No Shadow of a doubt

We have a new addition to our family, an adorable little kitten that we’ve named Shadow. Considering that both Ryan and I are allergic to cats, I never thought this would happen, but it did and it’s been great so far. The story of how little Shadow came into our lives is fairly similar to the story of how our old cat Figaro came into our lives, which is amusing because the two cats couldn’t look more different.

In November 1992, Gail found a pure white cat roaming around outside her apartment on Hamilton mountain. It was starting to get cold outside and this little guy looked all alone. Gail took him in and when nobody claimed him after a while, she named him Figaro (after Geppetto’s cat in Pinocchio). Fig was with us until he died of liver cancer just before our tenth wedding anniversary in 2005. The boys barely remember him, but Gail and I miss him. He was such a people cat – he always wanted to be near us.

It wasn’t long after he passed that we discovered that Ryan was allergic to both cats and dogs, and so the idea of getting a new cat was scuttled. I was also allergic, even to Fig, but it really only showed up if I was petting him or playing with him and then rubbed my eyes afterwards. Then they got itchy and I got stuffy, but once I washed my hands and face it was fine.

Fast forward 8½ years. It’s February 17, 2014, and we’re visiting my sister Trudy for her daughter’s 2nd birthday, as well as my mom’s birthday. We park the van and step out, and there he is. A tiny little completely black kitten. He came over to us right away, and started rubbing around Ryan’s ankles purring all the while. He even took a couple of glances into the open van and I swear I could almost hear him thinking “I GO HOME WIF YOU?”

There was no collar, and we looked around for anyone looking for him, but there was nobody. As we walked across the street to Trudy’s place, he followed and we didn’t discourage him. Trudy has two cats already so rather than bring him into the house, we brought him into the garage and gave him some food and water. Trudy put some litter into a cardboard box and he knew right away what to do with it. That fact, and the fact that he was in good physical shape told us that he did have a home, and recently. Considering our frigid winter, he was lucky he wasn’t outside during one of the –35°C days. That day and the previous couple were in the –5°C range.

ShadowTrudy quickly made up some posters and posted them around her neighbourhood. We looked online for local places where people might report lost pets, but no black cats were reported missing. This was also Family Day, so the Humane Society didn’t open until next morning.

For the rest of the day, we took turns checking on him in the garage. Gail specifically told me to go rub my face against him and see what happened, just in case we couldn’t find the owner. I had no allergic reaction at all, nor did Ryan. Nicky was smitten and spent most of the afternoon sitting on a concrete step in a cold garage with the kitten. When I told him later that he was in the garage for at least two hours, he said “I was?” Honestly though, it was hard not to be smitten. Not only was he so tiny and adorable (I’m talking about the cat here, not Nicky), but he was just so loving. He was purring almost constantly, rubbing around your legs if you were standing, and jumping in your lap if you were sitting. Trudy already lives with two cats, two parents, and a two-year-old daughter, so their place was already full. I don’t know what the boys thought, but Gail and I quickly had a pretty good idea where this kitty was going to end up living if nobody claimed him.

Trudy couldn’t bring herself to leave him in the cold garage overnight so she brought him inside and put him in a downstairs bathroom with some food, water, and litter. A little cramped but warmer than the garage, and no attacks from Trudy’s other cats. The next morning, she took him into the humane society and found he was not microchipped. Nobody had called her asking about him, and there were still no lost cat postings that matched this little guy. She did get a phone call a couple of days later, but the lady was quite far away and was looking for a cat that didn’t match this one.

Shadow on the prowlWe found him on Monday. On Wednesday evening, Gail and Nicky drove back to Trudy’s place, picked him up, and brought him to our place. We figured that even if someone did claim him, at least he’d have a bigger place to hang out for a couple of days than Trudy’s bathroom. And if nobody claimed him, well, he was already home. That night, he hung out with me and Gail, sitting right by (and sometimes on) our heads, purring away, and occasionally head-butting us to try and get us to play with him. Eventually we had to put him outside the room and close the door so we could get some sleep. That only lasted a couple of days though, and then he figured out that he should leave us alone at night. He’s been really good since then.

