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

Friday, November 30, 2007

Yr Hmbl Srvnt

Taken by My Better Half (I wish to give proper attribution, but she's very private, and wouldn't appreciate her name being read by the millions - or at least dozens - who read this blog). I rather like this photo of me; unlike some regular readers of This Very Blog, I don't mind having my picture taken or shown. This one seems to capture something that I like. Maybe I look pensive or thoughtful (I'm not really being pensive or thoughtful, it just looks that way).

It was taken with my camera (the mighty Pentax *istD), at the Gelato shop where we treated ourselves last weekend.

Speaking of weekends, one is almost upon us now. I'm looking forward to an exciting one, with lots going on chez nous. I just have to get through this last Friday of the month (always a busy time). Soon enough, soon enough...

I'm feeling much better after the accident. The neck's still a bit stiff (although some morning Reiki helped a lot!), so I decided to give it until Monday before I get on the Fondriest.

Here's to a great weekend to all of you in Blogland!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Accident Aftermath

So, here's the bike. As you can see, the seat-stay is quite severely bent, causing the wheel to be badly askew. I really don't know if the rest of the frame is out of alignment, but I suspect it may be. The real question is whether it can be properly aligned, once a new seatstay is installed.

No, the real question is "how much will all this cost?"

I was going to go into great detail about what happened, how it wasn't my fault, how the SUV driver was inattentive when she hit me, how she said one thing to me ("I didn't see you.") but another to the police ("He went through a stop sign."). But really dwelling on this is only negativity that won't help the situation.

I have few legal remedies. No matter whose fault it was, I was literally a half-inch long blue smudge on her chrome bumper: not even a scratch or a dent, just a smudge that will wipe off with a moist rag! Meanwhile, my bike has been severely damaged. However, as that damage is less than one thousand dollars, her insurance won't cover it. All I can do is appeal to her sense of fair play to recompense me for my damages, or take her to Small Claims Court; I don't expect to be successful with either option, but I'll try.

If repairable, it's likely still going to cost several hundred dollars. If not, a new frame will be required on which to hang the rest of the bike (all of which, fortunately, was undamaged).

Now that I've had about 24 hours to calm down, here's what I know:

1) The driver of the SUV, whether culpable (as I believe her to be) or not, did not mean to harm me. She was inattentive and negligent to be sure, but she didn't want to hit me. Who would want to have to sit around for 90 minutes for cops to show up and write up reports and the like? So, I bear her no ill will, and (even though she claims to have done nothing wrong) I forgive her for her transgression.

2) I'm relatively unharmed. A couple of sore knees, sore elbow, mid-back, neck (and resulting headache). Nothing severe, nothing that I didn't expect after hitting the pavement as I did. I'll be fine in a day or two. My helmet worked marvelously, as I actually landed on my back and my head whipped back and hit the street. This is at least the third or fourth time my helmet has saved me from a concussion or worse. As one of the ambulance attendants said to me yesterday (they were called as a precaution, then sent away), "You're a walking, talking advertisement for bike helmets!" My bike can be replaced or written off, but my health can't. This could have been much worse (she missed my knee by about six inches or less).

3) I love all my bikes, but I'm glad it wasn't my Fondriest. Steel tends to be much more repairable than aluminium. A blow like that to an aluminium frame would likely mean the death of that frame. So, if I had to choose a frame on which to have yesterday's accident, it would be my steel road frame. Again, this could have been much worse.

I'm off the bike again today; it's rainy and slick anyway, so I'd have likely not ridden even if everything was good. We'll see about tomorrow. Definitely back on the road by Monday.

It will all work out - it always does...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cinza Sez...

"Click on the kitty in the right-hand margin. You'll feed rescued cats (and some lesser species as well) in shelters ."

Okay, so I don't understand it either. Something about sponsors paying a couple of cents per hit or something. I have to admit I used to be skeptical, but I'm told it's all on the up and up, and that it really works. It was all explained to me once, and it made sense at the time (although I've long since forgotten the details). Besides, what's the downside?

There is none!

