1. Nova Scotians struggle to find licensed child care spaces: report

A small child's right hand grasps a blue crayon to colour a series of circles on a wooden table. A small glass jar filled with multicoloured crayons rests on the table on the right.
Credit: Pixabay

“If you’re struggling to find a licensed child care space for a young child in Nova Scotia, a new report released on Tuesday suggests you aren’t alone,” Yvette d’Entremont writes.

In an article just published for the Examiner, d’Entremont delves into a report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It says nearly half of all Nova Scotian children too young for Grade Primary live in what it calls “child care deserts.” (Families and kids in Alberta and Saskatchewan are far worse off; Nova Scotia is just a hair better than the national average.)

But, as always, averages hide a more complex story. d’Entremont writes:

According to an interactive data map linked in the report, licensed child care coverage rates vary widely across HRM. Anything under 33% is considered a child care desert. 

In Harrietsfield (postal code B3V), there are only 10 full day licensed spaces but 255 pre-Primary aged children. The coverage rate is 4%.

In Dartmouth southwest (area code B3A), there is a 21% coverage rate, with only 179 full day licensed spaces and 838 pre-Primary aged children.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the coverage rate of full day licensed spaces in Waverley (postal code B2R) is 264%. There are 93 pre-Primary aged children and 246 full day licensed spaces available…

Outside of HRM, postal code regions like Sydney Southwest (202 children), Canso (345 children), and Isthmus of Chignecto (80 children) each have 0 full day licensed child care spaces…

[CCPA-Nova Scotia director Christine] Saulnier described the current child care environment as a “patchwork of market-based programs” where parents are fortunate to get something in their community. 

“Luck should not determine whether you get access to child care,” she said.

Click here to read “CCPA report: ‘Child care deserts’ leave Nova Scotia parents struggling to find licensed spaces.”

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2. Dr. Emily McEwan works to preserve Scottish Gaelic language and culture

A smiling white woman with long dark hair pulled back and wearing glasses, a denim jacket, and a long black dress. She is sitting on a purple metal bench that is on a concrete pathway on a waterfront area. Behind her is a dock where a ferry that's painted blue, white, and yellow is waiting to transport passengers. The ferry's engines are making waves in the water. It's a very sunny day and there are no clouds in the sky.
Emily McEwan. Credit: Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent’s series of profiles of women over 50 making a difference outside of the corporate world (i.e., the anti “30 under 30”) continues, with a new profile of Dr. Emily McEwan.

McEwan runs the publishing house Bradan Press, which she founded in 2016, to carry on “the 180-year tradition of Scottish Gaelic publishing in Nova Scotia.” The press came into being after a 2015 viral blog post of McEwan’s called “So you want a Scottish Gaelic tattoo.” Rent writes:

McEwan published that post in 2015 and it quickly went viral. When she was struggling to find work in Nova Scotia, her mother told her to turn that blog post into something more.

“Write the damn book,” McEwan said her mother told her. “Okay, I guess I will do that.”

The result is The Scottish Gaelic Tattoo Handbook: Authentic words & phrases in the Celtic language of Scotland. The book, which she wrote in a month, offers photos of real-life Gaelic tattoo designs with incorrect translations. There’s also a Gaelic tattoo glossary with common words and phrases, plus sections on Scottish Gaelic writing, history, and culture…

Eventually, McEwan said people came to her with ideas for books, including books for children. One of the other first books was Fionn MacCool and the Salmon of Knowledge by Terri M. Roberts. A second edition of that title is now available.

To date, Bradan Press has published 31 books from 22 authors. Most of the authors are Nova Scotian or Canadian. Some are from the U.S. or Scotland, but Nova Scotia is at the company’s heart.

There is a lot of really great stuff in this profile. It includes McEwan’s own story — how an anthropologist who grew up outside Chicago with no particular connection to Scottish Gaelic language and culture became one of its champions — the cartoonization of Gaelic culture as tartans and fiddle music, and the importance of supporting the language so that a critical mass of speaking it develops.

Click here to read “Dr. Emily McEwan: Working to preserve Gaelic language, culture in Alba Nuadh and beyond.”