By Saturday we had bought him a litterbox, food dishes, and toys. At that point we decide to name him. He was our kitten now. If someone else had lost him, they’d done a crappy job of trying to find him, and the statute of limitations (that we had arbitrarily imposed) had expired. We each came up with a few names and wrote down all the ones we liked. From that list of about 10 names, we each chose our top three by secret ballot. One name appeared second on all four ballots – Shadow. Some names we did not choose: Ninja, Shade (also Nightshade), Phantom, and Sir Purrs-a-lot, which I added jokingly but Nicky actually voted for. We also decided against Snowy, which Trudy had suggested. On Monday, Gail brought him to the vet for a check-up and unlike Figaro (who, when we got him, had fleas, worms, and various other things that were expensive to remove), Shadow Perrow was clean and healthy.

Shadow has been part of our family for over a month now and already we can’t imagine life without him. He still purrs and meows all the time and rubs around our legs and jumps in our laps. He loves to play with the toys we bought him but also things like pencils, straws, and Q-tips he digs out of the bathroom garbage. He loves his treats and the wet food he gets in the morning, but isn’t so crazy about the dry food he gets in the evening. He also likes to sit on the toilet seat and dip his paws in the water, then leave little wet footprints around the bathroom, so we always keep the lids down now.

Shadow’s made his way into the garage a couple of times, and seems to really love it there. Who wouldn’t love a cold dirty concrete floor with a half-inch of water in the middle (where all the snow from the cars melts)? So now whenever we come home we park in the garage, then close the garage door (so he can’t get outside), then open the door into the house and catch him before he dives past us. Even when putting stuff in the blue boxes or green bin, we have to close the laundry room door, which had previously stayed open for the past 15 years.

We decided that if we were to go to the local pet shelter and a cat had behaved towards us the way this one did, we’d take him in a heartbeat. Just like Figaro, Shadow chose wisely when he found us.

Spending New Years with Harry, Captain Jack Sparrow, and the Hulk

For the sixth straight year, Gail, the boys, and I were homebodies on New Years Eve. And it was awesome.

Friends of ours have New Years parties every year and we’re always invited. We used to go and always had fun, but they all live over an hour from us. We ended up driving home after midnight and so the boys didn’t get to bed until 1:30-2:00am. They’re 11 and 14 now so that isn’t really a big deal anymore, but when they were 6 and 9 it threw their sleep patterns off for days.

Five years ago (this would have been 2008-2009), we decided to skip the party and have a Harry Potter movie marathon (all 5 of them at the time) instead – we’d start in the afternoon of New Years Eve, watch HP movies until bedtime, then continue the next morning. Part of the fun of this event for the boys was staying up until midnight, although Ryan was unsuccessful in that endeavour. This picture was taken December 31, 2009 at 11:59 pm:

Happy New Year!

On a bit of a whim, Gail decided to make Harry Potter-themed treats for the occasion. She made some kind of fruit punch and called it “pumpkin juice”, and cut up fruits into unusual shapes and called it a “herbology experiment”. She also made “cauldron cakes”, which were two-bite brownies covered in melted chocolate, a few mini-marshmallows, and a licorice handle:

Cauldron cakes

and the boys helped make magic wands – Twizzlers dipped in white chocolate and covered in star-shaped sprinkles:


The boys loved this, and the four of us had a lot of fun with it.

The next year, the boys asked weeks before New Years if we were going to do it again. We decided to make it a tradition, but pick a different movie series each time. The second time it was Star Trek, though we didn’t watch all of the movies. I think we started with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, then Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (with the whales), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, then Star Trek: Generations and finally the reboot of Star Trek (with Chris Pine). I would have added Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in there too, but Nicky was only 7 and Ryan 10, and I knew the scene with the bug-thing going into (and then coming out of) Chekov’s ear would freak them out. Our food selection that year included gagh (made from lo mein noodles), targ (chicken drumsticks), and Romulan ale (blue Gatorade). Inexplicably, we seem to have no pictures from this year.

