Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Wish

Christmas Holy Night Star of Bethlehem - Jesus Christ is born

O’ Holy Night - Merry Christmas

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior— yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!

Thank-you to all my readers of the "canayjun point of view" blog.  Hope you all have a blessed Christmas and joyous New Year! – 

<>< Andy

Follow me:  @canayjun on Twitter


Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward everyone.


homelessness homeless #whyhomeless

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Smashing Pumpkins - Listen - Download - A Song for a Son

Smashing Pumpkins - A Song for a Son, released today for free MP3 download.

Follow: @smashingpumpkin and @canayjun on twitter


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Robert Coats, MBE - In Memoriam March 14, 1915 - October 23, 2009

Technology Pioneer - 
Chief Designer, QE2 Gas Turbine Propulsion System

My Uncle Bob passed away a couple of weeks ago. He was 94. He was my dad's last surviving brother of five. Bob and the rest of the Coats family live in England. It's difficult being in Canada, with no close relatives other than our immediate family, the five of us. So I'm posting this article about my Uncle Bob, written by my cousin Peter last week (which I have added to a little). God rest your soul Uncle Bob:

Robert Coats passed away peacefully in his sleep at home on October 23, 2009 aged 94 years. Bob is survived by his wife Dorthy (nee Edwards), brother Alan (my father), his sons Peter, Mick and Chris, their wives, and grandchildren.

Robert ( Bob) Coats, MBE

Bob was born 14 March 1915, South Shields, County Durham, England, the second of 5 sons of Thomas and Grace Coats. The other brothers were John, Thomas (Tommy), George and my father, Alan, the youngest. South Shields is a town on the east coast of northern England, at the mouth of the River Tyne. The closest major city is Newcastle. South Shields was a coal mining town, a busy seaport and the site of shipyards and ship building. It was in South Shields that the first lifeboats were invented and deployed by volunteers, for rescuing crew and passengers of wrecks on the stormy North Sea coast. (1915 was during the Great War - the "war to end all wars" - now known as the First World War).

Educated - South Shields High School. Graduated after taking School Certificate. Recently said it had been his intention to become a pharmacist but was found an apprenticeship at Parsons. Robert was the editor of the Harton Methodist Youth Newsletter. He qualified as Associate of the Marine Institute (AMI), Mechanical Engineer. After war work during the Second World War (1939-1945), which included assessing damage to torpedoed or shelled ships, Robert joined P.A.M.E.T.R.A.D.A. (Parsons And Marine Engineering Turbine Research And Development Association).

He had wanted to apply for another job but because of wartime labour controls, he had to get his manager’s approval. When he approached his manager he was told something else was coming up which would suit him better. Something else turned out to be PAMETRADA, which started up in a room over the Coach & Horses, a public house in Wallsend. (Wallsend is so named, being the eastern end of Hadrian's Wall, a defense rampart built across the width of nothern Britain by the Roman General Hadrian during the first century).

He met his wife Dorothy (Edwards) for the first time on a walking holiday in North Wales in 1938. After a courtship made difficult by wartime conditions and her travelling about with the Land Army / Forestry Commission, they married in 1943. They have three sons, Peter, Mick and Chris and he leaves behind many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The family moved to Ponteland in Northumberland in 1956.

Robert was instrumental in developing a standard approach to steam turbine design and rose to Chief Designer at PAMETRADA about the time the research side was hived off to BSRA (now British Maritime Technology). The last major project at PAMETRADA was the design of propulsion machinery for the QE2 - The RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 - for many years, the world's largest cruise ship. When the member firms, including John Brown’s, decided to wind PAMETRADA up, the ship was still under construction and Bob joined John Brown Engineering at Clydebank.

The QE2 - RMS Queen Elizabeth 2

In 1968, Bob and Dorothy with their youngest son Chris, moved to Helensburgh in Scotland (near Glasgow and next to the beautiful Loch Lomond). This was for his work at John Brown Engineering, which initially involved watching over the construction of the Q.E.2’s turbines, which had been designed by PAMETRADA as part of the standard range of turbines. The engines passed their trials but broke down during the shake down cruise due to blade failure. Bob Coats was on board as a senior representative of the engine builders and was able to ensure return to port under reduced power. The engines were returned to the Clydebank, repaired under his direction and reinstalled, and continued in use until their replacement by diesels many years later.

In his own words, on creation of the separate Marine and General Engineering Division he was appointed Technical Manager, with responsibility for introducing the Heavy Duty Gas Turbine for marine propulsion, in addition to the continuation of the Steam Turbine sales and design activities for marine steam turbines under PAMETRADA, Stal Laval and General Electric Licences. He developed a gas turbo-electric propulsion system which was the subject of John Brown’s first Merchant Marine gas turbine order.

Bob continued as Technical Manager at John Brown Engineering until 1980, promoting the use of gas turbines, under a GE licence, throughout the world; memorably in China where the price was going to be paid via trade, in millions of eggs. He developed new engineering systems incorporating gas turbines, for instance - Combined Power Systems for electricity generation where exhaust heat from a gas turbine is used to raise steam for a steam turbine generator. He supported the company’s sales and marketing efforts in China, Russia, Vietnam, Mexico, Thailand, Venezuela, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Trinidad and America. The interest in energy efficiency developed and continued in consulting activities after retirement from John Brown’s. It’s remarkable in this connection that global warming was mentioned as long ago as 1979.

Two years before his retirement Bob and Dorothy bought the house at Thursby near Carlisle (in the Lake District of northern England) where they lived until moving to Newport, Shropshire in the south in 1999. Bob continued to provide consultancy in the field of energy efficiency and related matters until 1985 (aged 70).

Robert Coats was made MBE, Member - The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year’s Honours for 1984, for services to industry.

Now my Dad is the last of the remaining brothers Coats. He will miss Robert dearly, as do I.

Alan & Bob (and Kip), 1935

L-R: George, Robert, Alan - 2000

Robert Coats - Professional Designations:
Fellow, Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology
Fellow, Royal Institute of Naval Architects
Associate Member, Institution of Mechanical Engineers
MBE - The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by King George V of the United Kingdom. The Order includes five classes in civil and military divisions. MBE is for a Member

1. Pametrada Turbines - Present Position and Future Outlook (IMarE Silver Medal, 19 April 1966)
2. With Ralph Fleeting, BSc CEng FIMA FBCS: Blade Failures in the HP Turbines of RMS Queen Elizabeth II and their Rectification (IMarE Silver Medal 21 April 1971)
3. Turbinas a Gas para Operaciones de Fundicion, Caracas 29 April 1976 (written and delivered in Spanish)
4. Marine Steam Turbines - Part 8 of Marine Engineering Practice, IMar E,
5. Marine Turbine Thrusts, North East Coast Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders, 1965
6. (with J.A.Turner) Long Life Marine Gas Turbines , Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, 1970

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gala Charity Benefit in Toronto to Help the Homeless

Toronto Charity Benefit - 'Our Toronto includes the Homeless'

Reserve November 28th on your calendar to make a difference for the thousands of people in Toronto who are experiencing homelessness. We pass them on the streets every day and, as the cold weather comes, see them huddled over hot air grates outside Toronto's downtown skyscapers and lining up outside the crowded emergency shelters or soup kitchens. What can we do? It has to be more than dropping small change in a panhandler's battered Tim Horton's cup - real change is what's needed. For almost twenty years, Project417 has mobilized thousands of community volunteers. They operate relief outreach programs to the homeless year round - building bridges of trust, encouraging the homeless to seek shelter & housing and helping them to move into healthier lifestyles. You can help Project417 continue their work and improve our community - our Toronto - for everyone.