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3. Clearcutting not the answer to Fiona blowdown: forester

a tangle of uprooted trees in a mostly hardwood stand on a woodlot in northern Nova Scotia, in early spring before the leaves are out so there is little green in the woods, under a cloudy sky
Post-tropical storm Fiona flattened many trees in northern Nova Scotia forests. Credit: Joan Baxter

In her latest story, Joan Baxter goes for a walk in what’s left of the woods with Greg Watson, manager of the North Nova Forest Owners Co-operative.

In the rush to clean up after post-tropical storm Fiona, Watson worries that many woodlot owners will wind up removing too much material from the woods — either intentionally, or because they don’t have much choice, given a shortage of contractors. Whether trees are standing or blown down, Watson says, “there’s no waste in the forest.”

Baxter writes:

Watson says… government support has been helpful, but not everyone agrees on how Fiona cleanup should be done.

When members of the North Nova Forest Owners Co-operative request a cleanup in their woodlots, Watson says the co-op’s forestry professionals advise on how best to do so, but the decision lies with the landowner:

I’d say nine out of ten [members] are interested in a strategic approach of leaving standing trees and diversity, and keeping the stand structure, like keeping trees and coarse woody debris. Probably one in ten wants us to cut everything. 

But North Nova members account for only a small percentage of landowners in Nova Scotia. Many thousands of private woodlots were damaged, and many are being cleaned up. Says Watson:

I don’t know what percentage of [Fiona cleanup] harvests have the supervision of a forest professional. I think the majority of it is loggers or other people in the industry making decisions. I see people doing good work. But I also see woodlots that weren’t blown down completely, and people just cutting them all down.

Click here to read “Post-tropical storm Fiona decimated Nova Scotia’s woodlots. These ecological foresters tell us what cleanup should look like.”

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4. Paper Excellence and ‘Canadian presence’

White signboard reading Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corporation A Paper Excellence Company nestled in a leafy green grove of trees, surrounded and fronted by green hedges and a lawn.
Northern Pulp, a Paper Excellence Company, sign on Abercrombie Point, Pictou County Credit: Joan Baxter

You will be shocked to learn that Paper Excellence has reneged on its promise to Canadian regulators that it would “maintain” a Canadian presence on the board of directors after taking over Resolute Forest Products.

Elizabeth Thompson at CBC reports:

Members of Parliament are raising concerns after Canada’s new pulp and paper giant dismissed the previous board of directors of Resolute Forest Products and replaced it with a board dominated by longtime Paper Excellence executives.

They are also questioning whether the new board satisfies the commitment Paper Excellence gave the federal government when it approved its takeover of Resolute — that it would “maintain” a Canadian presence on Resolute’s board of directors.

“I think Canadians are waking up to the fact that a company that has very unclear ownership, that has ties directly to Shanghai and to Indonesia, may be controlled by a family that has massive control over international pulp and paper markets, is now sitting on top of and in control of 22 million hectares of Canadian forest,” said NDP natural resources critic Charlie Angus.

There is a lot more in this story, including Paper Excellence head Jackson Wijaya telling the House of Commons Natural Resources Committee he is too busy to appear because of “extensive global business commitments.”

We are being played for fools.

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5. Surprise: March COVID death count more than doubles

A graph with blue, pink, and orange bars, and a green squiggly through line. The graph shows the rate of deaths from COVID for a period from July 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023.
Number and seven-day moving average of COVID-19 deaths, 1 July 2022 to 30 April 2023 (N=374), as reported in the monthly COVID Epidemiologic Summary for April. Note the addition of “new” deaths for past months. Credit: Nova Scotia Public Health

In his monthly COVID report, Tim Bousquet writes:

Yesterday, Nova Scotia released the monthly COVID Epidemiologic Summary for April.

The reporting of COVID deaths lags — the April summary has newly recorded deaths from as far back as September — and the revised death count for March has more than doubled, from 13 as counted in the March summary to 28 for March as recorded in the new April summary.

The April summary records just 12 deaths for April, with a table column that says this is a decrease of 16 deaths from the previous month. But just as the March death data was revised upward, almost certainly so too will the April death count be revised upward, and probably dramatically so, so this is a false representation of the death trend.

