In Search of London’s Best Coffee

As a self proclaimed coffee aficionado and addict, and fed up with big chain coffee places, I took my search for the best coffee in London to the streets. I should preface this by saying that as a manager of hospitality for decades, and as part owner of Sharp Hospitality, a food service consulting company (@sharphosp) I believe I have some experience and knowledge.

I have polished off way too many coffees at what used to be my favourite Canadian Chain, and at McDonalds and Starbucks and in need of a better cup of the liquid gold, I set out. Armed with a mitt full of loonies, the hunt was on.

The critieria:

Taste

Service

Accessibility

One little tip from the guy in the wheelchair: dome lids suck.

Oh, another tip as well: Sweet and Low is awful. Spend the extra buck and get some Splenda.

The following is in random order. The winner announced at the end.

Camelis: Excellent cappuccino and pleasant service. Easy to access. Why is no one visiting this place?

Hasbeans: amazingly friendly. I asked for their recommendation and it was a tasty brew. In the Market so easy to get around.

Commonwealth Coffee Co.: have visited three times. Decent service, great coffee. Twice they haven’t had sweetner and I didn’t know this until I had already paid. Staff were a little nonchalant when stating they haven’t had any for awhile. I commented on their Facebook page with no response. Guess I’m not wanted as a customer.

City Hall: With their 1980’s machine, yuck. Worst coffee of the search.

William’s Coffee Pub: like the coffee. Tough to enter with at their accessible entrance. Have asked several times when it will be fixed. No response. Won’t go back.

Coffee Culture: Amazing coffee, service and product. No auto buttons at the door, but staff are quick to help.

Coffee Barn: out of town vendor here during events in Victoria Park. WOW!!! Since they are not available all the time, have to take them out of the running.

Little Red Roaster: In the courthouse. Once you get past security, well worth the visit. Great brew and friendly staff. Hate the Sweet and Low.

London Bicycle Cafe: a challenge to enter due to the step and a shorter Stop Gap, but worth the effort. A fresh pour over made while you wait with excellent flavour. Very friendly!

Symposium Cafe: friendly and helpful. Not the best coffee I’ve had.

Black Walnut: I can’t visit the location in Wortley, but frequent the Richmond location. Entering off the patio, the door to enter is a challenge. But, the coffee is bloody amazing and the staff offer assistance no problem!

YOU Cafe: very good coffee and the staff were so friendly. Easy to access! Nice little gem in the city.

Edgar and Joes: LOVE the coffee, but bring my own sweetener as I can’t stand Sweet and Low. Friendly staff and the location is completely accessible.

Fire Roasted: Wortley location. Staff member was extremely bored and I didn’t feel welcome. Enjoy the coffee though.

Locomotive Espresso: Can’t access right now. Had a friend go in for me. Good coffee, but not the best in customer experience.

The Bag Lady: again, cannot enter due to steps. A decent cup of coffee.

LaNoisette: damn fine roast. Friendly staff. Easy to access.

There are many great local coffee shops and cafes that I haven’t tried and one day I will get to them all. But for now, the toughest part: choosing my top pick.

First, honourable mentions: YOU Cafe and Edgar and Joe’s.

3rd place: Little Red Roaster in the Courthouse.

2nd place: Black Walnut Richmond

And the winner…

.

.

Oh the suspense….

.

.

.

.

London Bicycle Cafe: Gabi makes one hell of a cup of coffee. Stopping in Saturdays to have a cup and visit with Ben and Andrew makes for a great day. And speaking of Gabi, tip her well. Another student caught up in the OSAP mess.

Next up: looking for London’s Best Breakfast

Advertisements

Roll a Mile In My Wheels

Do you remember back when you were younger and you’d see a pal in a wheelchair and think to yourself that using a wheelchair would be fun? I know I did. Wow was I wrong.

I’ve been spending time lobbying for better infrastructure to ensure easier use of our sidewalks. I enjoy being out and about. London has so much more to do and see that I ever imagined. When you lobby and advocate, some may view you as a nag, a nuisance that never stops talking. I’ve had many mention to me that until they started paying attention to what those with disabilities go through, they had no idea as to the struggles some ensure. Looking at our city with different eyes has taught some that we need to improve our sidewalk networks, especially downtown.