For year 3 (Dec 31, 2010-Jan 1, 2011) we chose the Back to the Future series, and dined on burgers, fries, shakes, and sundaes (like in a 50′s diner), futuristic pancakes and fruit (the “food from the future” thing was tough, so Gail made pancakes in weird shapes and we bought some unusual fruits like starfruit and dragon fruit), and an old west lunch of wieners and beans.

Shakes and sundaes

The next year it was Pirates of the Carribbean, and Gail expanded things a little. Each of us had a name tag; we were Cap’n Dan Bloodbucket, “Sharkbait” Hubert Bones, Cap’n Isaac Slasher, and Eye-Gougin’ Alena Jones. We set up a scavenger hunt for the boys with pirate-themed clues, and their treasure at the end was a bag of “gold” (chocolate coins). We can’t remember the details of the food we prepared that year, but it definitely included some tropical fruits (pineapple and coconut), and apples for Captain Barbossa. I think we drank iced tea and called it rum. And once again, no pictures. I have no idea how that happened.

Last year (starting 2013) we picked the Indiana Jones series, though Gail thankfully skipped the eyeball soup and chilled monkey brains. Some of our food choices this year were Sallah’s salad (made with couscous), “snake on a stick” (chicken skewers), spicy cobra eyes (some kind of spicy chocolate covered cranberries), monkey toes (marshmallow candies), and to drink, the blood of Kali (pink lemonade). We all got name tags this year as well – I was Henry Jones Sr., Ryan was Mutt Williams, Nicky was Short Round, and Gail was Marion Ravenwood.

Snake on a stick Monkey toes Spicy cobra eyes

To welcome 2014, we picked a Superhero theme. The Avengers is one of our favourite movies, so we could easily have just chosen The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and The Avengers, but Gail decided to mix things up a little. We started with The Incredibles. For dinner on New Year’s Eve we had super “hero” sandwiches, Elastigirl’s twisty salad (pasta salad made with rotini), Violet’s disappearing salad (Gail’s broccoli salad which we all love, hence “disappearing”), Cracker Jack-Jack (heh), and Underminer’s dirt cups (pudding with crushed Oreo “dirt” and gummy worms) for dessert.

Twisty salad and super heros

Our next screening was Man of Steel, which none of us had seen. Coincidentally, the movie ended around 11:50pm, so we watched Dick Clark some Times Square show (starring a bunch of people I didn’t know – what a drag it is getting old) until the ball dropped.

Have you ever tried shwarma? There's a shwarma joint about two blocks from here. I don't know what it is, but I wanna try it.The next morning, we continued our super-hero extravaganza with Spider Man (the one with Tobey Maguire), then had lunch with the Avengers. Gail had a lot of fun with this one. There was Iron Man’s chicken shwarma, Hulk’s spinach dip, Thor’s Hammer apps (cubes of cheese, pepperoni, and kielbasa with pretzel sticks as the handles), Black Widow’s spider bites (Oreos with four pieces of black licorice sticking out each side), Hawkeye wings, and Captain America’s power drink (cranberry juice, Sprite, and blue Gatorade layered in a glass).

I burned Hawkeye's wings a little.

Our final movie of the event was Green Lantern, and we went all green on this one. Green plates, cups, napkins, and cutlery, as well as green apples, grapes, and melon, and gummy frogs and sour green gummy… things.

If you know any of the four of us personally, you may wonder why we haven’t done the most obvious movie series for us to tackle: Star Wars. The answer is the food. What food do you see people eating in the Star Wars movies? There’s not much in the original trilogy (Aunt Beru’s blue milk is one possibility). Anakin, Qui-Gon, Jar Jar, and Shmi sit down to dinner in The Phantom Menace, but I don’t remember what they ate. We could always make stuff up though – a quick Google search shows things like Vader’s taters or Vader’s veggies, Yoda Soda and Qui-Gon Jinn-ger ale, Han Solo’s Rolos, light sabers (pretzel sticks with blue or red coloured icing), and Wookie’s cookies. Maybe we could revisit the chicken drumsticks from the Star Trek year and have “roasted Ewok” or something.

