Archive for March, 2010

Fleeting moments

Posted on March 31st, 2010 8 Comments

Okay, so remember that top-secret mission I mentioned last Wednesday? Well, the plan’s in action (eeee!), which means I’m allowed to go public with it.

But since I have to occupy a whole blog post, dear reader, why don’t you see how many steps into the production process before you figure out what I’m up to? I’ll describe the steps. :)

Step 1

Print a few test photos. Create some aberrations. Never speak of them again.

photo, postcard, toronto, city, life

Step 2

Make exactly the same mistakes as in step 1, but on the other side.

postcard, photo, toronto, city, life

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

I’ve always wanted a robotic butler

Posted on March 30th, 2010 8 Comments

There isn’t much that would encourage me to stay indoors on a day such as today.

bay street, queen street east, nathan phillips square, city hall, hudson's bay company, toronto, city, life

Yet, I found it incredibly difficult to rip myself away from my flat. Even today. Obviously, I did, and will again, but I didn’t / won’t venture far. I was / will be thinking about how Jeeves was / will be making out.

Jeeves, is the new Roomba. I named him Jeeves because I’ve always wanted a robotic butler (I will learn how to attach a drink holder to him!). Also because he’s black and white, looks like he’s wearing a smart futuristic tux.

I should mention it wasn’t a snap decision; my upright vacuum is on its last legs. Plus, it smells funny. I was looking around for a replacement and came across this limited shipment at Canadian Tire. I’d bought the upright for about the same as the robot, and even the basic Roomba cleans by its frickin’ self!

Well I was sold.

I went to the one store that still claimed to have ample supplies, spent a few minutes sweating it out as another guy pawed the last box, and grabbed it as casually as I could when he returned it back to the empty shelf. I was hoping for black and white.

Christmas :)

roomba, 400s, irobot, ollie, oliver, cat, apartment, flat, vacuum cleaner, toronto, city, life

Of course I tried the Roomba out as soon as the the “Clean” button turned green.

It’s incredibly difficult not to become mesmerized as the cleaner works the room the first six or seven times out. It’s hypnotic. I’ve lost hours!

Jeeves doesn’t seem to faze Ollie much, which is good for all of us. The cleaner makes about as much noise as a child’s large, radio-controlled, toy truck. Quieter than the upright, for sure. And he’s not really what I’d call intelligent – I suspect Ollie’s got him figured out. He alternates between turning in circles, travelling in straight lines across the room, hugging the walls, and bumping into stuff along the way. Occasionally Jeeves gets stuck in a tight spot, usually because he’s a chickenshit and scared to drop two centimetres (about three-quarters of an inch), from the fireplace tiles. But he gets up there alright!

So I’ve changed the layout of my place; I now get to blog in front of the big window overlooking the street :) Plus, after about six hours of charging, I set up the Virtual Wall so that Jeeves doesn’t enter the kitchen (Ollie gets to make a mess in there undisturbed), and set up the flat to barricade the off-limit areas. Then, get the hell outta there!

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

The edges of tedium

Posted on March 29th, 2010 2 Comments

That romp I took through the Toronto Archives the other day didn’t end there, dear reader. It went on for hours as I pored maps and stories of the city dating back to 1834, when Toronto first became Toronto. Okay, possibly the second time, but this time the King himself signed off on it. York it weren’t no more anyhow.

It all started with innocently enough. I usually just close the window after flipping through the photos but this time, just for fun, I decided to click on the Archives logo in the corner. Sometimes their web exhibits are suuuuuuper boring. But this time, for Toronto’s 175th, they did a series on the city in 1834.

And now I can say that I know where the original city extended to — it’s been something of a bug on my itchy brain for a while now.

I checked the maps against current street names and locations and the boundary points I came up with seem to agree with the maps going back to 1834. Unfortunately these points disagree with the Archives’ analysis, but I don’t care.

According to me, the north-eastern edge of 1834 Toronto is the intersection of Queen Street and River Street:

queen street east, river street, city, limits, boundaries, edges, 1834, toronto, city, life

At that time Queen Street was called Lot Street because it led to a bunch of allotted land — lots. Also, there was no queen. Clever.

The photos, by the way, are looking into the old city from the four corners. Some of those corners haven’t seen much action since the old city, as you can see above. Others, like the south-eastern Gooderham’s mill and later Worted boozery, have been since been gussied up:

distillery district, mill street, river street, goodreham and wort's, corners, edges, limits, boundaries, 1834, toronto, city, life

But if full-on historical effacement is your thing (it’s okay to admit you like modern),  the south-western edge on Front Street doesn’t get any more devastating. Not only is the intersecting Peter Street discarded for Blue Jays Way (organized ball leagues weren’t really a priority in 1834), but there is literally nothing left of the original city except Front Street:

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Marvels of the modern era

Posted on March 25th, 2010 18 Comments

No doubt about it, I’m going to copyright hell. Yes, I’ve once again raided the Toronto Archives (I highly recommend a search or two; lotsa fun stuff), and emerged with some gleaming gems. Should the Archives ever decide to sue my blatancy, I’ll no doubt be forced to hand over much of TCL’s total monetary earnings to date: $3.67. If I made them cry, emotional damages too. But I just can’t help it; they have way too much great stuff to hide behind a stuffy web interface.