So I put out a challenge to come downtown to Richmond St. and let able bodied folks take a wheel in my chair to see for themselves what it’s like.

First up was my greatest friend, Nadine Johnson. On Sunday, she tried navigating the chair on a section of paving stone at Richmond and Central, a section that was slightly uphill. In her defense, the chair was not fitted to her height. Nadine struggled to make a few metres. A couple of folks saw her struggling and offered to help.

Yesterday, Nadine, with me following in my spare chair, went for a roll down Oxford E to Adelaide, a mere 600 metres one way. To the average walker, you wouldn’t notice the slightly angled sidewalk, sloping to the road. The average walker wouldn’t notice the slightly lifted sidewalk sections. In a wheelchair, Nadine noticed. With determination, Nadine made the return trip, 1.2 kilometres. Her comments afterwards included her surprise as to how hard it was to wheel a seemingly straight surface. Curbs were a challenge. Her forearms were sore and she was hot and sweaty from the effort. Nadine also commented that she she didnt like the feeling of people looking down at her as she sat lower in the chair.

On July the 9th, ironically the 3rd anniversary since I lost my first leg and started this journey, I took the challenge to Richmond between York and King, a sidewalk known to many as a disaster. It’s aging paving stones that have not been maintained, have created a bumpy, uneven surface that makes it of London’s worst sidewalks.

Unfortunately, only one person and two media personalities showed up. Didn’t matter. Between the four of us, we got the message out. My pal Bruce Dust was the first to try and immediately found it to be a challenge. Bruce struggled to make his way down the paving stone sidewalks, often having to stop and correct his course. Trying to avoid the dips and ruts along the way, the unevenness of the walk presented the biggest challenge.

Next up, Mike Stubbs from 980 News gave it ago. Again, Mike found it quite the exercise to try and make his way in a straight line down the very rugged terrain.

When Mike returned, his comments ranged from a surprise as to the difficulty managing the chair and the strain he felt in his arms. To the common pedestrian, the sidewalks, while appearing in rough shape, are actually that much more difficult to wheel than one could imagine. Mike remarked that he found trying to balance the weight from one hand to the other as he made is way down the sloped, uneven surface a real concern.

Both Mike and Gerry Dewan from CTV London commented that as pedestrians, many take sidewalks for granted and because of a lack of need to pay attention, one really doesn’t realize that these pathways present really concern for those with mobility issues. I’m not just referring to folks like me in wheelchairs. There are those with visual impairments or invisible disabilities. Another pal o’ mine, Coralie Waschkowski, suffers from medical issues that makes walking extremely painful. Couple this with a network of poorly maintained sidewalks, and Cora has a real struggle walking downtown as she manages her business on a daily basis.

The purpose of this exercise was to illustrate what life is like, even for a few minutes, in a wheelchair. The few minutes spent wheeling down a poorly maintained sidewalk, as Bruce put it, was eye opening. I’m not interested in beating up the City to try and implement change. I’m far more interested in working together as partners to come up with a short and long term plan to manage our sidewalk networks to not only make it easier for many, but to help promote our downtown and an active transportation lifestyle. I want to support our city, our downtown and our businesses.

A HUGE thank you to Nadine, Bruce, Cora, Mike Stubbs and Gerry Dewan for their support of this ongoing endeavour. I will attempt this again in the very near future. The more we get the message out, the increased chances of making the needed improvements.

To read more or to see video of this little experiment, visit this link: In The Media

Paying the Bill

There is a line in the movie “Dr. Strange” that I have always appreciated: “The bill comes due.” A thought provoking line that can be applied to many of life’s situation. In this blog, I’m referring to budgets.

London is gearing up for the next four year budget cycle and with it, there are many who would like to see an increase in taxes held to a minimum. Many are feeling over taxed as it is. Others believe we need to spend a bit more….and I’m one of those.

I’m not going to suggest blowing the budget out of the water, but I am of the mind that fiscal responsibility comes with making a few unpopular decisions. Spending some now may save us a bundle in the future. Before rambling on, it is critical to remember that the provincial government has and is continuing to download costs to towns and cities. This makes the challenge to balance a budget while maintaining a lower tax increase an almost insured challenge. With cities forced to balance budgets, I do not envy our budget team.

