario.

The lake isn't exactly sparkling clear blue waters.

It is true that Toronto needs to do something bold with its waterfront - and it is equally true that we need a new convention centre because the MTCC is maxed out to capacity. The waterfront has already been touted as a possible location for the new convention centre.

But we need it to be a bit bolder in its approach in attracting tourists. So again, here is another solution.

Build the convention centre on the waterfront, yes. But add a few underwater restaurants as part of the architecture of the building, and make the underwater section a pool, not part of the lake itself - that way the water will be clean and certain safety measures can also be put in place. That is much more realistic and still has the right combination of boldness.

Add in lots of water features to the structure of the building, so its like a giant water fountain, and we might even capitalize on the Bilbao Effect (if you build something truly awesome, the tourists will come).


June 6, 2013

What would you do with $200,000 to help drug addicts in Toronto?

If you had obtained $200,000 from an Indiegogo campaign dedicated towards buying the Rob Ford crack video (which we all know exists, because even Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted to his staff that it does, he just denies that it is crack that he is smoking in the crackpipe) and had failed to get the actual video... what would you spend the $200,000 on instead?

The website Gawker raised the money weeks ago in their attempt to buy the video. But the large scale media attention caused the men who were trying to sell the video to think twice about their personal safety and the video and the men have since disappeared.

Copies of the video were made, and they may eventually get released to the public, but for now Gawker has roughly $200,000 ... and no video.

And so, as promised by their Indiegogo campaign, if they failed to obtain the video the money would go to a Toronto charity of some kind which helps people with drug addiction.

But which charity? How does one choose which charity to give $200,000 to?

I personally would try to aim for a charity which gets homeless drug addicts off the street - and into a rehab clinic.

A place like...

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
www.camh.ca
250 College St, Toronto
(416) 595-6000

There are other places and other charities, but CAMH has the best reputation of actually helping people combat their addiction.

And Rob Ford? Well... Nobody can help that guy. Everybody already knew he was on crack even before the news of the video came out. So it isn't really a surprise. And you can't really help someone who's political career is toast.

June 4, 2013

Quotes about Homelessness in Toronto

I found these quotes about homelessness in Toronto. They really hammer home the concept that affordable housing is the big issue when it comes to homelessness. (Real estate prices and rental rates in Toronto are way too high.)

And combined with that, the cost of heating and electricity.

Learn more about this topic by visiting Solving Toronto's Homeless Problem.

"Canada is the second coldest country on earth and with a climate like Canada’s, energy, like food and housing is a necessity of life." - Edward de Gale.
"It is a little known fact that the inability to pay basic utilities/energy is the second leading economic cause of homelessness in this country." - Edward de Gale.
"Over 50,000 households a year have their power disconnected in Ontario while thousands of others struggle to provide the necessary energy to stay warm and cook meals. That’s one household with their power cut every 10 minutes, every hour, of every day, for a year." - Edward de Gale.
"Many Ontario households must choose between eating and heating, and seniors and those with special needs must choose between medication and heating." - Edward de Gale.
"Families, with minor children, unable to provide basic utilities/energy for their children are vulnerable to child protection orders because they are unable to provide the necessities of life." - Edward de Gale.

June 1, 2013

Niagara Falls + the Niagara Wine Region

There was a time when Niagara Falls was the primary reason to travel to the Niagara region of Ontario.

There was a time when Niagara Falls ranked above Las Vegas, Hollywood, New York and other tourist locations in North America - It was even considered to be an ideal location to get married.

Tourism to Niagara Falls has dropped significantly in the last 30 years - but tourism to the Niagara region is up in recent years, not because of the waterfalls itself, but due to two factors.

1. Gambling casinos.

2. Winery and vineyard tours.

Today the biggest draws for people to visit Niagara Falls are not the falls itself, it is everything else a romantic couple or family could do in the region.

Gambling after all isn't really a family activity. So there are amusement parks, pools, arcades, things to keep the kids occupied while ma and pa gamble with their life's savings.

Or maybe ma and pa prefers to invest their life's savings in expensive wine bottles - which is arguably a very good investment as wine prices of expensive bottles always go up in value and are a more stable investment than real estate or gold futures.

