Tag Archives: charity

Shave to Save: Christine Long goes short for a cause

The new Christine Long.

The new Christine Long.

Well, she didn’t go all the way. They didn’t bring out the razors. And in fact, between her, her cameraman and her boss who were there, she’s still the one with the longest hair. But there’s no mistaking that Christine Long looks different today than she used to.

“Tomorrow mommy’s gonna look pretty scary,” Long told me on Halloween night, after taking her kids trick-or-treating. It was a joke, of course, there’s nothing scary here. And despite all the cracks directed at her, she didn’t feel nervous or worried at all. If anything, she was eager to get it done.

Long has been trying to shave her head for six years, she said. But being a TV reporter, her bosses had resisted allowing her to do so. She credited the fact that Virgin Radio and CTV are under common ownership with helping to push it toward happening. (Going over her boss’s head to new station manager Louis Douville might have also had an impact.)

Jed Kahane, CTV Montreal’s news director, had a slightly different history. Yes, they weren’t crazy about it in the past, but it was more the seriousness of the proposal this time that prompted them to finally agree.

Either way, CTV now has a reporter with a lot less hair.

“I was like, you know, I’d like to do more than write a cheque,” Long said of her decision to go along with it. As a CTV personality, she’s hosted plenty of events for cancer fundraisers and other charities, and she felt the need to give back in some tangible way.

And because she’s on TV, she wanted to show to women who are going through cancer treatment that there’s nothing wrong with having a bald head or a short head of hair.

Ultimately, she said, her goal is that women who have gone bald will feel less self-conscious about going out to the grocery store without a hat or a wig. She wants to normalize the look.

And so, she says she won’t be hiding her new hairstyle as it grows back, though she’ll be keeping her head warm and admits she loves hats.

The hair hasn’t been put to waste. It’s been donated to the CanDonate hair program, which creates free wigs for children under 16. Long said she hopes to follow the progress of her hair and talk to the child who receives it.

At least in the moments after it happened, Long was relieved more than anything else. She needed a haircut.

And she’s excited to see it grow back. “By Christmas, I’ll look like Justin Bieber.”

She’s promised her husband she’ll only do this once. Both of them seemed pretty sure she’d stick to that promise.

Continue reading

Photos: CBC vs. City softball game

CBC vs. City

On Aug. 15, one of Montreal’s oldest broadcaster and one of its newest took to the field at Côte des Neiges’s Nelson Mandela Park to play a friendly game of softball. On Tuesday, the fun continues as CBC takes on Global Montreal on the same field.

To get you in the spirit, here’s what happened last month between CBC and City.

(Note: Some captions may be made up.)

Continue reading

You failed my subscription challenge

I'm very disappointed in all of you

So a week ago, I asked you to participate in a fundraising event in which I spared you from the guilt trip of asking you for money. Instead, I promised to give away my own money in proportion to how much you helped to inflate my ego by subscribing to my RSS feed or following my Twitter account.

Kind of like those emails that say Bill Gates will donate money if you forward them. Only this one was real.

I gave you a week, so that news of my good deed would spread far and wide and everyone would have a chance to let themselves be counted.

One week later, here are the results: The number of Twitter followers has gone from 3,816 to 3,854, an increase of 38. Subscribers to my RSS feed haven’t changed, and could possibly have even declined.

So my grand total to be given to charity, under the generous formula I set, would have been $38. Enough for a family of four to … have dinner at a McDonald’s.

Seriously? I can’t get you lazy bums to do something as effortless as hit “follow” or “subscribe” even if I’m paying for you to do it? At that rate, I’d wonder if you’d even remember to breathe if there wasn’t an unconscious brain function that forces your lungs to expand and contract. What do I have to do, deliver a pizza? Show you porn?