This time around I went back to the mid-sixties in search of the very beginnings of computing in Toronto. Okay, yeah, I’ve been spending a lot of time online making sweet sweet love to the blogosphere. And programming. But the digital miracles I’m pulling out of my ass (and many of us are), these days would’ve been unimaginable forty-five years ago. In fact, even though I’m more closely familiar with most of the gizmos in these photos than the average person, even I’m at a loss to put name or function to everything there. But I’ll try.

Okay, so from my understanding, this is what computing looked like at the University of Toronto circa 1965ish:

toronto archives, computers, computing, history, historic, toronto, city, life

Can you imagine what it would’ve taken to slap together a basic web page at that time? Like, look at the fellow in the photo above; picking out a frozen pizza because he knows he’s going to be a while.  It’s nice that they provided slushie machines for the programmers:

toronto archives, computers, computing, history, historic, toronto, city, life

I guess he’s picking his flavour.

Oh, yeah, of course I’d be hideously remiss if I didn’t mention the sideburns. That was the requisite look in those days, from my understanding. For when you’d fall asleep on your desk on account of the speed of the computers. Sop up your drool ‘n all. (I know, gross, but hey, practical.)

So here’s Mr. Burns actually earning a living:

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Ultra top secret mission

Posted on March 24th, 2010 6 Comments

I probably looked like someone preparing for an assassination. But I had a purpose, dear reader. Yes, a master plan. A secret master plan.

That’s right, I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to discuss why I looked like I would be involved in a Bourne-like plot, but I could see how my behaviour could be construed as such.

I stood at the each location, gazing across the street to check the sightlines. Then I’d go to that location and gaze back from there. Suspicious. And, being the proud papa of a short new cut, along with my daunting shades, I probably looked the part of someone who might use those sightlines for nefarious purposes.

And I was on a mission.

Determined to hit as many of my ten destinations as I could. I managed six. Well, seven if you count the bendy CN Tower. I’m not sure if I’m counting it just yet; we’ll see which way I’m leaning later on. But I trekked the hell out of those streets. Up to the steps of Casa Loma

casa loma, steps, skyline, toronto, city, life

…down to the most prominent building on Queen Street

299 queen street west, much music, building, toronto, city, life

…onward to the CBC where I had a shouting match with Glenn Gould

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

A sweet gig

Posted on March 23rd, 2010 8 Comments

Cold, rainy March. Ugh. Forget that. Yesterday I decided to get some coding done instead.

I got so wrapped up in it I completely forgot to write a post. That’ll happen, I’m afraid. Flash is a demanding mistress. So that’s what I did yesterday. All day. That flippy TwitPic image thingamahooie you see above is my post for Monday. If you’re reading this after March 23rd, or you’re not on the front page, that probably doesn’t make much sense. (Maybe if you visited more often :( )

Good day for indoor stuff anyhow. And today’s much the same. But you know what? I’m absolutely certain that spring officially started today, regardless of what any calendar says: they’re shooting something again.

lost girl, tv, television, series, show, notice, corkboard, toronto, city, life

Hmm. The notice looks strikingly familiar. The three-ring holes, the bright colour. The “we’re taking over your street”.

To be honest, I honestly don’t believe I’ve seen anything they’ve shot here. Doesn’t sound like the kind of stuff I’d watch anyway. “Lost Girl”, lost me at “Lost”.

However, I did get to watch the crew work. Seems like a pretty sweet gig. They begin by standing around, drinking coffee, and shooting the shit:

lost girl, tv, television, series, show, location, shoot, toronto, city, life

This goes on for some time. Okay, it’s still early (no idea why I was up), so that’s necessary.

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

A bunch of stuff I found on the sidewalk

Posted on March 20th, 2010 6 Comments

If, during the next few days, you come at just the right time of the evening, dear reader, you may notice that TCL suddenly looks completely different. Perhaps considerably worse. Perhaps better. Perhaps exactly the same. That’s because I’m playing around with new themes. Sure, they look nice in their boxes, but I have to take ‘em out for a spin – and I only have one blog. I’d like to add a TwitPic feed in there too.

If you look at the top of the sidebar you’ll notice the flipping Twitter feed and, occasionally, some of those updates link to TwitPic photos. These are taken by a spunky Samsung BlackJack the Second in the battlefield. Or the mall. Wherever the phone happens to be. Unfortunately, the quality could be better. Much better. But it’s a camera phone so all I can do is my best.

Besides, the TwitPic feed is meant as filler for, and sometimes preview of, the next post; not as a replacement. Something to look at while the blog takes a nap. I mean, if I don’t have that, I end up with posts bearing titles like, “A bunch of stuff I found on the sidewalk”, on a Saturday on which it’s obvious I’m just trying to fill up the hole in the pavement that is my blog.

historical map, plaque, pavement, sidewalk, 1858, toronto, city, life

Poor metaphors as well.

