Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pre-fab Shed!

It only took about 4 hours to assemble and was probably easier to put together than some IKEA furniture. This all-cedar shed with a sliding door is only 8' x 3' but it will now act as a fence between the yard and the lane way and be home to a couple of bikes, some rakes and shovels and other assorted yard tools. I may have to add some clever contraptions to get everything in there and there will have to be some seasonal adjustments but overall I'm pretty happy with finally getting my bike out of the kitchen. Next weekend: installing one of those dangling tennis balls to indicate just how close to park the car and I've already had a request to add some lighting. One of the unforeseen repercussions has been the shed blocks all of the light from the house at night making it a tiny bit like a back alley black hole. A touch of stain and some patio pavers in front of the door should do it. From nothing to a working shed over the course of a morning isn't bad at all in my books. I wish all home improvement projects were that simple.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Cycle CPH 


Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes from Streetfilms on Vimeo.
This video is almost heartbreakingly great. It would be hard to be anything but jealous of a town where people of all ages and abilities can casually roll along safely in a protected lane or next to courteous and easy moving traffic. One of the incredible statistics about cycling in Copenhagen is that as the numbers of people commuting by bicycle went up, incidents and injuries went down. Notably, not only are drivers well educated about cyclists, but it seems Danish school kids are well educated in how to ride. It might be Pollyannaish to assume it's perfect but there is a definite lack of chaos apparent in this video.

Also apparent in this video is Ida Auken, biking babe and Danish Member of Parliament.


Danish member of Parliament and cycling advocate, Ida Auken. What are they feeding politicians in Denmark?

She points out that 55 percent of cyclists in the city are female. That's significant as it's another indicator that cyclists in Copenhagen are probably not your aggressive bike courier variety but include a lot of moms who feel secure enough to bike around with crate loads of kids. I don't know if this will ever happen in Toronto, but if in 25 years I look around T.O. and see that level of cylist to driver ratio, I'll be very happy.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's a Man's World 


Image via Everyday I Show

It's a man's world. Despite all that's changed in the last 25 years. It remains a man's world, though I might venture it is an emasculated, de-sexed, indecisive man to which this world belongs. Perhaps in reality, it's a eunuch's world, and if you read the fine print, he's just renting it.

At some point, I don't know when, in parallel to "man-scaping" and shaped eye-brows, there was a movement to re-assert manliness. Of course, institutions such as Esquire and Playboy continued and may lay claim to such a movement, but speaking for myself, I think there was just a critical mass of men becoming a certain age. An age where boyishness is boorish, when you notice a white hair in your beard, when you've realized that you're not going to become the man you wish you'd be (or that perhaps your father ever/never was) by mere osmosis. It will take some effort. You see in your closet the cast-offs of your youth. You look around your work place and see your place in it. You look in the mirror and see a stranger. To that end, you reject the platonic boyfriend within, you turn your back on the impish, merry pranksters of film, and you sucker punch the inadequate, incompetent, impotent fool of man portrayed with such guile and hucksterism on every billboard, magazine, television ad, radio spot, bus vinyl appliqué, Web banner pop-up and poster screwed above a urinal. You decide to fight age with exercise and knowledge, no longer compromise on the tools of that war, cleanse your body of artificiality, wash out the hair dyes, let your hair grow where it grows, quash blemishes with the fact that you simply don't care, assert yourself into your city, insert yourself back into your life, ignore the petty, push over the fence-sitters and focus on the impenetrable forces that make this world suck while simultaneously bear-hugging all that is good and right. Then, apparently, you make a Web site and visit your nearest haberdasher.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Hard Drive of One's Own 