Project417 presents:

The ♫We Are Family Gala♫

Music by: Big John & the Night Trippers
Motown - R&B, Blues, 60's Rock

Saturday, November 28th, 2009 - 8:00PM to 1:00AM, Cocktails @ 7PM

Reception & Dance :: Hors D'Oeuvres & Finger Foods - Desserts & Pastry Table ::
Silent Auction :: Live Auction - original Artworks :: Raffles, Games & prizes
Tickets $75 pp - VIP Tickets $100 pp ::
RBC Auditoriums, 315 Front Street West, Toronto, ON
(next to the Rogers Centre and CN Tower)
SPECIAL 2 for 1 Ticket prices - get them online nowEmail: ::

We're having a party! Project417 is hosting a gala charity benefit - The ♫We Are Family Gala♫. We want to celebrate this community we call Toronto with an evening of live music, good food, dancing and fun! All proceeds from the ♫We Are Family Gala♫ will benefit people in our community who are experiencing homelessness

It's going to be a Motown theme this year, backed by the rockin, R&B sounds of Big John and the Night Trippers. Fronted by vocalist "Big John" Morris, the Night Trippers will have you puttin' on your dancin' shoes and groovin' to your favorite 60's and 70's Motown and Rock n Roll hits. The ♫We Are Family Gala♫ will be a must see event this fall - be prepared for the red carpet treatment and paparazzi when you arrive.

We chose ♫We Are Family♫ to reflect the spirit of the programs Project417 runs to help the homeless. It's about engaging people in community - more than two thousand volunteers this year - and it is about relationship building. We want to show that this little community we call Toronto cares about the people in our midst who are experiencing homelessness. We won't pass them by. We won't leave them behind. We realize that our community can not reach it's full potential while they are left out in the cold. We need them to find a place to call home with neighbors who care and community services that meet the needs of the whole community.

How can I help?

Do you have a flair for organizing? or decorating? Graphic design? Have some great fun ideas to make our party more entertaining? Just email us at and we'll hook you up with our fund-raising committee.

We invite all community members to donate new, unused gifts and services to be auctioned or awarded as prizes. If necessary, donors of goods can receive a charitable donation receipt according to CRA guidelines for Gifts in Kind. You must tell us the fair market value of the gift you are donating. Currently, CRA guidelines do not allow for tax-deductible receipts for the donation of services. These types of gifts however, have proven to be very popular at silent auction and we appreciate your support of our cause. We already have a night for two in Niagara-on-the-Lake at the elegant Copper Lane B&B, a week at a resort in Quebec and some Toronto Raptors tickets! What do you have that you could offer to our guests at the gala?

We are
also accepting cash donations to assist with the operation of this worthy cause. Donations of $100, $500 or more can be identified as Sponsors of the Gala. Please make your cheques payable to Project417. A charitable donation receipt will be mailed to you. Online donations will be available soon. Those interested in donating an item can leave it with a member of the Project417 fund-raising committee- contact us by email at Thank you, your contributions are much appreciated!

Project417 Programs

Project417 has several active programs in the Toronto Area. Project417 is a division of Ekklesia Inner City Ministries, a registered Canadian charitable organization - CRA registration #890482763RR0001. Our vision is to create a community which is accessible to ALL who are in need. We develop and implement programs which enable people to move into healthier lifestyles. Project417 hosts almost two thousand volunteers each year and guides them in meaningful outreach to the homeless right where they live - out on the street, in shelters, meal programs or drop-ins.

[and just in case you thought it was all pointless, there an answer]


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Join the #Whyhomeless Movement - Help the Homeless Now

Originally posted on by missionlog | mirror

Visit Part 1 of the series at this short url -

Welcome to the continuing series exploring the root causes of homelessness. This IS the #Whyhomeless Movement. A grassroots social action group committed to alleviating the challenges faced by people who are experiencing homelessness. Based in Toronto, but pursuing a worldwide issue, we think global, but ACT local. I’ve proposed the creation of a task force to re-examine the core issues and we now have a small tight knit team and held the first #whyhomeless meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009 in Toronto hosted by the kind folks at the Ferret & Firkin Pub on Spadina. (The sweet potato fries are worth the visit alone – join us for the next meeting).

good energy

In my last post I said:

We need innovative problem solving techniques to be applied in an environment that fosters freedom of thought and unity of purpose. We need to remember the most important stakeholders in this process – the homeless men, women and children themselves.

The meeting included a fair amount of brainstorming mixed with a backgrounder on Project417, the non-profit that launched the #Whyhomeless movement. Here are some of the ideas that were presented – ( Thanks Darlene, Giulia, Jenn, April, and Rahim).

A home for the homeless -

It’s proposed that we purchase a home in the downtown Toronto area and develop it as a supportive transitional home for up to four members of our community who are experiencing homelessness. Partnerships created with banking, real estate, city programs, churches and exisiting community organizations. This is activism at its most basic – people are homeless. Let’s provide them with a home.

A street-based community newspaper –

There are two (or three) “homeless outreach” newspapers on the streets of Toronto right now. Only one publishes regularly. One has content that could only be described as racist conspiracy theory on steroids. A recent attempt at a new publication (that most of us were involved in) was co-opted by some folks who probably were more interested in a paycheck than in truly involving the homeless. We’re going to take another run at it. It will involve members of the homeless community from the ground up. Publisher, editors, journalists, photography, design, marketing, advertising, online edition, distribution and vendors – ALL will be people who are or who have recently experienced homelessness. It will contain real news that people want to read, it will pay its own way, it will engender a spirit of mentorship and it will provide valuable on-the-job training and work experience. volunteer building –

The first Project417 Sandwich Run to the Homeless last month was a great success. Thanks Giulia and Darlene. Project417 already hosts more than two thousand volunteers a year, handing out meals to the homeless. Tapping into the local community through MeetUp could realistically add another 1,000 volunteers annually, add new routes and areas of the city, and introduce more caring people to the #whyhomeless movement.