So what’s on the agenda for next year? We haven’t decided yet. Maybe it will be Star Wars, or maybe we’ll try Lord of the Rings. Maybe Twilight, though other than drinking “blood”, I’m not sure what we’d eat. Got any suggestions? Leave me a comment and let me know!

My favourite picture of myself

This picture has been on the back of my bedroom door for almost a decade. Ryan drew it for me at his babysitter’s when he was 4 or 5. I believe the babysitter just told him “make a silly face” and this is what Ryan decided was a silly face. I absolutely love it.


There are a bunch of reasons why this is my favourite picture of myself. Obviously, the fact that my son made it for me makes it special. But it’s more than that.

It’s the goofy eyes, the curly hair, the tongue sticking out, the two-foot long neck. It’s the fact that he used a shiny silver marker but did the face in red. It’s the lowercase ‘r’ in his name and the fact that the ‘n’ looks like an ‘h’. It’s the backwards ‘s’ in silly and the misspelling. It’s the fact that he ran out of room writing ‘face’ and decided to finish the word by wrapping around to the left side and putting the ‘e’ there.

Everything about this picture is awesome and I smile every time I look at it.

Top 5 reasons why there is no global medical conspiracy

If you look at websites, blogs, or Facebook pages about things like alternative medicines, organic/all-natural foods, or conspiracy theories you will almost undoubtedly find people talking about “the medical conspiracy”. The idea here is that there are natural cures for many (some say all) diseases, and the medical and pharmaceutical industries know about them but are suppressing the information. They do this because they make more money from treating but not curing diseases than they would from curing them. In some cases, the conspiracy also says that “Big Pharma” has created cures but they’re also being suppressed for the same reason. (Of course, nobody explains why Big Pharma would spend the time and money working on creating such cures if they’re going to suppress them.) The alternative medicine industry is all over this idea, because otherwise they have no good answer to “If <whatever> works, then why doesn’t every doctor advise their patients to use it?”

At first blush, this sounds like it could make sense – would you rather charge someone $25,000 once for a very expensive cure, or $1,000 a month for treatment that will be required for the rest of their life? You probably would make a lot more money keeping people sick and therefore dependent on your treatment. But we need to think deeper. What would be required for such a conspiracy to exist and succeed?

Here are five reasons why this idea is ludicrous. Throughout these answers, we’re going to assume that the conspiracy does exist, that natural cures for diseases do exist, that the people running it would like it to continue, and that they’d like to keep it quiet from the general public. Then we’ll examine the ramifications of those assumptions.

Reality Check

1. The number of people involved would be immense.

Surely there are some medical professionals out there who are more interested in the health of their patients than in making money. What would happen if one of them didn’t know about the conspiracy and unwittingly started telling their patients about the natural cures that really work, rather than giving them the expensive drugs and invasive surgeries that are part of the conspiracy? Even worse, what if they started telling their fellow doctors about the cures? It would spread like wildfire! But the whole conspiracy would then be exposed or unraveled. People would be cured and no longer have to pay for expensive medication! We can’t have that! So the conspiracy would have to include almost all doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, medical researchers, professors, even dentists, dental hygienists, and veterinarians. We’re talking about the entire medical and pharmaceutical industries as well as every non-alternative medical school in the world.

Since this is a massive cover-up, there would have to be non-medical people involved as well. So not only would this include the medical professionals, scientists, and professors but also post-doc and graduate medical students, company executives, lawyers, actuaries, accountants, admin people, you name it.