image via My Scandinavian Retreat
What of machines? Do they have a heaven? I hope so. I am, at this very minute, abolishing a hard drive in what was once a very tidy and reliable laptop, but it fell on hard times and became… neglected. It refused to open its eyes and speak to me. It no longer wanted to be a part of this world so I'm taking it apart from this world. I'm erasing it. Obliterating it. I'm wiping it down carefully with an electronic squeegee. There may be microscopic bits of its former self left, burned deep into the magnetic grooves like so much dirt under your fingernails, but I doubt anyone will notice. No one will see those pitted blemishes once I've polished out all the blots and stains. You see, I'm not just erasing but also re-formatting. I'm going to re-build anew atop the old. No one will ever remember what this little adding machine was like once I'm done. There'll be no vector programs, no raster manipulators, no crumpled up crushes of code, just pure, simple programs for the weekender or amateur (pronounced Ahm - ah - toer). This will be a quiet, clean and casual petit ami, for your music and movies but mostly for your words, in your widely available typefaces. Faces so familiar they'll feel like family.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Let It Ride 

Pirelli Catalog
Pirelli Milioni di Cicliste, 1957, Designer: Bob Noorda (1927-2010)

Saturday, I finally made time to remove the rear wheel of my old Raleigh hub-gear 3-speed and decided to find a replacement nut that essentially keeps the rear wheel in the forks. I set out to Urbane Cyclist, a bike shop with mechanics as rough and tattooed as any bike courier but as friendly and cordial as if they were serving up donuts at Tim's. Finding an eccentrically sized Imperial thread is trickier than it sounds, but luckily, after some careful consideration, they found one. A $4 part saved that bike from the junk heap. Not to mention how much it saved me if I'd wanted to replace the wheel. Four bucks well spent, I think.
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

You Never Think You're Going To Do It 

This Jimmy Fallon clip makes me wish I had cable television and helps me appreciate the genius that is Questlove.



PS. I also wish I had a cool handle like "Commahate" or "Apostropete".

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pop Life 

Since I've been working at this office, I've developed a bad habit (to add to my already long list of bad habits). For our convenience, there's a vending machine here that offers cans of cola for 25 cents. That's like 1970's prices. Typically, I'll buy the "Diet" variety that uses a sugar substitute but a lot of the same ingredients are present in the diet version as in the regular soft drinks such as sodium benzoate, phosphoric acid, high fructose corn syrup (which the Minute Maid Orange Juice and Five-Alive "juice" drinks have in abundance), and most ominously, bisphenyl-A (found in plastic bottles and the linings of the cans).

While some of the conclusions of this graphic take a Malcolm Gladwell-esque leap of logic (the osteoporosis link is a little weak given there's no strong correlation between soft drink consumption and the strong gender bias of osteoporosis) there are still enough reminders here to keep me away from Coke Classic for awhile. Here's to the water cooler.

After taking a closer look at this graphic (click on the graphic to enlarge) maybe try this home-made ginger ale recipe found at Best Made Projects.

Harmful Soda
Via: Term Life Insurance

It's interesting to note that this graphic is from a site promoting term life insurance. Term life insurance, wishing you a long a healthful life without pay-outs or claims against your policy.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Construction Sucks. Shop Roncy


Toronto Summer Shots, originally uploaded by rowdyman.

This has been a hot, hazy and frustrating summer in the 'hood. Our main street is ripped bare and dug up exposing a long trench of steel and infrastructure. You can only dream of the day that Roncesvalles will look anything like the planners renderings, showing happy shoppers wandering, nay gliding along a widened sidewalk boulevard as futuristic trams float silently by.

We're a long way from that vision and we can only hope the businesses that make the street worth living next to can survive long enough to see the day. To that end, I'll be picking up some cheese and cutlets on my way home tonight. Trenches by damned!

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Monday, August 09, 2010

This Is Your Grandfather’s iPad

Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Hikosaburo Yasuda says he knows a trend when he sees one and plans to buy Apple Inc.’s iPad to keep up with junior members in his computer club. Yasuda is 95.
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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

From Wrigley Field

The Cubbies had a good day today beating up on the Brewers in a game that had a bit of everything; home runs, RBIs, a stolen base, a player hit by a pitch and two ejections. Just a great atmosphere at the stadium despite the rain and it's easy to see how much Chicago loves their Cubs. With their record I'm sensing a Toronto - Leafs relationship.