A canteen truck for the Sandwich Runs to the homeless

We have in the past made use of volunteer and staff vans to extend the reach of delivering nutritious meals to the homeless out on the streets. It’s proposed that a canteen (camper) van/truck be purchased and operated to increase the effectiveness of street outreach to the homeless. This includes partnering with organizations, like the Salvation Army and Light Patrol – who already operate vehicle outreach. There is a side benefit in that people trained on the canteen will also have skills needed in our Emergency & Disaster Response programs.

The Co-op community housing model –

Co-operative housing has fallen out of favour in recent years for affordable housing projects (very few new Co-op units have been constructed) But it is in fact, the future of affordable housing because it involves residents directly in building healthy communities – new co-op model efforts should encompass local green environmental initiatives, community gardens (buy local), childcare, education, elder care, health care and non-traditional approaches to transitional homes.

The “residence” housing model -

Very simply – why are there only “residences” for college and university students? That type of cooperative living environment can be ideal for any youth leaving home, seeking their first jobs and looking for an affordable place to live and eat.

A Fair Trade Cafe -

Hey, we’re Canadian, eh? We love coffee. We love the homeless. So a coffee house to support the homeless community is a natural, right?

A Fundraising Party –

Coming soon to a Toronto venue near you! It’s time for the next Project417, and the first #whyhomeless fundraiser. Room for plenty of fun loving people. Some good eats and refreshments. Great band – live music, dancing. Special guests, auctions and more. Announcement coming soon.

Using Social Media to help the Homeless –

We need a website makeover and a launch pad for the #whyhomeless Movement and need to recruit industry expertise in new media, social media and web apps. You may already be part of the #whyhomeless Movement. If not go to Twitter and tweet homelessness issues and news with the #whyhomeless tag. Make friends with like minded people who care about the homeless (follow @canayjun). Submit a comment here. Re-post this on your blog, share it on Facebook. Email a link to your friends, post it on Digg or Reddit. Visit Twitter and connect with other friends like @MLFNOW , @_CSM_ , @joeelkerton or @invisiblepeople.

Stay tuned for more updates – comment here if you’re interested in attending our next meeting – Wednesday, Sept. 9th at 8PM.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hurricane Katrina 8 29 05 Remember New Orleans - Video

Hurricane Katrina: Rain to Renaissance – YouTube Video

I couldn’t let August 29th go by without posting some remembrance for our many friends in New Orleans. Four years ago today Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and devastated New Orleans. I went down and volunteered with Project417, staying until August ‘06 working in relief centers and hosting volunteers helping gut out and repair flood ravaged homes in the Lower 9th. I put the video together from photos we took, news shots, NASA photos and other YouTube videographers. It still needs an ending that shows the spirit of revival and community caring that continues to grow today. Worth watching? You tell me – I will never forget New Orleans.

Re-tweet it @canayjun to let me know you watched. Thx!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Root Causes of Homelessness - Part 5

Posted on August 13, 2009 by missionlog | mirror

Visit Part 1 of the series at this short url -

In my last post I said:
We need to re-visit the issue of the root causes of homelessness and use our findings to publicly articulate an actionable plan to reduce homelessness. We need to wrest control of the issues from interest groups and some activist organizations which, in my opinion, have co-opted the true needs of our homeless friends. We need to make recommendations that can be life changing and give hope to our entire community.

Naturally, this has garnered a fair level of criticism from some existing homeless service providers. I ask once again that people who are working so tirelessly to improve the lives of our homeless friends not view the ongoing quest to redefine the root causes of homelessness as an indictment – our goal is to identify major risk factors before people become homeless and to do this we must move out of the realm of considering homelessness primarily as a poverty issue. This can only strengthen existing homeless services. In contrast to “housing first” based efforts, as a grassroots program Project417’s #whyhomeless movement will be a people centered community development effort.

We’re not alone in our search to re-define homeless services. Alan Graham, founder and president of Mobile Loaves and Fishes in Austin, Texas recently announced a groundbreaking program to survey the homeless themselves to determine their critical needs. He posted this startling declaration:
ISSUE: Despite decades of heart-felt attempts at finding solutions, millions of dollars and countless hours of effort, the homeless services system in the United States is officially broken. There are few, if any, large, transformational, paradigm-shifting programs that are effectively, productively and permanently moving homeless people off of the streets and into meaningful and purposeful solutions. Many services are tiny band-aids on a gaping and gushing wound: one meal for a person who doesn’t have a regular source of nutrition, one counseling service with no continuation of care, one night of shelter in a public, crowded facility. In August 2009 an Austin collaboration will be conducting a landmark survey of the area homeless population. The goal is to better understand the needs of the chronically homeless, in hopes of creating transformational change. The results of this survey will be the foundation for a full day educational and community action symposium in March 2010. [in Austin, Texas]
At Project417 we believe that people have priority over money, structures, systems and other institutions. At Project417, a program of Ekklesia Inner City Ministries, our Executive Director, Rev. Joe Elkerton has a long history of ministering to and advocating for the homeless in Toronto going back over twenty years. He promotes a vision of people centered community development. From the Project417 mission statement on our website:

Our definition of development is –

people in community engaging in a spiritual, social, physical, economic and political process of positive transformation towards a sustainable future.
People centered development focuses on the well being of people and their living system while promoting the worth and dignity of all human beings. It therefore encompasses value change, popular participation, human resource development, gender issues, appropriate technology, children’s issues and sustainability.

People centered development “emphasizes the process of development and its essential focus on personal and institutional capacity”. It also rejects the notion of experts, asserting instead that no one is outside of the development process and that each person has something to contribute as sell as something to learn.

People centered development seeks the active involvement of all stakeholders in every stage of the development process. It affirms the worth and contribution of every community member. It promotes transparency, justice and equity, asserting that the first priority in resource allocation should be the achievement of community objectives related to the satisfaction of the basic needs of all community members”.

In my last post, I invited any and all who are interested in resolving homelessness in our communities to join a “taskforce” to determine the root cause of homelessness with the purpose to prevent, treat and heal homelessness. More correctly it should not yet be referred to as a taskforce because the root issues are not yet defined, so specific tasks can’t be assigned. We need innovative problem solving techniques to be applied in an environment that fosters freedom of thought and unity of purpose. We, like Mobile Loaves and Fishes , need to remember the most important stakeholders in this process – the homeless men, women and children themselves.

You can be a valuable part of this process. Join the #whyhomeless movement. Submit a comment here. Re-post this on your blog, share it on Facebook. Email a link to your friends, post it on Digg or Reddit. Visit Twitter and connect with me @canayjun or other friends like @MLFNOW , @_CSM_ , @joeelkerton or @invisiblepeople. Tweet homelessness issues to the world on Twitter and include the tag #whyhomeless so we can track the movement.

Come back and visit the blog here for the next post in this series.



Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Root Cause of Homelessness - Part 4

Visit Part 1 of the series at this short url -

A Call to Action:

In Parts 1 to 3 of the series, we have investigated the root cause of homelessness. I mentioned the need to decide upon a definition of homelessness. I’d like to postpone that for a short time because there is a window of opportunity right now to impact homelessness services that requires a call to action. There is an excellent article on defining “homelessness” by Lyne Casavant, of the Political and Social Affairs Division, Government of Canada, from January 1999 at “Definition of Homelessness”.

I recently proposed the formation of a task force on the root causes of homelessness in an email to some key stakeholders here in Canada, because as I have said -
the issue of affordable housing does not sufficiently capture the underlying “root” cause of homelessness
My message was addressed to the members of the EFC Roundtable on Poverty and Homelessness – advocates in their own right representing several organizations devoted to helping the homeless. I also included Joe Elkerton, our Executive Director at Project417 and several other stakeholders, friends and community members with a heart for the homeless. The text of that message follows -

“Some of you I have met and had a chance to discuss the challenges in ministering to the homeless. I’ve been with Joe Elkerton at Project417 – Ekklesia Inner City Ministries for more than five years – my position there is 100% faith based and I was commissioned to this work with the homeless by my home church, Mississauga Chinese Baptist Church. Primarily I work out on the streets of Toronto year round in what we call sandwich runs to the homeless with over 2,000 volunteers every year. I’m currently engaged in a process that is exploring the root causes of homelessness – in a series of posts at my blog (quicklink ) and I would appreciate your comments and input.

More - in keeping with the spirit of the Ottawa manifesto, I would suggest that now is the time to -
“…SPEAK on [the homeless'] behalf when their own voices are not heard, and support them in speaking for themselves, to the end that Canadian churches, governments, media and businesses would make the substantial reduction of homelessness, poverty and their root causes a high priority”.

I know that each of you works tirelessly for the homeless both in your respective organizations and as members of the EFC roundtable – don’t consider it an indictment when I say that we have not yet done enough for our homeless friends. Consider it a call to action or a call to arms:

” — Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon… Neh. 4:17

We need to re-visit the issue of the root causes of homelessness and use our findings to publicly articulate an actionable plan to reduce homelessness. We need to wrest control of the issues from interest groups and some activist organizations which, in my opinion, have co-opted the true needs of our homeless friends. We need to make recommendations that can be life changing and give hope to our entire community. We all suffer the effects of homelessness in our society. One of our friends, Bob Buckley, has said recently in his blog The Pathway to Hope -
Our society in it’s desire to help the brokenhearted, is part of the problem. We provide enough care to maintain a level of survival that I would call the living dead”.
All of us when pressed admit the root causes of homelessness are complex, but complexity is not impossible to fathom. We all know the simple straight-forward answers most people give for homelessness -

# Alcohol and drug abuse, addictions
# Loss of a job, the economy, bankruptcy
# Family problems and break-ups
# Lack of education – not being qualified for well paying job
# Poor judgment, making bad choices and laziness
# Choice – some people just choose to be homeless
# Mental illness
# Physical disability
# Abuse in the home – youth runaways
# Violence against women

To these are most often added a key element – the lack of affordable housing. Housing has become the clarion call for many homeless service organizations across Canada and the United States and for some time, I too thought that was the key, (or adequate housing to use the UN definition in which affordability is but one factor). But we all know that it is still not so simple. All of the homeless must be missing one thing in common, like lacking the anti-bodies to fight a disease. I often tell my volunteers they are missing just one person who cares. Love is the missing ingredient. And our Christian community is called by Christ to be the people who love other people. We have the Author of love as our example. God IS love. We are called by love its very self to love both our neighbors and our enemies.

How then is this “lack of love” manifested in people before they become homeless – because that is what we must address. We are all very skilled at loving the homeless after the fact. It is this realization that suggests that homelessness is not primarily a poverty issue. Here in Canada at least, it is not primarily the poor that are becoming homeless. Homelessness visits every strata of our society, rich and poor. The poverty-centric disaster relief and healing services must continue – we can do no less. But we must take the next steps in the fight against homelessness – just as with heart disease or diabetes – Prevention and search for the cure.

Many of you have already said as much, although in different words. Greg Paul writes on the EFC website -
“Although these “reasons” are some of the huge problems to be addressed if my friends are ever to find homes, these aren’t the root cause why they have ended up living on the street. Experiences of significant and repeated physical and/or sexual abuse—which many studies correlate with roughly 85 percent of homeless youth—now that gets a little closer to the bone…
Joe Elkerton has discussed with me the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD – displayed amongst our most chronically homeless street friends, especially of the First Nations, and how their inner pain triggers the terrible and self-destructive behaviour we witness daily.

A recent study by Dr Stephen Hwang at St. Mike’s reveals that more than one in three of Toronto’s homeless suffered a traumatic brain injury prior to ending up on the streets .

A recent study I became aware of only days ago, by Heather Larkin of the University of Albany – shows the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences - ACE – and homelessness. From her study -
More than 85 percent of the homeless respondents reported having experienced at least one of 10 categories of adverse childhood experiences (ACE). Many (52.4 percent) had experienced more than four categories of traumatic events when growing up. … There is a high ACE prevalence among the homeless people in this study. Individuals with high ACE scores may be more vulnerable to economic downturns and cultural oppression, a person-environment interaction increasing the likelihood of homelessness. Service responses focused on identifying and addressing childhood traumas hold an opportunity for addressing ACEs before they contribute to homelessness.”
I’d suggest a task force be assembled to re-define from the ground up the root causes of homelessness, refine the church’s response, to separate service responses pre- and post-homeless, to help prevent, treat and heal homelessness in our community. You’re all invited.

We really should meet.


Visit @canayjun on Twitter and join the #whyhomeless movement

Acts 3:1-7
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. NASB


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Layton: Defending Canada's Health Care: Truths and Lies

Jack Layton - on Huffington Post Blog
Responding to U.S. Republican fear-mongering about "broken" health care system

Our system does have flaws. We need better prescription drug coverage, better remote access to care and better practices in hospitals and clinics. No honest advocate for our health care system would dismiss these things. But Canadian health care works -- and works well....
Canayjun's comments via HuffPo:

" I'm glad Jack did admit the Canadian system is not perfect. Our neighbours deserve the facts. As Jack listed - the lack of a comprehensive prescription drug plan adds to the cost we must pay for directly and is a burden on many families. Better remote health care, especially in the far north and amongst our First Nations native population - Attawapiskat for instance has a hospital staffed by nurses only with doctors flown in on a schedule. I feel what Jack has missed mentioning, and is glossed over in our enthusiasm to say how great a job Canada is doing, are three major items: 1. the difficulty in finding a family doctor / GP if you don't already have one (one of the unlucky 15%); 2. too few specialists, eg. neurologists,cardiologists, etc and technicians like MRI imaging technicians; 3. and the final most pressing need - we need to reduce wait times for treatment and testing.