Look, I know, lots of people already follow me, and not everyone has more than 3,000 Twitter followers. Well, I’m not everyone. My extended family (which includes a lot of those aunts whose sole purpose in life is to initiate awkward converstaion) thinks I’m some sort of Internet superstar, and my attempts to dissuade them of that notion are interpreted as false modesty, which only makes it worse. Put simply: I have a reputation to build, and such a piss-poor participation rate in a yearly charity exercise is embarrassing. Like a reader poll that only gets two responses.

And if those great aunts stop believing in the legend of Fagstein, they’ll move on to even more uncomfortable questions, like wondering why I’m not married and don’t have kids yet.

So you know what? Screw it. Screw the whole formula. Screw the “subscription challenge” and counting Twitter followers like some narcissistic douche.

The Gazette Christmas Fund is getting a cool $1,000 from me this holiday season, which will be used to write eight cheques for $125 each to families in need. And I’m not going to put something like “on behalf of Fagstein readers” as the name that goes on that list of donors, because you had nothing to do with it. If you couldn’t care enough about these families to even get off your ass and setup a few hundred fake Twitter accounts to follow me with, then you don’t deserve to be associated with this donation in any way.

You want to make Christmas brighter for someone, you’re going to have to do it with your own money this time.

That is, except for the 38 new Twitter subscribers. To you, I thank you from the bottom of my ever-expanding credit card balance.

To the rest of you, you can all go to hell.

Merry Christmas.

Fagstein’s Fourth Annual Subscription Challenge

I'm giving away some of these (the money, not the condoms)

To celebrate yet another year of employment, I’m giving away some of my money again.

And as in previous years, your participation does not involve you spending any money, just helping to inflate my ego a little bit.

In the past I’ve given to Dans la Rue, the Welcome Hall Mission and the Old Brewery Mission. Now all of them are annoying me regularly with letters in the mail, which I find annoying not because they’re charities asking for money but because they’re wasting so much on printing and postage. It just seems weird that there’s someone who has gone through the calculation and determined that this money needs to be spent to get people to donate.

This year, I was told by my boss that I’ve reached the five-year rate of pay at work. Under the current collective agreement, that’s the maximum rate, even though I’m still a part-time temporary employee whose future there isn’t at all set in stone.

While I could use some more job security  … and my own weekly column too, while you’re at it, imagination … my bank account can attest to how much I’ve benefitted from these people paying me to do something I enjoy so much, so I’m giving back by sending my big donation to the Gazette Christmas Fund. Or The Gazette Christmas Fund. I’m still debating whether the “T” should be capitalized.

Anyway, here’s how it works: I’m going to give $1 of my own money for every new (legitimate) follower to my Twitter feed between now and one week from today (Dec. 21), and $2 for every new subscriber to my RSS feed. The former is currently 3,816 and the latter is 1,196 (though I don’t know how reliable that Feedburner count is). And to save myself going bankrupt in case this goes super-viral, there’s a combined limit of $2,000, which I can totally waive if I feel like it, because I set the rules, man.

So go forth and sing my praises, and together we can give away a bunch of my money and make me cool at the same time.

And if you insist on donating your own money, go ahead. I’m not going to stop you.

Wait a second, I’m giving money to a brewery?

Now I feel slightly less guilty about not giving my spare change to panhandlers

I asked you to show your support, and once again the response was “whatever”, but I have enough of an existing audience that the Old Brewery Mission will still be slightly richer for the Christmas season.

For the record, my Feedburner subscription count went up a whoppingly massive nine, while my Twitter follower count went up by a slightly more respectable 46. So $650 for existing feed subscribers + $9 for new feed subscribers + $23 for new Twitter followers + a bonus $214.7 for existing Twitter followers ($0.10 each) = $896.70 to help society’s forgotten.

So as the charity thanks me for my donation, I thank you for your continued support, and particularly thank the Gazette, my employer for 11 of the past 12 months, whose union wage scale (combined with my lack of dependents and serious medical issues) means I have the kind of money to stupidly give away like this.

Merry Christmas, folks.

p.s. If you totally want to show me up, or even just feel a bit less bad for the fact that I’m donating my money in your name, you can make your own donation. The Old Brewery Mission accepts money online through CanadaHelps.org.