It would therefore make sense for the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce (which is basically a consortium of local businesses including Niagara Falls hotels, resorts, spas, golf clubs, restaurants, stores, etc) to continually be working together to bring in more tourists so that they can spend spend spend!

Having people come for holiday trips is the bread and butter and the backbone of the Niagara Falls economy. But what if you could get other kinds of tourists too?

For example conferences and event hosting is BIG BUSINESS and Niagara Falls already has several conference centres.

The Niagara Falls Conference and Event Centre

The Scotiabank Convention Centre

The Sheraton Niagara Falls Conference Centre

And numerous other hotels in Niagara Falls also operate smaller convention/conference halls and rooms within their buildings. The idea is to host such large scale events - and then make a bundle off everyone who stays at your hotel, eats room service, eats at the hotel owned restaurant, etc.

It really is a case of "if you build it the people will come".

And to be fair Niagara Falls is a place where there is always going to be tourists. (Unless the zombies or cyborgs rise up.) Thus it makes sense that investing in tourism in Niagara Falls is a no brainer. The Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce just needs to get investors from the local businesses to expand and buy pieces in local tourism infrastructure.

Lets says for example if they wanted to build an "underwater convention centre" downstream from the waterfalls. Well then they would just need to invest in the architecture and engineering of building such a structure, get it built and watch the tourists flood in. (Haha, flood...)

Okay so maybe an underwater convention centre might be a bad idea - especially for people afraid of drowning - but it is still an opportunity for an underwater restaurant or even small hotel rooms.

So instead what they build is places like The Tower Hotel - see photo above right - which is just as gimmicky, but apparently people are less afraid of heights than they are drowning.

The hotel business in Niagara Falls is HUGE.

Every hotel is basically trying to lure in tourists with a different gimmick (or set of gimmicks). They might simply be trying the old classics of comfort, class, service and affordability - but there is more money to be made in offering gimmicks and then over-charging people for it.

One of the biggest things is the claim that your hotel has a "view of the falls".

Which is partially true - if you have a room on the upper floors that can actually see the waterfalls. If your room is on the lower floors there will likely be another hotel standing in the way and all you will get a view of is other hotels and the hotel parking lot.

Photos of hotels near the waterfalls all like to make out that their hotel is right next to the falls, and that there is no obstructions to the view. This is done due to the miracle of photoshop.

So if you are planning a trip to Niagara Falls and want "a suite with a view of the falls" then you will need to ask for a room on an upper floor.

Otherwise what you will discover is that all the hotels near the falls itself are mashed together in a few small blocks, each one that is further away being taller than the previous one just so they can make the claim that people can get a view of the falls - but only if you pay for a luxury suite near the top.

Looking at the four photos shown here of various Niagara Falls hotels you would think they are all built on the exact same spot.

But they're not. Its just cleverly done photoshop in which the other hotels have been removed and the hotel in question is the only one in the shot.

The only true way for you to get the full picture is to see a map of the area. A Google map for example, reveals a lot more.

All the big hotels are kept further back from the waterfalls, behind a thick line of trees - and while they all have views of the falls, if you have a room near the ground floor you will see nothing but trees, if your hotel is behind another hotel, you might see just parking lot, and it is really only if you pay extra for a luxury suite near the top that you get a room with a view.

And what if your room is on the wrong side of the building??? No view worth mentioning at all. Even the Tower Hotel has only half of its rooms facing towards the waterfalls.


But enough ranting.

If I was to visit Niagara Falls myself I would spend most of my time on a bicycle going from one wine tasting to the next - and cycling half-drunk between them at a leisurely pace. Probably would spend a lot of money and time in restaurants too, as all that wine would need to be balanced with food - and I would be hungry from cycling so much.

I definitely think cycling would be the way to go. Parking there must be atrocious. That would be a whole other rant entirely...

May 17, 2013

Earthquake Rocks Ottawa and Toronto - May 17th, 2013

An earthquake rocked Ottawa and Toronto today at approx. 9:43 AM.

The shaking lasted approx. 20 to 30 seconds, starting with smaller shakes and then leading into larger quakes for a big finish.

The last earthquake of similar magnitude was in June 2010 and was a 5.0. (See Earthquake strikes Ontario, Quebec & New York )

Earthquake Canada has confirmed that a 4.8 magnitude earthquake originated in Braeside, Ont., in the Ottawa Valley at 9:43 AM Friday.

