Thursday, March 31, 2011

Election Fog

Today was a mixture of fog, rain and snow which perfectly reflects the ongoing election campaigns - partly confusing with a chance of victory. Polls continue to favour the Conservative party so people wait for a game changer or we head into another Conservative minority or maybe even a majority government this time.
Sometimes we have a vague idea that we will probably vote for a certain party and will only change our mind if they say something that makes us mad, or if the other party says something so great that it completely changes our mind about the candidate.

I don't really understand the commercial that says "A vote for the Liberals is a vote for Michael Ignatieff" because I am pretty sure that's the way it has always been. You vote for both the local representative and the leader of the party when you cast your vote. Conversely, a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for Stephen Harper. If that's the most negative advertising that's going to happen I will be impressed by how civil the election is being run.
We need everyone to jump on the streetcar, or bandwagon, and get out there and vote on election day May 2nd, 2011. You can pick one of the five main parties (Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Bloc Quebecois or the Green Party) or chose an independent or other registered political party like the Pirate Party of Canada or the Rhinoceros Party.

Remember, you can't talk about the election without talking about parties!

Gore-Gore Rollergirls vs Chicks Ahoy - April 9th

You know what I like about the Toronto Roller Derby? EVERYTHING! I like the scantily clad battlin' femmes, I like how the action and excitement of a hard fought bout is worth every penny of the reasonable ticket price, I like how friendly and often shy the ladies are when greeting their cheering fans and I like how the beer isn't $20 a can.
The 2010 Champions Gore-Gore Rollergirls will be rolling against Chicks Ahoy at the Downsview Park Hanger - game time at 6:30pm. The league says "The Chicks Ahoy! are no strangers to victory. Team captain Tara Part is confident the sailors will emerge victorious in their rematch against the champs: “We've been training really hard on developing our strategies and especially our team work... which I believe is the key to a successful team.”As for the Gores, the champs are eager to defend their position at the top. 
Taking inspiration from the leopard whose motif appears on their uniforms, team captain Brim Stone (above) claims “Adaptability, speed, stealth and opportunistic hunting habits will win the Gores this game.”

Land Shark from the Death Track Dolls

Doors open at 6:30 pm with skaters hitting the track at 7:30. Tickets can be purchased in advance online and at our ticket outlets for $12, or at the door for $18.  Children aged 9 and under are welcome without charge (with adult accompaniment). Bring blankets and folding chairs for trackside seating, or find a spot on the bleachers surrounding the track. Food and refreshments are available for purchase."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Toronto Islands thawing out

Today was another sunny spring day and as the snow continues to melt (we are supposed to get more snow over the next day or two, damn) it's time to start thinking of picnics across the harbour on the Toronto Islands. The enjoyable ferry ride, with or without bikes, brings you across to the cozy paradise of the interlinked small chain of parkland, homes and yacht clubs. Red lifejackets of various shades are suspended above peoples heads on the ferry boats in the above picture.
The view from the ferry docks looking towards the city.
Lineups to get onto the ferry heading back to the city.
Large tires become bumpers at the docks.
An artistic woven stick fence and gate welcome people to the sandy beaches.

Buildings in the sun, that is what they are

White wall and white fire escape near Rogers Centre
Front Street near the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The crane is reflected in the windows of the CBC building.
Fairmont Royal York Hotel across from Union Station.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Condo Newspaper Boxes

The City of Toronto has introduced a new, sexy type of newspaper box - a community type of box with multiple newspapers living together in harmony, a sort of hippie newspaper commune or a condo-box for a condominium city. The grey structure I found at Queen Street West and Bay Street is branded with the City of Toronto Logo, holds eight different papers with up to four paid editions possible (yeah, like that will be necessary in the near future). Maybe they can remove the coin slot area and stick in more free editions as necessary. This design was actually released to the media in 2008 and shown in this Torontoist article but this is the first time that I have seen it in the wild.
The other newspaper boxes are scared of the beautiful lines of the new box and fearful of a future where they may have to go to for recycling. You can see the City's logo on the side of the box.

This sleek new baby replaces the long line of multi-coloured newspaper boxes that fill many street-corners and which many people consider an eyesore. I didn't mind the old individual boxes because they were sometimes the most colourfull objects on a downtown street. You can see that they must have just taken the wrapping off the installation as the dull grey finish is yet untouched by stickers, graffiti or posters. I will check back later this week to see if the finish remains virgin.
The old boxes in front of the Starbucks wait for the transfer of the paying editions to the new box. They are remarkably clean with very little marks added by artistic citizens. Both the Star and the Sun boxes have small stickers which mention agendas and lies.

Radiohead: King of Limbs & The Universal Sigh

The new Radiohead album ‘The King of Limbs’ was released in the U.S. and Canada today (March 29, 2011) and a special event was held worldwide to give out free copies of a souvenir newspaper called ‘The Universal Sigh’. In Toronto the location for the distribution of the paper was at the Yonge-Dundas Square, just across from the Eaton Centre. There was a nice lineup of people waiting to get their hands on a copy (or return for more copies) while many people walked by wondering what the lineup was all about – there was no advertising posters or handouts to describe what was happening. They also took your picture with the newspaper if you allowed them to – look for me on the website.
This paper is not the one that will accompany the album and they say it will not be repeated. They also mention that “this is not a live performance of Radiohead”.

