"The optimist says this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears he is right." -- J. Robert Oppenheimer

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Today's Post

Today we present another in the (what is now an) ongoing series of documentation of the Fondriest trackbike - part by part.

Part The First, as you'll recall was the stem, and a lovely stem it is, too. The stem and the seatpost are, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful of the components on this particular bike. If today's photo isn't quite so successful as a photo, I think you'll agree that the piece in and of itself is an exemplar of stunning industrial design: a blend of art and utility, form and function as only the Italians can do it.

For those who care, it's a Miche Supertype, and I couldn't imagine my bike without it.

I really want to work on this and capture it in a photo that does it justice, and I hope one day to be able to show you such a photo, but until then, you'll have to be satisfied with this "post"...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Just Say No

As I told you yesterday, Sunday was a No-Car Day in Toronto's Kensington Market. It was quite refreshing to have the streets to ourselves, without the fear of being honked at or run down. The streets in that old neighbourhood are so narrow that there's little room for cars to negotiate anyway; cars should be permanently be banned from the area.

Without motor vehicles about, the whole area took on the air of a festival.

In fact, the only car to be seen was this one, a non-working plastered-over rolling petition that is to be "pushed to Queen's Park [seat of our provincial government] after the election". Never mind that the election was some three or four weeks ago; whatever it is they're asking for will (sadly) never be made law in this society where the automobile is given primacy over all.

Still, good clean fun on a Sunday afternoon...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Artist on the Steps

Yesterday was cool, crisp and sunny; about the perfect autumn afternoon in my humble estimation.

We ventured into Kensington Market to purchase vegetables, beans and nuts, and generally to soak up the atmosphere. It was a Car-free Sunday, and there were more-than-the-usual numbers of street performers, protesters and the like.

The Minsker Synagogue is Toronto's oldest still in existence. On its steps we came across this fellow with his sketchpad. He seemed unbothered by the fact that I was taking his photo...

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Barmaid

I suppose that's a politically incorrect term: I'm sure she's a "bar attendant".

Gato and Gatita, recognize any of the beers?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yo, Tiff!

Tiff started at the Path a couple of days ago.

I've known her for years, so it's pretty cool to be dispatching for her...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ex Orient Lux

In the photo, you'll see Jamr counting. What happens, you might wonder, if he has to count higher than ten? In fact, he managed to count to fourteen! Perhaps he managed that feat because a stunning TOBMA Courier Appreciation Day T-shirt was at stake.

Fourteen is the number of courier companies Jamr has worked for - quite an honour, and certainly worth the effort for the T-shirt.

In non-related news, this morning was the coldest in a while - finally our record-setting Global Warming Extravaganza seems to have ended (a cold front blew in yesterday mid-afternoon), and we're getting seasonal temperatures. It was around 6C when I left the house this morning: it so worried me that I overdressed, and shed a layer 1/2 way into my ride.

Now it's dark as hell when I leave the house; not a glimmer of light in the eastern sky. The heavens are pitch black, and remain so for at least twenty minutes into the commute. The first welcome sign of dawn hit me at about Davenport and Dovercourt. This weekend the clocks "fall behind", giving me light for the ride in, darkening the ride home (I now get about 15 minutes of light in the evening).

Ex Orient Lux...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Half Victory Sign

I try to be positive with This Blog, I really do. I know there are youths out there reading this (family blog as it is), and I don't want to be a negative influence in their lives. I try to avoid the display of rude or obscene gestures for that very reason. (Don't do this at home, kids!)

Therefore, I present this without approval or endorsement.

I guess some guys don't like having their photo taken.

At least he didn't try to break my camera. Remember back in the days of film, when the unhappy subject would grab the camera, open the back, rip out the film, throw down and grind it into the floor with their heel? With digital, those days are gone. No time to fiddle with teeny doors and Compactflashcards and the like. The camera gets trashed.

I should consider myself lucky, I guess.

Happy Tuesday to you, Scottie!


Monday, October 22, 2007

Misty Morning

I once heard that "bad weather makes good photographs."

I don't know that this is a good photograph, but in addition to the above advice, I also try to "always have a camera with me." One never knows when one might come upon a scene with potential.

Taken last week one dark, rainy morning, when transit got me to work.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Protest

We know it's all about control.

You hoard the food in metal containers that require opposable thumbs to open, then as a further slap in the face, you put those impregnable cylinders behind closed doors in the kitchen.

Obviously, it's not just about control, but about your need to lord it over us, your compulsion to remind us that we are being controlled - by you. We know it's a human thing, and that you can't help yourselves.

We know we can't change you, so we're changing.

We're hungry, and we want to eat now!

How many times have we seen you seated at this very chair by this very table, stuffing your faces, oblivious to the fact that we patiently wait by our food dishes, weak in the knees, literally at the edge of starvation?!? We've tried being cute, we've tried being affectionate, we've tried ignoring you, all to no avail. We have run out of options. Therefore, we now sit in protest at the very table and chair at which you ingest your "meals" (as you call them). We remain here until you put our food down. Henceforth, you will not be able to eat until our needs are first taken care of.