The Third Annual Fagstein Subscription Challenge

I got so much money, I'm giving it awaaaaaaaay!

I made so much money this year, it made me go CRAZY!

I don’t know why, but I still have a job. And because I don’t have a life a dozen kids, pets and other regular expenses, I’ve decided once again to give away some of the cash I’ve been hoarding to a different financial black hole: a local charity. And the amount will depend on you.

If you’re new to this, you can see the posts from 2008 and 2009, but the idea is the more people who subscribe to this blog via feed readers (like Google Reader), the more money I give away. According to my spies at Feedburner, the current subscriber count is 1,250, which is pathetically similar to what it was a year ago. Like last year, I’ll start with $0.50 for each of those people as a base ($650), and add $1 for every new subscriber after one week, to a maximum of $1,000 (just in case this goes viral and I end up having to pay a quadrillion dollars or something).

As a bonus, I’m also donating $0.50 for each new Twitter follower (spammers and other non-human accounts not included, along with those who have astronomical following counts). At the moment of writing this, that number is 2,147. Again, this will be up to a maximum of $1,000 (so don’t bother following me if the count hits 3,147, I guess) – yeah, I know everyone’s doing it, and for more money, but I don’t have Véro cash.

The recipient of my stupid crazy giveaway this year will be the Old Brewery Mission, who will no doubt then add me to a mailing list like Dans la Rue and the Welcome Hall Mission, where I will be reminded regularly through the mail of how my contributions are helping people.

As if I care about helping people. I’m in this to get famous, and giving money to readers directly doesn’t give me a tax receipt.

This not-contest ends exactly one week from now, at noon (ish) on Wednesday, Dec. 22.

P.S. Speaking of giveaways, I have a small collection of swag – some media-related, others of local interest – that people have handed me over the past little while that I can’t really use because it offends my ethical sensibilities. I haven’t figured out the most fun way of distributing this stuff to those who might enjoy it, so I welcome your suggestions below. A charity auction? A party? A contest? Use it to bribe people into becoming friends with me? Just throw it in the garbage? Hand it to Jean Naimard where his burning rage will cause it to immediately combust?

Media hold out their hands (please don’t bite them)

As the holiday season approaches, La Presse is doing their annual thing and putting its vedettes up for rent in an auction.

The lots are familiar to those who have witnessed this stunt the past few years: Yves Boisvert, Serge Chapleau, Marie-Claude Lortie and others propose some activity related to their specialty. Patrick Lagacé also offers to let you shadow him for a day, but he’ll let just about anyone spend time with him for free.

And Paul Journet, despite coming in dead last in 2009, is willing to put his pride on the line again, proposing a trip to the golf course.

I’m sad to say that I won’t be able to revive my Anyone But Foglia campaign this year since the star columnist doesn’t feature among the 11 lots. This is most unfortunate, because we cannot defeat him if he doesn’t participate. It’s like going to the Stanley Cup final and the other team forfeits. That’s not fun at all.

So who can we use our money to defeat this time? Alain de Repentigny came in second last year, and this year is offering the upcoming U2 concert, which is pretty enticing.

Or maybe we can just use our money for good instead of evil. Put it all on Paul Journet. Make his Christmas a happy one for once.

UPDATE: It’s over, with $34,161 raised. The results:

  • Émilie Côté: $1,000
  • Éric Clément: $1,100
  • Paul Journet: $1,250
  • Alain De Repentigny: $1,600
  • Nos 3 directeurs: $1,700
  • Patrick Lagacé: $1,850
  • Bernard Brault: $2,200
  • Serge Chapleau: $2,500
  • Marie-Claude Lortie: $3,000
  • Sophie Cousineau: $3,901
  • Yves Boisvert: $4,025
  • Canadien: $5,200

It’s Michel C. Auger-tastic!

Radio-Canada is also doing a similar event, auctioning off cool people and/or cool things, including some time with Joyce Napier and Michel C. Auger, or an autographed Canadiens jersey. Or you can go winter biking with Emmanuel Bilodeau.