The 12 page newspaper features art, stories and weird sayings all in black and white, except for the front and back covers. I think the cover art depict ghouls – pretty scary. Forests and pointy tree limbs devoid of leaves are a visual theme running through the edition. The centre page has a one page art work with a title at the top ‘Gather up the pitiful’ with a blood red snowflake, some unusual bat/stingray creatures that are both flying and smiling over some possible white, heavily eyelashed eyes and the empty limbs of a tree stretching up to the sky.
Radiohead is an alternative rock band from across the pond (England) featuring 5 members: Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, Coling Greenwood and Phil Selway. They released their first album in 1992 and by 2007 had sold over 25 million copies of their albums.

I will finish with a short paragraph found on the centerfold:

I’ll take you anywhere
You want to go.
I can turn you on and
I can make you happy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

High Rise Fire Unit on Queen St West

A Toronto Fire Department High Rise Unit blows past a TTC streetcar on Queen Street West as it goes into the Yonge Street intersection. Not too much slows down the pace of Torontonians so everyone goes about their business, including climbing into the streetcar.


Push it real good! Today was gorgeous with a beautiful sun giving us plenty of Vitamin D as spring continues to warm up the City of Toronto - ha, Barrie probably got a few inches of snow, especially with all that lake effect flurries they always seem to have - suck on that Barrie! As the snow starts to melt we are left with the all the dirty, white salt stains everywhere, it's not just on your uggs. This then is the season of the pothole (you can report Toronto potholes on this page) and construction activity that really screws up your travel plans - so please merge with no road rage.

Celebrate 27 Art Fest: Urban Landscape

The United Nations (UN) Article 27 describes a universal right of all to participate in the arts and cultural life of the community, I think this was just before the Libyan thing, and the City of Toronto celebrates both the idea and Toronto's local artists with a series of events from April 1st to the 27th of 2011. Within Brookfield Place is an "Urban Landscape" exhibition of photographs under the glass roof of the stately Wayne Manor most commonly known as the Allen Lambert Galleria. These bottom photo is from Hawa Yusuf, mentored by exhibition lead photographer, artist and architect Michael Awad who made the other photos shown.
Mayor Rob Ford will launch the Festival on Thursday, March 31 at 6:30pm at the Galleria.

Neil Young Day March 28, 2011

City of Toronto Proclamation
Neil Young Day, March 28, 2011: WHEREAS Neil Young is one of the most gifted, influential and celebrated singer-songwriters in rock and roll history. He is a prolific artist with a career spanning more than 40 years, five JUNO Awards, two Hall of Fame inductions and countless chart-topping singles and albums.
Young has been an outspoken advocate on many issues. He has promoted environmentalism and sustainability through his Farm Aid benefit concerts and his recent work with LincVolt in the development of an experimental electric car. Young also helped found The Bridge School, an educational organization for children with severe verbal and physical impairments.

For his charitable work, he was named the 2010 MusiCares Person of the Year by The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and is the recipient of the 2011 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, an award that recognizes an outstanding Canadian artist whose humanitarian contributions have positively enhanced the social fabric of Canada.

The impact of Neil Young's music as well as his philanthropy has touched millions of lives and spans generations. He is a proud Canadian and stands as an exemplary humanitarian whose dedication to deserving causes and to the music industry is a true inspiration.

NOW THEREFORE, I, Mayor Rob Ford, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim March 28, 2011 as "Neil Young Day".

This is a copy of the proclamation from the City of Toronto’s website: I loved how in the Junos Neil received his award and asked what decade it was!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Star Wars: The love continues

Star Wars is a series of movies that started a long, long time ago in a country far, far away (actually just to the south) and it continues making new fans while long time fans get lost in the magic of the costumes and the memory of the excitement of a light sabre battle. Our nephews love the Lego Star Wars, making Star Wars movies and playing Star Wars computer games. During comic fan and anime events people love to dress up and meet the characters that played such a big part in the movie.
Whole social chapters of like minded people gather together and play the good guys, or bad guys, of the movies - although you never see a legion of Jar Jar Binks for some reason. We have the Vaders' 501st Legion Canadian Garrison and the Rebel Legion Canadian Base.

See more Star Wars after the jump.

Walking under words - Direct Energy Centre

The long hall of the Direct Energy Centre has a hanging art installation that is a nice compliment to the shape and light in the convention centre. The words hang vertically and I can't even remember trying to read them - so I had to check out my picture and see that they appear to be just names, like Amy and Beatrice.

Here are some other people hanging out in the great hall after the jump.

