Angry Torontonian Rant #1 (In A Minor)

May 2, 2010

(In a bid to be seen as less partisan and as fair and balanced as the next guy, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are handing over today’s space to Angry Torontonian #1. He/she is fed up with the way things have been going down at City Hall in recent years and believes we are just enablers and downtown core sissies who think we know better than everyone else. Or something like that. No one is listening to him/her and he/she are demanding to have his/her voice heard. Since we imbibed heavily last night at some birthday celebrations, we say, hey, knock yourself out, Angry Torontonian #1. Have at it.)

… Am I on yet? Is this thing working? Testing, testing… ?

OK, yeah so, anyway. I was out last night, whooping it as I usually do every Saturday night, having some drinks, nachos and stuff. And as usually happens, right, I fall asleep on the streetcar heading home. I’m pretty sure it was a streetcar although I did wake up on the subway or should I say I was rudely woken up by one of those TTC union thugs, telling me to get up and go home as if it was that easy, right? I’m like, where? Finch Station and it’s like in the middle of the night. Yeah, I know. There’s the bus but I’m just saying it’s not as easy as Mr. Lazy Ass Union Guy makes it to be, OK. He’s probably got like a chauffeur or something to get home at this time of night and he can’t even offer me a ride? Typical union guy.

Anyway, I fall asleep again on my way to the bus stop because it’s not all that obvious where exactly the stop is. You’d think I’d know by now too because this isn’t the first time this exact same thing has happened to me. Shit happens, right?

Long story short, I wake up again early but light out. Too early for the Sunday subway, so it’s again with the bus ride down Yonge. Except that I don’t have enough money on me. No tokens, tickets. I’m busted, is what I’m admitting to and do you think a bus driver, Mr. Compassionate Union guy would let me on? Clearly I’m not just some drunken bum trying to scam a ride for free. Like hey Mr. Bus Driver. I read that you make like 100 Gs a year, just driving your bus. And you can’t front me a little cash-ish?

This is why I hate the unions. They don’t understand the regular people that depend on them to get back and forth to work and back and forth to home again. They’ve lost the common touch with their cushy jobs. I am a hard working citizen who just had a little too much fun the night before and spent a little too much money and now just needed a little understanding. Good luck with that, right? From a union guy?! I don’t think so.

So there I am left to my own devices, on foot, walking home. One foot in front of the next and so on and so on.

I don’t know how long this goes on for but it seems like hours. Finch. Sheppard. Man, there’s a lot of terrain to cover up in those parts, let me tell you. It goes on forever. No wonder all those people have two, three cars. You do not want to be trapped up there if one of them breaks down and you have to depend on the TTC. That would be a nightmare.

So I finally get to somewhere near Eglinton when it dawns on me that I could just stop at an ATM and draw out a little money to get home with. How dense is that? Walking for fucking miles thinking I’m penniless and I got my bank card burning a hole in my back pocket! Give me a break, huh. I’m like seriously hungover.

As I start looking around for a bank machine, a crowd of people catches my attention. What’s going on, I wonder. Maybe a car crash or something. A murder even! So I rush over to see what’s up only to find a bunch of idiots, dressed in shorts and tshirts with million dollar running shoes. Runners. Thinking they’re going to escape old man death by running. What a waste of time if you ask me. Not to mention waste of space either. There’s like thousands of them and they’re taking up all of Yonge Street all the way downtown and beyond. So a bus isn’t even going to get me down there without some major detour and nobody here seems all that interested in letting me know where the nearest bus stop is. They’re all too busy stretching and huffing and puffing.

Here’s what drives me nuts. Why are we letting runners and bikers and rollerbladers etc.,etc. always take over streets that were clearly made for cars? Roads are for traffic, OK. And traffic means cars. End o’ story. And trucks. Traffic means cars and trucks. End o’ story. If you want to run or ride, go run or ride somewhere else like a gym or a track.

This is the problem with the city these days. It spends too much time trying to keep people happy. I mean, people like runners and bikers and the like. Not people like business people and everyday Joes like me. People who do real work for a living and contribute to the city. Traffic means business even on a Sunday. Traffic means cars. And trucks. Not bikes and jogistas (ha, ha. I just made that one up.)