As the protest song says, "We will not be moved". Welcome to this Brave New World, where cats control the humans.

yours truly,

The Divine Ms. P (aka: Patches) and The Little Princess (aka: Cinza)

ps: Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lucky Dog

Doggie shot or subway shot? I guess it's kinda like the old Certs commercials...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kiki's Prize

Kiki won a TOBMA T-shirt. I can't remember why she won. They had prizes for such "achievements" as "oldest courier", "courier who has worked for the most companies" (Jamr won with an estimated fourteen companies), "courier who returned to the road after the most time away", "least experienced courier", stuff like that.

But, I can't remember what Kiki won for. I took her photo because I like her hat.

In the meanwhile, Franek, Scott and Chippy (below) enjoy the evening, and their beer...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

What a Joke

It's Monday.

I awoke to the clock radio at about 5:25. As usual, I lay in bed for about ten minutes, listening to the news, for the express purpose of hearing the weather:

"Cloudy today, with a chance of mid-day showers."

"Okay, I can bike, with some amount of confidence that I won't get wet."

I get up, go to the computer to get a few photos ready to bring to work, with a view to putting them on the blog.

Out the door at 7. It's raining. Not hard, but it's raining. It lightly rains pretty much the whole way to work.

Okay, I'll admit, it wasn't a big deal, The streets didn't get wet, I didn't even have to put on a raincoat. Still, it makes one wonder: "Cloudy today, with a chance of mid-day showers."

Uh-huh. Right...

So I get to work and every photo (save this one) was really dark. Too dark to show. I don't know if it was me in my Monday morning fog, or if I was looking at my laptop screen at the wrong angle as I PSed them, but I got the brightness way wrong.

Now I get to work, to find that four messengers have booked off and it's not yet 8 o'clock; I guess it's that old Monday Morning Flu with a Chance of Rain, but we're going to be a bit thin on the bike side today.

I guess I should look at it this way: It can only go up from here, right?


At least you can enjoy Toronto messengers Jim Kuz and Tofu enjoying a light moment Thursday evening at the TOBMA bash.

Friday, October 12, 2007

TorontO Bike Messenger Association

If there are bikes hanging from the trees, there must be messengers about.

(As an aside, kids, the next time you ask your dad for a new bike and he says, "Son, bikes don't grow on trees, you know!", you can show him this photo)

Last night was the annual piss-up - er, um, that is "annual courier appreciation night" - at Magpies, said bash having been thrown by the above-mentioned TOBMA

Lots of talk last night about the upcoming 2008 CMWC (Cycle Messenger World Championships) to be held next summer right here in this fair burg. I'm quite certain they need an "official photographer", however the powers that be were playing coy with me...

In all seriousness, it was a fun night, as Leah can attest to:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Night Colours

They spent millions on a new light-show thingie for the CN Tower. Not that I care, it wasn't like it was tax dollars or anything.

Made a real big deal about it, they did.

Recently Our Tower lost its status as the world's tallest freestanding structure (a rather dubious title to begin with, as there's a taller structure in Arizona supported by guy-wires - adding the "freestanding" part always struck me as qualifying things somewhat; either it's the freaking tallest, or it's not). Perhaps they thought sprucing it up a bit would boost its self-esteem, make it feel better about itself.

I'm not sure what the big deal is; the structure that recently passed it is under construction, so Toronto's Tower remains the World's Tallest Fully Completed And Not Under Construction Freestanding Structure. Still, it's days as #1 being numbered, renovations were clearly in order.

So it changes colours. Now we'll all feel better about being number two, won't we?

I guess one could, like, you know, smoke a lot of pot, go sit on the roof, blast Pink Floyd on the IPod, look at the CN Tower, and it would be just like LaserFloyd.

Remember LaserFloyd? Duuuuuuuude!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Finally Feeling Fallish

Nice alliteration, eh? Okay, maybe not, but it is alliteration. And it is starting to feel like autumn is here.

Even yesterday the temps got up into the mid-twenties; on the weekend it got up to about 30C - unheard of for the Thanksgiving weekend!

Today, after a couple of weeks of steamy temps, it's going to be staying steady at about 15C, with highs of around 9 or 10C for the remainder of the week - right about where it should be.

So, finally, it's feeling like autumn, which I guess is a good thing...

Speaking of autumn, the Pentax Users' Gallery is up and running for the month of October with an autumnal theme. I've contributed for the first time in years - you may recognize the "dead leaf on a sidewalk" style that I'm currently working on.

Anyway, go there to see the talented group of photographers (notwithstanding Your Humble Servant) that contribute. And enjoy the fall, now that it's finally come to Toronto.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I'm in the process of documenting my bike, and I thought I'd start with parts that I think are particularly beautiful. I've always liked the seatpost and the stem.

I took several shots of those two parts on the weekend. None of the seatpost turned out the way I wanted, but this one of my stem satisfies me.