“It was obviously widely felt if it reached Toronto,” said seismologist John Adams. He will be able to provide more information shortly.

People are reporting feeling the earthquake as far away as Owen Sound, Kitchener-Waterloo, New York State, and Ohio.

The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting a 5.0 magnitude earthquake that originated 25 kilometres north-northeast of Shawville, Que. It was five kilometres deep, according to the USGS website ( http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map/ )

Less than 10 minutes later, a 4.2-magnitude aftershock was also recorded. Not many people reported feeling the aftershock as it was more localized near Ottawa.

The minor earthquake “started in a pretty unpopulated area . . . we don’t expect there to be much damage,” said seismologist John Adams of Earthquake Canada.
Adams expects tens to hundreds of tremors to follow the earthquake, mostly felt close to the epicentre in the Quebec side of the Ottawa Valley. There is a 2 per cent chance that a larger earthquake will follow, he said.

According to some reports it was felt more strongly on the west side of Toronto than on the east side of Toronto.

"I am on the west side and I think it was stronger here than on the east!" says Edward de Gale, local Toronto charity worker who spoke to his brother minutes after the earthquake, who was in the east end of Toronto and barely felt it. "I hope everyone is okay," says Edward.

Live updates of this blog post ended at 11 AM EST.

May 3, 2013

The Future of Luxury Cars = Hybrid Hydogen

I just learned today that Aston Martin is building a hybrid hydrogen-gasoline luxury car.

They've even been testing it on the Nürburgring test track in Germany, as shown in the photo on the right.
When it will actually be available is anyone's guess, but I can pretty much guarantee the first hybrid-hydrogen cars will be luxury models aimed at the population's upper crust.

In America owning a hybrid car is a status symbol.

It is something Americans buy so that they can have the bragging rights. They don't really care about whether they are saving the environment, they just want the bragging rights.

And that pretty much goes the same with any car that costs over $50,000 - the goal isn't to have a nice car, the goal is to have a nice car that you can brag about to friends, neighbours, co-workers, everyone who will even listen to you.

"So what kind of car do you drive?"

"Oh, I drive an old Honda. What do you drive?"

"I just got myself a new Infiniti G35H. The H stands for Hybrid!" and then they start bragging about how they are saving the environment and how fast it goes at the same time.

However what you might not know is that luxury cars are also often the testing ground for new technology - because the people who buy luxury cars are always looking for new gadgets to have on their cars. And lets face it, who doesn't love extra gadgets on their car?

We are used to things like

Navigation System
Speaker System
Climate Control
Tracking System

And with convertibles we now have things like Button activated top up, top down.


Seriously, who invented convertible cars?

Well the answer varies, but the first hard-top convertible car was sold by Chrysler in 1946 and yes, it was a luxury car (the 1946 Chrysler Windsor).

These days when it comes to gadgets many parents just want a car with TVs on the backs of seats so their kids will be quiet and watch TV without becoming a nuisance. If they're young and hip they might be more worried about how to attach their smartphone to the speaker system.

In other words they're more worried about entertainment gadgets than anything that improves the car itself.

But me, well I just love hydrogen cars. Can't wait for them to become the norm.

And it will be hybrid hydrogen gasoline cars that become the turning point, so people can still use gasoline for now, but as hydrogen becomes more available and widely used they will be able to use that instead.

Hydrogen has many benefits over battery powered hybrids. It gives way more power, weighs less, and where batteries have good short range viability, they aren't so good at long range usage which is why gasoline is needed. But hydrogen is good for both long and short range usage. And unlike batteries which need to be charged for hours at a time, hydrogen is filled up in a manner very similar to gasoline.

Oh and I also like lockable wheel nuts. I've also seen this being sold for bicycles (to prevent bicycle thieves from stealing wheels), but they're very useful.

And lets not forget the biggest selling point of a luxury car - it is also a car with a more powerful engine, better handling, better wheels, better design.

Faster, smoother, more reliable, more desirable.

So yes, luxury cars do give you more technological advances - but they also give you time, tested and true guts and performance in the belly of the car. The proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.

Thus regardless of what brand a person buys, if they buy a luxury car they are more likely to be happier with the results and have fewer regrets.

