Sunday, May 31, 2009

Paul Tracy - to return to open wheel racing in TO

I was glad to hear that bad boy of racing - Canada's Paul Tracy "The Thrill from West Hill" will race in both the 2009 Toronto and Edmonton Indy races for KV Racing Technology.

The often controversial driver has also picked up at least one additional race at the Milwaukee Mile due to the injury of Vitor Meira from A.J. Foyt Enterprise's number 14 car. Vitor was injured during a crash with Raphael Matos during the 2009 Indianapolis 500 race. He fractured two vertebrae and is expected to be out of action for a number of months.

In an unusual turn of events 4th ranked Indycar Driver Danica Patrick has said some kind words about Paul's excellent driving skills. Around the same time Paul has said that A.J. Foyt was one of his racing heros and that if had pulled some crap while a young driver he would have been "taken out behind the garage and got the crap kicked out of him". With three female drivers in the IRL it's a good thing that things have changed from the old days.

Toronto is no stranger to female drivers in the open wheel races as Katherine Legge competed in the Grand Prix. As a former Sunshine Girl Katherine (photo below) could give Danica Patrick a run for the money.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Funky folding bike - it's still bike month

A new store called Saved by Bikes has opened in the First Canadian Place (concourse level in the Path System) selling bikes, not just any bikes but some cool and unusual bikes just made for the urban environment. Their display of colourful folded up bikes along a wall drew me into the store.

The Strida Folding Bike collapses down into a pretty small package that can be stored under your seat in a GO Train (GO Transit says this ... Can I bring a folding bicycle onto a GO Train? Folding bicycles are allowed on all GO Trains, including during peak-period travel times and within Union Station at any time. Cyclists boarding peak-period trains with folded bicycles are asked to follow some simple etiquette tips to ensure this pilot project is a success), or by your desk in the office - it doesn't have a metal chain so no leaking oil.

I hear that Union Station has now built a secure bike locker, which I have been unable to find yet (on York St). The locker is not free and you cannot leave bikes for longer than two days, etc, etc (I will update this post when I find more info on the bike storage).

One bike had no chain but instead used a drive shaft, another had a built in solar lighting system.

While it could be argued that bikes may not actually save the world, they could certainly help the planet and their riders in many ways.

CUPE rally - invest in people

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE - Ontario Division) held a large rally today, starting on Queen Street by City Hall and heading south down Bay Street. Their message was "invest in people" and don't blame the economic crisis on unions and labour. You can read more about the issue on

Nathans Phillips Square Reflecting Pool - back in action

Another sign of spring; the outdoor rink at City Hall has been gone for awhile and the reflecting pool has now been filled and the fountain turned on - remember no wading allowed. City staff have placed the flower beds into the pool and will be working on placing vegetation on the beds.

Update: The plants have been put on their metal islands.

I thought it funny that a duck has quickly taken up residence in the pool.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Elton John & Billy Joel in Concert

The two superstars took to the stage at the Air Canada Centre and together they were magic. Fantastic, fantastic concert. I must admit that Billy Joel is my favourite - he talks and jokes with the crowd, so comfortable and so amazing. Their voices were both so powerful and fresh and the songs that we remember from youth up to the present are part of our lives. Awesome concert and here are some photos of the face 2 face tour.

Photo by Ann Hamilton

The started together; two large pianos on stage and a huge array of accompanying musicians.

Then Elton (Music Magic) took the stage and played a large set.

And then Billy Joel came on stage and took over for another large set. He even played the guitar for awhile.

For the encore they both came out on stage and played another large set. Almost 4 hours of great musical entertainment - a chance of a lifetime to see these stars perform together, live on stage. A couple of the songs they played alone - just Elton and Billy, including one of the highlights of the night - Piano Man.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Up, up and away

I approached a colourful collection of balloons at the corner of Bay Street and Queen Street as they strained to break free and float into the sky and I wondered who was celebrating a birthday. It was an advertising promotion for Disney Pixar's 3D movie UP.

Lil' Shop of Allergy Horrors

There were a couple of crazy doctors with frightening wigs stationed by the Lil' shop of Allergy Horrors in the Yonge-Dundas Square reminding everyone that ALLERGY SEASON IS BACK! At first I thought it was a couple of Einsteins in the square but they were really actors putting on a show to illustrate the battle against allergies.

A field of fluffy dandelions came to mind and I thought; the horror, the horror.