However, when developing our new four budget, some thought must be given to a few budget items that need attention. I hear lots of griping but we have to have the will to pay for it. Examples:

Policing: lots of folks complaining, including myself, at what we perceive as a lack of enforcement when it comes to the ever increasing poor driving habits of many Londoners. We want more speeders pulled over. We want more enforcement in bike lanes and red light runners. Problem is, we need more police to perform these tasks. Stats show our police are not sitting around doing nothing with their time. Take a look at the crime map found on the LPS website….our officers are busy. More police? We need more money!

Our sidewalks and curbs are in need of serious repair, especially in the downtown core. They are crumbling and are proving to be dangerous. I am among those who have commented negatively as I have real concerns. Its hard for many to travel downtown due to the poor condition of the walks. We spend a ton of money on roads, and I get it…more cars than pedestrians. What if we had a more improved network of sidewalks that Londoners felt safe to walk. This costs money. I won’t even go into the need to improvement snow removal….this topic speaks to itself and my position is very clear.

Cycle tracks: the temporary King St. track, approx. 1 km of road, cost about $561,000. We definitely need far more bike lanes, this is not to be disputed. We want to be more active. We want to see less cars on the roads. But many, including me, do not feel safe cycling in this city. Would the cost of building a proper network of cycle tracks be cheaper in the long run than the cost of the maintenance of maintaining roads? But we need the start up money.

Last night at about 3:00 a.m., I saw a woman who appeared to be suffering with mental illness, walking down Oxford St. I’ve written about the street folks, wandering our streets with no place to go. We’re not dealing effectively with mental health as we simply don’t have the money or won’t spend it. This extends to our homelessness crisis. Too many people living on the streets yet we have nowhere for them to go. Support from OW and ODSP (yes I know, ODSP is provincially funded) come nowhere close to helping people who are struggling to make ends meet. This will cost us far more in the long run trying to cover the cost of major health care costs that are arising from poverty.

Transit…where do I begin? One of our favourite topics to whine and complain about. I hear from people that we want better transit, faster transit, more timely transit and even free transit for all. Overall, I believe our transit system is pretty good, however, like everything, a tweak here and there never hurts. We demand that the system is managed efficiently, yet we resist raises in fares ( something that hasn’t happened in 11 years!!!). We want perfection yet, as usual, some are resistant to paying. I’ve heard drivers state they won’t support paying more for a service they don’t use, yet fail to recognize that the more that people use transit, the better off drivers who can’t or use the system will be. If we create a free and efficient system that everyone wants, where does the money come from?

Bottom line is pretty clear. If we want it all, we need to pay for it. None of these examples are free. Before making a decision to fight a tax increase, do some homework. Attend some budget sessions. Talk with your councillor. Take a moment, even a selfish moment to consider how spending money on desperately needed projects will benefit you. Pay a little now or a lot more later. Choose wisely.

The Bill Comes Due.

Battling Addiction

I’ve made no secret that I am a recovering alcoholic. I’m not a typical alcoholic…my drinking was limited to binges. I’d quit for a while then something would trigger me and I’d be back on the old satan sauce. The last binge, two years ago, nearly cost me my life. I can’t even have one drink because that leads to another…and another…and I’m in trouble again. In short, I’ve lost the privilege to drink.

I don’t crave the silly juice most days. Occasionally I’ll see a picture of a Caesar and want one, but that feeling goes away quickly. I’m never really bothered to be around booze. Would a Long Island Iced Tea go down nicely on a hot day like today? Damn right.

I’m not embarrassed that I am an alcoholic. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned in the hope others learn that drinking isn’t the answer to life’s problems. I’m not even against drinking….hell…have a good time and enjoy life!!

Yesterday, I had someone sort of throw it in my face that I’m a former booze hound. It was an attempt to shame me publicly. At first, I was taken aback. How dare someone stoop so low. It was a lame attempt to embarrass me and to teach me a lesson. Now, 24 hours later, I’m not angry.