In other news, I got hit by a car on the way to work this morning. The road bike's frame is bent quite significantly, but it may be repairable. No charges laid ("he said/she said").

Anyway, pictures and more particulars tomorrow (man, will there be particulars!).

Oh yeah, I'm fine. A bit stiff now that the adrenaline has worn off, but otherwise, none-the-worse for wear.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This young fellow was waiting for his cone with some anticipation.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Just Relaxing

I wish I could relax.

Friday was horrendous. I'm spending Monday morning cleaning up all the calls that didn't even get picked up on Friday.

Oh well. Shit happens, some of us have to clean it up.

Luckily, I had a pretty darned good weekend - the most relaxing I've had in a long time. Lord knows, I needed it.

Last week kinda sucked on a bunch of levels, including the fact that it rained every day. I rode my bike to work on Monday, knowing it would rain in the afternoon, but that I could subway home, which I did.

I didn't get on my bike for the rest of the week.

I did venture onto the balcony midweek to see how my baby was doing and noticed that both tires were flat. I hate fixing flats. I had to do some errands yesterday. It was suggested to me that perhaps using another bike might be the solution.


I switched pedals over to my road bike, which I hadn't been on since about June or July. As great as trackabikes are in very low traction situations such as snow and ice, I really don't want to ride the Fondriest in the winter, so switching over to the roadbike is probably a good idea.

So I did.

It was fun.

I continue to be amazed at how different these two bikes feel on the road. The roadbike is far more comfy, and it feels sooooo much faster; in fact it has a much higher top speed, due to gears and that whole freewheel thing (for coasting quickly down hills). On the other hand, it takes exactly the same time to get to work, so the average speed must be about the same. Go figure.

That's my big news. Trackbike out, roadbike in, for now at least.

It's supposed to rain this afternoon and tomorrow, snow Thursday and Friday. Maybe I'll be able to ride Wednesday. Maybe.

Unless our esteemed meteorologists are wrong. That's happened before...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Winter Wonderland

Bring me your huddled masses...

You can tell it's winter, when we stand close to strangers at bus stops.

Yesterday was fun, especially for my charges out in the slop and the slush, biking about Toronto's core, "picking up packages then dropping them off" (as Big Gay Al was wont to say).

This morning we awoke to clear skies and -8C temps. The streets were still slushy enough that there was no way I was about to cycle from Yonge and Eg out to Etobicoke; for the fourth straight day I tubed it to work. Hopefully it will be dry enough Monday to ride.

Until then, have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Daily Notes

Last week I posted a photo of Toronto's Flatiron Building (I believe it's officially the Gooderham Building, named for the booze magnates who built it). Here's another photo I took on the same day. I rather like it. I think the two pedestrians rather add something to it...


More relevent to today:

It's the first real snow of the season (pix taken today, posted tomorrow). As I awoke, it was a thick slush, maybe 1/2 an inch of it. Walking from the bus-stop to the office it became freezing rain/sleet/ice pellets. Whatever it was, it wasn't pretty, and I wouln't want to be working in it. They're saying it's going to turn to snow, a total of around two inches. Not a lot, to be sure, but it will be very messy, with temps right around or above freezing.

If you or the company you work for uses bike couriers, give them a nice smile, ask them how they're managing in this crap, tell them how much you appreciate the fact that they're literally risking their lives to get your packages delivered. These things make a difference, believe me!

As I was loading photos this morning, I noticed that today's November 22, the day in 1963 when JFK was shot. To most of you, that may not be such a big thing, but those of a certain age will remember the event vividly. I recall once hearing that there are certain events that are forever burned into our memories, such that we remember exactly where we were when we "heard the news". The assasination of Kennedy is one of those events: I was in grade two, and our principal, Mr. Glover walked into our class, whispered something into Miss Evans' ear, told us about JFK, and dismissed us for the day. Quite remarkable, considering that I lived in Montreal, Canada!

More than just a memory, Kennedy's shooting seemed an end of hope, the beginning of a plunge into the turbulent sixties. That plunge continued with race riots, the Vietnam war, the assasinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.

