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

Friday, February 29, 2008

You Want a New Messenger Bag

Sam is half of Under the Weather, and all-round great guy. You want a one-of-a-kind custom messenger bag? Under the Weather is where to go, for bags and lots of other cycling/messenger stuff, too.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hey, Sailor - Deuxieme Parti



Here's a re-rendering of yesterday's photo. A photographer friend of mine suggested that perhaps some perspective-correction in Photoshop might enhance the photo some. I'm normally loathe to engage in such manipulation, but (a) I wanted to learn how to do it, and (b) I have to admit it does look better.

While I was fooling around, I found another interesting frame from the same shoot (zoomed in a bit) - I thought it looked better in B&W, so here it is!

Hey, Sailor redux...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hey, Sailor

Looking for a good time?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Blame America

Okay, so you know that I'm not big booster of the USA - at least not its government, nor of it's foreign policy.

That's not to say that I don't like the US. Actually, I love it! The places I've visited (admittedly few) the people I've met have all left me with overwhelmingly positive feelings. It's a pretty cool place.

But, as Pierre Trudeau said, living next to the US is like being next to an elephant: The huge beast may be docile and benign, but one is aware of its every grunt and twitch.

One thing about being the only superpower on the planet, is that it has become a lighteningrod for all international problems It's blamed for everything. In Toronto, everyone protests in front of the US Consulate. It's now de rigeur for every protest march to wind it's way down University Avenue to finish with rhetorical speeches, singing of anthems and waving of flags in front of the consulate. Virtually every weekend someone has something to say to or about the Americans. I'm sure that the day will come (if it hasn't already) that reservations will be required.

So, Saturday I'm strolling down Queen Street, and as I cross University, I look up to see unfamiliar flags being waved with much gusto in the "traditional" protest square. I knew that Kosovo had recently declared independance from Serbia; in fact several days ago I looked at some wonderful photos taken by an acquaintance of mine in London, England of the joyous celebration of Kosovo ex-pats there. So, I wasn't surprised when, as I approached this group in Toronto, I saw several placards mentioning "Kosovo".

But there was nothing celebratory about these participants. They were Serbs, and as the above photo shows, they weren't happy at all! Their displeasure stemmed from the fact that not only had Kosovo seceded, but that much of the world, including the USA, had recognized Kosovo's sovreignty.

Kosovo, it seems, is "the heart" of Serbia, the place where a medieval battle against the Turks, while lost, is considered to have "defined" modern-day Serbia.

Or something like that.

So, since the US has dared to recognize Kosovo, some Serbs are putting the blame squarely on the Superpower for the fracturing of their country. Like it was a strong, cohesive, homogeneous place before US endorsement of Kosovo? Uh, yeah, sure...

Hey, when all else fails, demonstrate in front of the American Consulate. Because that changes things, doesn't it?

I guess there's a reason that they call it "Balkanization"...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lee Wallace

The best guitarist you've never heard of.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Explanation

The young lady on the left just doesn't seem to be buying it...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Boyfriend

She was chatting with the fellow sitting next to me.

Seems that The Boyfriend was keeping an eye on things. Not sure what that expression meant, though...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Witchcraft

This is Sandy, owner of Reposados, crooning along with the band on Friday night, singing the jazz standard Witchcraft.

Timeless song, timeless look...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On The Rocks

As promised, went out to see live music on Friday night. I don't even know what type of drink this is; the bartender set it down in front of me for a second as I sat at the bar. It rather caught my eye, so I snapped.

Never did make it to the Ice Race on Saturday - I think I'm getting too old to do two late late nights in a row...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Go See Jazz

Haven't decided yet, but I might be dropping in tonight to see Tim Hamel et al at Reposado's on Ossington (between Queen and Dundas). Not that whether I go should have any bearing on your decision to either come to Reposado's, go see (and hear!) jazz, or just go see live music.

However, you should go out and support "real live" musicians; it's a good thing...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's Called the Icycle Race

Pappy corrected me yesterday, so I'll use the correct nomenclature today.

Toronto's Icycle Race will take place this Saturday at the Dufferin Twin Pads (or whatever they're called - is it maybe Duffering Grove Park?), on Dufferin just south of Bloor, directly across from Dufferin Mall.

I know I've shown this photo of Pete Breward before, but it's among my favourites, taken a couple of years ago, when I last attended.

I'll be there this year (for the first time with digital camera) ready to take a boatload of shots. Hope you'll be there, too!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ice Race This Weekend

Toronto's St. Valentine's Day Massacre is this Saturday.

Fun and mayhem, all wrapped up in one.

Details to follow...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cozy

Patches stayed inside, nice and cozy all weekend.

We did indeed get that little snow dumping on the weekend, and although I haven't heard that we've officially set a snowfall record in this fair burg, we certainly have had our fair share of the white stuff this year.

Only thaws after each snowfall have prevented major accumulation.

Still, as you can see from the photo below, taken on Saturday, we've had a not-insignificant amount of snow this past week (lawns and streets were bare a week ago today).

Saturday the temperature hovered around freezing, meaning much slop and wet. Yesterday it was (finally!) sunny, but huge winds (gusts up to 70km/h) blew a cold front in - yesterday when I stepped out to get some catfood for "the ladies", -15C felt more like -25C or -30C.

Patches and Cinza certainly have the right idea. Housecats: what a gig! Stay in the nice warm apartment and let the humans venture out to get the food. That's the life!


