Monthly Archives: August 2010


20 Landmarks in 20 (Work) Days

Ever since Ramadan began, it opened up an hour long block during my lunch break. Determined not to sit at my desk and surf or write away, I figured I would set out in the city and find 20 different thing within walking distance of work to view during the next 20 days of my work before my mini vacation begins on September 8th.

Here is the list of places I have been so far:

1.    Hockey Hall of Fame Store
2.    Hockey Night in Canada / CBC Radio Museum
3.    Nathan Phillip’s Square
4.    Porter Airlines Bus (Union Station)

Since August 11th, those have been my four stops and for that last one being yesterday, that is the free bus service from Porter Airlines to the Airport located in Downtown Toronto that I will be taking next month.

I am going to list some more places that I want to see below but I definitely won’t be able to fill all 30 so for those of you reading this, help me out.

Places I want to visit:

1.    Air Canada Centre
2.    Eaton’s Centre
3.    Maple Leaf Square
4.    Rogers Centre
5.    CN Tower
6.    Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
7.    City Hall
8.    Roy Thompson Hall
9.    Metro Toronto Convention Centre
10.    Art Gallery of Ontario

This puts me at 14 places, leaving 6 more to figure out in the next 15 work days. If you know of a place that you want to recommend, let me know in the comments or reach me any other way you know how.


How To Combine Religion And Science

Once again it is that time of the year again where Muslims all over the world begin fasting during the blessed month of Ramadan. As exciting of a period it is for Muslims, it seems that every year there seem to be some controversy as to when the new month should begin. Even though the past few years had gone well, it is back to business as usual this year with not only Canada and the United States differing on opinion but various states with the US observing it on two different days as well.

Islamic months follow the moon to determine when the new month will begin but it should not be confused or mislabeled as a lunar calendar. The Islamic calendar has months which either have 29 or 30 days and the length of each month vary from year to year. Traditionally, the first day of each month is the day (beginning at sunset) of the first sighting of the new crescent moon (or hilal as it is called) shortly after sunset.

If the hilal is not immediately visible after the 29th day of a month which could be because either the sky was too bright or the night was far too cloudy when the moon sets, then the following day is the 30th month. Whenever such a sighting is claimed, it is usually verified by a couple of reliable eyewitnesses before being generally accepted by the entire community. Determining the most likely day that the hilal could be observed was a motivation for Muslim interest in astronomy, which put Islam in the forefront of that science for many centuries.

There are a few problems that arise with the paragraph above. Since there were no modern technology at the time lunar observation first started in Islamic history, there are some schools of thought that claim that only when the moon is visible by the naked-eye should it be claimed that is a new moon while others on the other hand state that with the development of such technologies, the Muslim community should be able to easily come together and adapt scientific advancements with religious traditions in order to simplify the matter. The problems don’t end there as mass communication was slow during the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that local communities only observed the new month once the moon was visible in their locale. However now with instant communication worldwide, there are some who say that since there is only one moon that if it is verified that a moon was visible in South America or Asia, that it should be good enough for all Muslims worldwide to accept it.

Due to modern advancements in science it is very easy to say that Muslims should just begin using lunar calculations in determining the new date of the month but you would be hard pressed to find a unanimous consensus amongst 1.2 billion people around the world. There however should be some sort of compromise available allows all the people of this faith to observe Ramadan or any other start of the month in complete unity in order to better present it to the rest of the world.

Some on the more conspiratorial side claim that it is the local Muslim leaders who refuse to come together and develop a method that could be observed by all in unison. They say it is because they refuse to give up their stake of power in the current setting and by compromising on a method that would make it simple but would require them to give up their decision making powers since almost everything would be determined scientifically.

Hopefully there will be a time soon enough with maybe the upcoming generation where there will be development in terms of having less and less occasions with Muslims observing Ramadan and celebrating Eid on different days but that day can’t come soon enough.


Sports Teams In Toronto

The one down side to summer is that there isn’t a lot of variety available in terms sporting events to go watch in person. The Raptors and the Leafs have finished up, leaving the Blue Jays who were the only team I saw in person when I first lived here, the Toronto FC and I suppose you have the Canadian Football League but I’m not really interested in seeing much of that in person although I am interested in trying to get tickets for the Bills in Toronto game this year against the Bears.