Much has been done in the past two or three years, but we need to be able to count on speedy access to health care and not just in critical circumstances - days and weeks can add up until the health situation becomes critical. Early diagnosis and treatment should still be the priority"

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Rogers Internet Service: Slow connections, DNS errors, and Speed Tweaks

In my previous posts about trying to improve the speed and reliability of my Rogers internet service - Rogers Internet Service - DNS errors - Portable Internet Issues - I discussed how Rogers Internet Services changed the way their DNS (domain name system) servers handles DNS requests with Roger's "Supported search results" as they called it - make a typo in a url and you are redirected to a Rogers portal webpage displaying possible search matches and advertising (from which they earn revenue). Not only did this break the functionality of your browser (which suggest inline alternatives to misspelled links), their opt-out method was confusing and technically challenging. My service degraded considerably. So I showed how to change the DNS servers to OpenDNS' and or the alternate Level 3 Communications and

(By the way, all these discussions are based on Windows XP - Vista and 7 are much different)

I use Rogers High Speed Portable which is a wireless (non- line of site) service provided by both Bell (Bell High Speed Unplugged) and Rogers, a joint venture called the Inukshuk Wireless Partnership using pre-WiMax (IEEE 802.16) transmission technology. It has an advertised speed of 1.5 mbps down and 256 kbps up which was not as fast as cable or DSL but the flexibility was all I needed. Rogers has recently announced a next gen high speed wireless service said to be many times faster - Rogers Extreme Plus and Ultimate Tier High Speed Internet packages are claimed to deliver download speeds of 25 and 50 Mbps and upload speeds of 1 Mbps and 2 Mbps respectively. They still have file transfer limits (uploads and downloads combined)of 125 GB and 175 GB respectively. (Portable is 30GB) Based on my experience with their wireless products, I would steer clear until they prove the stability and reliability.

Anyway, because my service began to seriously degrade: slowing down to a crawl every evening, numerous resets required (powering off/on the wireless modem), file downloads interrupted etc - My quest to tweak and improve that connection was on. I made extensive use of tech support forums across the internet including the major manufacturers like Cisco, Microsoft etc - using Google search to dig up the most useful exchanges of information. As I mentioned the best source I found of user support forums was (not limited to DSL service, covers all major connectiom methods, cable, wireless, satellite, even dial-up). They have an extensive list of free tweaking and testing tools.

The first major improvement that I saw was changing a setting called MTU - or Maximum Transmission Unit. Discussions in different forums had even Roger's tech support targetting incorrect MTU as the culprit for slow,unreliable connections - but those same Roger's tech's showed a wide disagreement in what the best MTU for portable wireless internet was. The default MTU in Windows XP is 1500. (Vista and 7.0 settings are not tweakable, those OS's use a more dynamic internal self-reparing approach to network throughput). The MTU setting controls the maximum ethernet packet size your PC will send. Windows defaults MTU to 1500. Larger packets can be sent but basically, your ISP's routers will "fragment" the packet, ie. break it up into digestable chunks. This fragmentation (and re-assembly) add delay to your network transit times and increase the likelihood of packet loss. What? Rogers didn't tell you to change your MTU because wireless transmission requires a lower MTU - therein lies the problem.

There were three Microsoft support articles I found useful: Different MTU Settings; MTU settings for PPPoE (point to point protocol over Ethernet); and Black Hole Router discussions (no it's not sci-fi, but ya gotta love the name). The situation is made confusing because the PPPoE article says not to set MTU below 1400 and this is the value most Rogers techs were recommending - and if you set it too small (its 576 for dial-up for example) it's self defeating in that you now have too many packets to transmit and speed suffers. But in their support article on the "detection of black-hole routers", Microsoft shows how to test and lower MTU to an optimal (and often below 1400) level. The best instructions I found again were on tweak forums

You'll be using Ping
- Microsoft's packet transmission test utility and the command (dos) prompt - but the testing will really show you how to zero in on the best MTU size. Basically you use the -f & l flags in Ping to fix the packet size, tell the network NOT to allow fragmentation, start at 1480 and work down until you no longer get the "packet needs to be fragmented" error message. Then increase by 1 until you are 1 less away from getting "packet need to be fragmented" message again. Add 28 more to this (since you specified ping packet size, not including IP/ICMP header of 28 bytes), and this is your MaxMTU. This actauly gave me a best MTU size of 1254 and I saw an immediate increase in speed when I changed the MTU on my system (both PC's in the home network as well as the router) Here's what the process looked like:

You're probably not comfortable with changing this value in your Windows Registry, me neither. Fortunately DSLReports has a great utility DrTCP that is a simple GUI interface short-cut into your registry. DON'T change any of the DrTCP values until you read the step by step instructions - don't randomly change DrTCP settings, just start with MTU and leave the others default. As always, back up your registry first before making any changes, so you can revert laetr if needed (I've found DrTCP to be very stable, no registry errors and has the ability to change things back to defaults with just a simple lick and re-boot - the re-boot IS mandatory after any changes or the MTU settings won't take.

Anyway - this greatly improved my connection speeds, helped lower fragmentation and made the connection much more stable. I was still seeing different times of the day where the modem needed re-booting to re-establish the wireless connection however, and using Ping was showing a huge variance in ping latency (the packet trip time across the network measured in microseconds)

None of the speed tweaks so far affect latency. Make good use of the speed tests at DSLReports to get a feel for your speed throughout the day. I suspect the Rogers fluctuations are due to network congestion as well as deep packet inspection and traffic shaping by Rogers to reduce peer to peer torrent traffic. I have found that simply connecting to a large file for download, such as NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day , usually a large jpeg file, can help re-establish the connection speed (perhaps it is grabbing the bandwidth and acquiring some priority with the ISP's routers - don't know, not a techie).

Try this link as a manual speed test. First fire up Windows Task Manager (control-alt-del), switch to the networking tab and you should see real time graphs of your connection speed (it will show connection as 10/100 or 1,000 Mbps, your ethernet speed - not your ISP connection speed, but its Ok, that actual speed shows too). Now visit my JavaBistro blog at and scroll down to the Galactic Map post. You'll see a link there to NASA's full sized 5600 x 5600 pixel jpeg of the galaxy, a large 5mb file. Click on it to download the picture and you'll see the realtime speed of your connection in the Task Manager window (and a cool desktop photo if you like too).

In my next post in this series I'll cover the next important tweak to try and overcome some of this latency.