Maybe I'm just showing my age, but every November 22nd, I wonder how different the world would have been were it not for the events of that day. Better or worse? More of the same? Who knows. It certainly would be different...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I showed you Glen before. In fact I showed you this very portrait, however I recently converted it to black and white, cropped and resized it; I rather like it, so I thought I'd make it today's post.

Glen stands out as an individual from a rather eclectic group of non-conformists, and that says a lot. To meet Glen for the first time tends to be an unforgettable experience.

Below, he shows off his custom-converted GT trackbike. It started off as a crit frame; Glen added the rear-facing dropouts himself, to make a frame like none other anywhere (that we know of).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Candle-lit Bar

Taken this past weekend...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Van the Man Plays Reposado's

So, I went out to see my buddy Tim Hamel play on Friday night. It was a pretty good night. My daughter Anne was there, and we had a lovely time. Tim bought me drinks. I took pictures. We chatted. It was all good.

This was a band that I'd never seen before: two acoustic guitarists, bass, a vocalist and Tim on trumpet (didn't manage to get any good shots of Tim, but you've seen him here before anyway). Looking at the photos afterward, it struck me how much the singer (Sandy, the bar owner) resembles a very young Van Morrison.

Quite an interesting group. They play Reposado's here in Toronto on Ossington between Queen and Dundas, Thursdays and Fridays. Intimate atmosphere, interesting crowd, great music. If you like Django-esque trad-jazz type stuff, you'll have a blast!

The rest of the weekend was pretty good. More on that later!

Friday, November 16, 2007


So last week I was in Brampton. Don't ask why, because it doesn't matter why, I was just there is all.

This is what Brampton looks like. Flat. Bleak. Featureless. Built for cars.

Not even a sidewalk for pedestrians.

Don't get me wrong. It's not just Brampton. You'd be forgiven for thinking you might be in Georgetown, Scarborough, Missisauga, Oshawa, (pick your suburb)

People think this is "just the way things evolved", but they'd be wrong. These places were designed for cars. They were designed to make it awkward to walk or bike. They are a result of conscious urban planning, of Official Plans enacted after significant lobbying efforts by the Big Three US Automakers in the 40's and 50's. They are the result of plans meant to thwart the efficiency of public transit by curly-cue and dead end residential streets. They are the result of restrictions on commercial activity such that convenience stores are restricted to strip malls beyond walking distance from most residences.

I guess that's why some people, like the young lady on the left, are petitioning various levels of government to enact more "people friendly" legislation, to save our lungs our minds and our cities. It's too late to change Brampton, but maybe we can do something to allay the development of other such suburban wastelands.

On a more positive note, it snowed today. Not heavily, just small flakes, the type that kind of melt on your cheeks and feel kind of good. Not nearly enough to accumulate, but it was steady during my ride. And, it was nice. I was actually overdressed, and got to work in a sweat, but that beats freezing one's ass off...

Here's hoping you have a fun weekend.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tofu Sez:

"Big race this weekend!"

Nadir's organizing it. Huge purse. Lots of entrants. It's open to non-messengers, so apparently some Cat 1 racers have entered. The messengers want to prove a point.

It's gonna be Saturday night (and they're calling for possible snow flurries, just to add to the fun).

I'm loathe to provide more details, because alleycats (street races organized by and/or for messengers) are, er, um, not exactly legal. Last thing we want is the starting point to be crawling with cops.

My money's on Tofu...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Morning Still Life

I was going to chat about miscellaneous matters while you looked at this still life.

But now I've changed my mind.

I no longer feel compelled to bore you with my musings, so you'll have to be content with viewing the remnants of a weekend breakfast. Cool mug, eh? 'T'was a prezzie from my sister...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Toronto's Flatiron

It's not nearly as imposing as New York's Flatiron, the one immortalized in Steichen's seminal modernist photo. It turns out there are dozens of buildings around the world that locals call "The Flatiron". I would guess that it's actually become something of a generic term for an older pie-shaped building.