The entire insurance industry would have to be part of the conspiracy as well since they’re footing the bill for lots of expensive medications for their customers. You’re delusional if you think they’re just going to take the word of doctors and scientists that this super-expensive medication (that they’re paying for!) is the best option – they’re going to do (or at least fund) their own research. What happens if they come up with a different conclusion than the corrupt medical researchers? The people running the conspiracy can’t take that chance.

But of course, it’s all about the Benjamins. If the conspiracy is true then the insurance companies have undoubtedly figured out what would happen if the public found out about the natural cures for everything. First, they’d save a ton of money by not having to pay for expensive medication. Second, they’d lose a ton of money because a lot of people wouldn’t bother paying for health insurance anymore. They’ve done the math. I don’t know which but one of these must be true:

  1. They’d lose more money through lost revenue than they’d save by not paying for expensive medication. This wouldn’t benefit them at all, so they can’t let the public find out. It’s in their best interest to be in on the conspiracy. Or…
  2. They’d save more money than than they’d lose in revenue. This would cost them millions, and so they’d waste no time in exposing the conspiracy.

Since #2 hasn’t happened, we know that the insurance companies must be in on it.

And don’t forget the FDA in the US, and its equivalents in all other countries. They absolutely must be involved – what if the expensive drugs don’t get approved for use and the cheap natural ones do?

With all the medical, pharmaceutical, educational, insurance, and government people involved, this would have to involve at the very least millions of people, possibly tens or even hundreds of millions, in every country in the world. This would be by far the most massive and complicated conspiracy in human history. And yet with those millions of people involved, there’s no concrete evidence of it.

2. Success in corrupting the people involved would have to be near 100%.

Most of the people involved in the conspiracy would be doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. But none of these people knew about the conspiracy before they got into those professions. Almost all of them are people who originally chose to get into the medical profession because they wanted to spend their lives helping sick people. For the conspiracy to succeed, all of them must have:

  • been informed of the conspiracy, and
  • abandoned their ethics and their reasons for getting into medicine in the first place, and
  • been corrupted to the point of either joining the conspiracy and saying nothing, or not joining the conspiracy but somehow keeping quiet about it.

The number of people who were informed of the conspiracy and were outraged and immediately went public is near zero. I can’t say it is zero because I have seen people on various alternative medicine sites claim that they were in the medical profession but got out because it was, in their opinion, ineffective or corrupt. But the number of people who were outraged and went public with compelling evidence of the conspiracy is zero. None. Nobody.

Drugs and Money3. Most of the people who would have to be involved in the conspiracy have no incentive.

Obviously, for this conspiracy to be successful, all of the people involved in it must be willing to sacrifice their ethics – letting patients die, allowing them to suffer in pain and discomfort for years, allowing their friends and family members to suffer both emotionally and financially, and all for the promise of big money. There are certainly leading medical professors and doctors that make boatloads of money. But what about your average nurse in a hospital? She’d have to be involved, or she’d be curing people left and right instead of keeping them sick. But how many nurses do you know that are rich? According to this survey, the median annual wage for a nurse is about $65,000 in the US. That’s pretty decent money, but would every nurse sacrifice their ethics for only $65k a year?

Maybe the $65k is just their salary, and they get other secret kickbacks from the conspiracy. In that case, not only would all the nurses need to be involved, but their families as well. Otherwise the nurse’s spouse might wonder where that extra few million dollars or the Porsche in the driveway came from. If that’s the case, then it’s true for most of the other people involved as well, and we just doubled the number of people who’d have to be complicit in the conspiracy.

4. The whistleblowers are still alive.

According to the conspiracy, all medical professionals are willing to let patients suffer and die needlessly. So why are the whistleblowers still alive? Mike Adams from talks about the conspiracy every day, as do people on hundreds of other web sites. There are many people running natural medicine practices that by their very existence threaten to expose the conspiracy. If doctors are willing to let millions of people die from already-cured diseases, it stands to reason that they wouldn’t be above killing people who are exposing the conspiracy and threatening their substantial profits. But this isn’t happening.