My first camera, the Canon AE-1

In high school I had a course that included a photography component. We took pictures and developed and printed the black and white film. I bought my first camera then - it was the Canon AE-1 with a power winder, which was a 35mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) shutter priority camera (you set the shutter speed and the camera set the aperture). I joined the schools Year Book staff as a photographer and I still have that camera today (pictured above).

As much as I liked the old AE-1 my one year old Nikon DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) is a thousand times better than the old film beast. With the continuous improvements in camera development future cell phones will be be just as good as today's DSLRs and point and shoot cameras may fill only a small niche market.

Gardiner: concrete art

The sheer scale of many civil projects, like bridges and buildings, tend to make many objects art installations and not merely functional creations. Toronto's own space needle, otherwise known as the CN Tower, really makes the Toronto skyline. I look for the CN Tower as I come down from the Niagara Escarpment and feel comfortable knowing where Toronto is. The Gardiner Expressway is like that. One of my favourite views is down near the Air Canada Centre (above).
It brings thousands of people into and out of the City, day in and day out - except for maintenance or accidents, and it's raised presence has annoyed many people, but as I have said before, the highway is a lot smaller than the wall of condos that Toronto has built along the shores of Lake Ontario.
Part of the Gardiner along the far eastern reaches of Lakeshore Boulevard have a series of vertical supports left in place as an X marks the spot tribute and art installation of the Gardiner. One day it will be too expensive to maintain and too expensive to replace (or put underground) and it will come down, and that time won't be that far in the future. On that day we will miss it when it worked and how it looked when it worked.
In the downtown core the east and westbound lanes are separated by a small wall of vertical green fins. When you come in from the west you approach a wall of cranes as they construct new buildings which of course include many more condos. It's time to get your down payment ready and get a condo of your own, I think interest rates on mortgages are still low, low, low!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A walk in the Beach

Toronto has a love/hate relationship with the name of the area just on the east side of the downtown core (starts at Coxwell Avenue) of the city - even their website shows "The Beach/Beaches". Whatever you call it, the area starts at the sandy foot of Lake Ontario and continues north. The favourite part for many is the long and wide stretches of beach full of sun worshipers, swimmers and volleyball teams in the heat of summer. This place is so much fun that even the bell telephones are happy (although it could be one of those new fangled emoticons  and not really a sentient telephone who appears to be happy).

Ship in the inner harbour

The inner harbour of Toronto is a busy place in summer and really sleepy in winter. Lake Ontario's ice cover is almost done and precious few chunks remain so the late spring weather will see the return of pleasure boats and harbour tour ships. A large freighter remains tied at the dock off Cherry Street as the sun sets to the west of Toronto.

Canada Spring General Election May 2, 2011

Canadians head to the federal polls for the 41st General Election ("Vote. Shape your world") on Monday May 2, 2011. Canadian citizens 18 and over can vote in 308 federal electoral districts on election day or at advance polls on April 22nd, 23rd or the 25th. You can see the Toronto electoral districts here.

The upcoming election was announced by Prime Minister Steven Harper on Saturday March 26, 2011 after meeting with the Governor General David Johnston. The Parliament of Canada website said "On the advice of the Prime Minister, the Governor General, by proclamation on Saturday, March 26, 2011, dissolved the Fortieth Parliament and gave instructions to issue writs of election. Monday, May 2nd, 2011 has been set as the polling day."

Opposition parties had passed a non-confidence motion on Friday March 25 against the ruling Conservative minority government and the main reason given was they felt the government was in contempt of Parliament.

Happy Earth Hour Day

There is no big party in Toronto this year. The WWF-Canada event held in Younge-Dundas Square and Nathan Phillips Square has gone the way of the dodo bird. Instead you are supposed to reduce electrical demand for Earth Hour which runs from 8:30pm to 9:30pm on Saturday, March 26, 2011. Panda's are a big part of the WWF and the Earth Hour celebrations.
I Panda my planet string bracelet - I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

The WWF says "It will continue to be a call to action to every individual, every business and every community throughout the world. A call to stand up, to take responsibility, to get involved and lead the global journey to a sustainable future." I think you are supposed to not wear underwear and then turn off your lights. Whatever feels good and saves the environment - the Panda doesn't judge.
The city's skyline on the evening of March 26 already seems quite dark as it waits for the start of Earth Hour.
UPDATE: TORONTOMarch 27 /CNW/ - The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) tonight reported that compared to a typical Saturday in late March, demand for electricity in Ontario fell by approximately four per cent or 560 megawatts (MW) as a result of Earth Hour. This drop is equivalent to the average peak energy needs of a city the size of Brampton.
"More than anything, Earth Hour gives people a chance to think about their energy use," said Paul Murphy, President and CEO of the IESO. "Ontarians have become keenly aware of the need to conserve electricity - not just during Earth Hour, but at other times of the year as well."

Local media reported that the energy reductions during the event have been rapidly falling over the past three years - from 15% in 2009, 10% in 2010 to this years 4-5%. My opinion is that rather than indifference the many residential, commercial and large buildings in Toronto have long since joined the energy conservation bandwagon in an effort to have positive PR, be green, help the planet and help the bottom line.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square