Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Production technicians preparing for the debate and election coverage at the CBC building in Toronto

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Flats, Failures & Taters


It's been kind of a weird weekend here in the House of Peter. Ups and downs and run-arounds. Adding to my woes was the fact my laptop sort of went blotto on Friday (missing kernel error or something after a failed system update -blah blah blah)

Gray and rain. Up late. No biggie. Big breakfast set everything right. I had my mind set on a goal. I made my way to the pool and did my 70 laps (it's pretty bad when you brag about accomplishing half of what other people do) and went home. Except I think I probably over-extended myself. Ended up having a monster headache - like the headache that ate Tokyo. The rest of the day was a drawn out tragedy of late street cars, jostling at an over-crowded Apple store and absolutely no luck in getting my laptop fixed. I dragged myself home and slipped into some fine Angela-wrought soup. Press reset hoping Sunday would be better.

Determined to improve the weekend I set about backing up all the data on the laptop and re-installing the operating system. Many restarts and reboots later all seemed well and to salvage what was becoming a beautiful day, I got my bike gear on and took to the road.

One pothole and flat tire later, I'm walking for 40 minutes back home, only to find the laptop still not so frisky. Another hour or so lost in the confines of watching a software installer install itself and voila. Back to the land of the living. Of course, it was wiped clean of any remnants of its former self but I was glad to have it back nonetheless.

Of all of the salvageable acts this weekend, none was more satisfying than digging a fork into the dirt and dredging up the familiar and friendly potatoes we've so hopelessly ignored this season. Yet there they were, awaiting us under their cover of clay. The dark Papa Negra was hard to distinguish from a stone. The blush skinned potatoes shone out like magic fruit illuminated from within or like some weird plastic apples. They roasted well, and calmly punctuated this most trying two days.

Thank you, Potato. Your comforting starchiness is my salve.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Why Phones Have Cameras

This is the reason mobile phones have cameras.

NOTE: I just had to fix the missing image of this post not just because it's such a weird Toronto image but also as it marks the day I started using an iPhone and it was the first photo I took with it. What this really means is that I'm not quite two years through my three year contract and I'm already on my third iPhone. Not such a great record. What this also says to me is that as your contract will certainly outlive the device, I would advise getting a two year contract rather than the three-year one (about a year too long) and as I got one phone replaced under warranty and the third heavily discounted it's still better than getting a phone unlocked outside of a plan as you'd be paying about $400 more than with a contract. Also, for me, the likelihood of changing providers within two years is slight. In 10 years I've only switched twice, from Bell, to Rogers to Fido. Take that as advice, if you care to.

August, 2010

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

40 Rock

Our Autumnal Equinox is now made glorious summer not merely by the sunny countenance of the day but our summery contentedness that good health provides.

Or something like that? Is that what Richard the Third was talking about? No? Whatever.

Summer came to an end this weekend and with it the curtain fell on the youth of at least two of our friends. We attended not one, but two parties for friends turning 40 and 41. It was a strange week of nostalgia (a dangerous thing for anyone over 20) and seeing people that I haven't talked to in probably 15 years. It's all good. It has to be. Interpreting such things differently could be your downfall – I'm pretty sure poor soothsaying brought down the Roman Empire.

Whether seeing aging classmates or feeling the winds of seasonal change in the air, I felt the need to up my activity level. A 1KM swim on Saturday and a 55KM + ride on Sunday. If I didn't feel 40 before, I feel it now.

Feel my pain.

Below is the map of the ride I took today - took a ghastly 3 hours

View Larger Map


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Between the Poles

Okay, bad pun. This weekend was the annual Polish festival on Roncesvalles and despite the threat of rain and a couple of heavy downpours it seems to have been another success. Usually these sort of events get on my nerves — the blaring Polish renditions of Abba or Conway Twitty would drive anyone nuts, and the crowd seems to include a very high number of "fringe" residents trying to blend in (can't put my finger on it, but where the hell do all these shirtless, scrawny, tattooed, 60-year old guys come from? Did a Stones Roadies re-union touch down somewhere?) Yet, it certainly adds to the overall charm of the 'hood and it is pretty amazing how well attended it is.

Still... street fairs? For a better explanation, see the video.


Bikey Hokey-Pokey

cyclin' old school
You put your right foot in,
You put your right foot out;
You put your right foot in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the Hokey-Pokey,
And you turn yourself around.
That's what it's all about!