Battling addiction for many is a daily struggle. The cravings, the voices in your head, the daily struggles with life, all reasons many may give in to drugs or alcohol. The lapse allows for an escape from reality, even for just a short time. This is where the trouble begins and the vicious cycle starts all over again. I fell off the wagon three times before I got a handle on my illness. And there it is…an ILLNESS.

Being mocked or shamed for an illness is a classless act. Many people who I know have been sober for years yet still struggle with guilt and shame. Many, after years of sobriety, have a daily fight to not reach for a bottle. Your callousness may be the final straw that sends them back into drinking. Have you considered that your words may do more damage than you can imagine? Of course not…you’re too selfish to even think about this.

A critical point to think about is that many have suffered some sort of life event that pushed them into addiction. So now, not only do we have to deal with staying sober, we’re still trying to heal mentally. A flippancy comment can wound far more than you can imagine.

Many who struggle have lost alot…or everything. Each day that we stay sober or clean is a victory and something we try and celebrate in our hearts and minds. Think about the last time you dieted and refused to give into that pie or donut. What a feeling…especially after you’ve weighed yourself and see you’ve lost five pounds. A recovering alcoholic has that same happiness and your shaming takes that away. How dare you!

So, instead of making fun of folks who struggle, take a moment before shooting your mouth off. We don’t want your sympathy. We did this to ourselves and are working hard to get life back on track. We just don’t want your assholeyness and maybe just a bit of understanding.

So maybe I’m angry after all. Not for myself…I can and will continue to deal with you and your ignorance. I’m far more concerned with those who battle everyday and do not have the energy to fight you too. But, I have the energy and will stand beside anyone who struggles.

Social Media and Employment

So this happened…

Now, 20 years ago, the younger idiot me may have made a similar comment. I hated cyclists. Who in the hell are they to be taking up space on MY ROAD. I’ve obviously grown up and smartened up. I appreciate cyclists and now understand what they go through. I’ve come to detest drivers….

This is not the point of this rambling. The poster has created a lot of anger and I completely understand why. This guy also made a point of listing who his employer was on Facebook, as many of us have. Now some want him fired and some are suggesting that he not be fired. It’s been a fascinating discussion. As a former manager of people for 30 years and, now as a retired guy with way too much time on my hands, I of course have thoughts.

In a society where one’s actions on social media are judged rather strongly, the actions of an individual can have a negative impact on their employer. Even if the comments or actions of this person has zero to do with their job, the employer takes a beating. In this case, Teppermans is in the spotlight and folks are waiting to see or hear as to what they are going to do with Mr. Wilson.

In reality, the employee/employer relationship is a confidential and we the public have no right to know what takes place between these two parties. However, the reputation on Teppermans is somewhat at stake, in the view of some. Would I shop there given the actions of an employee who was off duty? Of course. But the question that remains is what should Teppermans do at this point?

In a very far fetched scenario, lets assume that this person’s behaviour makes some uncomfortable. Teppermans, under Bill 168 has a legal responsibility to ensure their business is free from bullying, harassment and violence. This individual has created an environment that can cause concern, even if his behaviour took place off site and during non-working hours. Co-workers and customers have the right to know under the OHSA that there is an individual who has indicated he may resort to violence. This is a terminating offense. Again, this may be blowing this out of proportion, but it is something to consider.

The issue is that this person’s statement reflects poorly on his employer. The employer has the right to protect their business and its employees. Let’s look at it this way: some may choose to not shop at Teppermans anymore (rightfully or wrongfully…but its a reality). Business goes down. Staff start losing hours. This cannot happen!

As a manager, I’ve had to deal with the negative impact of social media comments, especially made by those who worked for me. When in damage control, I spent my time putting out these types of fires. Its not an enjoyable exercise I can assure you. I’ve had to defend my staff, my company and my clients. All because someone decided to shoot their mouths off. One night, while working a hockey game, I had a customer pull me aside and say “I hear you’re being an asshole tonight.” I was confused. Huh? The customer showed me a comment posted by one of my staff calling me a grumpy asshole. The staffer was upset as he wanted to leave early and as the crowd we were serving was large, I couldn’t accommodate his request. Did I fire him? No…but you can bet he made that long trip to the principal’s office.