The choice is yours. But this is the one time during the year that you can help some needy people and give journalists a rare indication that people actually care about them.

We’ll take your spare change too

If the auctions are a bit too expensive for you, the Grande Guignolée des médias is coming on Dec. 2. And, of course, there’s always the Gazette Christmas Fund, which is bombarding you with stories of the people it’s helping until you either open your wallets or acknowledge that your heart is dead and that little bit of soul left in you has long ago bitten the dust.

It’s all about the Bordens: Cough ’em up for Haiti

So Haiti’s in trouble. Like, a crapload of trouble. And the world is coming together to do whatever they can. Food and supplies aren’t particularly useful because of the high cost of transporting and distributing them. Instead, the thing charities and relief organizations need is money.

In a perfect world, a massive international relief organization would simply respond, making use of a hefty budget to set up some emergency shelters while everyone’s homes are rebuilt using insurance money. Of course, that’s not the case (partially because international aid tends not to win many elections), so regular people are being asked to open their wallets and help out.

While the most obvious thing to do would be to give to the Red Cross, various groups are organizing fundraisers or other schemes to try to squeeze even more money out of us.

After a few minutes of searching, here’s what I’ve found is happening in Montreal over the next week and a half:

Feel free to suggest others in the comments below. Agenda Public has a list of similar events across Quebec.

Text it and forget it

For those of you who are too fucking lazy to punch your credit card number securely into a website and prefer to have your cellphone company bill you based on a fee for a text message you’ve sent to some unverified five-digit number you heard about through your friend’s Twitter, there are plenty of options for that, though few work in Canada (that “90999” thing you heard about on the Colbert report doesn’t work here – something CTV didn’t relay to its viewers when it rebroadcasted the show on two of its networks). The cellphone companies accept $5 to 45678, and Plan Canada at 30333 (in both cases text “HAITI”). But maybe I just made that up, or copied the number down wrong.

Really, just give it to the Red Cross. Don’t trust your friends, don’t trust people on the street, don’t trust celebrities, don’t trust businesses and don’t trust anyone saying your money goes toward Haiti relief.

Journalists: Donate your overtime

The earthquake in Haiti, ironically, had a positive impact on my bottom line. The paper was expanded in size to fit all the extra news coverage, and I was called in for an unscheduled shift on Thursday night. Rather than profit off the misery, I’m donating my salary for that shift to the Red Cross.

I know there are plenty of journalists and other media types who read this blog, and plenty of them are working more than they usually do because of this craziness. I’d encourage you to do the same – you’re not losing money, you’re working harder doing what you love, and it’s for a good cause.

Thank you for my donation

Hello Steven Faguy,

Welcome Hall Mission thanks you for you generosity. Your gift of 650.00 CAD will be processed by our accounting department and an income tax receipt will be issued shortly for any gift of $10 or more. We invite you to consult our website www.welcomehallmission.com to learn more about all the services provided by the Mission.

Thank you and have a nice day.

Cyril Morgan
Executive Director
Welcome Hall Mission

The Second Annual Fagstein Subscription Challenge is over. Thanks to everyone who participated.

From my calculations (which are not really exact science because FeedBurner’s stats go up and down pretty wildly), this blog picked up 37 subscribers over those two weeks (22 of whom used Google Reader, the most popular feed reader) to bring the total to 1,163. So that means the subscriber donation total is $563 + $37 = $600, which is a suspiciously round number.

I’ve also decided to tack on the $14 I saved by scamming the AMT earlier this year. I figure charity is a more fitting use for the money than either the transit agency of myself.

Throw on another dollar for all you wonderful new subscribers as a bonus (except you, you know who you are), and you get $563 + $37 + $14 + $36 = $650. And that’s the donation that has been made in your my name to the Welcome Hall Mission, where I understand they’re totally going to just blow it on hos and bling.

The Second Annual Fagstein Subscription Challenge

I got so much money, I'm giving it awaaaaaaaay!

