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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Going Home

The subway trains get a bit crowded during the evening commute.

Yet another reason I prefer cyclo-commuting...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I am Grand Master Knarf. French gamesters grovel and kowtow; they lay prostate before me.

I am revered and respected.

But now I have been outed. This blog has merely been a front. Secret encoded messages have been sent from This Very Place to my loyal followers these past two years but now that's all over.

C'est dommage, n'est ce pas?

Au revoir a tous mes amis francais. A la prochaine!

(how weird is this, eh?)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Auspicious Date

It was on this date, six years ago, that Gee Dubya coined the phrase "axis of evil", referring to those rogue states Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

You know what? I guess maybe those countries aren't very nice, maybe they're even "evil", I don't know. But a threat to the US? Intent on world dominance?

Six years later, and North Korea still hasn't dropped The Bomb. Whew!

That has to have been one of the silliest utterances ever made in public by a world leader. Who writes this guy's scripts, anyway?

"Axis of Evil."


What a maroon!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Saturday Sadness

I took today's photo on Saturday afternoon at Victoria Park subway station in Toronto. We were on our way back from visiting Oliver, a wonderful dog who was just diagnosed with (apparently) terminal cancer on Friday .

Please send positive thoughts Oliver's way; he and his family need comfort and strength.

Maybe today would be a good day to click on the animal rescue site (look to the right), in Oliver's honour...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Young Lady on a Bike Next to a Streetcar

It was a one-shot deal. She was sitting on her bike next to a streetcar at Queen and Victoria. I asked if I could take her photo, she smiled and said "yes", I shot. We chatted for a second, the light changed and off she went.

Unfortunately, the late-day sun put huge hot-spots on her face, and I've been trying to deal with them ever since. The seed of the photo is there, but it seems so technically flawed that it may be beyond rescue, which would be a real shame.

So here's my latest attempt, rendered in faux-infrared on the computer. It's the best one yet. The best, I'm afraid, of a sorry lot (it looks better bigger, so click on it to see it screen-size). In fact, the more I look at it, the less I like it. I still think there's a wonderful photo in there somewhere; I'll just have to keep working on it...

Anyway, you have a great weekend (as I know I will)!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Roycroft

I've always liked art-deco apartment buildings, and the area of Toronto in which I live has many. This one is on Eglinton near Bathurst. Love the "font" of the sign...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hell's Grannies

Every time I see a senior zipping by on one of these electric scooters, I think of the infamous Monty Python sketch. I know, Hell's Grannies had nothing to do with mobility devices (being as they weren't around back then), it's more the attitude of some of today's seniors on their "mobies" that reminds me of that title.

Screaming along at 10 km/h, horns constantly beeping, exhorting (not asking, mind you) people to get out of the way, they rule the sidewalks, striking fear into the hearts of mere pedestrians.

Okay, okay, I exaggerate for "literary" (hah! as if!) purposes. Most drivers of these carts are polite, courteous and patient; the noisey few change the way I look at the quiet majority. Still, there's a steelie look of determination in some of their eyes as they bear down on me that scares me just a bit. Years of pent-up frustration caused by impaired mobility must be suddenly released when the sit on their "ride", preparing to sally forth for the day.

Perhaps one day, I'll trade two wheels for four. Then
you better look out for me!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Why is it that the seem to go out of their way to make SUVs look aggressive and imposing?

Monday, January 21, 2008


These bicycle posts are ubiquitous around This Fine Burg.

Personally, I don't like them. Too easy to scratch bike frames on them, and depending on how it's secured, often only one bike will fit on each pole. That can be a real pain when these facilities are sparse as they are in front of some downtown buildings.

Certainly, there is plenty of room for lots of bikes in this bank of "lollipops" (as they're referred to locally) found along Philosopher's Walk in the University of Toronto. Most say "City of Toronto", but I guess U of T has so many, they got theirs "personalized".

Hope you have a great Monday, to start a great week!

Friday, January 18, 2008

What To Do

Sort of an ongoing reminder that if you're looking for something to do tonight in Toronto, Reposados on Ossington between Queen and Dundas features some amazing jazz.

