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

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

All the best to you and yours.

2007 was great, 2008 will be better!

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Sheppard Line

Toronto's largest recent sinkhole of transit funds is a subway line of five stations that cost billions at a time that the rest of the system is falling apart and ridership is down due to a combination of rising fares, diminishing service and increasingly unreliable vehicles and infrastructure.

Opened in 2002, it's the least used of Toronto's subway lines, so much so that they run shorter trains, and even those run pretty much empty most of the time.

It's sometimes referred to as the Ikea Line, since it's primary reason for being seems to have been to get more customers to the Ikea store at Leslie and Sheppard. Indeed, both times I've been on it, it's been to go to that very same Ikea.

I went there this past weekend to buy a few last-minute presents. My youngest daughter took several dozen photos, and I managed to take this one, which for some reason strikes me as kind of okay; if nothing else, it's another transit shot, to go along with the rest. I see a theme emerging...


Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cinza Guards the Presents

It's a minimalist tree. No ornaments, only small white lights (not really visible in this photo). I like it.



Our tree.

And, under it, The Presents. Guarding the presents, Cinza.

Since Patches got to be in the last blog, today will be Cinza's turn. Patches helps with the wrapping; Cinza's job is to make certain no harm comes to those wrapped presents until we humans get to open them. She does an admirable job. And, they were worth guarding.

We had a lovely Christmas with my two younger daughters. Hope yours was wonderful as well!

Sadly, today's a back-to-work day for me. If you're lucky, you'll be relaxing with the whole week off work...

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Message From Patches

Do you still have presents to wrap? Dreading those last-minute Christmas chores? I'll come to your place and help you!

I'll sit on the articles you want to wrap, I'll sit on the wrapping paper, I'll sit on the scissors and tape.

If you place those objects in close proximity to one another, I'll sit on all of them at the same time.

No charge for these services. You need only cover my expenses, which are minimal: high-quality cat food and pine litter.

I'll make it a Christmas to remember!

And, from my human, the Author of This Very Blog, have a Very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fanfare, Please

Let the bells ring and the banners fly!

(La Gatita Gringa will get the reference immediately)

So yesterday This Very Blog had its Twenty Thousandth view. That's twenty thousand views in just less than two years. I know there are likely some Big Time Blogs that get more than that number of views in one day, but all things considered, I'm humbled.

I'm humbled and grateful.

I know I have many "regulars" that pop in on something close to a daily basis, and it's always nice to see you and hear from you.

Thank you all. You've made this a fun thing, and I only hope that you've gotten something out of your visits here.

I suppose that with people travelling for the holidays, many of you may not be in front of a computer for some time after today, so let me also take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Music in The Chapel

Another one from Sunday's concert of the Classical Music Consort at Toronto's Trinity College Chapel.

The conductor Ashiq Aziz is only 25 years old and already has his Masters in Conducting, and has studied under (among others) Raffi Armenian. He was great fun to watch, and as you can see from this photo, the beautiful Gothic-inspired chapel was the perfect visual backdrop.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bene's First Winter

The human told me what type of dog this is: An Italian Something-or-other. Whatever he is, he's ten weeks old, and cute as hell.

They were walking ahead of me, and when the dog heard me, he turned around to come towards me, dragging his person along. I couldn't resist taking a pic (having asked and received the consent of the vertical mammal).

Turns out he loves the snow, and is about the friendliest dog one could ever think of meeting. He put a smile on my face on a day I needed a smile real bad.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Got Culture

And I don't mean like yogurt.

I alluded to it yesterday, but on Sunday night, my better half and I went to a concert at Trinity College Chapel in the University of Toronto.

Trinity Chapel is a beautiful building, both inside and out, and the acoustics are stunning; the perfect venue for a small chamber orchestra such as the Classical Consort. We heard a programme of Prokofiev, Beethoven and McAndrew.

McAndrew? Yes, Ian McAndrew, a close friend of The Partner, premiered Sinfonia for String Orchestra, Opus 25, (I wonder what happened to the first 24?) commissioned specifically for this evening by the conductor Ashik Aziz (a 25 year old wunderkind who I know will be a major force in the world of classical music).

