Posts Tagged ‘canada’

—Interesting Stories is an article  that showcases
the intriguing stories of everyday people.

By Matthew Casey

Most people will never know what it is like to jump from an airplane, except maybe for those thrill seekers out there who constantly strive for that adrenaline rush.  In fact most people would probably never even want to jump from an airplane if they absolutely did not have to.   Now, imagine being a teenager and being forced into an army and having to do whatever you were told, no matter how scary it seemed.  For Adrian Patrascu this is what happened when he was drafted into his home country’s army in 1986 and was handed a parachute kit and told to board a plane.  He was only 19 at the time.

After training and making about twenty jumps during his time in the military he got the technique down to land safely without injuring himself.  “You have to land on the tips of your toes then roll to the heel of your foot or else you will break your legs,” explains Adrian confidently as he reflects back on the days of his youth.    He now lives in Toronto and works in the maintenance department of a hotel,  but most would never know that he once sported a parachute long before his tool belt.

Even though it seems like a terrifying thing to have to jump from a plane that is flying at 3000 meters, for Adrian, he seems to shrug it off as just a normal event in his life.   He was lucky in one sense because he never had to fight in combat during his military time which lasted for nine months.  With that in mind, he described falling from the sky and racing towards the ground below as a wonderful feeling, saying that it was as if time and space just came to a stop for a brief moment.

Adrian tells of an incident that occurred on his fifth training jump where he witnessed one of his colleagues who had landed on his feet the wrong way and broke his legs.  But even after witnessing this it still did not make him fear jumping from the planes in the training exercises he had to take part in.

Although Adrian was not afraid of jumping into the sky, some people were.  On one of his first jumps the soldier in front of him froze and would not jump, but this was not tolerated by the sergeants.  When Adrian witnessed the drill instructor push the man out of the plane he says it was in this moment that he realized that he had no choice but to jump whether or not he was afraid and this is what helped him to tolerate the situation a little better.

For the bravery of accomplishing these tasks the paratroopers were paid the equivalent of a mere $24 a month.  It takes a lot of character and determination to do these things with little to no reward for them.

Today the Romanian army no longer practices the use of conscription to enlist people into their ranks, and as for Adrian he doesn’t plan on ever jumping from a plane again, not even for a thrill.

Sometimes life seems very difficult and it feels like there is too much to deal with.  But at least here in Canada you can take solace in the fact that most people are pretty lucky and enjoy a great quality of life.  No one in this country is forced into doing things that they wouldn’t want to do.

The next time it feels like there is too much to handle on your plate and everyday stress gets you down just be glad that you will never be forced into jumping from airplanes in the military. Just think that things could always be much worse and maybe that will help you make it through the tough times that life can bring.


By Matthew Casey

Fall is full of wonderful and vibrant colours.

The days are getting shorter and the air is becoming a little cooler and crisper. What could be coming our way? Fall.  Out of all four seasons autumn is my absolute favourite and I just love the transition of summer into this glorious and often dreaded season.

It may be a difficult concept to grasp that fall is my favourite season, but I think that it if you look at some of the great attributes of this time of year and don’t just focus on the fact that it is the end of summer, then fall really is a likeable season. The official start to the season isn’t until September 23, but here is why I love fall.

First of all, summer is so hot! I love mild temperatures but those days where the mercury can climb to well into the 30s with a humidex factor of 40 are just too much for me.  Some people love the heat, but I am not one of them.  I prefer temperatures that range in the high teens to low twenties—without ANY humidity.  The last couple of weeks as the air masses in the eastern half of Canada seem to be transitioning from those hot summer conditions to a more seasonable cooler air mass typical of fall have been great for me.  The cooler temperatures are also great if you love to exercise outdoors, it just makes jogging or going for a walk a little more comfortable when the breeze has a slight chill to it.

Secondly I love fall because it is the most colourful season we experience.  Sure the summer is great where everything is green and growing, but I am talking about rich colours like reds, yellows, and oranges.  When I lived in New Brunswick I loved to take a leisurely drive through the countryside of the province right when the fall foliage was becoming saturated with vibrant and rich hues of colour.  All of those maple trees off in the distance looked like an oil painting brushed by the hand of Mother Nature herself. It just gives me an immense appreciation for the wonder of nature’s beauty and makes me realize how often I can be oblivious to it when I am caught up in the rush of everyday life.  Just taking in the wonders of all the colours takes my mind off of the worries of the day for a moment.  It’s almost like the proverbial “stopping to smell the roses” saying.

There is also something about the air and the way it smells and feels in the fall.  The air, no matter if you live in a big city or a rural part of town, just seems to have such a freshness to it that just isn’t there in those hot summer months.   I know when I step outside my door on a cool fall morning the air just smells so great and it is invigorating and it livens my senses.  If I was able to take a bite out of the air in the fall I absolutely would!  The cooler and fresher air of the season also makes sleeping much more comfortable than in summer.  For once I can actually sleep without the hum of an air conditioner or a fan in the background.