The house band includes trumpeter Tim Hamel; club owner Sandy (left) usually sits in for a set or two. It's a cool, laid back, relatively mature sort of place.

We considered heading there tonight, but nocturnal feline activity this week (what's up with you, Patches?) leaves us overly fatigued - hopefully next Friday...

Whatever the case, I'm about to embark on what I know will be a very pleasant (and relaxing!) weekend. Here's hoping you have the same.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Good Use for a Car

For all my anti-car rants, all the waste of fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources, all the pollution, all the deaths and injuries caused to pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers, for all of that, I'm glad that some people in Kensington Market found this lovely use for a car this past summer.

Beats clogging our landfill sites with more old wrecks...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Washboard Abs?

I rode my bike to work today. Yesterday, as it was snowy and wet, I took the subway (actually, it "took me" didn't it?). As much as I prefer riding my bike, one of the advantages of transit is that I get to read. Yesterday morning, I chose to read a newspaper.

I read that there's a big scandal in the world of R&B and HipHop.

"What sort of scandal?", you ask.

Lipsynching? Guns? Payola? Drugs?

Nope. Steroids!

"No, knarf, you're thinking of baseball, Roger Clemens, wrestling, American Gladiators (yes, it's back!), football..."

Actually, I am thinking about R&B. Have you watched music videos over the past decade or more? Have you noticed how many performers, both male and female, manage to show a ripped torso, those "six pack abs", that "washboard stomach"? So now, someone's blowing the whistle on Mary J. Blige, Timbaland, 50 Cent (apparently to be pronounced "fitty sen") and others, claiming they got their buff buns with chemical assistance.

Say it ain't so!

The kneejerk reaction would be to presume that this is all due to music videos, that they take away from the music, that they make appearance and image paramount over talent. Such a proposition would be facile. Turns out that Beethoven, Bach and Brahms (the infamous Three B's) had muscle fetishes, and for hundreds of years, classical performers have hidden rock-hard bodies under those conservative duds. You wouldn't know it to look at them, with their serene faces and severe concentration, but traditionally the only way they would be accepted into any high-profile orchestra was to show a bulging bicep, colossal quads or prodigious pecs.

It's classical music's "dirty little secret", and I hope today's blog doesn't blow this thing sky high, but hey, it's all about the kids, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Filter Cover

Some of you may recall having seen this one before.

That's because you have. I prepared a photo for this morning, but I forgot to put the card in my backpack to bring to the office to upload.

Oh well.

See how lovely film is? As wonderful as digital is, there's just "something about film"...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Manno a Manno

Dad's talking, but I can't figure out what the little tyke is doing.

Is he listening intently?

Is he glazing over, nodding at (what he hopes are) appropriate intervals?

Is he looking for cute toddlers in expensive strollers to roll by?

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Payphone

I wonder how much longer we'll see these guys around?

I mean, who uses them? Who would want to touch one? I know I wouldn't, not until it's hosed down with a disinfectant cleaner.

They must be expensive as hell to operate and maintain; I can't imagine that Bell makes any money off these things. Pretty soon it'll be cheaper to give cellphones to the indigent - I'm sure Bell could lobby for government grants for that purpose, just like the $1Billion corporate welfare handout just announced by the pre-election Harper government here in Canada.

I give em five more years, max; after that, they'll be an ancient curiousity we tell our kids and grandchildren about, much like my father told me about horsedrawn deliverywagons in the 30s and 40s...

Oh well, another Friday is here. Have a good one, and enjoy your weekend - I know I will...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

On The Bike Again

It was like a convergance of the stars.

For the first time in about a month it was sufficiently dry/snow-free/mild that I had the inclination to hop on the bike and ride to work. Due to my recent fender-bender (actually, it was a seatstay-bender) I only had the choice of one bike, but happily, that one bike was the Fondriest trackbike.

It was dark pretty much the whole way and at the freezing point, it was coolish (I do have layers to add if it gets colder but stays dry), but it was a hoot, none-the-less. Over the past month I've acquired a bit of a layer of fat (not much, but noticeable by me, anyway), and I noticed that a few of the smallish hills along the way are a teensy bit more arduous than usual, but both of those things will be remedied by a week or two back on the bike.