April 4, 2013

Archery Lessons for Businessmen in Toronto

It is not just little kids who are getting into archery as a sport (thanks to the Hunger Games, Brave, The Avengers, Arrow and similar films/TV shows).

It is also adults and even people you wouldn't normally see doing archery - including businessmen.

That is right.

CEOs, bankers, investment managers, stock market analysts... your boss!

In other words people you would normally expect to be playing golf or tennis are taking up archery instead.

So does this mean that in the future many golf and tennis clubs will start offering archery ranges as an additional service?

Maybe. It is entirely possible.

In the meantime if you are looking for private archery lessons in Toronto check out the website CardioTrek.ca. Private archery lessons start at $60 for a single lesson, $270 for 5 lessons or $500 for 10 lessons. All equipment is provided by the trainer.

You can also go out and buy your own equipment and try to learn by yourself, but archery equipment (the good stuff) is expensive and the arrows alone are pretty pricey - and the learning process will be slow without an instructor.



March 5, 2013

10 Tips for Starting Your Own Business

If you hate your job and want to switch careers one excellent but daunting option is to start your own business. You might be crafting and selling a product. You might be offering a valuable service. You might simply be making food / catering.

Regardless of what you do you want to be professional about it and if you quit your old job because you hated it then there are definitely some tips when it comes to building your own business...

1) Do what you love!

You aren't going to enjoy this new role of being self-employed unless you really love what you are doing. After all, you hated your old job - why would you switch to something new that you will hate anyway? You're going to devote a lot of time and energy to starting a business and building it into a successful enterprise, so it's really important that you truly deeply enjoy what you do.

2) Start your business while you're still employed

How long can most people live without money? Not long - unless the business you are making involves growing/hunting/fishing for food. And it may be a long time before your new business actually makes any profits. Being employed while you're starting a business means money in your pocket while you're going through the early stages.

3) Don't do it alone - Get a business partner if possible!

If you can't find a business partner at very least you need a support system while you're starting a business. A family member or friend that you can bounce ideas off and who will listen sympathetically to the latest business start up crisis is invaluable. Even better, find a mentor or, if you qualify, apply for a business start up program. When you're starting a business experienced guidance is the best support system of all.

4) Get clients or customers first

Don't wait until you've officially started your business to line these up, because your business can't survive without them. Do the networking. Make the contacts. Sell or even give away your products or services to gain reviews. Start marketing immediately and always be ready to impress a potential client.

5) Write a business plan

The main reason for doing a business plan first when you're thinking of starting a business is that it can help you avoid sinking your time and money into starting a business that will not succeed. Have other people look over your business plan and look for gaps / ways to make it more profitable.

6) Do the research

You'll do a lot of research writing a business plan, but that's just a start. When you're starting a business, you need to become an expert on your industry, products and services, if you're not already an expert. Learn what your competition is doing. Joining related industry or professional associations before you start your business is a great idea to learn whatever everyone else in the industry is doing right - and what they are doing wrong.

7) Get professional help

You don't have to be an expert on everything. If you're not an accountant or bookkeeper, hire one (or both). If you need to write up a contract, and you're not a lawyer, hire one. You will waste more time and possibly money in the long run trying to do things yourself that you are not qualified to do.

eg. Get a professionally designed website by a local Toronto website designer. And get local SEO so you can advertise your business online locally. (I can recommend a company if you want.)

8) Get the money lined up

Save up if you have to. Approach potential investors and lenders - including friends and family. Figure our your financial fall-back plan. Don't expect to start a business and then walk into a bank and get money. Traditional lenders don't like new ideas and don't like businesses without proven track records.

9) Be professional office supplies / printing

Everything about you and the way you do business needs to let people know that you are a professional running a serious business. That means getting all the accoutrements such as professional business cards, a business phone and a business email address, and treating people in a professional, courteous manner.

One of the companies I recommend for this is VistaPrint, which sells business cards, brochures and a variety of other printing products like online photo albums. When I asked around VistaPrint was a company many people recommended, and I now recommend it to others too.

10) Legal and tax issues

Is what you are doing actually legal? Does your business need to be registered? Will you have to charge taxes / HST? Will you have to have Workers' Compensation Insurance or deal with payroll taxes? How will the form of business you choose affect your income tax situation? Learn what your legal and tax responsibilities are before you start your business and operate accordingly.