This thing is a mess, and I suspect we are going to soon follow the lead of our southern neighbours and have even less data available. Make your own personal data-informed choices, people!*

*No data is available.

Click here to read “The April COVID summary is released, and the March death count has been revised upwards, more than doubling it, from 13 to 28.”

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6. More Pride flag vandalism

A Pride flag with its rainbow of colours takes up the photo frame.
Pride flag Credit: Alexander Grey/Pexels

Michael MacDonald of the Canadian Press reports police “are investigating two more cases where Pride flags were allegedly torn down by youths.”

From his story:

Susanne Litke, former chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, said she was at her home in the north end of Halifax on April 5 when someone knocked on her door around 3 p.m. She opened it to discover her Pride flag had been torn into 18 pieces…

Meanwhile, police in Halifax said they are also investigating a complaint from the Spryfield area, where two people in their early teens allegedly ripped down a Pride flag outside a home on May 7. No other details were provided…

Emma Stanley, a transgender inclusion consultant in Halifax, said she wasn’t surprised by the three most recent incidents.

“We’re trying to make an enormous change in our own culture, and it has not been that long since I was in high school getting beat up for being not straight,” said Stanley.

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Baseball on the radio, and the enshittification of everything

Old-fashioned looking sign outside Wrigley Field in Chicago. Text says Wrigley Field, Home of Chicago Cubs. Below, it says Reds vs Cubs, 1:20 PM. At the bottom of the sign is the Toyota logo.
Wrigley Field in Chicago. Credit: Blake Guidry/Unsplash

Audacy is an American radio and podcasting behemoth that owns more than 200 local radio stations in the U.S.

It is also almost single-handedly responsible for destroying the experience of listening to baseball on the radio.

Let me explain.

With the MLB app, you can listen to any Major League Baseball team’s local radio broadcast. As I write this (on Monday afternoon), I am listening to the Mets at the Nationals, on WCBS 880, from New York.

Now, until a couple of years ago, listening to the game meant listening to the entire local broadcast, including the ads between innings, or whenever there was a pitching change. These were kind of fun and sometimes quirky. I liked hearing the ads for the official champagne supplier of the Chicago Cubs, and the trades unions that sponsor several team broadcasts, the cheesy baseball-related puns, and even (God help me) the irritating Kars4Kids jingle. These ads — OK, Kars4Kids aside — tied you into some kind of local experience and sense of place.

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Dante would have included this in the “Infreno” if he had known about it.

But that’s all gone now.

Two years ago, Major League Baseball came to an agreement with Audacy, and part of the deal was that the company would sell national advertising on the radio broadcasts. I will turn it over to Eli Powell, who writes a newsletter called The Low Major, to tell you what happened next:

Every commercial break is now filled with four or five ads selected from a very narrow pool, to the point that you often hear some ads several breaks in a row. If you’ve ever watched, you know getting spammed with the same ads a dozen times a game should be a violation of the Eighth Amendment, but on MLB Audio, it’s even worse because there are no highlight reels for Tim Anderson or Austin Riley, there are no zany spots for MLB Network, and — most unfortunately — there is no Baseball Zen. All you get are the same few dull ads played over and over again until your ears bleed, and then one more time afterwards for good measure.

It doesn’t matter what game you are listening to. Mets-Nationals, Blue Jays-Yankees, Giants-Dodgers — no matter what, you’ll get to hear the NetSuite ad (despite having heard it literally hundreds of times I thought it was NetSweep) aimed at you, “whether your business generates millions or hundreds of millions of dollars.” Yeah, that describes most of us listening to baseball on the radio.

It opens with a guy telling you that “what’s trending now” is deferred payment on NetSuite implementation. If you are interested in hearing the same ads over and over for an online diamond seller and dubious-sounding dog food companies, and if you are into the worst-written-and-edited podcast promos you have ever heard in your life (“the reason I started this podcast is music education”), then this new baseball listening experience is for you.