5. There’s more money to be made in providing cures than in suppressing them.

Say you’re a medical researcher and you discover something (natural or otherwise) that kills only cancer cells, or stimulates the pancreas to continuously produce more insulin, or cures Alzheimer’s or AIDS or something else. (Let’s just gloss over the huge question of why your job even exists – again, why Big Pharma would spend tons of money and time researching for such cures only to suppress them. It’s not like the first person to find a cure prevents others from finding it.) In your job, you obviously know about the conspiracy to keep it suppressed, so you’d have to report your findings to your superiors and not tell anybody about it.

But say you don’t.

Say you know a few other researchers and you have them replicate your tests and then you all go public and create a company to sell this new found cure. You tell the world “We have a cure for cancer, and we’ll sell a dose to anyone who wants it. For $1000, you can be free of cancer forever.” Such a company would be swimming in money and the discoverers would be world famous – the Nobel Prize, cover of Time, money for nothing, chicks for free, all that good stuff.

Could this company make more money by having people pay them $1000 a month for life rather than $1000 once? Yes, but once again that assumes that every medical researcher would sacrifice their ethics for even bigger money. Would many sacrifice their ethics for $10 million? Sure. But would they sacrifice their ethics and $10 million for $50 million? $100 million? Maybe but I’m sure there are a few who would take the $10 million and keep their ethics intact.

To avoid their researchers going public, the overseers of the conspiracy would have to bribe them with immense amounts of money that would keep them from going public. They’d have to make sure they do this before the big breakthroughs are made and somehow guarantee the researchers’ loyalty. The researchers would then have to explain to their friends and family members why they are multi-gazillionaires but none of their research has even been published.

Oh wait, I know how this could be explained! And it explains the nurse problem described in #3 above!

Theory: Lotteries like Powerball are actually run by the people running the medical conspiracy. It’s their way of bribing people involved in the conspiracy to keep quiet in such a way that it’s easy to explain to their friends and families why they’re suddenly rich.

So basically, if we assume the conspiracy exists, then we find a number of inconsistencies with what we’d expect and what we see in the real world. If the conclusions are wrong (that all doctors and nurses in the world are rich and corrupt, and everyone who tries to expose the conspiracy is silenced), then our initial assumption must be wrong. There is no conspiracy. Reductio ad absurdum.

Some of the people who believe in this supposed conspiracy do so because they’ve had a bad experience of some kind. Perhaps they or a loved one was misdiagnosed and got sicker instead of better. Perhaps someone they know even died from such a misdiagnosis. Are there incompetent doctors who prescribe the wrong medication or the wrong dosage, misdiagnose patients, and so on? Of course there are. Remember the old joke: what do you call the person who finished last in his medical school graduating class? You call him “doctor”. But it’s a huge stretch to assume that all doctors are this bad and also to assume that any errors that are made are actually part of the conspiracy and not simply mistakes made by fallible human beings.

Are there unscrupulous doctors, nurses, etc. who would take place in such a conspiracy? Almost certainly. But again, it’s a massive stretch to extend this to all or even most doctors.

None of this addresses whether these natural cures exist or if alternative medicine actually works (better than placebo). If not, then the idea of the conspiracy is moot since there’d be no point. But we can see that the likelihood of the conspiracy existing is virtually nil, and so if alternative medicine really is the cure-all miracle that it claims to be, we come back to the question I mentioned at the top: why don’t the majority of doctors recommend reiki, homeopathy, faith healing, or other naturopathic techniques to their patients?

Now, what’s more likely? That this incredibly complex and vast conspiracy actually exists and is functioning perfectly (and yet they are doing nothing about the people trying to expose it), or that the medical community really does have humanity’s health as their primary goal and it’s just a very difficult and expensive process?


Shout out to my brother-in-law Stephen, who’s currently at Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto fighting lung cancer. He asked me to post something interesting for him to read – I hope this will suffice. Hang in there, buddy. We’re all thinking about you.