Canada Geese are majestic birds that migrate in large flocks every fall.

Another sign that summer is drawing to a close is when the flocks of birds begin gathering on the power lines and in the trees.  They are getting ready to fly away and migrate to their winter home.   I find that it is amazing to watch a flock of birds flying through the sky, all off to one place together.  In particular, I love Canada geese and watching a large flock of them fly over head is very majestic and also gives me a sense of the wonder of nature.

So all in all maybe fall doesn’t look to be as bad as it seems on the surface. If you delve deeper into it, it really is one of the most amazing seasons that I am glad we get to experience year after year here in Canada.  If you haven’t taken the time to admire the beauty of fall then maybe this will inspire you to get out there and do so this year.  Now if I were to talk about winter on the other hand…well don’t get me started on what I think of that “wonderful” season!

What is your favourite season?

By Matthew Casey

Sometimes I just need to vent to make myself feel better.  One thing that really gets me is how ridiculously stupid the drivers in Toronto can be.  I know we all have stupid moments behind the wheel but some of the stuff that I see people do in this city just defies explanation.

For instance just look at the driving schools here.  I was behind a student driver a couple of weeks ago and he was going through a large intersection.  I was shocked when I noticed the instructor motion for the student to change lanes in the middle of the intersection.  Where I’m from it was a rule that you don’t change lanes in an intersection! So this got me thinking that if a driving school teaches these people to drive like this, than it is no surprise why this city is so full of horrible drivers and high insurance rates!

So here is a list of some things that people do in Toronto that have cemented in my mind that this is the city of the worst drivers.  It can’t be a coincidence that Canada’s Worst Driver is filmed here.

The Top 15 Signs that Toronto Drivers Are the Craziest:

  1. Backing up on a major freeway because they missed their exit.
  2. When I’m stupid enough to be going 120 km/h in a 100 km/h zone and they are still flying past me like I’m a Sunday Driver.
  3. Honking at me when I won’t make a right hand turn on a red light with a sign that says “NO RIGHT ON RED”.
  4. Honking at me when I won’t make a left turn on a red light after the four cars ahead of me have already rushed through it.
  5. Honking at me when I won’t proceed through an intersection when the light has been red for only a couple seconds.
  6. Trying to squeeze around me to make a right turn at a red light when there is only one lane and a sidewalk beside me that leaves barely enough room for a shopping cart to move beside me, but they think that their Ford Windstar will fit.
  7. They slam on their brakes for no apparent reason.
  8. They tailgate me so close that one could not fit a credit card between my rear bumper and their front bumper.
  9. When they don’t know what lane to be in they drive down the middle of two.  Clearly, that is the SAFEST choice.
  10. Trying to pass me on the right on an on-ramp to a freeway that is only one lane.
  11. Honking at me because I can’t go any faster than the vehicle in front of me, but yet they seem to think that they could in my position.
  12. Thinking that they own the lane and refuse to let me merge into it.  I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was the AWSD 923 express lane only.
  13. Honking at me because I didn’t floor the gas pedal as soon as the light turned green.
  14. Jumping in front of me when I am leaving a safe distance between me and the vehicle in front of me.
  15. Apparently signal lights are merely for decoration, hardly anyone uses them so they just cut in front of me.

That’s my rant.  I feel better now. I’m not saying that I am a better driver than anyone but I just tend to use common sense on the road.  Really, what do people think? A car is a heavy piece of equipment and when it hits something it isn’t going to just gently bounce off of it like it was a bubble.  So we should all do our part and scrutinize the way we drive to make Toronto roads safer!

Slow down, use common sense, avoid distractions and be considerate to everyone else just trying to get from point A to point B like you!

Well Canada is doing excellent so far in the Vancouver 2010 games.  We’re at five medals total, 2 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze.   I hope that this makes a certain journalist in the New York Times eat his words from an article he recently published about the over bearing modesty that Canadians seem to exhibit.

The article that appeared recently in the New York Times on February 9 was about how Canada has never won a gold medal on our soil and that we like it that way.  In the article by Charles McGrath, the author says that Canada is a vast country run like a small town with small town values.  He also goes on to write that Canadians believe a good effort is better than wining a “trunkload” of medals.

Well perhaps Canada is a modest country and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  However for an article to spell out that here in Canada we are happier to just give it a good shot than we are to win shows how ill-informed our south of the forty-ninth parallel neighbours actually are.

Just watch any news report out there in Canada.  People are so confident that our athletes are going to get gold.  When the journalists ask people in crowds “do you think the athletes will win gold?” people abundantly cheer yes! Even in Toronto, look at the transit buses, they all say “Go Canada Go!” on the route signs.  Now according to this article in the New York Times all of this should be unheard of. Canadians publicly announcing their hope to win gold?  What! We’re too modest for that, it even says so in the prestigious New York Times.