The weekend snowstorm meant that about a third of the pews of the chapel were empty, but those who braved the elements were blessed with an evening of wonderful music.

I was fortunate enough to have access to the orchestra during the sound check (aka dress rehearsal) for photographic purposes, and this shot is an early fave of mine. Hopefully you'll like it, too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snow Shovelling 101

"When shovelling snow, choice of footwear is most important. Look for that combination of warmth, water resistance and traction."

Apparently this young lady didn't read the manual.


So, for those of you in foreign lands who haven't heard, we got snow here in North America. Pretty much the whole northeastern portion of the continent got slammed. I don't know how many inches we got here in Toronto, but they say it's the worst storm since 1999 - the infamous "Mayor Mel Calls in the Army" storm (which we'll never live down).

That being said, it wasn't that bad here in town. What, maybe 6 to 10 inches? I mean, it was a storm, but I've seen worse. Last night, we walked through the University of Toronto, it's old Ivy League buildings looking snug and warm under a blanket of snow, behind huge evergreens, their boughs bent under the weight of the white stuff. The lack of traffic combined with the fresh snow made for an eerily quiet evening.

Too bad it won't last. Within a day or two the roads will be cleared, the snow will start to turn grey, and they're calling for rain by the end of the week. Then it will be Toronto the Grey again.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Chinatown from the Hip

I know I showed the fellow lighting up the smoke whilst standing over a food bin (how savoury!), but for today, I thought I'd show a couple of more shots taken that same day in Toronto's Chinatown, all three of them taken "from the hip".

I know they're blurry and tilted, but so is Chinatown. ;-)

Hope your weekend is a good one - mine will be a trying one, but I hope to get through it to a better Monday...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

I know, I know, you're thinking, "Hey, didn't knarf recently show this photo?"

Well, sort of. Back on the Fifth I posted a very similar photo, taken moments before this one. At the time I processed the previous photo, I thought it the best of the several I took. It's a bit sharper, and one can see the dog's face.

However, I later realized that my processing left much to be desired (very muddy rendition, no detail in the dark areas - coats and jackets for instance), so I went back to fiddle with a few things to improve its online presentation. While doing that, I noticed this image: dog looking the wrong way, not quite so sharp, but I noticed that the young lady's smile is much more vibrant, and the older lady's hand isn't "lost" in the other's boots.

Especially with the better contrast and brightness, this seems to me to be a much stronger photo.

But, really, today's post isn't about the photo (I just felt like rambling for a few minutes), it's about snow. Which we're going to get more of today. A couple more inches, it looks like. The streets are dry-ish this morning, so I actually considered taking the bike today (I've only ridden one-way to the office since my accident; took the subway home on Tuesday, as it was pissing cold rain), but the thought of riding to the subway in several inches of fresh snow/slush in the dark is most unappealing.

So we're tubing it both ways today. At least the day will look pretty: last snowfall is looking quite grey and dingy by now...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Ink

Leah shows off her new sleeve, much to Haley's delight.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chris 50; On the Bike Again

I'm still sifting through all of them (one of the joys of digital is that one tends to shoot a lot more than film), but so far, I think this is my favourite shot taken at the TOBMA Holiday Party.

This is Chris 50. I believe he has a last name, and 50 isn't it. 50 is his radio number at UML, one of the top courier companies in Toronto. He's been there forever. He's always had the same number, and 50 is it. And we've always called him Chris 50. Just Chris 50.

Enough about Chris.

So, today I road to the office for the first time since The Big Accident of 2007. Being off the bike for almost two weeks was hell! Last week it was snowy, wet and slick all week, none of which made me want to get back on a bike.

However, by this past weekend enough snow had melted that I was considering fixing the two flats on the Fondriest, exchanging pedals from injured roadbike to trackbike, and think of riding to work. I did all those things, but they were calling for snow yesterday, so I took transit again, regretting it every time I looked out the window to see dry roads. The snow never came.

Today they're calling for freezing rain and/or snow in the afternoon (what the local meteorologists like to call "mixed precipitation"). Still, since it was dry this morning, I decided to ride. If it does rain or snow, I can subway home, leaving the bike here to ride home tomorrow (as it's supposed to be sunny).

