Monday, April 23, 2018

Toronto Cherry Blossom Watch 2018

With only weeks to go before the Sakura cherry trees in High Park begin to sprout experts are debating whether the buds will go to leaves or to blossom - hopefully the majority of buds will flower. The beautiful weather brought many families out to the park, but they are a fraction of the people that will invade the area when the blossoms are in peak bloom which will be sometime in early to mid-May.
The High Park Trackless Train is already winding its way along the paths throughout the park. Until April 30 the train only runs on the weekend. Between May 1 and Labour Day the trains run daily from 10:30am in the morning. After Labour Day until October 31st the trains switch back to weekend operations. Cost is $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for seniors and children.
Hopefully the blast of cold weather in April won't stop the buds from blossoming into the beautiful cherry blossoms.
There are plenty of places around Toronto where you can find fruit trees so keep an eye open for the coming blossoms. You can find them in Exhibition Place, on the Toronto Islands, at U of T, along University Avenue and by old City Hall.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

World Naked Bike Ride Toronto 2018 coming in June

With the recent warm Spring weather (just kidding) it is time to start looking forward to the upcoming Saturday, June 9, 2018 WNBR - it should be just enough time to plan your riding wardrobe choices; It's as bare as you dare so it could be all or nothing. All body types and people, naked or not and even on roller-blades, all are encouraged to take part in the ride.
The world wide clothing-free protest against oil dependence and pro-cycling, pro-body acceptance came to Toronto in 2004 and since then has been an annual staple of freedom loving, eco-bicyclists. Creative costumes, masks and body paint are popular choices for the event and their will be an artist ready to apply paint before the ride starts for a fee, or come with your own paint.
Organizer Gene Dare continues his leadership of the Toronto World Naked Bike Ride and does an excellent job of promotion as the ride becomes more popular every year - he is even looking for a horse for the 2018 ride! Gene is very noticeable with his giant red hat, glasses and Canadian Flag flying from his bike. He says the flag will be modified so that it will be less ass, more grass.
The ride begins in Coronation Park which is located just south of the Princes' Gates at Exhibition Place on Lake Shore Boulevard West. Limited parking is available on site (and another event might be closing off the parking on that day) so you can find parking in Exhibition Place, at Ontario Place or near the Island Airport. Bikers meet at the Victory Peace Monument and Canadian flagpole located right beside the waters of Lake Ontario. The stepped, circular area, bookmarked by metal sculptures that suggest you are standing in a ship, is the perfect place to gather round and socialize and prepare for the ride. Gene is usually on site early, say by 9am, and the body painter arriving by 10am, so drop by anytime in the morning with the ride hitting the streets around 1pm. You can bring some snacks, beverages for staying hydrated and definitely bring some suntan lotion. Many people bring towels to cover the bike seats, especially important if you are bringing a community bike share bicycle.
The riders are generally men with more and more women joining WNBR every year, including a dedicated group of ladies from Oasis Aqualounge which is a Toronto sexual adventure playground for adults. Gathering in a large group around the memorial, it doesn't take long before most people remove their clothes and people start to gather to take in the nakedness and to take pictures of, or with the participants because you really don't see this kind of thing every day.
After assembling for a group picture, riders leave the park en masse and the group heads north on city streets getting tons of positive responses on the way. People honk from their cars, pedestrians along the way stop on the curbs, take photos, laugh and wave at the cyclists as streetcars and tour buses riders really enjoy the spectacle or occasionally cover someones eyes. Generally several people see the naked bike ride and then in the spirit of the day, remove their clothes and join in the ride. The actual route changes slightly each year depending on conflicting events at certain locations or construction restricting the path but it generally follows the map above. Some of the trip highlights include the UofT campus, Kensington Market, Queen's Park, Allan Gardens Park, Church St Village, Ryerson University, City Hall and the Ferry Terminal at Harbourfront. At the park at the terminal the riders divide up with some people going to the Toronto Islands nude beach at Hanlans Beach, some returning to Coronation Park and some putting on their clothes and leaving the group. We stop at a few of the places for group photo opportunities such as at Queens Park
In earlier years the police have provided escort duties but for the last several years they just show up at the park to confirm what is going on and then let everyone alone. WNBR riders provide their own traffic control to keep the group together and safe. Always be careful when biking because sometimes people do fall from their bikes, usually because of railway tracks, and with less clothes the fall could be a little more painful.

Here are my posts from some of the other Toronto WNBR events over the years.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Doors Open Ontario 2018

Everyone can be a VIP gaining access to places, many not normally open to the public, free of charge in 35 towns and cities from April 21 to October 13, 2018. Toronto Doors Open happens May 26-27 and is part of the Ontario Heritage Trust event taking place across the province. Doors Open is in the top 100 Festivals and Events in Ontario and receives funding from Celebrate Ontario program and Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.