This example is not the same. I get that. Mr. Wilson’s comments have nothing to do with his employer. But it does have an impact. Many companies don’t even allow their staff to wear their uniforms to and from work as their actions in the public eye reflect the team and the company. There are enough examples of people losing their jobs due to their inappropriate behaviour on social media. Some employers even check out a person’s social media during the hiring process. Employers want to hire people of high character and I agree with this. This isn’t the first inappropriate comment made by Wilson. In one post, he commented on how many points would he get if he hit a cyclist? What employer wants someone like this on their team? 20 years ago, I would have simply fired his ass.

With an extensive career with significant background in human resources, I’ve learned that we should allow our team members to learn from mistakes. If I’m Teppermans, a warning is warranted in this case with the expectation that should they behave in this manner again, they will be terminated.  I saw one poster suggest that staff shouldn’t have to bend to their corporate overlords during their free time. I disagree. This person didn’t just hurt his employer….he let down and hurt his team mates.

 

Language and Public Outrage

I can’t speak to what others are thinking, I can only give my own perspective. I’m not referring to Cannabis or Canadians when I refer to the “C” word. I’m going to be speaking about a recent post from Gail Vaz Oxlade when she referred to someone as a “heartless c***”. The on-going debate has been interesting to say the least.

On Monday, I read an interesting post by Mike Moffatt. In short, Mike questions the outrage of some for GVO’S language yet wonders where is the outrage for not only the way some politicians speak, but most importantly, the anger for what this government is doing to Ontario, specifically for what Lisa MacLeod is doing to kids with autism.

Moffatt makes excellent points. However, there has been enormous outrage over the unacceptable changes to autism therapy and equal distaste for MacLeod. This anger has been LOUD. People have and are shouting at the top of their lungs. I myself have been vocally critical of Ford Nation, especially critical of MacLeod and her devastating work. The damage this government has done I fear may be irreversible.

Not once during any discussions I’ve had with people on social media have I defended MacLeod during my condemnation of Vaz Oxlade’s comments. Not once. Nor will I defend MacLeod or any other member of the OPC. GVO has a foul mouth and has for sometime. There was a time I respected her, but I have zero use for abusive or harassing individuals whether the person is in a position of power or just another citizen like me.

What is disappointing is that Vaz Oxlade has an incredible following and is in a position to lobby or comment in a more effective manner than referring to someone as a **** or simply telling someone to **** off when she disagrees.

Take Mike Moffatt for example. I respect his work and I doubly respect him and his family for what they are going through. I’m one of those who listens when Moffatt speaks as I consider him to be an expert. Not once during the past year have I heard Moffatt use the word ****. He chooses to use logic and a well thought out argument instead. I would lose respect for anyone who uses insults and profanity to attack people…don’t care what your position life is.

I completely get the incredible anger and frustration of many. I’m a dad of two…don’t even think of messing with me when it comes to my kids. I’m as protective as a papa bear can be. I’m a person with disabilities. What this government is doing to those on ODSP is deplorable. I suffer from mental illness. The inability for those to gain access to proper mental health care infuriates me to no end. What Ford Nation is doing to students with cuts to OSAP makes me so livid I can’t describe it. In short: I’M ANGRY AS ALL HELL.

But…and this is a big BUT, I will not resort to nasty, abusive behaviour and cannot condone those who do. With the advocacy work I’m trying to accomplish, which is a challenge in itself as I’m a nobody with a small voice, I cannot imagine referring to anyone I am lobbying to for changes with such vile insults. No one would take me seriously and my work would fall on dead ears.

Yes, I’ve been angry. I’ve nearly been run over and I’d refer to an anonymous driver as an asshole. I complete get that emotion takes over at times. There are a few of our leaders, whether local or not, that make my blood boil. But I wouldn’t publicly call them a **** or any other vulgarity.

For those with a higher public profile, I encourage you to channel that anger into productive means that affect change. Lastly, if we are going to hold government or public officials accountable for their words and actions, we should be ready to also hold ourselves and each other accountable as well.

Owning our Mistakes

I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m an asshole. I’m far less assholey than ever before but I continue to try each day to be better. The image above is not meant to insult anyone. Just thought it was funny.