Also, Canayjun's Canada News Blog is not really meant to be a tech forum, but post your comment here, you'd be suprised how many people are having difficulties with this and any insights you have would be useful. Our main news blog topic right now is homelessness, check it out and connect on Twitter to @canayjun and join the #whyhomeless movement.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Homelessness – The Root Causes – Part III

Posted on July 22, 2009 by missionlog - this is a mirror of the series at

Homelessness – The Root Causes – Part III

In Part I & Part II, I have been asking the question – “What do you think is the root cause of homelessness?” (Join the movement – tweet your answers on Twitter with the tag #whyhomeless). I pointed out that -

The right to housing is a basic human right defined by the United Nations, ratified and signed by Canada and most other Western nations. And yet, it is the lack of affordable housing which most suspect to be the leading contributor to homelessness in every town and city in North America where it exists.

photo"fatima" by - Dan Bergeron /fauxreel

To determine the root cause
of homelessness it’s important to investigate the genesis of the single cause most often targetted – the lack of affordable housing – in view of the United Nations covenant. The international agreement is:

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

It includes such basic human rights as – the right to self-determination, equal rights for men and women, the right to work, the right to just and favorable conditions of work, the right to form and join trade unions, the right to social security and social insurance, rights to protection and assistance for the family, the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right to education, the right to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications…

And -

Article 11 – The right to an adequate standard of living

Which clearly states:

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing- and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international cooperation based on free consent.

This right to “adequate housing” is so crucial, that it is the only factor to be extensively defined and in a General Comment to the Covenant, General Comment No. 4 – which reveals the extensive nature of the protection included under article 11 and elaborates legal interpretations of the right to adequate housing which go far beyond restricted visions of this right as simply a right to shelter. In it, the Committee, which has given more attention to the right to housing than to any other right under the Covenant, states (in part):

“The right to housing, should not be interpreted in a narrower restrictive sense which equates it with, for example, the shelter provided by merely having a roof over one’s head . . . Rather it should be seen as the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity”. The Committee has defined the term “adequate housing” to comprise -

security of tenure
availability of services
and cultural adequacy

Affordability is defined such that personal or household financial costs associated with housing should be at such a level that the attainment and satisfaction of other basic needs are not threatened or compromised; Location so that adequate housing must be in a location which allows access to employment options, health-care services, schools, child-care centres and other social facilities; and cultural adequacy means that the way housing is constructed, the building materials used and the policies supporting these must appropriately enable the expression of cultural identity and diversity of housing.

The states and nations party to this covenant (including Canada) regognize the interdependance of basic rights – ” the full enjoyment of other rights – such as the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of association (such as for tenants and other community-based groups), the right to freedom of residence and the right to participate in public decision-making – is indispensable if the right to adequate housing is to be realized and maintained by all groups in society” . Further, rights such as the right to adequate housing in turn are integral to a persons ability to enjoy other basic human rights.

It is important to discuss this in our investigation of the root causes of homelessness – especially in the light of our own government policies – policies, laws and regulations at the municipal, provincial and federal levels can not be in contravention of this covenant. We must hold policy makers and politicians accountable to the rule of law in how our social safety net is put into practice and demand that barriers to the enjoyment of basic human rights are removed. We must be vigilant to ensure that nobody is subjected to discrimination which affects their right to adequate housing.

For example – if we look at the conditions on First Nations reserves and the housing solutions provided there, can we say that our First nations people have access to housing which is affordable and meets the internationally agreed upon standards for location and cultural adequacy?

In the next part I’ll review how the United Nations has helped develop a broad definition of homelessness. Many people do not take the time to define “homelessness” in their policies and programs. If we are to determine root causes then we must use a common definition.

Your comments are needed – share this with as people as possible, on Facebook, Digg, Reddit. If you’re on Twitter, tweet this link and your comments with the new Twitter hashtag #whyhomeless. Reply to me @canayjun Get the word out.

BE the change!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Homelessness - The Root Cause - Part 2

What do you think is the root cause of homelessness? Part 2
Posted on July 14, 2009 by missionlog - This is a re-post of my missionlog article
Read - What do you think is the root cause of homelessness? Part I

See it - by canayjun / MrPicassohead

In Part I of the series, I shared the results of informal surveys of volunteers over the last few years of what people think is the root cause of homelessness. It’s important to address this issue. Much has already been written and studied on how to help the homeless, but I strongly believe we have still missed the mark. To define this is critical in alleviating homelessness. (We still need your input and comments here too)

…if we are not targeting the root cause of the problem, then homelessness will only worsen. It’s like finding a cure for a disease. Homelessness is a plague on our society. Instead of just treating symptoms we need to find a cure for those who are already homeless and we need to protect the entire population from the risk of being exposed to homelessness.

I’ve already listed what most people think are the causes -

  • Alcohol and drug abuse, addictions
  • Loss of a job, the economy, bankruptcy
  • Family problems and break-ups
  • Lack of education – not being qualified for well paying job
  • Poor judgment, making bad choices and laziness
  • Choice – some people just choose to be homeless
  • Mental illness
  • Physical disability
  • Abuse in the home – youth runaways
  • Violence against women

- and that most people would target addictions and family dysfunctions when asked to choose the top reasons. My colleague Steve, a member of the Sanctuary community in Toronto and outreach worker with the Center for Student Missions, himself formerly homeless, targets job loss as the number one reason. He predicts a large upswing in the numbers of homeless in a few months due to the current recession when EI and layoff / severance benefits run out. Some comments, here and on Facebook, Reddit and Twitter, have had good suggestions to give other factors more priority, such as -

  • Mental health issues
  • Veterans suffering PTSD
  • Gender inequality
  • Bias regarding sexual orientation
  • Low Minimum wages
As I explain to our volunteers after a night out serving the homeless on the streets where they live – all of these answers fall short of the mark. None of these factors, in themselves, cause homelessness. None of them identify the root cause of homelessness. I am not denying that all of the homeless people I know have faced many of these challenges in their lives. I’m merely pointing out that these factors are just symptoms of our human condition in the society we have created. Many of them terrible, painful and de-humanizing, but just characteristics of modern life nonetheless. Most homeless programs address some combination of these issues. Most core funding to solve homelessness is centered around a model of personal healing for individuals who are victims of those listed issues.

I’m going to use two examples to illustrate my point:
  • Alcoholism and victims of abuse.
Most people see the huge prevalence of alcohol abuse on the streets by homeless people as an indication that it is the addiction of that person that is the main contributor to their homelessness. However, not every alcoholic is homeless or becomes homeless in the course of their struggles with the addiction. Another of society’s plagues, the percentage of adult North Americans who are alcoholics is difficult to determine – different studies range from 5% to 30%. Much alcoholism goes undiagnosed and there is an overlap between habits of people who abuse alcohol and those who are dependant on alcohol (addicted). It’s estimated less than 25% of people seek treatment for alcohol abuse or addiction. But if we used the figure of 5% as people who are dependant on alcohol and applied that to the adult population of Toronto [1,879,000 adults aged 25 to 64, census 2006], we would arrive at a number of almost 94,000 people suffering from alcohol addiction in the GTA. Even if we assume that about 25% of those people were actively seeking treatment, the remaining 75,000 people are not all homeless (although many may be at risk of becoming homeless due to secondary factors such as job loss, family dysfunction and secondary medical disabilities).