Toronto Bike Month

Bike Month starts right after Energy Conservation Week ends and there were plenty of bicycles in Nathan Phillips Square for the launch of the more "better way" to get physically fit and environmentally conscience.

I love to travel around Toronto's downtown using a bike for the freedom and opportunities that you can find without being restricted to a car and finding the necessary and expensive parking spot. You could also find info here to retire your ride which gets your old clunker off the road and improves the air quality for everyone.

The Month (May 25 to June 21) is kicked off at City Hall's Nathan Phillips Square and a number of booths have been set up with bicycle related stuff including the City's table where you can pick up a free pen and a 2009 Toronto Cycling Map. Maya Cycle is also on hand with a handy bicycle trailer display and some friendly sales staff (see photo at top of post).

I tracked down one of the new EcoCabs and its rider and got some more pictures of the great idea on wheels.

Bikes Without Borders and Virgin Mobile has a 2009 annual Bike For Africa walk and roll fundraising event on Toronto Islands on May 30 from 1 to 8 pm. They hope people will register and come out to support the purchase of bikes and bike ambulances for African HIV/AIDS workers

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Start and Finish Line - Honda Indy Toronto

The old and faded Toronto Grand Prix start and finish line markings remain in the asphalt roadway - it's almost time for the new Honda Indy line to be painted on the road.

Here is a panorama of the starting area across from the pits and looking toward the Direct Energy Building and Princes Gates.

Looking east on Princes Blvd towards the Princes Gates and turn one on the road course.

Doors Open - Horse Palace

Doors Open Toronto (May 23 & 24, 2009) is a weekend event celebrating a milestone birthday. While I did not see any birthday cakes I did see lots of families out enjoying the free entertainment and access to some of the 175 buildings.

It is amazing that the concept, started in France in 1984, has spread around the world. Apparantly Toronto became the first North American City to adopt the event and many citys, towns and provinces have since started their own Doors Open programs.

Some venues are only open to the public at this event and many of the buildings or attractions usually have an entrance fee which is waived during this weekend. Kudos to all the buildings that opened their doors wide.

I decide to check out the exhibition grounds and the Horse Palace with the Riding Academy, the Toronto Police Mounted Unit and the Toronto Animal Services. We watched the police constables and their rides compete in an obstacle course. Some of these horses did not want to do some of the obstacles even after a few tries (especially the water obstacle).

The Toronto Animal Services had some cats, kittens and bunny rabits looking for good homes.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Terminator Salvation disappoints

The anticipated release of Terminator Salvation came to pass and when the dust cleared we left the cinema complaining about the movie - no audience applause had broken the sombre mood in the theatre. The best part of the movie was Sam Worthington and his character Marcus Wright who is a haunted human-terminator, actually the movie was really about Marcus and not John Connor (Christian Bale).

An important movie lesson learned; don't get on a helicopter flown by John Connor, they tend to crash.

Arnold showed up and performed well but it was not enough for the jaded audience. If you are a fan of the movies and series then I would still suggest you watch the action on the big screen, if not, I would pass.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

toronto a la cart

Toronto has unleashed a tidal wave of eight new food carts onto hungry citizens. Now, if you can find one of the toronto a la cart vendors, you can get a selection of non-hot dog snacks.

Along Queen Street in front of City Hall you can find lunch cart alley, full of hot dog carts along the sidewalk and larger trucks parked on the street with hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and gravy and even the occasional ice cream truck. You can also get a variety of sausages along with your hot dog but I find that the sausage snack lives on all day and into the night so I tend to avoid the sausages now.

The new carts are more open and colourful than the traditional hot dog cart. The hot dog cart usually looks like a small plastic shed with the vendor located inside, protected from the elements.

The new vendor was the first vendor at the corner of Queen Street and Bay Street, a primo spot as they say, and the crowds were lined up to taste the Biryani and Salsa each selling for $5. The adjacent hot dog carts had far fewer customers, while the closest truck selling hamburgers and fries had a line up that rivalled the newcomer.

The simple hot dog stand will continue to live on in Toronto because there is almost nothing that beats the economy and speed of the tasty hot dog which now sells for $3 (although, unlike gas, bargains are still to be found with $2.50 hot dogs if you keep your eyes open). Now we can have a little choice when you take me out to the ball game.

Babies of spring

Spring has sprung and so have a few babies. Small golden Canada Goslings enjoy munching on grass and pooping. Funny, that's what they enjoy when the get older. The little guys are just so cute. Check out the parks and waterfront in your area and see if you can spot some little ones.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square