Friday, February 08, 2008

A Record?

With the snow of the last few days, we've already surpassed last year's total.

If we have one more significant snowfall (which could happen as early as this weekend), we could set an all-time record for total snowfall for one winter.

Despite all the snow that's fallen, accumulation isn't great because each snow has been followed by a thaw, melting everything. So, the snow you see on the newspaper boxes is only from the most recent storm; they were bare as recently as Tuesday night.

Oh well. I'm sure you didn't tune in for yet another weather report, but you got it anyway! ;-)

I'm looking forward to a wonderful weekend with a special occasion to share with a special someone. Discretion prevents me from saying more, but I'm looking forward to it. Hope your weekend will be as good as I know mine will be.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

More Winter Wonderland Etc Etc

A few blocks north of our apartment, up near Lawrence, one finds Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens. As you can see, they're quite lovely under a fresh blanket of snow (this photo was taken about a month ago, but the snowfall that day was about the same as what we got over the past two days).

"Who is Alexander Muir?", you ask. He was responsible (some might say "to blame") for penning that pleasant little dittie, The Maple Leaf Forever.

I always hated that song. It's so "English Canada". So Ontario-centric. Also, they used to (maybe the still do, I don't know) play it at Toronto Maple Leaf hockey games (as a native Montrealer, I despise the Leafs [sic] almost as much as I revere the Montreal Canadiens).

Anyway, Alex' park is lovely in the snow. Come to think of it, it's lovely in the summer, too.

But I still hate his song.

This next shot was taken from almost exactly the same location. I merely swung south about 90 degrees.
Alexander Muir park can be seen to the left, and what appears to be a "spooky old mansion" is in reality a rather derelict old apartment building on Yonge Street. Hard to believe that this scene was found in the midst of mid-town Toronto - it looks so rural!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Feed the Birds

Spotted on Saturday, the day after a notable snowfall, at Yonge and Eglinton. Whenever I see a little old lady feeding birds, I inevitably think of the song from Mary Poppins.

"Feed the birds,
two-pence a bag..."

We got another "dusting" of about 6 inches last night. Like the weekend, it's six inches of heavy, wet, sticky snow, it's deep puddles and splashing from passing traffic. It's slop.

At least the birds in front of 2300 Yonge will be taken care of, even in the snow.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thoughts for a Tuesday

I'm on the tube. I'm reading a subway ad for what at first glance seems to be a charity, called Children First. It's written in a childish crayon script (which set off all sorts of red flags and whistles).

Turns out it's run by the ultra-right-wing Fraser Institute. It covers up to half the tuition for private school education for "low income families".

With an average tuition of $3500 for the grant receivers, that means these "low income" families ponied up an average of $1750 of their own money for this.

What exactly do they mean by "low income"? Turns out that families with annual incomes as high as $66,000 may be eligible. It strikes me that this may be more of a "charity" for the middle class, or a way of funding private schools, than something to help the truly poor. How many impoverished families can find a couple of thousand of their own money to send their kid to private school?

Next:

I'm reading the free dailies, and notice a tiny story in Toronto Metro that matte is the new gloss in the auto industry. This is the auto show season, and several notable manufacturers, including Audi, Lamborghini and GM are featuring cars with very dull paintjobs. Interesting. My two year old Fondriest trackbike is matte. Matte or semi-gloss finishes have been around the cycling industry for years - not exactly abundant, but hardly rare either. Nice to see that the auto industry is finally catching on.

Next:

I was fortunate that I saw pretty much the whole Super Bowl on Sunday. In other words, I watched the last two and a half minutes. I was reading a column by Jodi Vance in the daily 24 Hours (owned by the Toronto Sun, so she probably writes for that rag as well). She called the game "one for the ages".

Geez, do sports reporters still use that hackneyed phrase? One for the Ages? In my recollection, that was first used in a sporting context by Howard Cosell some thirty years ago. It was overblown hyperbole back then, but that's what Howard did. He could get away with it. He pretty much invented that style of sports telejournalism; it's been mimicked by many over the years, some successfully some not.

But Jody Vance? Jody, I remember Howard Cosell, and you're no Howard Cosell. Cut the "For the Ages" crap...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Winter in Toronto

Got kinda whacked on Friday: Like around 6 inches of snow. Not a huge amount, but enough to make for some inconvenience getting around.

Saturday was just above freezing and extremely slushy and messy for walking about - huge and deep puddles abounded.

Today it's snowing and as the temp heads up just above freezing, it will turn to rain.

Tomorrow, a high of +9C and rain. Same (more or less) for Wednesday.

Cold doesn't bother me. Snow doesn't bother me. This constant up and down, snow and rain, snow then slush - it's wearing on me. Oh well, another month and we'll be through the worst of it.

As much as I'm bothered by the slop, I feel worse for the bike messengers who have to ply through this shit. They're warriors, and I hope that you'll send a kind and encouraging word if one pops into your office today...

Friday, February 01, 2008

St. Patrick Station in Monochrome

I showed a very similar one to this one in colour some time ago. (actually I thought it was the same one, until making the link just now - I kind of like this one better, with the lights of the train shining off the walls - they were taken seconds apart) I recently converted it to black and white, and I like it. Hope you do, too.

It's snowing like hell today (well, actually, I guess the heat of Hades tends to dictate against snow). Stay out of your cars and take transit to wherever you need to go.

Have a great weekend! I know I will...

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