New and improved!

In the first major change to this blog since… a long time ago, I have moved the hosting of Cut the Chatter from Blogger to WordPress. The URL hasn’t changed, nor has the RSS feed, or anything else in terms of reading the blog so you, dear reader, shouldn’t really notice a huge difference. The blog itself will look different, particularly if I get off my butt and actually try to make it look nice, but that should be it. But because it’s on WordPress, I may have the ability to do cool things that I couldn’t do before. Not that I have any ideas what those might be, but there are a million WordPress plug-ins out there so I’ll have to peruse what’s available and maybe play around with them.

The initial reason I made this switch was basically because Twitter changed their API a year or two ago. Because of that change, the Twitter plug-in for Windows Live Writer (which I use to write all my articles) no longer worked, so when I published an article, I had to manually tweet the link, and then I’d manually post the link to Facebook. I got tired of that, so I looked for services to do it for me. Surely this is simple – check an RSS feed once every hour and when a new article shows up, tweet / post the title of the article along with a link to it. How hard can that be?

Well, I tried about four of them. In every case, it sometimes worked fine while other times the auto-tweets / postings would take many hours or even days to show up, if they showed up at all. After losing patience with the fourth one, I asked for help on Facebook and Twitter. Marisa said that if I used WordPress I got that ability for free, and a bunch of other things as well. I was hesitant about WordPress because when I looked into switching a few years ago, I discovered I had to pay to use (instead of, while Blogger let me change my domain name for free. I’m not going to pay for something I can get for free, am I? Well, when enough people tell you “yes, it’s worth it”, then you start to think about it. From what I’ve seen so far, $26 per year (for both this blog and my lacrosse blog) is indeed worth it.

Let me know what you think! Not only will it give me some welcome feedback but it will allow me to test out WordPress comments!

Update: Unfortunately, the twitter thing didn’t work. No tweet, no Facebook post, no Google+ post when this article was published. I think it’s because I use Windows Live Writer rather than publishing from the web site. It’d be awfully ironic if the very reason I switched was to get a feature that I can’t use anyway.
Update 2: The Twitter/Facebook/Google+ thing works fine, as long as you publish the article from the web site. If I publish it from Windows Live Writer, I get nothing. So now I post the article to the blog as a draft, then go go the web site and publish it from there. I can also choose to publish it at a future date/time as well.

TSN vs. Sportsnet

Old TSN Logo

TSN debuted in Canada in 1984, and I was immediately hooked. Suddenly we could see Blue Jays games on TV on more than just Wednesday nights and weekends, and Sportsdesk (later SportsCentre) showed highlights of the previous day’s games in just about every sport. Could TV get any better than that?

That’s all there was for sports TV in Canada for 14 years. In 1998, Sportsnet came along, and I basically thought of it as the poor man’s TSN. They did show NHL games, but I found the sports news / highlight show was less polished than the guys over at TSN. For years, Sportsnet remained, in my mind, a distant second to TSN in terms of quality. A year later, a third station, The Score, was created, but it was mostly highlights and a score ticker. They were a distant third.

Fast forward fifteen years. Despite the fact that I tend to watch more baseball than hockey and Sportsnet definitely shows more baseball, I still preferred TSN. If I’m looking for sports highlights, I still instinctively head to TSN. In my mind, they’re the seasoned veterans and these Sportsnet guys are just TSN wannabe’s.

But are they really? Let’s compare.

TV Radio Other
TSN_CanadasSportsLeader TSN
Habs regional
Jets regional
Sportsnet Sportsnet East
Sportsnet Ontario
Sportsnet West
Sportsnet Pacific
Sportsnet One
Sportsnet 360
Sportsnet World
Sportsnet Magazine

TSN has five radio stations while Sportsnet only has two. But until I began researching this article, I forgot that TSN Radio even existed. Meanwhile, I’ve listened to The Fan in Toronto for years. I’ve subscribed to Sportsnet Magazine since it debuted in 2011; TSN has no print media at all.