That being said about the Jays, I haven’t been to Rogers Centre since it was renovated, revamped and renamed – that place will always be SkyDome to me. I am thinking of going there towards the end of September when the Yankees roll into town for a 3-game set. Who knows, maybe the Jays continue this good stretch and cut the 10.5 game deficit into something manageable heading into the last few series. Especially with the stadium within walking distance from my work, it is no excuse not to make a couple of games down the stretch of the season.

Most importantly, I can’t wait for hockey season to start up again. I was in elementary and middle school when I lived here for 5 years so I would always every game and eagerly await Hockey Night in Canada but never really got a chance to see them play in person. Hopefully this is the year they will finally stop the drought and make the playoffs. I wonder how much a couple of decent seats will cost me since every single home is sold out irrespective of the fact that they haven’t won a title since 1967 but then again people still go out to see the Cubs too.

Even though Bosh has gotten up and left in hopes for a ring, I’m still hopeful that the Raptors can at least compete for a playoff spot in the East. A few years back when the Raptors played the Nets in the playoffs, I remember going to the games in Jersey where the fans in attendance were split 50-50. There was such a lack of interest by the local fans there coupled with the fact that the Raptors growing fan base was willing to make a trip since it was easier to get Raptors tickets in NJ than back home. They should have another decent shot to finish second in the division but whether that will be good enough to make the playoffs, we’ll see.

Back in 1994 when I was still in Pakistan, we all used to get up in the middle of the night to watch the FIFA World Cup games. Even though there was a slight translation difficulty when we moved with a tiny kid like me asking people if they wanted to play ‘football’ and getting weird looks in return, the passion for the sport did not fade. With my elementary school being within walking distance, I would come home during lunch breaks just to catch parts of the game and update the rest of the class upon my return. I will admit that I don’t think I have seen more than a handful of the Toronto FC games but with all these arenas and fields located centrally around my work place, it makes it very convenient on days I want to do stuff right after a tiring work day.

I’m still not sure how actively they show collegiate sports here north of the border, but I will have to keep track of RU football and eventually college basketball once that rolls around. Unfortunately, I can probably already assume that March Madness will not be the same here as it is there and that’s an unfortunate sacrifice I will have to make.


How Should We Judge A-Rod’s Record?

As Alex Rodriguez became the youngest baseball player to reach home run number 600 in the history of the game, it is important to note the different transformations the game has gone (for good or for worse). Throughout all that however, medical advancements have been made, players have started training much more intensively and took better care of their bodies along with the addition of performance enhancement.

Should baseball strike out all pitching records if the pitcher involved had gotten Tommy John’s surgery? Certainly that wasn’t available back in the early- and mid-1900’s so that’s got to be a competitive advantage. With all the video accessories available to help teams scout and prepare for their opponent was never available in the early days of baseball, why isn’t that a competitive advantage that wasn’t available to other players/teams of the early years?

To me the record books are very clear, Hank Aaron held the all-time home run record for 30+ years but records are only kept because someone someday will come along and break it. Barry Bonds did that and he is without a doubt, the all time leader. A-Rod hitting his 600th today became the youngest all time to reach that mark and even though Babe Ruth did it in far less at bats (something around 2,000 less ABs) it does not mean he is the fastest, just the one with least at bats. It doesn’t entitle him to some record because he simply just did not hit enough home runs and that is all that needs to count for an all-time king.

One day A-Rod will go on to beat Bonds’ record and will eventually become the all-time leader but there is no legitimate reason to deny him the record. He tested positive in an era where testing wasn’t mandatory and there was no punishment for using it when he did. You can claim that he may have used it afterward (and he might have) but he never tested positive again so that’s what you go on. For all the allegations Bonds faced, he never tested positive on a test and he certainly never got any benefit of the doubt from the media who loved to hate him.

There is no reason for an asterisk because this is the era we are in and there is no way to distinguish who did and didn’t take enhancements. If you want to get completely ridiculous, Baseball can decide to remove every single statistic of everyone who played in this era but then where do you decide when the era started? What about players who were already playing before the ‘era’ started? When does the ‘era’ end and will we even know it ended? There is no realistic way of determining who to remove and who to keep and who’s to say there weren’t ‘cheaters’ well before this era?

You can start debating who achieved what record in how many games and that argument will never end but as the game evolves, the only thing that remains the same is how the game is played – 9 innings, 2 teams, 1 winner. So in whatever manner the record is achieved, using whatever form of medicine or technology, the record should stand because there is no uniform way to judge one era against another. The ones who come afterward will always have the advantage due to scientific and natural advancements made in everyday life and that is something all baseball purists or traditionalists will one day have to accept that.