We'll see how it goes.

It was great to be back on the iron steed (actually, it's aluminium, but that just doesn't sound right: "aluminium steed"), but on the way to work doesn't some old man pull up to a stop sign, stop, and continue through the intersection, causing me to swerve and lock up? I yell at him that "I didn't have a stop sign!" and he did, and I had the right of way. He looked at me like I was from another planet - maybe even another universe - and drove off.

Sigh. Same old, same old...

Anyway, riding was a treat, even in the cold and the damp. Nothing like being on a bike to lift one's spirits!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Food, Drink, Smiles

That was the TOBMA Holiday Extravaganza (intending to cover Channukah, Christmas, Kwanza, Festivus [for the rest of us] and all other winter solstice type festivals).

See all the messengers having fun? Eating. Drinking. Smiling. What more could one ask from a party?

I've gotta say, the food was spectacular - complete with a vegan option for those of us who prefer that the food that we eat not have ever had feelings. The spinach lasagne was amazing!

As for myself, I'm tired (not that I partied late, but when I got home I absolutely had to look through the hundreds of photos I took - such is the siren-call of digital). I'll likely be inundating you with more photos over the next couple of days, so be prepared...

In other gnus, I got my trackbike all set up and ready to ride today (the road bike having been run over by an SUV), and within an hour of my putting new tubes in and greasing the chain, it started snowing. Snowed more overnight. It's supposed to snow more this week. It may be a while before we see dry pavement.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Winter Wonderland?

I love snow.

I don't so much love rain, not when the temp's hovering around zero.

But, as I've been told often, "bad weather makes good pictures".

I've not travelled much, and most of the wandering I've done has been in summer, so I have precious-few winter experiences in cities other than those in which I've lived, meaning basically Montreal, Toronto, and the world's biggest hick-town - er, I mean, a mid-sized city in Southern Ontario that shall remain nameless.

Montreal, whatever one might say about it the other three seasons, is a gorgeous city in the winter. Lots of snow, few thaws (at least when I lived there - may be different now, what with global warming and all), it was often covered in a beautiful blanket of white from early December to late February or March. It can be a bit grubby the other seasons, but the fluffy white camoflage makes Montreal a Winter City.

Toronto, on the other hand, is a grey, miserable place in winter. It can get cold, but it's rare for snow to last more than a couple of weeks before a thaw - usually it turns to slush in much less time than that. Consistent cycles of snow and rain, freeze and thaw, make it an uncomfortable place this time of year. It always seems that this city is much colder than the actual temperature would indicate - it's frigid on many levels.

I think this photo captures that...

On a happier note, it's Friday! The workweek is almost over, and we'll be off on another weekend in a few hours. Hopefully I'll see several of you at the TOBMA Holiday Extravaganza on Sunday!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Doctor, Doctor, Tell me the News

This is Givago. He probably doesn't know it, but here in the office we call him Doctor Givago. I'm sure he's heard it before.

In any event, you may be able to tell that he's a courier: Sitting at a bar, pumping up a tire, with a beer (looks like a Guinness - my fave!) on the go, what else could he be? Are those rolling papers peeking out from behind his beer? Nah, couldn't be: smoking that stuff's illegal!

Givago represents all Toronto Messengers (for the purposes of today's post). He and all others connected with the Toronto Messenger Community are invited to the TOBMA holiday party (notice the political correctness?), 25 Cecil Street at 6pm this coming Sunday. It should be fun.

Hope to see y'all there!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Saying Hello

Recently spotted in fresh snow on Yonge Street

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Pouting in the Rain

One might wonder what product is being promoted by the almost lurid image on this sandwich-board poster. Is it a strip bar? Massage parlour?

No, it's clothes. This, it seems, is what we should wish our daughters to look like. Or, more to the point, what they should want to look like.


Whatever the message, I thought the contrast with the environment said as much as the poster itself.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Winter In Toronto

Toronto must have the sloppiest winters in the world. Snow, thaw, rain, all within 24 hours. Today the temps will plummet, and everything will be frozen again.



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