The total number of homeless in Toronto has been estimated to be between 40-50,000 (including the under-housed) and the majority of those people are not alcohol abusers or addicts. The street population – that is those who are absolutely without shelter and/or living in overnight emergency shelters has been pegged at approximately 5,000 while those living outside roughly number only from 500 to 1,000. Again, not all of those people are alcoholics. In my experience from one third to half of the homeless I serve on the street have an alcohol abuse problem and it often dates to the period after they became homeless. At best, based on a total local number of 94,000 alcoholics, that means less than three percent of the street homeless are there as a result of alcoholism. So you can see that alcoholism is not a root cause, merely a significant contributing factor. [ I realize there are challenges in treating statistics in this manner, as not all of the homeless in Toronto originate from Toronto, still I believe the disparity is significant]

My next example is of victims of abuse - specifically youth:

It is said that nearly one in five young people – 19 and under – will be victims of physical, sexual and/or psychological abuse in their lifetimes – a terrible statistic (some reports are much higher). In the Toronto census area there are 679,960 youth from the ages of 10 to 19 years of age. Using that one in five ratio means that there is a potential toll of abuse being faced by about 135,000 youth in the Toronto GTA. The CBC’s Fifth Estate has reported (2004) that on any given night there are between 1,500 to 2,000 homeless youth in Toronto. I know from experience that many of those street homeless youth are victims of abuse. You don’t want to hear what I have heard from them, or see the brokenness that I have witnessed in their young lives. The total numbers however reflect that only a minority percentage become homeless. Once again abuse is probably not the root cause of homelessness.

A similar statistical review of the other identified issues such as mental health challenges, family break-ups, job loss, economic downturn would show the same results. All of those issues are faced by the the entire population at some point. Everyone in our society encounters serious crisis situations in their lives and yet it is a relatively small percentage of the population who actually experience homelessness. Even if there are, as some estimates claim, fifty thousand homeless in the GTA, that only represents about 1% of our total population (Toronto Census Metropolitan Area 5,113,149 – 2006 StatsCan).

So what is the root cause of homelessness?

I have to say that I am not sure anymore as a result of starting this whole process. I know what I say to our volunteers. I know what other experts and poverty relief organizations are trying to get the public to hear. I know what at least one person who commented on the last post already suspects (thanks Jayne from Interfaith Sanctuary Housing Services).

The root cause of homelessness is said to be-

the lack of affordable housing.

I tell all my Project417 volunteer groups that the root cause is the lack of accessible, safe and affordable housing. Cathy Crowe, a street nurse and homelessness advocate for over twenty years is a recipient of the Atkinson Economic Justice Award. She says in her most recent newsletter

… despite my efforts and the efforts of a great many others, homelessness in Canada remains a very real disaster and as this recession unfolds, the disaster is only going to grow with no real end in sight. As I have said many times before, Canada desperately needs a National Housing Program and we need it now!
The Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida lists affordable housing and loss of a job as the primary causes of homelessness. The National [U.S.] Alliance to End Homelessness list affordable housing and permanent supportive housing as a key step in their plan to eliminate homelessness. The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee targets affordable housing funding with their Housing Not War and 1% Solution campaign. The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty demands “decent, affordable, accessible housing for all”.

The right to housing is a basic human right defined by the United Nations, ratified and signed by Canada and most other Western nations. And yet, it is the lack of affordable housing which most suspect to be the leading contributor to homelessness in every town and city in North America where it exists. Until recently I believed the same but I feel we have not yet identified the root cause of homelessness.

I need your comments. Post them here. Share this on Facebook, Digg, Reddit and Twitter with the twitter hashtag #whyhomeless and twitter reply to @canayjun so I can see the tweets. Re-post this blog on your own website and link back here. The permalink(to my original) is -

I will explore this further in the next post because I suspect now that even the issue of affordable housing does not sufficiently capture the underlying “root” cause of homelessness. I feel the solution is within our grasp. Join the discussion… social networking and the internet offer us the ability to establish a wide ranging and influential grassroots movement to change the way we view and treat homelessness. BE the change…




Friday, July 10, 2009

Homelessness - What is the Root Cause?

What do you think is the root cause of homelessness?

Posted on July 7, 2009 by missionlog - This is a re-post of my missionlog article

Homelessness – The Root Causes – Part I
photo - fauxreel /the unaddressed

Several nights a week I travel the the downtown streets of Toronto with groups of volunteers delivering bag lunch meals to the homeless. We call it a Sandwich Run – each bag lunch contains a sandwich, an apple, a snack like a granola bar or rice crispy square and a juice box – but it’s not about the sandwiches. It’s about being out on the street with our homeless friends seeing if they are OK – do they need anything? are they in distress? do they need someone friendly to talk to? We host more than two thousand volunteers a year, rain or shine, ice or snow. If we could get more volunteers we’d go out every night. You can read more about the Project417 Sandwich Runs here.

I’ve been doing this full-time for six years now and it was ten years ago that I first began volunteering out on the streets with the homeless. This post is not about me or the sandwich runs. It is about homelessness. What is the root cause? How do we put an end to it? How do we solve the problem of homelessness? We need to be asking these questions and seeking solutions because homelessness is a problem right across Canada, the United States and the world. It takes on different characteristics in different cities and cultures, but it is a disaster in the midst of our prosperity. It affects the overall health of our communities and neighborhoods no matter where we live.

The cost of alleviating homelessness takes a huge toll on our economies. In Toronto and across Canada, hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars are being spent on homeless initiatives by cities, municipalities, non-profits, charities, provincial governments and federal departments. That being the case, you would assume that the root cause of homelessness has already been determined and programs address this cause in an aggressive manner – that the enormous amount of funding is directed at solving the major issues that cause people to become (and remain) homeless. That assumption would be wrong. Many organizations and groups are calling for increased funding to address homelessness for the simple reason that the homeless continue to be in our midst with no end in sight. More money is not necessarily the answer, because if the right questions have not been asked, if the core issues are not being addressed, if we are not targeting the root cause of the problem, then homelessness will only worsen. It’s like finding a cure for a disease. Homelessness is a plague on our society. Instead of just treating symptoms we need to find a cure for those who are already homeless and we need to protect the entire population from the risk of being exposed to homelessness.