And if you feel like nobody gives a shit about you as a listener, the feeling is heightened when, as a Canadian, you sit through being bombarded with ads for companies that offer services not available here, and American PSAs about driving high, adopting American kids, putting out fires properly when camping, and your eligibility for education grants.

You will also be urged, over and over again, to listen to podcasts on the Audacy app, which is not available in Canada, and has thousands of one-star reviews. At least this year, they are not bombarding us with ads for football podcasts while we listen to the ballgame.

Oh, and about that Audacy app — here is a typical review:

Just recently it played the same commercial about 6 times in a row and when it finally started to play what was on air it played the same 5 seconds over and over again on a loop. Absolutely awful.

Ironically, one of the ads urges listeners to text Congress to say that “local radio is here to stay.”

Powell is eloquent about what we have lost:

Before this switch, MLB Audio gave us an essentially unedited radio broadcast of every game from the beginning of the pregame show through the end of the postgame show. This included local commercial breaks which were, to me, just as important to the product as the games themselves. Every break was a two-minute aural vacation to the city whose team you were listening to. You got the crazy ads for regional businesses, the local jingles and bumpers, hell, sometimes you just got complete nonsense, as detailed on this episode of Effectively Wild. It was a great time if you’re the type of nerd who still listens to baseball on the radio in 2022.

Now you may be thinking, oh, poor you, cry me a river, having to listen to the same irrelevant, inane radio ads over and over and over again.

But here’s the thing. It’s not just about radio, it’s about what writer and longtime tech industry observer Cory Doctorow calls “enshittification.”

Lots of people have pointed out the shortcomings of all kinds of once decent products and services — the complete and utter degradation of Google search, for instance — but Doctorow seems to have really tapped into something with the term “enshittification.” The first time I saw the term was in Doctorow’s January 21 essay, “TikTok’s enshittification,” in which he wrote:

Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die…

Enshittification exerts a nearly irresistible gravity on platform capitalism. It’s just too easy to turn the enshittification dial up to eleven… An enshittification strategy only succeeds if it is pursued in measured amounts. Even the most locked-in user eventually reaches a breaking-point and walks away, or gets pushed. 

I would say with the MLB radio ads we are at step two of Doctorow’s enshittification process. The listeners are being abused so the business customers, in this case Audacy, can benefit. Instead of MLB just carrying local radio broadcasts, they sign an exclusive with the company to act as “the official digital audio and podcast partner of MLB.” So, they degrade our experience to the benefit of their business partner.

At some point, Audacy will get screwed over somehow too, probably. I mean, it doesn’t seem to be going great for them right now, considering how many of the ads are “sponsored by the ad council,” or for their own products. Surely there is not much money being made here.

Maybe I should bust out my dad’s old pocket radio with great range. I can probably pick up at least the eastern seaboard games from here, I imagine.

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Don’t be a George Costanza: Why you should pay for parking

A parking pay station with the HALIFAX logo is seen along a snowy street. In the background, we see the town clock, a pedestrian, and several parked cars.
One of HRM’s parking pay stations in downtown Halifax on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. Credit: Zane Woodford

I keep thinking about this quote in Zane Woodford’s April 26 story, “Halifax councillors back down on Saturday parking in last-minute budget change“:

“When businesses come to us and tell us what they need, I just don’t feel right telling them, ‘No, you’re wrong,’” Savage said.

If you wanted to sum up local politics in one sentence, you couldn’t really do better than that. The context, you may recall, was council backing down on a recommendation to start charging for on-street parking downtown on Saturdays. Vocal downtown business owners thought this was a bad idea, even though it would have raised half a million bucks for the municipality.

Tim Bousquet picked up on that quote the next morning, writing:

People have weird ideas about parking. First of all, there’s plenty of available parking downtown, and usually closer to businesses than the parking space at the suburban mall is to the business inside the mall.

But downtown business owners also have a miscomprehension that the bulk of their business comes from people driving cars. It doesn’t. For most businesses, pedestrian traffic accounts for far more sales than do people driving in. And besides, it’s precisely the urban nature of the downtown shopping districts that attracts people coming in.

“When businesses come to us and tell us what they need, I just don’t feel right telling them, ‘No, you’re wrong,’” Mayor Mike Savage said.