Sadly, snow tonight, tomorrow it rains and they're calling for snow each day next week, so Lord knows when I'll be doing a two-wheel commute again. I guess I'll just have to enjoy today.

Looking forward to the ride home!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


The 90 kilometer per hour winds made these birds decide to stay put for a while...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Into the Light

Actually, into the warmth would be more appropriate.

This time last week we were digging out from a snowfall. Yesterday we set a record high, and today's forecast is a high of 14C. Save for a few dirty grey and brown snowbank remnants we have no snow left.

Can you say "global warming"? I knew you could...

On the upside, Sunday I was running errands on the bike for the first time in about a month (woo hoo!). Rain yesterday and today made me decide against the cyclocommute, however it may actually be sunny tomorrow (I don't remember when we last saw sun!) so I'll likely be on the bike for at least a day or two, as Thursday will be sunny, too (albeit cooler).

I don't like these warm temps in January, but hell, if they're here I might as well take advantage of them...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Private Property

I'd not really considered it a prime loitering area (PLA), but thanks for the sign anyway...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Way

As many of you know, I dispatch bike messengers. Tell them what to pick up, tell them when to go drop those things off.

This year, two from among my charges sent me little gifts. They were totally unexpected, and most appreciated. One was a bottle of Barley Wine from Mill Street, a local microbrewery. Kind of a cross between beer and a liqueur, it's a strong, tasty sipping potable. The gifter signed it, with appropriate holiday greetings and wishes.

The first day back to work after Christmas, another small package came to me from downtown, from the drop-box which the messengers use to shuttle various items to and from the head office in the 'burbs (where I toil). It was a simple bag wrapped with an elastic band; the most cursory of inspections indicated the bag surrounded a book. On the bag were the words, "To Frank, thanks for everything!" - but no signature. I assumed it to have been from a messenger.

Inside was the most gorgeous little book: Tales from the Tao - The Wisdom of the Taoist Masters. This exquisite volume features ancient Taoist stories illustrated with incredible landscape photographs from (it appears) China or The East.

As a former student of philosophy (okay, it was like 30 years ago, but still...) and as a photographer of sorts, it appeals to me on many levels. I've been reading it on the subway, and finished it this morning. I don't know much about Taoism, but reading this has had (and is having) a huge impact on me. Amazing stuff!

Now I have a problem. I'd love to thank the person who sent it to me. It's so weird: whoever sent it must know me very well, better than I'd have thought the messengers in my "brood" know me. I have the feeling that this gift was chosen with great care and after much consideration.

If that's the case, then I must conclude that the omission of the giver's name was quite deliberate.

Or was it? Perhaps it was just a serendipitous act, a book was randomly chosen and sent off to me. Perhaps the sender did indeed forget to sign their name to the gift.

Should I ask from among my couriers who sent it? Should I at least send a text message thanking that person but not asking for their identity? I'd like that person to know how much I appreciate their gesture.

Right now I'm thinking I should just accept the book with silent gratitude, and pass on the good wishes to someone else: "pay it forward" as it were. That might be the most appropriate course of action, especially given the little that I've able to learn from the gift itself.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Sliding into Another Year

We got snow as predicted on New Years Day. I don't think it was as much as the prognosticators predicted, but it was enough for kids (and their dads) to drag out the sleds and hit the slopes all over Toronto.

Mildish temps (around the freezing point) made for comfortable (if a bit damp) sliding.

Things took a rather nasty turn overnight, as we awoke to a brutishly cold morning of around -13C. Not that cold really, for this time of year, but it's been so mild of late that it came as a bit of a shock. By the weekend the temps should be back above freezing, and they're calling for a high of +13 (no, that's not a typo or a misprint: Plus Thirteen Degrees Celsius!) by next midweek. In January! In Canada!

Welcome to Toronto winter. ;-)

Anyway, hope you all had a relaxing and Happy New Year as I did.


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