At the end of every evening after a sandwich run we hold a debrief session with the volunteers. They have just witnessed a disaster scene and for their own mental well being we need to share common experiences, put those experiences in perspective, examine questions that arise and learn from each other. I ask them to share the conversations and encounters they have had with our homeless friends. I ask them what did they expect to see and compare it to what they saw. I challenge the stereotypical perception of the homeless street person: disturbed, agressive, reclusive, drunk, dangerous, drugged out, sick, tired, dirty, lazy. From a media standpoint it is as if there is open season on discriminating against the homeless because they can no longer overtly discriminate on the basis of race, color, origins or beliefs, but anyone can put down what they call a bum or hobo. I ask every group, “What do you think is the root cause of homelessness?“

Over the years, we have asked this question of well over twenty thousand volunteers. They are adults and youth, professionals and family groups, business people and church groups, students and teachers – even front line workers and management involved in poverty programs and servicing the homeless. The volunteers are a cross section of North American society. Although it is a Christian charity, the volunteers originate from many faith persuasions. About one third of our volunteers are from the United States, perhaps one quarter from regions of Ontario other than the GTA and the majority from the suburban ring surounding Toronto. The only thing they really have in common is that they wanted to do something about homelessness and took the step of volunteering. The answers have not really changed over the time we have been posing the question. Perceptions remain the same. This is not statistically accurate, I don’t record these answers and these results are anecdotal at best – but they represent how a cross section of our society feels.

Here are the top causes of homelessness that we most often hear in order of popularity -

  • Alcohol and drug abuse, addictions
  • Loss of a job, the economy, bankruptcy
  • Family problems and break-ups
  • Lack of education – not being qualified for well paying job
  • Poor judgement, making bad choices and laziness
  • Choice – some people just choose to be homeless
  • ————-
  • Mental illness Physical disability
  • Abuse in the home – youth runaways
  • Violence against women

I show a delimiter after “Choice…” because the final four reasons usually only come out after a little prompting about homeless people the volunteers may have encountered that night. I then ask every group to choose from that list they have just offered, the single, most important, or root cause of homelessness. I explain to them that to reduce homelessness we need to prioritize our efforts and direct funding and tax dollars towards the issue that will have the greatest impact. Most groups just narrow the list down to these two or three top causes:

  • Alcohol and drug addictions
  • Family break-ups including abusive behavior
  • Physical and mental disabilities

The groups are reluctant to be more specific, but if I ask them to narrow in on a single cause there is almost an even split between addictions and family dysfunctions.

What would you say is the root cause of homelessness? Would you add to the list or change the order? Would you select a different criteria for the single most important cause of homelessness? I have an insight that I share with every volunteer. I try to encourage a broader perspective and I’ll go into that in more detail in the next post here on the blog, but I encourage you to leave a comment here on this post right now. This is an issue that needs to be addressed without any further delay. Share it with your friends. Re-post it on another blog or website (credit me and link them back here: permalink -

Share this with your Facebook friends. Email it. Post it on Digg, Reddit, Delicious, Pinboard, Propeller, Google Bookmarks or other favorite social networking site. Post this question on Twitter - and let’s track it with a new Twitter hashtag #whyhomeless – cut and paste this now for your Twitter update:

What do you think is the root cause of homelessness? #whyhomeless.

Re-tweet (RT) new answers, comments and links. Make sure I see them by including me with @canayjun in the tweet. I’ll post results and trending answers and share my own insights on the next post here and on the Missionlog.



Friday, July 3, 2009

Rogers Internet Service - DNS errors - Portable Internet issues

Previous article in this series -

Rogers Internet Service Hijacks DNS Errors - How to fix the problem

As I mentioned in my previous post, last year Rogers Internet Services changed the way their DNS (domain name system) servers handles DNS requests. DNS is the service that all internet users need to translate that style adress to the format understood by the network. It's what finds the websites you are looking for when you enter an address.

Basically, they just changed
the way they handled typing errors in the address or an non-existent address. Previously your browser (Firefox, IE, Safari, Chrome, etc) just showed an address not found error page - and you could edit the address bar if it was just a typo - but with Roger's "Supported search results" as they called it - you were redirected to a Rogers portal webpage displaying possible search matches and advertising (from which they earn revenue). besides basically breaking the functionality of your browser, their opt-out method was cumbersome and technically challenging. I followed Rogers opt out instructions and saw my internet service degrade.

Anyway, I discussed some fixes which included changing the DNS servers in your system and router settings- although Roger's doesn't provide tech support for this, they suggest leaving your settings as "obtain DNS server address automatically". Check that first article for settings for the public DNS service available at OpenDNS - a very reliable and flexible service. Be informed though - you end up with the same type of custom search page - but I changed mine anyway out of principle due to Rogers un-announced changes and degradation of service. Additionally I added the address for one other additional public DNS server - from Level 3 Communications a huge network service provider for telcos and ISP's alike - they are and (if you're comfortable with making these changes)

Microsoft Help and Support has instructions in Knowledge Base article 305553- one note, if you are using a router to conect your PC to the internet, make sure you follow the router's instructions for making the same changes to the router's DNS settings. Also if you have more than one PC connected in your home network, make the same changes on each PC.

Example - partial screenshot

The DNS changes were probably the least of my connection speed and reliability problems, but they were the first to be implemented with a noticeable improvement in service. Since 2006 my internet service has been Rogers High Speed Portable which is a wireless (non- line of site) service provided by both Bell (Bell High Speed Unplugged) and Rogers, a joint venture called the Inukshuk Wireless Partnership using pre-WiMax (IEEE 802.16) transmission technology. Because I re-locate often due to my work around the GTA, I chose this portable wireless solution - just plug in the wireless modem and you are connected, no re-location of cable (or phone line) service. With an advertised speed of 1.5 mbps down and 256 kbps up it was not as fast as cable or DSL but the flexibility was all I needed.

The connection speed and reliability were fine for the first couple of years - fast and stable for the most part, even with large file downloads for work or home and different multi-media applications - even Skype VoIP. There was a tendency to sporadically lose a fast connection which simply required powering off the wireless modem and turning it back on. But starting around the same time Rogers made the DNS changes (perhaps a coincidence), the service began to seriously degrade: slowing down to a crawl every evening, numerous resets required, file downloads interrupted and so on. So the quest to tweak and improve that connection was on.

One of the best all round forums I found for tech information on tweaking conections - for the wireless service as well as cable and DSL service was . It's free (there are some paid services that are quite affordable, but not necessary to make use of the site) and has a lot of users that post their high-speed experiences, challenges and fixes. The array of tools they have is very impressive and includes Port Scan, Line Monitor, Packet Loss Test, Line Quality, Speed Test- Java, Flash Speed Test, DoctorPing, DoctorTCP, SmokePing, Whois, Router Watch, Phish Tracker and so on. They even have a simple online speedtest for your iPhone or iPod Touch - at and although it is for the iPhone and Wifi, 3G - it will still give you a quick and accurate read on your current PC connection. Mine just showed 1268 kbps down speed, a little shy of the 1500 kbps advertised.

I'm going to add to this post in a new posting soon - but in the meantime, to test your speed and do a little trouble-shooting, head on over to

The latest post in the series, "Rogers Internet Service Slow" is here.