Oh, and I know it’s impossible to read the map (subpar photography too), but it has Church Street at it’s center with Yonge to the left and Jarvis the right. The northern city limit in 1858 was Bloor Street. It’s definitely not anymore.

plaque, bay, yorkville, pavement, sidewalk, toronto, city, life

Yorkville just seems like it’s been around forever. It’s probably that whole set-in-stone thing. It makes anything seem dignified.

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Stereotype greezee gangster

Posted on March 18th, 2010 5 Comments

For some reason I always fail to properly explain why I think the name “Don Valley” is so much fun. It’s probably because I have a crap Italian accent, but imagine saying that name with a good one. By that I mean borderline comical. Call him “Don Valli” if it helps the imagination. Add about forty percent stereotype greezee gangster into the mix and you’ve got yourself a one spicy meatball.

“Don Valli don give no favers to no ones, see? Especially not to rat basterds like yous!”

Unfortunately, the Don is not currently in a position to make any demands. As a recent Star article points out, it’s mostly a heap of mud and rocks at the moment:

west don lands, parkway, river city, pan american games, 2015, construction, toronto, city, life

Yup. Not much to look at. But apparently what you’re looking at in the photo will be the tower on the left below:

west don lands, parkway, river city, pan american games, 2015, construction, toronto, city, life

I’m still not sure exactly how this is supposed to work, but this River City project sounds like a mix of for-sale condos, social housing, and rooms for athletes in the 2015 Pan-Am games. Once the games are done, those will presumably go up for sale as well. They’re expecting the whole 4-phase construction to take up to ten years. Which probably means fifteen. The scale of the project seems ginormous; “City” doesn’t seem entirely inappropriate.

They plan to create two parks in the area, one of them under the wide Eastern Avenue overpass. That should be interesting. Better than what`s there now:

west don lands, parkway, train tracks, go transit, toronto, city, life

And these tracks run both regular trains and GO trains. This one happens to go to Markham. The locals seem to put up with it but it’s woefully inadequate if we’re hosting guests from other countries.

west don lands, parkway, stairs, bridge, toronto, city, life

We should be gracious hosts and show them it’s okay to spend their bolivianos / reals / guaranis / nuevo sols / bolivars / colons / quetzals / lempiras / cordobas / krones / pesos / euros / dollars here.

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

St. Chug Chug’s Day & The Feast of the Sorrowful Morrow

Posted on March 17th, 2010 8 Comments

I have to say, if you’re reading this sober on or about St. Patrick’s day, and you have no existing medical condition that would cause or necessitate this state (sobriety), I believe you’ve missed the point. Never is the Irish tradition of drinking more deeply ingrained than on this sacred day. And I can’t think of another day, with maybe the exception of New Year’s, where imbibing is an almighty imperative. Maybe Halloween.

And, while we’re talking Irish, let’s talk cops.

old police car, toronto police, st. patrick's day parade, yonge street, dundas street, toronto, city, life

Hey, I just calls ‘em like I sees ‘em. The coppers were front and centre in the St. Patty’s Day Parade. I didn’t put ‘em there. But if that’s not supporting the Irish, I dunno what is. Then again, they do support Santa Claus.

By the way, all the photos here were taken this past Sunday, they seem more much apropos today, don’t you think? It was all green, white, and orange down Yonge Street then; today it’s mostly an excuse to get shitfaced.

st. patrick's day parade, yonge street, dundas street, toronto, city, life

Haha! I kid. Most of these people have been sloshed since Sunday. But it’s all in good fun. Not like anyone’s suggesting you go drinking and driving or anything.

st. patrick's day parade, yonge street, college park, delorian, dmc, toronto, city, life

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

The Great Umbrella Massacre of 2010

Posted on March 15th, 2010 10 Comments

What a weekend, dear reader. And I don’t mean that in a good way. It’ll have to be written into the history books as The Great Umbrella Massacre of 2010.

My own, newly purchased brolly barely withstood a day before snapping. I won’t have to put it down just yet, but it’s limping, and that kind of umbrella doesn’t have long. Still, it fared better than some of it’s brothers and sisters.

I should warn you now, if you have a weak stomach for this sort of thing, you may want to look away.

street corner, construction, destroyed umbrella, toronto, city, life

I guess this is the time of year when spring starts to wrestle with winter. March is usually described as some kind of awful lamby-lion hybrid, it’s recessive and dominant genes leaving a trail of destruction in their path as they duke it out across the city. I’d say that this is an accurate description.

Naturally, I didn’t venture out much. But I did at least get to survey some of the carnage afterward; and I was mortified at what I saw:

street corner, garbage can, ho lee chow, chinese restaurant, money transfer mart, destroyed umbrella, toronto, city, life

To be cast off so ingloriously, what a horrible waste. And the indignities didn’t stop there; umbrellas littered the streets for some time afterward, even as the winds were subsiding and life was returning to normal:

streetcar stop, destroyed umbrella, horse droppings, toronto, city, life

The M.U. should be ashamed.

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Filed under: B Sides, Pictures