You can visit historic sites, natural spaces, cultural sites and architectural treasures across Ontario. Since starting in 2002 over 7.3 million people have visited the sites available as part of the program. Toronto Doors Open only has 14 sites listed at this time and I don't see the unused TTC subway station listed at this point - one place I haven't seen yet. The full list of Toronto locations will be available in early May. While entrance to the facility is usually free, the cost for parking will probably apply so check out the website to avoid surprises.

"Doors Open Ontario 2018 will feature more than 800 sites, such as historic homes, fire stations, hiking trails, courthouses, schoolhouses, gardens, places of worship and countless others. Many sites are also offering special tours, lectures, exhibits and performances, to better explore the stories inside. n 2018, the Ontario Heritage Trust is exploring the theme of 100 years of women's rights and suffrage, looking back to the end of the First World War – a time that saw great change for women in our society. Throughout the year, the Trust will be sharing stories about Ontario's trailblazing women and the enduring fight for equality. Doors Open Ontario will provide an opportunity to visit interesting sites that relate to this chapter in our history."

See the Doors Open Ontario 2018 alphabetical list of events and dates after the jump.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling

The 2018 Players' Championship is on at the Ryerson Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto, former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Players from around the world, including Olympic Champions, are going head to head at one of the last competitions of the season. Both sexes are taking part in the April 12 to 15 games and the Saturday semifinals have both groups
taking to the ice at the same time.
Some Pinty's curling stones
Actual Gardens chairs hanging at the Loblaws

We took time to watch the ladies quarterfinals which began at 3:30pm. Many of the seats which were sold were empty due to the unfortunate return of winter in springtime. Freezing rain and ice pellets made the roads hazardous. Even the tailgate party for the Raptors was cancelled due to the extreme weather alerts.

Canada's Jennifer Jones continues with 26 consecutive victories since the Scotties. Her team is the leading Canadian and World Champion and beat Japan's team Satsuki Fujisawa in the quarterfinals on Saturday. "Team Jones has captured two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling championships this season, winning the Masters and Boost National, and already clinched the $75,000 Bonus Cup. Jones is also the defending Players’ champion winning the women’s title for a record sixth time at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre a year ago."

Players' Championship Schedule
Thursday, April 12
Round Robin Draw 7 12:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 8 4:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 9 8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 13
Round Robin Draw 11 12:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 12 4:00 p.m.
Round Robin Draw 13 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 14
Men’s Quarterfinals 11:30 a.m.
Women’s Quarterfinals 3:30 p.m.
Men’s & Women’s Semifinals 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 15
Men’s Final 12:30 p.m.
Women’s Final 5:00 p.m.

See more photos after the jump.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Toronto Earth Day 2018

Nathan Phillips Square will host the Gen-Earth Day celebrations from 1-5pm while Downsview Park will have the Earth Day Festival from 11am-4pm on Sunday, April 22, 2018. Earth Day was started in 1990 to bring people closer to nature and to foster stewardship and conservation. But we also like to party so consume less and play more!

The square at City Hall will be a free event with concerts, eco-experts, eco-friendly companies and family friendly activities. "Gen-Earth is a FREE (but registration is preferred), not-for-profit event to educate and inspire our youth, our communities, and our policy makers to take action for the protection of our ecosystems, the environment, and our Earth!" I love their motto "Leave the Earth better than we found it".

Up north in Downsview Park the annual free Earth Day tradition has educational activities along with tree planting, bird of prey demonstrations, arts and crafts, a campfire sing-along and much more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Toronto Peta Protest

Several women went topless for Peta at Toronto's busiest intersection as they protested the commercial seal pup hunt. The ladies gathered quietly beside the Eaton Centre at lunch on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 and at first I thought they were a flash mob that would wander into the scramble intersection like so many other groups have done for promotions.
After a few minutes they removed their tops showing off pasties and slogans written on their bodies while holding up posters which said 'END COMMERCIAL SEAL SLAUGHTER' and 'SEAL SLAUGHTER BLEEDS TAXES'. Pedestrians stopped to take in the sight and grab some photos as the group set off several smoke flares. They were at the intersection long enough to almost freeze in the early springtime weather.

Peta claims that the Canadian government subsidizes the seal pup hunt to the tune of $7 million a year.

Other Peta Toronto protests include the following events: Wear your own skin, Go Vegan and when the lettuce ladies met with Mayor Rob Ford.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Toronto Blog

I recently changed the Toronto Grand Prix Tourist blog to a secure site through Google and Blogger. Now the green https shows up in the URL address. So far nothing has crashed so it seems to have worked without any major issues - woot woot.