That pretty much sums up my first try at riding my bike with the new pedals and clip-in cleat-shoe combination. I had always thought locking into these pedals was easy, while getting out was hard. Turns out, it's the other way around. The right shoe clipped in easily enough but the left was very difficult. In the end I discovered I had to stand up to snap in the left shoe. There's probably some kind of tension adjustment I can play with to make it easier. I've heard it can improve your pedal efficiency 25% but I wouldn't surprised if it wasn't a higher number like 30% just because it feels like you can take advantage of the upward third of your stroke.

So now I'm determined to bike farther and faster than ever before. Especially after a chance encounter with an old friend at the local swimmin' hole (Trinity-Bellwoods Community Centre Pool) who told me he was training for a swim in San Francisco. Apparently, you swim 1.5 miles (about 2.4 KM) from Alcatraz to Presido Park. 2.4 kilometers is about 100+ laps of the pool I swim in. I usually do 40-45 laps (a little more than a kilometer) in about 35 minutes, so doubling that would probably kill me. Still, I'm game to try and do it (indoors). I wonder how far I would go if I swam for the entire two hours? Mike had brought the idea of biking in France and even though I know he's only talking about 60-80km I'd like to find out if I could do that first. Then maybe I'll work on stretching out the swim.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Saturday Night's All Right

Youssou N'Dour performs with Divine Brown at Yonge-Dundas Square

What a difference a day makes. Last night we were part of a perfectly pluralist crowd on a perfectly September Toronto night attending a free concert by Youssou N'Dour. Today, Toronto is back to a gray rainy Sunday. The concert last night at Yonge-Dundas Square was part of the Toronto International Film Festival and promoted the film "Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love". The weather couldn't have been better. It was a clear, cool end-of-summer night, when darkness drops quicker than a curtain, and the gaudy electronic signs of the square seemed a little more festive than usual. When we first came to Toronto, I would go out of my way to see at least a couple of movies as part of the Festival, but moving to the West end combined with hard-to-come-by tickets have removed us from the thing and it's easy to forget TIFF is on at all. This year, the festival has added more free public events and it helps to fold all that's happening in the city into the feeling that there is actually a festival going on that you can take part in it. It's not just something going on within darkened theatres or behind velvet ropes but in the streets. Last night, adding an air of something different, American director Spike Lee introduced Youssou N'Dour and at other times during the show, the film's director made an appearance as well as the composer of the score. More to the point of this being a Toronto festival, it was fun to look around you and see the mix of the crowd. The audience consisted of parents with their kids, hipsters alighting doobies, plenty of Toronto-based Africans out to see a homeland hero, Asians, whites, Sikhs... well, any ethic group you could define really. Not that I think such a show in NYC or London would have been any different, it was still something to behold.

What brought so many different types of Torontonians together was simply the man and the music. A music that despite my only passing familiarity, was obviously spiritual, joyful and downright kick-ass. To many, N'Dour might only be known as the foreign sounding voice on the Peter Gabriel collaboration "Shaking the Tree" (or on other such ventures with Sting et al), but to many others he is a giant of music (not just African or World Music).

Yet, I still can't turn on a radio and hear his music. Not that it matters to me. Probably most of the "radio" I hear comes over the telephone lines not the air waves anyway. Which is a good thing if you want to hear talent like N'Dour. Commercial radio was in my youth an escape now I do anything to escape it. This point is really just a digression. What went through my mind as we enjoyed the lights, the dancing and the rhythms was who could live in a world without this? Societies that by some inane religiosity ban music (from the Taliban to the Mennonites) are not places I would want to live. What is often thought to be the universal human expression (though sport and art would also figure in that description) music continues to unite and bind us, and help us see a world beyond ourselves. It was fun to see Toronto enjoying itself without pretension, without posers, without cares, and waving to the joyous sounds coming from the stage.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008


This post is really just taking advantage of Flickr video — a curious new feature of Flickr.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Step Up

The madness of porch upgrades continue. Call it porchography and I won't stop until every piece of our porch has been replaced. In a yearly ritual, on the first weekend in September I stride into the bright early morning light (or alternatively, mid-morning light), and while military aircraft maneuver overhead I rip some wood from our porch and then affix some new wood. Since we moved here I think I've spent every Labour Day Weekend labouring. And labour I did! Behold the fruits of mine labour;


Monday, September 01, 2008

Virgo Rising

August and September are so full of birthdays in this family it's hard to keep track and easier to give one big shout-out (August: Gina, Angela, Mom, Aunt Stephanie and Therese; September: Lucia, Brian and Louisa).

Here's some video from the combined Gina + Angela birthday done a week after Gina's and a week before Angela's (the video is about 90 secs long but 22 MB so it may take a moment to load).

Click here to see the video

Enjoy. If you can't view the video for some technical reason then try viewing it here.

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