The article even goes on to say based on a quote from the Canadian author George Woodcock that Canadians don’t like heroes and therefore they don’t have any.  Well, I don’t think that is true, I know I had some growing up.    I think this is a very belligerent statement.  Perhaps some people don’t have heroes but to paint an entire country with the same colour is just ridiculously naive! There are lots of kids growing up who have heroes.  Many of them probably sports heroes.  Who didn’t look to athletes growing up? People like Wayne Gretzky or Mike Weir, I think they could classify as heroes and most likely still top people’s hero lists to this day.

So if American’s read that article in the good old NY Times and believe it to be entirely one hundred percent accurate as the mantra for all Canadians, than they will also believe me when I say that it’s getting very cold outside here and it has been snowing since last July.  So with nothing else going on I think I’m going to shut the deerskin door on my downtown Toronto igloo and turn in for the night on my bearskin bed.

—Matthew Casey

Something strange was in the skies over Harbour Mille Newfoundland on Monday January 25 and the government of Canada doesn’t seem overly concerned.  Whatever was in the skies that evening around 5pm definitely wasn’t an airplane.  But what was it?  That is a bit of a mystery.

What started out as a plan for a local resident of Harbour Mille to take pictures of a beautiful sunset turned out to be a little more interesting than that.  Instead the resident snapped a picture that has garnered national attention and ignited a media firestorm.  The picture shows a silver like object moving through a clear blue sky with a trail of smoke and flames behind it.  According to witnesses there were actually three objects in the sky at the time.   Another resident looked at the object in the sky through a pair of binoculars and described it as a “humongous bullet”.

The sight of the objects was so frightening that it was reported to the local RCMP.  Even the police were stumped as to what the objects could be as they have concluded that the incident is an “unexplained sighting”.  The RCMP don’t seem to be overly concerned and neither does the Canadian Forces. Despite not knowing what the objects were they have confidently stated that there is no threat to the security of Canada.  The sighting has garnered so much attention that it even made tracks in the Prime Minister’s office.  However all Stephen Harper had to say was, “there is no indication that there was ever a rocket launch”.

The explanation that the government is giving for the sightings is that Harbour Mille is a playground for hobby rocket enthusiasts.  Maybe that is so, but in my opinion hobby rockets aren’t that big and they generally go straight up then down and not in a horizontal motion.  So given that three extremely large unidentified objects have flown over a Canadian province one would think that some alarm bells would have gone off in the Prime Minister’s office. Maybe he would even be looking into it more aggressively for say, national security?

Fortunately Senator George Baker who is from Newfoundland is really looking into the situation and not buying the government’s explanation.  On Power Play with Tom Clark on CTV he made his stance clear that what these people saw was indeed not a hobby rocket and was most likely a missile launched from the French territory of St. Pierre et Miquelon which is just off the coast of the province.  He stated that for the government to even suggest that people would be out on that day in Harbour Mille Newfoundland firing off hobby rockets when the temperature was -14 and the windchill was -25 is ludicrous.

I’m not a believer of conspiracy theories, but I think that someone in the higher ranks of the government knows a little more about the situation than they are letting on.  I think perhaps a mistake may have been made somewhere along the line with the situation and the government of Canada just doesn’t want to own up to it.  Someone must know something because three objects roughly the size of 18-wheelers shouldn’t be able to slip across our country with out setting off an alarm on some radar screen.  I definitely hope that more answers come from this one!

—Matthew Casey

There was a time when the main courses in grade school included the typical math, English, French, and social studies programs.   In this era of  technology students can expect to add another course to their curriculum–text ed.

This new course, part of will be tried in one hundred seventh grade classrooms across Canada for the upcoming month.   A full version of the program will be implemented in the fall in all schools.   The announcement of this new course comes from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.  According to the agencies, this program is designed to teach the proper behavior that one should follow when texting.  It is also designed to teach teenagers the dangers of sexually explicit text messages, harassing messages, and other types of texts that could harm themselves or another individual.

A study conducted by Pew Research Centre found that 15% of teens between 12 and 17 years old have received nude photos or videos through a text message on their cell phones.  With the launch of this new program in schools, Canada is attempting to highlight the dangers to its youths on “text luring” and other risks that are associated with inappropriate texting.

The website,, has many sections on it that highlight proper texting etiquette.  The site includes things such as times when one should not text, taking the time to enjoy technology and knowing when to not let it control oneself, and knowing that it’s okay to be disconnected at times from technology.  The website even includes an “acronictionary” that explains the meanings of commonly abbreviated words used in text messages.

The program is also designed to inform teens that they can approach a trusted adult if they ever feel threatened or uncomfortable by messages that they receive.

–Matthew Casey


5% of teens aged 12 to 17 received nude photos or videos on their cell phones and a similar survey done by LG electronics suggested that number could be as high as 22%.