2018 has been a great year so far and the best part is still to come!

BREATH at Brookfield Place Toronto

Studio F Minus has created a flock of birds flying in the Allen Lambert Galleria. The birds look like they are made with some colourful pajama material and are hooked up to flap their wings.

The 50 birds were commissioned by Brookfield in celebration of Earth Day and will remain flying from April 9-27, 2018.

This installation is a derivative of Air Pressure which is another avian art concept which used blue birds. Studio F Minus hung those in several office towers in the downtown core:

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Transform at fitc Toronto 2018

I am dreaming of Mars while watching people take on a digital skin at the fitc conference. The 3 day 'professional celebration of the best the world has to offer in design, web development, media and innovation in creative technologies'. Fitc stands for Future. Innovation. Technology. Creative. Apparently it used to mean 'Flash in the Can' with Flash representing the main focus early in the history of the organization.
I took in Rick Mason's talk 'A love letter to flash' which was billed as one of the B side presentations, photo above. He started off showing some items that no one could figure out, such as a very old tv antenna tuner dial, then progressed through things like floppy discs and flash. Then he took us through the history of flash, created in 1996, later acquired by Macromedia and later by Adobe. It was for many in the audience an emotional tour of the program which was used by many in the audience starting early in their education and careers.
Krystal Blackwood at fitc Toronto 2018
Krystal Blackwood from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will discuss  the 'soup to nuts' of NASA'S mission designs. Krys takes us through the incredible missions already accomplished, like Voyager and the Mar's Rovers, to the planning of new missions. Her story of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was also fascinating. JPL is one of 10 NASA centres and is owned by a college. The Laboratory predates NASA and has become an important part of space exploration. Ms. Blackwood is part of a small group that looks at improving the human factors involved in the use and design of NASA software.
The show consists of multiple presentations and discussions occurring throughout the day along with several stations setup on the main conference floor with vendors like Microsoft, Seneca College and their applied arts course, Architeck, Thinkingbox, Miami Ad School, Rangle.IO, Samsung, Autodesk and Free Roam VR from Globacore. One of the striking visual stations was the Digital Skin where artists paint with light and video on human subjects. The wireless device is used with a projector to beam the designs on both the screen and the human canvas.
Meanwhile artist and creator Mateo Mounier is painting a digital canvas on the human form.
Relaxing in the ambient room

The conference is on from April 8-10, 2018 at the downtown Hilton.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Toronto Spring Motorcycle Show 2018

Spring seems like a stretch but the post winter motorcycle show is really here. Bikes, vendors and special guests like racing legend Freddie Spencer are at the International Centre from April 7-8, 2018, presented by Riders Plus Insurance. Highlights at the show include Barn Finds, Builders displays, women in motorcycling, classics on the red carpet, pickers' market and the custom show bikes. The parking is free at the International Centre.
Custom bikes will be vying for $20,000 in cash and prizes in two levels of competition; Pro Builders Class and Regular Competition Level. The winning Pro Builder bike will take home $5,000 and a 6 foot trophy. The show has one of Canada's largest showcase of the custom motorcycles.

The roads will soon be ready for full out cruising so you can look for destination tours or motorcycle clubs and make some friends for the journey. Over 50 motorcycle clubs and associations are at the Spring Motorcycle Show.

Honda Canada presents World Grand Prix Champion Freddie Spencer who will meet fans and sign autographs on Saturday and Sunday. "In addition to winning three world championships, he is the only rider ever to win the 250cc and 500cc Grand Prix World Championships in the same season (1985). He is the only rider to win three major races during Bike Week at Daytona International Speedway (the Superbike, Formula One and International Lightweight races in 1985), the youngest rider to win the 500cc Grand Prix World Championship (at 21 and held the record for 30 years until Marc Marquez broke his record in 2013), the youngest rider ever to win an AMA Superbike race in 1979 (age 17) and has the longest span between AMA Superbike victories (just under 16 years)."
It's still time to buy a new 2018 Harley-Davidson, Honda, Yamaha or other brands and head to next weeks Friday the 13th motorcycle rally in Port Dover. You might want to pick up some cold weather gear because it might be still a little chilly during the ride. And on May 5 you can saddle up for International Female Ride Day.

Spring Motorcycle Show 2018 Schedule after the jump.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Ready to Ride - Spring Motorcycle Show 2018

Only a few bikes are already on the streets so it is a good time for Toronto's Spring Motorcycle Show from Saturday to Sunday, April 7-8 at the International Centre.