TSN rarely shows baseball anymore, while the majority of Blue Jays games are on one of the Sportsnet channels. TSN has more hockey, though not for much longer (but I’ll get to that later). TSN shows the CFL and the occasional NFL game, Sportsnet shows more NFL. TSN has basketball, Sportsnet doesn’t. Sportsnet has tennis, TSN has golf. TSN has the advantage of being partially owned by ESPN, so they sometimes simulcast (or rebroadcast) ESPN programming. TSN and TSN2 showed some lacrosse last year, though I know the Toronto Rock paid for their games to be shown. Sportsnet used to show the Rock home games until a few years ago, and last year they showed a couple of Calgary / Edmonton lacrosse games but I don’t know who paid for that.

Both stations have daily news / highlight shows. Sportsnet’s version might have lacked polish in the first year or two, but that’s long since been cleaned up. And of course, each one occasionally shows things like wrestling, and even dog shows and spelling bees.

For the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 games in London, Bell Media (owners of TSN) and Rogers (owners of Sportsnet) teamed up to show as much of the games as possible. I have to admit it was pretty weird seeing TSN people talking about what was coming up on Sportsnet, and Sportsnet people telling you to go to TSN to watch a particular event. Both networks did an excellent job and it became clear at that point that Sportsnet was no longer “that other sports network”. If they were still second to TSN (and even that wasn’t clear), it wasn’t by much.

And now Rogers has signed a deal with the NHL for sole rights to broadcast games in Canada. TSN will still show a few and Hockey Night in Canada will still exist on CBC for at least a few years (though Rogers will produce it), but the vast majority of games will be on the Sportsnet channels, likely with multiple games on each night. What’s more, Rogers is a telecommunications company and so the NHL will be counting on them to bring the NHL to tablets and phones, and there will likely be some easy way to watch games live over the internet.

With this deal, Sportsnet has proven that they are major players in Canadian sports broadcasting, perhaps even supplanting the mighty TSN as top dog. I almost want to apologize to Sportsnet for not giving them enough credit over the last few years.

10 things you don’t know about me

This is all the rage on Facebook these days, so I’ll play along.

  1. I used to be an accomplished ski jumper. I started jumping in my teens and won a few competitions while in my 20′s before hurting my ankle. It’s fine now and I don’t limp or anything, but it was enough to end my jumping career.
  2. In the mid-90′s, I worked for a software company that produced software for law enforcement agencies including the Metro Toronto Police, the Boston Police Department, and the Rochester Police Department, and I also dealt with the FBI and US Secret Service. It was interesting enough that I applied to the Ontario Provincial Police to become a police officer but was rejected.
  3. I’ve been hunting a few times but not for years. I once brought down a deer but felt bad about it for weeks. The venison was good though.
  4. I worked as a waiter at a few restaurants while in high school. I was terrible at it and got fired twice after complaints from customers.
  5. My favourite vacation ever was Cancun, Mexico. The place we stayed was very nice, the food was great, and the diving was spectacular.
  6. I love historical fiction. I’ve read Les Misérables a dozen times and will read any novel about 16th-17th century Europe that I can get my hands on.
  7. A girl I briefly dated in high school went on to an acting career in Hollywood, including 3 years on All My Children and movies with Sean Penn, Al Pacino, and John Travolta.
  8. When I went to Western, my landlord was a professor who had previously debated David Suzuki on national television. And won.
  9. I went para-sailing during my honeymoon in Cuba. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
  10. I love to make shit up. Not one of the above “facts” is true.

Only three of them are even partially true:

  • #2 is true except that I never applied to be a police officer
  • #7 – I did go to high school with Ingrid Rogers, who did appear in those TV shows and movies. But we never dated. In fact, I barely knew her.
  • #8 – I did go to Western and my landlord was a psychology professor, but not the one that debated Suzuki.

I did this whole exercise a bunch of years ago, but with actual facts.