I suppose there comes a time when one realizes that we’ve made a slew of mistakes in our past, whether it’s recently or years before. I came to this realization a couple of years ago. I occasionally still step in a pile of poop despite my best efforts.

Owning our mistakes determines our path in life at times. No one wants to admit to making a mistake or wants to acknowledge that we were wrong. I was a jerk boss, a less than perfect dad, a less than stellar husband and less than a good friend to many. I’ve hurt my knees so many times jumping to conclusions. I’ve rushed to be a Judgie McJudger. There were times when I piled on with the crowd to bully someone. I’m not talking about holding people accountable for their actions. I’m referring to unfairly being a part of a bullying bandwagon.

As many of you know, I am a recovering alcoholic. Trust me when I say this, a HUGE mountain of mistakes and missteps were made. On the road to recovery, the plan is to follow the 12 Steps, each step being important.

Step 4 requires one to take a personal inventory of themselves. What are the things about ourselves that we need to either stop doing or improve upon.

Steps 8 and 9 speak to making a list of people we have harmed and to make amends. In short, who did we hurt and apologize to them genuinely.

The same three steps can be applied in life. Looking at ourselves in a mirror and seeing that we can be better people. It’s not an enjoyable exercise by any means, but a necessary one. We look in the mirror and see we need to lose weight and then we diet. Are we also looking inside ourselves and make a decision to be better people?

I have learned many valuable lessons from the people in my world and try and model their many examples. I try to be less angry. I work to try and be a more respectful person. I endeavour to find solutions instead of just bitching constantly.

This past weekend, a fellow Londoner came forward with a very public mea culpa. The ensuing debate and anger was understandable. This person has pissed off many over the years. Many of his actions are inexcusable and unacceptable. For many, he has caused many to reach a point where forgiveness will not be forthcoming and I can understand that. There were a few people in my life who I asked for forgiveness during my making amends “tour” who refused the apology or simply refused to even meet with me. I deserved this. Am I sad and disappointed…you better believe it. I still believe I will pay for my transgressions until the day I die. I am heartbroken but I know I did this and these are the consequences.

What I find a little concerning is that on one hand, we are holding some strictly accountable while on the other, we give other bullies a pass or even cheer them on. Why is this acceptable?

I have been forgiven for what I have done. It’s a cautious forgiveness meaning as I have to prove I am worthy of forgiveness by my future actions. It is my intention to leave this world being the best person I can be…and maybe do a little good while I’m at it. It is my responsibility to also try to not judge those who come forward and admit to mistakes. In this specific example, the person who was harmed accepted the apology and has moved on. The person in the wrong has and will continue to pay the consequences of his actions. He will also need to prove he is worthy of public forgiveness. I say we give him a chance. It is not my place to judge those who will not forgive because I get it.

We have huge challenges and issues to deal with. I, and I know others will, continue to hold people accountable for their actions. And maybe, just maybe, in the end…maybe some of us will become less “assholey”.

My Visit to the Safe Injection Site

Here I am, 24 hours after my visit to the Safe Injection Site on King St, struggling with a number of emotions. Sadness, frustration and anger are some of the emotions that have been bouncing around in this old brain and heart.

After hearing the arguments both for and against these sites, both from the professionals and the public, I became supportive of a SIS. I concluded that the safety of the users was paramount. A possible reduction in HIV and Hepatitis would not only be life changing, but less expensive in the long run vs long term care for those exposed to these diseases. Less dirty, contaminated needles on our streets would be an added benefit. But I still had questions.

On Thursday and Saturday this past week, I spent quite a bit of time downtown. The number of street people sleeping on the streets was alarming. I know the number of homeless people continues to grow, but until you actually see it firsthand, a number is abstract.

Yesterday, while wheeling down King St., and passing a number of people sleeping on the street, I decided to see if I could check the SIS for myself. The sign in the front of 186 King directs “clients” to the back loading dock area. I went up the east side of the building which was a mistake. I ended up going thru a maze of cement barriers. Not very accessible.

When I rounded the corner of the building, I stopped in my tracks. Not out of fear, but I was gobsmacked. There were about a dozen people either sleeping off a recent drug use or were just hanging around. A large security person stood watch over the very quiet but ramshackle group. A man who I suspected was high, offered to push me but me being stubborn, I said no thank you. He then told me to “go fuck myself” and ran away.