Well, I’ll tell the businesses: you’re wrong.

I got to thinking about this again on the weekend, because I spent Friday night at a downtown hotel with my partner. I drove into the city, arriving downtown just before 5:30. I could have parked at the hotel for $36 or so, but figured that wasn’t necessary since it is so freakin’ easy to park downtown in Halifax.

We didn’t immediately see any on-street parking, so I considered leaving the car a couple of blocks away at my new favourite place to park when downtown, the parkade under the Doyle building. It’s a couple of bucks an hour, or, I think, $8 overnight, and there are plenty of spaces. But before ditching the car there, we did one more pass near the hotel, and found a spot on the street two blocks away. By now it was 5:30, so I spent all of 50 cents to park until 6pm. After that, parking was free until Monday morning.

Screenshot from a banking app showing a 50 cent purchase for parking.
The high cost of parking downtown.

Now, because business owners know best, I could have just left the car there, without paying a penny, on the street, right downtown, in a prime high-traffic area, meaning nobody else could park in that spot, all the way until Monday morning.

How in the heck is that supposed to be good for business?

I think what’s going on here is a category error. The comparison is always that if people can’t park downtown (and the assumption is somehow that paying makes it harder to park downtown) then they will just go to Bayer’s Lake or some other place where parking is free.

Well, guess what? Folks who want to go to Bayer’s Lake are already going to Bayer’s Lake. We could have stayed at a hotel in Bayer’s Lake, and gone to eat dinner at a restaurant in Bayer’s Lake, and gone for a walk on the Chain of Lakes trail in the morning. (Wow. Now there’s a date night.) But we didn’t, because there were places we wanted to go to downtown instead.

As Bousquet noted, the conversation about parking always seem to focus on attracting people who will not drive downtown anyway, for pretty much any reason. Why are we doing this? If you have a car, parking is part of the deal. Why should someone else pay for me to store my vehicle on public property for the whole weekend, so that I can leave my car on the street without paying anything at all? I don’t get it.

Parking expert Donald Shoup was on the War on Cars podcast a few months ago, and, guess what? Shoup doesn’t hate cars. In fact, he drives downtown! But he thinks he and others should pay for the privilege of parking cars there.

He also has a couple of interesting ideas to make that more palatable to business owners. One is redirecting proceeds from parking in a neighbourhood to improvements in the same area. In part, that’s because he thinks that will get business owners on board when appeals to other issues (hello, climate change) won’t work.

Here’s an exchange between Shoup and podcast co-host Doug Gordon:

Doug: Professor Shoup, I have a question for you on this, though. So let’s say you did propose this on the Upper West Side or a neighborhood like it where you said, “Okay, we have a free for all right now. The parking is free. There’s high competition for these spots. We have way too many drivers circling for parking, and what we want to do now is we want to meter additional spots. We want to raise the meter price where it exists. And yes, we will put some of this money back into the local community. Every block will see that revenue in the form of maintaining street trees, etc.” What do you do then, though, when George Costanza shows up at the community board meeting and says, “Uh-uh. This has been free for me my entire life. I don’t care about street trees.” That’s the political piece of this. How do you solve that?

Donald Shoup: I’d let the money do the talking. So I did estimate how much revenue it would generate, and for the block—I think it would be 74th or 75th and Amsterdam and Columbus. And it turned out that the parking revenue, by my estimate, would be about $1,000 per household per year to pay for added public services. That only a tiny share of the residents would pay anything. And all of these things like better sidewalks and healthier street trees benefit not only the huge majority who live on the block, but everybody else on the Upper West Side.

What I’m saying is that the visible improvements on the block are what will create the political support for reform. You can’t say it’s gonna slow global warming. That will influence nobody.

Doug: Right.

Donald Shoup: For one thing, the businesses are worried about going broke in the next month, and the rest says, “Well, that’s all over the world, and it’ll be 50 years from now.” What do they do about the air pollution that it creates? Or the traffic crashes or the pedestrian deaths or the bicyclists who are killed by people driving, sometimes hunting for parking? So those things will not create political support for charging the right price for curb parking. What will create political support is to spend the revenue on the metered blocks so everybody will say, “I’m getting this because the meters charge the fair market price, just the way we pay for gasoline and electricity and the shirts we buy and the shoes we wear. We’re just treating parking like everything else.