"How about this for stars... the Classics 'On The Red Carpet' Exhibit, our best yet! Over 60 remarkable motorcycles from private collections far and wide will be present on over 390 sq. ft. of the prestigious Red Carpet! From bikes that span the century to the awe inspiring custom motorcycles, this is your chance to meet and talk to dealers and enthusiasts before you take the bike out of storage." You also have a chance to win a 2018 Yamaha TTR11E by filling out a ballot at the Newmarket Powersports booth with the draw being held at 3:30pm on Sunday on the Hall 1 East Stage.
Terez Leathers fashion show - photo by Joe Hamilton
Posing by a custom bike - photo by Joe Hamilton

"For maximum $AVINGS, purchase your tickets online here Only for a limited time and you will skip the line ups and enjoy express entry into the Show."

Wander the halls to find new bikes, used bikes and the Pickers Market for those missing parts while you keep your eyes out for 'Fast Freddie Spencer' a World GP Champion and Daytona 200 winner, radio host Jeff Woods interviewing pro-bike builders or co-hosting the bike awards or meet Ang Sandow, a guitar playing, hockey goalie and motorcycle rider in the Women In Motorcycling Exhibit.

"Witness builder and Motorcycle Show founder, Bar Hodgson, combine a 1947 'Vincent' HRD Engine with a 'Curtis' racing frame to create his latest build - a street fighter called "Blackjack". See physics-defying builds at the Custom Show Bikes competing for $20,000 in cash prizes and discover diamonds-in-the-rough at our Barn Find display."

Monday, April 02, 2018

@FITC Toronto 2018 coming April 8-10

Canada's largest digital media conference is almost here. The 3-day future of technology and design event will be at the Hilton Toronto 145 Richmond Street West. This is where you go to find out about the latest information on technology and the creative arts from over 75 of the most knowledgeable speakers in the world from companies such as NASA, Microsoft, Facebook and The New York Times.

"FITC stands for ‘Future. Innovation. Technology. Creativity.’ – four words that capture the essence of what our company and events are all about. We produce design and technology focused events worldwide that inspire, educate and challenge attendees. Now in its 17th year, FITC Toronto is our flagship event, with more than 1,200 attendees every year and attracting the world’s pioneers in technology and digital media."

This is the time to network, experience incredible new hardware and technology and be inspired by speakers that know the technology and are experts in design, digital media, film and television. There is even a FITC Toronto 2018 opening night party on Sunday, April 8 at Hotel Ocho on Spadina Avenue. See photos of the 2017 event on my post here.

“It’s an incredible group of people that are changing the digital and design world, and we’re hosting them in Toronto,” said Shawn Pucknell, founding Director of FITC, who added many of the prominent speakers have roots in Toronto and Canada.

Krys Blackwood of NASA Jet Propulsion Labratory will present 'Dreaming of Mars: How user experience factors into NASA Missions' on April 8 (2-2:45pm in Room Toronto 1). Recommended for space enthusiasts and those that want to update their design practices, the audience will learn about how NASA missions happen and how user experience fits into the exploration of the solar system and more.

"NASA’s rovers on Mars brought us the first proof of water on our neighboring planet. Voyager, Juno and Cassini spacecraft have captured stunning images and with them, the hearts and imaginations of the world. Learn the soup to nuts of how missions like these become a reality, and how NASA is using design thinking to improve its mission design practices. You’ll hear firsthand stories of how user experience design fits into an 80 year old process, and how it’s changing the ways that NASA approaches unmanned exploration of the solar system and beyond."

Other speakers include:

Joshua Davis • Joshua Davis Studios: A prolific programmer and image maker, Davis has devoted his practice to screen and projection mapping. He’s used his skills to create visualizations of everything from AI processes and human-machine interactions to the visualization of IBM’s Watson, the intelligent computer program capable of answering questions, for the quiz show Jeopardy. At FITC Toronto, you'll be able to experience his work first-hand during our opening titles, created with motion designer Saad Moosajee.

Kyle Cooper • Founder, Prologue: Kyle has directed more than 300 main title sequences and dozens of handcrafted visual effects sequences. Details magazine credits Cooper with “almost single-handedly revitalizing the main title sequence as an art form,” and IFC ranks his title sequence for Se7en as one of the greatest of all time.

Alan Williams • Creative Director at Imaginary Forces: Fans of hit TV shows like Mad Men, and recently the reimagined Anne now airing on CBC Television and globally on Netflix, will recognize Williams' work creating the phenomenal opening titles.

PES • Academy Award-Nominated Filmmaker: The LA director will share his work and process for creating his wildly-successful films. He'll also lead a workshop, called One Infinite Loop, helping FITC Toronto's attendees create their own animated short films.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square