Undeterred, I entered the building. Visually speaking, not a welcoming place. Dark and dirty, I entered the waiting area. I was welcomed by a staff member who said “good morning my friend”. They call everyone “my friend” as users are anonymous and the staff are trying to be warm and welcoming.

I explain why I am here and when not working with clients, I asked about what happens when someone stops by. The two staff members were very engaging as they walked me through the steps a client follows. Again, they are anonymous. One client agreed to let me listen is while she registered. Questions are asked such as what are they using, last time they used. They are then led into a private room where they will take the drugs. Kits are on hand, such as clean needles.

I asked if the drugs are tested for fentanyl prior to usage and was informed if the client wanted their drugs tested, this would be accommodated. A couple of visitors stopped by to get Naloxone kits. These are provided free of charge and each person is taught how to use the kits. Those getting the kits were street folks simply looking out for each other.

Counseling services are available to those who have reached a turning point and want to stop this vicious cycle of poverty, homelessness and addiction.

What I appreciated most of all was the welcoming, non-judgmental environment that was provided. These people have an addiction and truly need our help. The steady stream of clients ranged in age…young and old. These people are someone’s kids, friends, brothers and sisters. This is when my old decrepit heart shattered.

Many have no hope and no where to go. As an alcoholic, I can appreciate hopelessness, depression and sadness. For a few brief moments, the staff at the SIS provide a safe and caring environment.

My heart is broken. I’m angry as I do not know what the solution is. What I do know is that as a community, we need to prioritize this crisis and get these folks the help they need.

I am grateful London has supported this SIS. It would be in the best interest of the clients and the community to move this facility into a permanent site that is not as “back alley” as the King St location.

I don’t to discourage people from going downtown. In all the time and kilometers I spent downtown, I was never harassed. The person who told me what I could do myself was in obvious mental pain. Most keep to themselves.

If you’re on the fence as it pertains to providing this kind of service, I encourage to reach out, ask questions or go see for yourself. Quite the eye opening and quite frankly, emotional experience. If you’re still against the sites, I challenge you: what is your solution? If you respond with ignorant thoughts or comments like, “let them die” or “it’s not problem”, I’ve got news for you. It is your problem. Be a part of the solution. Sometimes that as simple as saying I support the work that is being done and a very deserved thank you to those who are looking out for our most vulnerable.

In Defense of Raisins

** tongue in cheek…don’t get all cranky on me.**

You’re all nuts! I could leave it right there, but I suppose I should explain.

I love raisins. Oatmeal raisin cookies ( as long as they are soft and bendy), rice pudding with raisins, mince meat pie….anything raisins. However, as I discovered, many of you do not. A Twitter pal, Lesley B. posted a poll a few weeks ago asking which cookie people preferred: oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip. I was stunned to see that 60% of you were wrong. Shelley C. refers to raisins as dead flies. Bruce D. refers to them as rabbit turds. One person stated that raisins are why she has trust issues.

I’m gobsmacked. Stunned. Speechless….well almost. Raisins make the world go around. Growing up, we all had that little box of raisins that had, what, 7 raisins in it? What a treat.

41IhvHfUOTL

I shouldn’t be surprised at these results. Given that many who chimed in are also the same people who believe KETCHUP belongs on meatloaf. Speaking of ketchup, I’d say I’m 95% anti-ketchup. Once in a while, like once a year, I may have a little of the yucky red stuff on the side with fries. Imagine my absolute horror when I learned that people actually put this on fries and gravy or poutine.

I know people put ketchup on hotdogs. But, experts like the following, agree, you should not. First, Dirty Harry:

“You know what makes me really sick to my stomach? It’s watching you stuff your face with those hotdogs. Nobody, I mean nobody puts ketchup on a hot dog.”

Followed by Anthony Bourdain:

“Do not put ketchup on your hotdogs. Be assured, God doesn’t want you to do that.”

I’d go so far as to day God doesn’t want you to put ketchup on anything………..sorry to get all religious on you.