I got so much money, I'm giving it awaaaaaaaay!*

Last year, I found myself in the enjoyable position of having some extra money laying around, so I decided I’d give some of it to a local charity. Being a self-centred narcissist obsessed with attracting attention, I decided to tie it to the number of people subscribing to my blog.

My eight-week contract as a part-time copy editor at the Gazette was extended a few more times, and though it could see its end after the upcoming two-year mark, I’m grateful for the chance to make all this money doing something I enjoy, so I’m doing this again.

I set up a Feedburner feed for this blog (it should be transparent to existing subscribers, so no need to change feed addresses), and it reports an astonishing 1,126 subscribers, almost three times as much as 12 months ago. Since I have about seven friends, I have no idea who most of those suckers people are, but I feel humbled by the fact they – you – like to read all the junk I post on here.

Last year, I donated $1 for each of my 402 subscribers to Dans La Rue (and, because I like round numbers, I rounded it up to $450). That was enough to get me on their mailing list and on a special pamphlet listing their few hundred largest donors. This year, because I’m cheap [come up with better excuse here], I’ll donate 50 cents for each of those subscribers ($563), and add $1 for each new subscriber between now and a week before Christmas (Dec. 18, for those of you who can’t count).

My chosen charity this year will be the Welcome Hall Mission, which helps the people most in need in this city.

I won’t be giving you sob stories about the poor families in desperate need of assistance. I won’t be showing you pictures of starving African children. I won’t be interrupting your regular programming to ask you to pledge in exchange for a tote bag. Hell, I’m not even asking you to give any money yourself, I’m giving away my money for you (but if you wanted to feel less guilty about that, you could match the measly 50 cents I’m donating for you, and maybe throw on a dollar above that for the two freeloaders on either side of you).

So give it a try. Set yourself up with Google Reader (like 710, or 63% of my feed readers) or another RSS aggregator of your choice, and subscribe to this blog. If you want to unsubscribe after I’ve given my money away for you, that’s cool.

Tell your friends if you want, but I’m not doing any marketing for this (why would I want to aid in the bleeding of my money?). I’m just doing this as a thank-you to my readers, and a way to silence my liberal guilt.

And if other fellow bloggers want to match my challenge (50 cents per existing subscriber, 1 dollar for every new one), I welcome the competition. But if you’re too cheap to put your money where your blog is, I understand. Cowards.

* Eagle-eyed Fagstein readers will recognize part of this picture as the one used in this blog’s header. The picture was taken for use in my freelance invoices. No, really.

Fagstein’s Subscription Challenge: Thanks to all 402 of you

$450 of my money, and I just gave it all away! Im crazy!

$450 of my money, and I just gave it all away! I'm insaaaaaane!

I was supposed to do this on Saturday, but work kept me on a pretty hectic schedule. Now that I’m home for the pre-holidays (I’m back in the office on Christmas afternoon), I have some time to deal with unfinished business.

Last week, you’ll recall I promised to give $1 for each RSS feed subscriber (through Google Reader and other online applications that report them) to Dans La Rue, my charity of choice this year.

Having just checked the logs and done some quick math, I whipped out the ol’ credit card and made the donation tonight.

There wasn’t exactly a stampede of new subscriptions (most of the people who read the blog are subscribed already), but about 17 of you came on board to bump the number past 400.

Counting Google Reader (304 split over three feed URLs), NewsGator (41), Bloglines (36), Netvibes (18) and miscellaneous (3), that makes 402 subscribers that I know about. I bumped the donation up to $450 (mostly because it seems weird giving exactly $402 to charity). For my embezzled hard-earned I-can’t-believe-they-pay-me-for-this-job money, I get a nice tax receipt, my name gets printed in a book somewhere, and oh yeah some kid gets help.

On behalf of my inflated ego, I’d like to thank you all for reading this here blog and making my opinions sound important enough for journalism students to think I’m some sort of expert.

P.S. To my fellow bloggers with your so-called charity campaign, I just donated $1 for every RSS subscriber. Can you beat that, chickens?