January 29, 2013

Ontario government admits to dropping the ball on horse racing

The Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ted McMeekin, has finally come clean to the Ontario horse racing industry that the ministry made a mistake by rushing the decision to end the Slots-at-Racetracks Program (SARP).

Why is this important you might ask?

Let me explain.

Years ago the OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.) and the horse races were the only legal ways to gamble in Ontario. Then along came the casino in Niagara Falls and similar locations. Gamblers began to flock to such locations and the Ontario government realized that casinos were extremely popular and profitable, so why not have more of them? So they came up with a scheme wherein they offered to put slot machines at Ontario racetracks, so that gamblers could gamble at the slots 7 days per week and not have to travel that far to find legalized gambling. (The horse races do operate every day of the week, but not all racetracks have daily races. Instead many use tele-theatres for betting so gamblers can bet on races happening in the USA and even overseas in Australia, Japan, Britain, etc.)

Now to get the permission of the horse racing industry to have slots at racetracks, they sweetened the deal by agreeing to give them a share of the profits. Otherwise the horse racing industry would have been taking huge losses by allowing their competition to setup shop and not see a single penny of the profits when some gamblers choose slots over horses.

With time however what has happened is that the demographics of gamblers have changed. The people who bet on horses are typically older, often retirees or pensioners, and they are dwindling in numbers. In contrast the younger generations of gamblers want instant thrills and don't want to wait half an hour for a horse race to start. So as time progressed it eventually reached a point wherein the profits between the horse betting industry and the slots industry was split roughly 20 percent to 80 percent.

So much so that the slots was basically propping up the horse betting industry - and the horse breeding industry as a whole. Without the extra income from gamblers, horse breeders would have to either quit and do something else or they would need to move to a country that still has a robust horse betting industry.

So when Ontario government realized they were basically propping up an industry some idiotic paper-pushing bureaucrat apparently got it into their head that it would save the government a lot of money if they pulled out of slots industry and took all the slots away from the horse races, and effectively shut down both horse betting and horse racing - and horse breeding! - all at once, it was the result of penny-pinching bureaucrats not realizing what they would do to an entire industry.

Basically it would demolish it. Horse breeding isn't just about raising race horses. That is the thoroughbreds. But there is also a market for horses meant for hobbyists, show jumpers, and so forth that would be hurt in the process. If you remove a large chunk of the pie from an industry that is so interconnected it causes the other parts to wither.

So the Ministry of Agriculture began rushing through the whole process in their efforts to shut down both the slots and horse races... with their goal of driving the horse betting industry out of business, and then 1 year later, buying up the old land and reintroducing slot machines - except this time they wouldn't have to share profits any more.

What is more is that they have even admitted to doing this.

While conducting an interview, Agriculture Minister Ted McMeekin admitted his government "dropped the ball" on horse racing and stated that he hoped that the government would be "A little bit more collaborative then we’ve been. And that we’ll listen better than we have. And we will quit trying to wedge issues."

Now to be fair, the horse racing industry is now basically suing the Ontario government for deliberately trying to squash their industry - an industry which in Ontario effects about 55,000 jobs. That is like trying to shut down 3 or 4 automotive plants and not expecting them to protest.

One MPP issued a release on Monday stating that the Ministry of Agriculture "picked an unnecessary battle with the harness racing community and for what? To come back almost a year later and say ‘sorry I was wrong’? If the Minister had sat down, weighed the pros and cons and actually talked to those in the industry then we wouldn’t have had this crisis and he wouldn’t have to issue this mea culpa. [yada yada yada] ... start doing the research and listening to the people."

The bureaucratic decision to try and shut down horse betting/racing needlessly risked over 55,000 jobs in Ontario’s once thriving horse racing industry and alienated many rural communities.

Now we should also note that you can also do horse race betting online, so you technically don't need to go to a horsetrack any more to bet on such things (but its still fun to go if you just want to see the horses and make a few small bets). Such websites are typically for the USA horse betting industry, and also allow greyhound betting, betting on football, sports such as golf, tennis, cricket, rugby, motor sports, soccer, snooker, basketball, baseball, cycling, hockey, cycling, darts and even UFC.

And I suppose that just goes to show you that the USA just loves to gamble a lot.

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