I mean, it’s kind of sad that “you could get a few nice trees” is more of a motivator than “the world will soon be uninhabitable,” but Shoup is probably right about this. He also thinks there’s an easy metric by which you can tell if parking is priced reasonably in a city:

The price of parking should be the lowest price you can charge and still have one or two vacant spaces on every block. So, wherever you go in your car, you arrive at your destination, there’ll be an open curb space waiting for you. It won’t be free, but it will be available. It would be like a Hollywood version of life in Manhattan in that whenever you arrive at your destination, there’s a parking space waiting for you, that nobody has to drive around for 20 minutes looking for a curb space, they pull into the space right where they’re going. 

By this metric, I’d say parking in the North End and downtown is priced about right. Rarely do I find myself driving around looking for a spot. And if there isn’t one readily available downtown, there is a plethora of spaces available. If I’m going shopping, or getting a haircut, or eating a nice dinner downtown, why should parking be the only thing I don’t expect to pay for? And, again, how can it be good for businesses to give it to me for free, so I can hog a spot for as long as I feel like it?

That George Costanza reference, by the way, is to this very entertaining scene from Seinfeld. I am a bad Gen Xer, because I have watched very, very few issues of Seinfeld, but seems like it might be kinda funny.

(According to an essay I read recently the show is also almost single-handedly responsible for destroying everything that makes downtown life interesting, but I’ll save that for another time.)

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Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 8pm, City Hall and online) — agenda


Case 24469 – Public Drop-in Session (Wednesday, 10am, 1pm, 6pm, Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club) — next step in a planning process to develop the Really Big Mall lands

Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Wednesday, 12pm, City Hall ) — more info here



Veterans Affairs (Tuesday, 2pm, One Government Place and online) — overview of The Warm Amps, with Tim Verney


Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, One Government Place and online) — 2023 Report of the Auditor General – Provincial Fire Safety Management: Office of the Fire Marshal, with representatives from the Dept of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Office of the Fire Marshall

On campus



No events


Tracing the origins of complex life: genomic and phylogenetic approaches to understanding eukaryotic evolution (Wednesday, 4pm, location unknown) — Kelsey Williamson will talk

In the harbour

07:00: Norwegian Prima, cruise ship with up to 3,950 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York, on an 11-day cruise from New York to Reykjavik
07:00: Pearl Mist, cruise ship with up to 216 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Bar Harbor 
07:00: NYK Daedalus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Antwerp, Belgium 
10:30: Supreme Ace, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
13:00: One Eagle, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York
15:00: Pearl Mist sails for sea
15:00: NYK Constellation, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint John 
15:00: MSC Rossella, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
15:30: Norwegian Prima sails for Sydney

Cape Breton
12:15: SFL Trinity, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
20:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Halifax


Finland was robbed.

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Philip Moscovitch

Philip Moscovitch is a freelance writer, audio producer, fiction writer, and editor of Write Magazine.

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  1. first of all ,the is a parking shortage around the Hospitals . I’ve had to circle the area many times after dropping my wife off for an appointment even with a placard . I’m sure it doesnt compare to your date night experience .2 blocks is too far for her to walk. Give us a break with the guilt trip Please !

  2. I agree with your comments regarding baseball on the radio. I also find that the Blue Jays radio is lacking for the most part. I realize they are not in attendance at “away” games but they could at least provide some basic information on the ballparks – distance down the line, centre field, how wide the fowl areas are in each particular ballpark etc. Not so important for Yankee stadium or Boston but for the less travelled sites it would add to the broadcast. I find I prefer the opponent’s announcer to the Blue Jays. And with so much detail at the announcer’s finger tips these days they seem to forget some basic information such as whether the batter is right or left handed – for the well know players not a big deal but for the journeyman player this information is not in my cluttered brain. I think sometimes they forget they are on radio and not on television.
    Anyway that is my rant for the day.