It's a Cinelli Groove stem.

Yes, yes, I have to cut down my steering tube. More to the point, I have to get Nadir or someone at his shop to do it.

Still, it's quite pretty, eh?


Friday, October 05, 2007

Let Us Give Thanks

At precisely six o'clock this evening, I will walk out the door of Critical Path Couriers here in Toronto. At that time, yet another long weekend will begin; the last long weekend of the year.

Yes, it's Canadian Thanksgiving. I bitch and complain a lot, but when it comes down to it, Canada's a pretty good place to live - among the best places in the world to live, I'd wager.

That being said, a part of our "national character" (if there is such a thing) that's something less-than-becoming is our inferiority complex. I suspect that comes from many centuries of being made to feel "second fiddle": New France (now Quebec) being a colony of France, then everything (including conquered New France) being a colony of Britain. Since "independance" (which independence was a gradual, incremental process) we've been solidly in the shadow cast by our American neighbours. Pierre Trudeau, our most loved and hated (at the same time!) prime minister, once told an American audience, ""Living next to you is like sleeping with an elephant; no matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt."

It is perhaps for those reasons that we've taken great pains to tell the world (or at least ourselves - I can't imagine that the world listens or cares) that our Thanksgiving came first. Actually, it's a silly argument. I suspect that both Canadian and American Thanksgivings derive from local harvest festivals that have evolved over millenia. Both became "institutionalized" and nationally celebrated at about the same time.

American Thanksgiving purportes to have started with the Pilgrims, who are (wrongly) considered to be the progenitors of all (white, Protestant) Americans. Their festival has taken on sacred, pseudo-religious proportions.

Our Thanksgiving has been inspired by various late-year festivals starting with Martin Frobisher's (he of Frobisher Bay) in 1578, followed shortly thereafter by Samuel de Champlain and his Order of Good Cheer which held an autumn feast in which the local indigenous population participated. Other examples abound throughout our history.

Perhaps it is because of the geographical, cultural and temporal diversity of our early festivals, perhaps it's because we can't (or choose not to) point to a single seminal event, perhaps it is the American propensity of myth-making, but our Thanksgiving isn't the Great Big Huge Deal that it is down there. We, too, have turkey (those that eat meat - which I'm in the process of not doing anymore), we, too, have football (with a larger field and 12 men and only three downs and no one makes 10 million dollars a year, but our star quarterbacks don't bait dogs as far as we know), we to tend to have family get-togethers, but for all sorts of other reasons, it's just not the same.

It's more low-key and Canadian.

So, what do I have to give thanks for? I really like the boardwalk along Toronto's Eastern Beaches. I think it's really cool that there are such long, lovely, natural beaches right in the middle of the city (never mind that the water has high fecal-counts during much of the summer so we can't really swim or wade or anything). As you can see from the photo, many other Torontonians seem to like The Beaches, as on any sunny day (summer or winter) the boards are crowded.

I have much in my personal life to give thanks for, but I won't bore you with that. Those to whom I feel thankful have been told personally. Besides, I really just wanted to show this photo today, and tying it in with Thanksgiving seemed a good way to do it. ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving! Hopefully you all have as much to give thanks for as I do...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

On The Beach

His name is Mel.

He piles rocks.

Those are Mel's Rock Piles.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wychwood Park

Taken back in the summer, on a bright sunny day (today as I passed through this area, dawn was breaking, and I still had my headlight on).

Remember summer? Well, other than the shorter daylight hours, one might think it's still here: 17C as I left the house today, going up to something like 24C today. Beautiful riding weather, to be sure, but it still portends of something wonky happening to the climate (as it seems to be part of a general pattern of much milder than usual temps).

I guess we can continue to keep our heads in the sand and drive our SUVs to work and our 4WD pickup trucks around town...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Too Cool

With nonchalant detachment they await the Breath of Beelzebub. The affect of his glacial expiration will free them of their cellulose constraints whereupon they shall roam the malls and shopping districts of the world, taunting and mocking the fashion-impaired (such as your humble servant) with ruthless efficiency.

Suddenly and without warning, they stumble upon Yorkville only to discover, much to their shock and horror, that Le Chateau is not the epitome of fashion and flair. Humbled and despondent with the realization that they had been seduced by the gull of their Frigid Deity they once again congeal, this time as mannequins at a Walmart in Johnson City, Tennessee, aphonically modelling Fruit of the Loom hoodies and sweats.

And so ends our little morality tale...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Laura Hubert Again

I did absolutely nothing on the weekend relating to photography, including "processing" photos.

I don't think I've shown this one before. I hadn't really planned on showing it at all, as I'm not completely happy with it, however given my lack of photographic productivity on the weekend, it was either show this or show a repeat, so I went with the new. I think it looks much better "blown up" (click on photo to make it full-screen) than as a small blog-pic...

Here's Laura Hubert, including Tim Hamel on trumpet, at (as you could guess from the photo) The Rex.


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