As far as flatiron buildings world-wide go, I'm sure that Toronto's specimen is nothing special. Whatever the case may be it's a favourite subject of local and visiting photographers, your humble servant included. I rather like the dramatic sky in this shot, although I could certainly do without the scaffolding.

Still, a lovely little building...

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Smoke Break

What really grosses me out is seeing a Chinatown vegetable vendor smoking as he stocks outdoor bins. The idea of someone handling food with a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth, dropping ashes on the food I could be buying is enough to dissuade me from procuring fruits and veggies in that neighbourhood.

This fellow wasn't at a fruitstand, but there was some sort of food product in the bins in front of him.

All that having been said, and with the greatest of humility, I do rather like the photo...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Foto

Recently spotted at College and Spadina here in Toronto.

Hope you all get through your Friday and have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Our Fearless Leader - and others...

This is Mark. I can't remember his exact title (president, chairman, king, dictator?) of TOBMA (TorontO Bicycle Messengers Association). Since I've been showing a bunch of Toronto messengers over the past month or so, I thought I should show one of Our Fearless Leader.

Today will be the last of the Magpies October 9 pix, so I figured I'd better get him in

Hey, nice shirt, Mark!

As for the rest of the photos, beneath Mark, in order, are Jamr, Jamr's beer and Franek.

Next we find a table-full of guys trying to get a word in edgewise - but with Tif and Sunny D talking, we know that's not going to happen!!

Finally, there's Sunny D and a young man from Dublin whose name escapes me for the moment. Perhaps they met when Sunny was there for CMWC. I only mention that as an excuse to remind you all that Toronto will be the host of CMWC summer of 2008!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

And We Have a Winner!

Spotted yesterday at Toronto's Union Station (knarf got to take a Go Train ride!).

The winner's reaction seemed to attract the attention of her

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Switching Yard

Remember Warren Zevon?

Most remember him as the singer/songwriter of that novelty song, Werewolves of London; you probably heard it recently, because they drag it out every Hallowe'en. Those who are more familiar of his work will know that he was a serious musician, one of the most intelligent rockers out there.

Sadly, he succumbed to cancer in 2003, having refused treatments so he could record a final album, The Wind

His breakthrough album was 1978's Excitable Boy, which I played so often the grooves have long since worn smooth. Among my favourites from that disc was Night Time in the Switching Yard. This photo reminded me of that song, even though it clearly wasn't taken at night.

If it has a "different" look, that's because I tried a new (to me) Photoshop plug-in that simulates infrared. I've always thought that IR was a bit gimmicky (but in the right hands - Hello Dave! - it can be very effective), however I think this one looks kind of interesting.

In other news, the time change was this weekend, so I had the joy of riding to work in the morning light (turned off the headlight about 15 minutes into the ride!). It's been fairly dark as I leave the office anyway, so pitch black at 6pm won't be a bother. That extra 45 minutes of light in the morning makes a huge difference, however. A nice way to start a week, to be sure!

Friday, November 02, 2007

By the Market

We were by Saint Lawrence Market about two weekends ago, and it was so mild that people were lounging about on park benches reading and doing schoolwork.

Quite a contrast with this morning, as temps plunged below the freezing point for the first time this season. It was a - er, um -
refreshing ride into the office...

Of course, I was scrambling around the house searching for cool-weather garb, and was mostly successful, except that I only found one shoe-cover. Just bought them last year, used them maybe 1/2 dozen times, and now I don't have a pair. I think it's more frustrating only finding one than it is finding neither. Now I have that orphan staring me in the face, a constant reminder that I
used to have a functioning set of tootsie-warmers. Of course, I can never throw that useless single out, because what if the other one shows up to complete the pair?


Of course, you know the lost fellow will reappear - a week after I throw the other out...

But hey, it's Friday, and I'm not going to worry about that any more today. The weekend starts soon enough!

I'll close with new B&W conversion of a portrait of the latest member of the family, Cinza (aka: The Princess). She would want you to have a great weekend, too. Come to think of it, perhaps she knows where my missing shoe-cover is!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

History in the Making

You are actually looking at the last human being in the world who does not own a cell phone.


Blog Archive