Speaking of hotdogs, I got all excited the other day when I saw the price of Red Hots were on sale for $3.49 the other day. As I started to load my cart, I noticed that the pack size had shrunk from 12 wieners to 10. Those sneaky bastards!!! Does this force Wonder Bread to change their bun packs from 12 to 10? And why would they even have an eight pack? Makes no sense….however, I digest, I mean digress.

A few months ago, I stated, that I enjoy baloney sandwiches. A few days ago, I posted my love of Cheez Whiz. I was surprised to see how many anti Whiz and Baloney sandwiches eaters there were. So I decided to explore deeper to determine how weird you people are. No surprise found. Yer nuts.

I ran a few polls on Twitter about a variety of foods. I was pleasantly surprised to see that 73% of respondents like meat pies. One person, Tracy W did add a scientific proviso, concerned about crust to filling/gravy ratio. I, however wasn’t specific enough with the pole. I should have asked about those frozen meat pies made by Swanson. You cook them and pour them over fries. MMMMM. I suspect it may be a lazy dude thing.

Moving on to Shepherd’s Pie and I was mortified to see 49% of you were wrong when you stated peas and carrots should be in the mix. I vehemently disagree. Corn and corn only people! Andy P admitted he doesn’t do Shepherd’s Pie. I thought I was having a heart attack when I saw that. Then, to add fuel to the fire, Deb8675309 decided to poke the bear and stated she adds ketchup as well. I nearly quit Twitter when I saw that.

Hamburger Helper, eaten by the ton when I was a kid. That savoury taste, with the added 11 pounds of salt made my mouth water. 53% voted a BIG NO on this one. Guess no one wants that high blood pressure with their meal. I tried it a couple of years ago for old times sake. Needed 17 litres of water after. As JenDev says, needed Tums for dessert. But, as you can see on the box, at least its made with real cheese. Besides, I make my own now….sans salt.

One of the few things we seem to agree on are donuts. We don’t agree on which donut is the best, but, since I’m the writer of this dumbassery, Dutchies are the best. Why? Raisins. Based on the comments, apparently Jared F likes honey crullers, but I’m guessing here. Trucker Al G states they are toxic. Sorry Al, no they’re a not.

As I stated at the beginning, this is all in fun. We all have that guilty pleasure or foods we secretly enjoy. We have some odd takes on flavours and I joke you’re all wrong, but no one was wrong ( he says biting his tongue). All I can say is, enjoy life and food. Long live the raisin!

Now don’t get me started on my love of turkey bacon!

Volunteers

So, I kind of stepped into the proverbial pile of poop today and for this, I apologize profusely. Let me explain.

There’s been a lot of talk about poverty, homelessness, meetings and breakfasts lately. Many, including myself, are looking for results. Bitching on social media about it has become a daily exercise. I won’t back down on my point about expecting results…not for one second. However, we have forgotten a huge reason for any successes that come out of many endeavours: the volunteers.

In my humble, old guy opinion, volunteers make the world go round. We interact with them daily and I think we fail to acknowledge their presence, assistance and helpful attitudes at times. Visit St. Joes: volunteers at the entrance. Visit UH…volunteers. Poverty and homelessness panels. Same thing. Did you go the Beer and BBQ show or many other shows at the Western Fair District? Many volunteers are present.

School councils, Dad Club, Cancer Society, City Advisory Committees, LHSC Country Classic, kids sports…run by volunteers. Fine people giving of their times with little to no reward or recognition from those they serve. From kids to seniors and everyone in between, many in our communities work incredibly hard to make our cities a better place to live, work in and enjoy.

I would also suggest that many of us have the time and ability to volunteer. Pick something you’re passionate about and dive in. Help out at a school hot lunch, be a Big brother or Sister…whatever your heart desires. Not happy with the direction some groups or our city are going in, be a part of the solution and volunteer.

I will work diligently to monitor what I say before I comment or criticize in the future.  It was never my intention to insult the work of these outstanding volunteers. Our world cannot exist with their generosity and we need to be respectful and grateful for everything they do.

Again, I apologize to anyone who I may have slighted with my insensitive comments. It was never my intention to insult the amazing work that you have and are doing. You’re doing great work and we can never thank you enough!