If a normally hard working guy like myself can’t easily get home after a Saturday night of partying, then this city just isn’t working. Instead it is going to hell in a handbasket. Something’s got to change.

angrily submitted by Angry Torontonian #1


Personality Mapping By Numbers

April 10, 2010

So apparently, if going by where I live is indicative of the type of personality I possess, the good folks at the Martin Prosperity Institute at U. of T.’s Rotman School of Business would conclude that I am a fairly disagreeable introvert who is mildly conscientious but very open to experience with nary a hint of neurosis. Or, I am none of those things but live amidst a high concentration of that type which, at first blush, sounds nothing like my neighbourhood at all. Or maybe the disconnect is due to complexity being shoe-horned into ill-fitting boxes. Like the evil stepsisters trying to cram their big, flat feet into the tiny glass slipper Cinderella left behind.

All of which has to do with an interview I came across recently with Dr. Kevin Stolarick, a Research Director at the MPI. He and his team amassed a database of some 1300 participants from an online personality test in order to discover a link between types of people and where they live. According to Stolarick, personality traits fall into five and only five categories. “No matter what you ask people in behavioral questions,” Stolarick told Meghan Lawson of The Strand magazine last fall, “their answers always fall into the Big Five traits.” The Big Five? Conscientiousness, agreeability, openness to experience, extroversion, and neurosis.

Really? Do our lives break down that cleanly into a mere five categories? Can a 7 million year march through human evolution only have brought us to a point where we can be psychologically fitted into so few, easily defined slots? Sounds more like a marketer’s dream rather than anything even closely resembling reality.

There is also the very real possibility I just don’t have the necessary academic underpinnings to fully comprehend what Stolarick and his colleagues are attempting to do with this study. Into which one of the big 5 personality trait categories is ignorance placed?

It also could be my misgivings about putting much credence into self-reporting tests that serve as the basis for the research of Stolarick et al. As honest as people think they might be, there’s always going to be a hesitancy to ascribe to oneself less than flattering attributes. Do you like to acknowledge the fact that you’re the type that does ‘get nervous easily’ and ‘can be tense’ and ‘who worries a lot’? Wouldn’t you much rather be that person ‘who remains calm in tense situations’ and ‘is a deep, ingenious thinker’? Even just a little? Agree? Strongly disagree?

I gather that there’s a growing science behind putting together a more reliable sort of questionnaire in order to weed out the biggest, fattest liars and that there’s always increased accuracy in larger numbers, still… I find it difficult to fully embrace the veracity of the responses to such intensely personal questions. No, I am not comfortable admitting, even to someone at the end of a fairly anonymous online survey that ‘I see myself as someone with few artistic interests’ and ‘who starts quarrels with others’?

How much information should be deduced from such exercises? Can useful specifics be gathered from such broad strokes? Even Stolarick thinks that “personality is one of those things that doesn’t change very much. These are underlying personality types. Ideally, you should be seeing that these types don’t correlate with anything else.” So, what exactly is he looking for in crunching these types of numbers?

On the plus side, some pretty pictures have emerged from the MPI personality study, using heat diagramming that tells a tale of self-described types and where they reside here in Toronto. It seems that anyone lacking in curiosity lives up in the north end of the city. While all us suspicious and bad-tempered folk inhabit the central region top to bottom (making North Yorkers both close-minded and unfriendly) and stretching out along the lakeshore through the Beaches and into Scarborough. And if you’re neurotic, you better find yourself a place east of Yonge Street unless you want to go around feeling all conspicuous over here on the laid back west side, yo.

It all seems so narrow and confining, if you ask me, especially coming from a think-tank operating under the direction of urban guru Richard Florida. Isn’t he always on about the strength of diversity? Just how diverse are we if we can be so clinically boiled down to 5 kinds of personalities who huddle around other like-minded people? That, to my very open mind with all its introverted disagreeability and ever-so-slight traces of conscientiousness and neurosis, is the exact opposite of diverse; evoking more societal patterns in the Appalachians or medieval Europe. Surely, the complex web of life in a 21st-century, multicultural city like ours goes about its business on a much more complicated level than that.

very unneurotically but quite disagreeably submitted by Urban Sophisticat