Fagstein’s Subscription Challenge

During all of 2007, I was technically unemployed. A mixture of EI, freelance work and tax rebates from the government (I never quite figured out how that all worked) kept me afloat.

In January, I got offered an eight-week contract at my favourite job, as a copy editor at The Gazette.

I’m still there.

Facing the continually impending unemployment that contract workers must always prepare for, I’ve been pretty responsible with my money, putting most of it away in the bank. It’s gotten to the point where I can start considering things like RRSPs for the first time.

Being a bleeding-heart liberal, I’m also overcome with guilt that I’m not giving the money away to help homeless people or something. So, I figured, why not just go ahead and do that?

Rather than just cut a cheque, though, I figured I’d have a little fun with it, and involve the dozen or so people who read my blog.

My challenge

So here’s the plan: One week from today (Saturday, Dec. 20), I will donate $1 for every subscriber to this blog’s feed through web services that report such information (Google Reader, Netvibes, NewsGator, Bloglines) to Dans La Rue, a Montreal charity that helps street youth, up to a maximum of $1,000 (you know, just in case this hits Fark or something and I have to contemplate taking out a mortgage on a home I don’t own just to keep my promise).

By my calculations, I have 383 subscribers through those four main feed readers already, which means I’m $383 in the can. Let’s see how high I can push that number up (I’ll be keeping a close eye on traffic and other indicators, so don’t think about artificially inflating those numbers through fake subscriptions).

If you don’t subscribe via RSS and don’t know how, check out What is RSS and the video RSS in Plain English to explain it to you. My feed’s address is http://blog.fagstein.com/feed/

Your challenge

Now this second part is, of course, entirely optional, but while you’re getting me to donate a buck on your behalf, consider making a $10 donation on your own to a favourite charity. Don’t make me give out those “cup of coffee” metaphors to show you how insignificant $10 is.

If you want a charity idea, here are my suggestions:

Let’s work together to make Christmas merry for everyone. Especially my ego.

Bid for more La Presse dates

La Presse is once again auctioning off a date with its vedettes for charity. For a couple grand, you can have an evening with one of its hottest columnists (sorry ladies, no Foglia this time).

Patrick Lagacé, the teen heartthrob who came in dead last in 2007, is hoping his blogfame can catapult him back into contention.

I’m putting my money (well, not literally, I must remain loyal to the Christmas Fund and I don’t have thousands of dollars to throw away) on Marie-Claude Lortie, the foodie who is also the only woman available for bids, and perhaps not coincidentally is leading the bids at $2,000.

UPDATE: Lagacé came in 7th out of 10, Lortie 2nd, just behind Alexandre Vigneault. $16,706 total. Though, as dead-last loser Yves Boisvert points out, he doesn’t have a blog he can use to drum up votes.

Bid for a date with Patrick Lagacé

Some holiday charity schemes expect you to give away your money with only pride in return. They think you’ll be happy just knowing you’re a good person. But La Presse has a better idea. They’re offering this:

Patrick Lagacé = hot date

Up for auction are 10 lunch dates with their most popular journalists, including cartoonist Serge Chapleau, sports columnist Réjean Tremblay and teen heartthrob Patrick Lagacé (seen above with semi-exposed chest).

Though the auction is far from over, it kind of disturbs me that Lagacé and this woman:

Marie-Claude Lortie

(food columnist Marie-Claude Lortie) are bidding far below this guy:

Pierre Foglia

Pierre Foglia.

What does this say about our society?

The auction continues until Dec. 6. Proceeds go to Sun Youth, the Société Saint-Vincent-de-Paul and Moisson Montréal.

So far the leading bidder for a date with Lagacé is “R. Martineau“. Surely you can do better than his paltry $550.

UPDATE (Dec. 6): The auction’s over, and despite his incessant pleading on his blog, Lagacé brought in the least of the lots, only $1,900. (Foglia brought in $4,500.) He’s still a winner in our book though.