I would've posted a sound bite but I can't e-mail files over 2 MB so that will have to wait.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Seven Rules of Typography

This PDF from Erik Speikermann beats my one rule - never use a face named after a city.
http://www.fontshop.com/education/pdf/type_tips.pdf

Whoops, I just broke two of the rules, which shouldn't count because I'm posting this from a phone.

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Grant Park-apalooza

Grant Park is in the midst of preparing for the Lolapalooza (sp?) weekend. A few big names like Lady Gaga and Green Day are on the slate along with a lot independent or smaller acts like The New Pornographers and the Black Keys. Normally, I might say it looks like fun but I honestly don't think I'd survive the heat this weekend. After a day around town we already feel pretty stewed. We'll be seeking some cooler air tonight at Steppenwolf Theater.

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Seen in July


The White Ribbon, image via The One One Four

They All Laughed
Terrible Peter Bogdonavich film that is supposedly a comedy but is poorly cast, clumisly put together and dull as dirt. It feels like there's only four professional actors in a large unruly troupe. The director apparently had a soft spot (or a hard one) for attractive blondes with little if any acting ability.

Revanche
Revenge is a dish best served cold... until you realize you're not that hungry or maybe you could go for something deep fried instead of something cold - it's complicated. This Austrian thriller boils until the water is gone from the pot and turned to vapor. A great surprise from a little known film.

Please Give
Amusing, intimate & sometimes affecting drama of a couple who buy the furniture of the recenty deceased to sell at a profit in their successful mid-century modern furniture shop in NYC. Are we too wrapped up in our lives to see what matters? Do we worry too much about lives of strangers or the sadness in the world? One thing is certain - pity makes poor charity & it wouldn't hurt to take care of our own crap before we start thinking we can fix the crap of others. Maybe. I can't really say as the ending was sort of ambivalent.

The White Ribbon
Quietly beautiful. Terrifyingly stark portrayal of a pre-war German town where brutality, violence, depression, shame and oppression lurk behind closed doors. I believe in France this same period would be called "la belle epoch", but this isn't France. The director, Michael Haneke, has few equals.

The Bad Lieutenant Port of Call: New Orleans
A decidedly odd remake - nay - Disney-fied version - sequel (?) of the original Abel Ferrer film Bad Lieutenant. Whatever it is, you can skip it. Nicholas Cage is really only engaged once his character has gone off the deep edge. Despite odd "gator" cams and Cage's tightrope comic/ crazy performance, the film disapoints when the third act is tied up tidier than a Sunday episode of Murder She Wrote.

Just for Laughs - Louis C.K.
Weak bladder? You might want to consider diapers if you see Louis C.K. The Just For Laughs road show format has a good flow of quality comics. This isn't a Wednesday night at Yuk Yuks. These folks are pros.

Nurse Jackie season 1 episodes 1-12

The Baader Meinhof Complex
1970's West Germany is a society coming apart at the seams by the actions of a radicalized generation. After watching these terrorists in action I'm still not sure what they were fighting against. A new democracy is just Fascism with a new moustache apparently. The film begins with you firmly in the protestor's camp after seeing them run over in what might be described as "G20 Fashion". On one hand, as a viewer you loathe a police state but as the poser terrorists become organized and a genuine menacing violent threat, you, along with those involved, have forgotten what exactly they are killing and blowing things up for. Personally, there's nothing more infuriating than angry, meaningless rhetoric spouted from crazed idealogues. But if guerrilla hippies are your thing, then this is the group for you. What is striking is how similar the radicalized were then to how they are now and how similar the State's reaction still is. How far we've come, how little we've learned.

The Wolfman
When these subject matters take themselves too seriously, they are hard to take seriously. Hugo Weaving saunters in a little too late to excite what are surprisingly dull proceedings. On the bright side, the wolf tranformations are unforgettable and the wolfman's slicing wrath is undenialby fearsome.

The Best of the Ottawa International Animation Festival
Apparently, the "best" is yet to come as this program seemed a fairly weak representation of independent animation.

Date Night
A few laughs. Not nearly as bad as the critics say though still not as good as it should/could have been.

The Outlaw Josey Wales
"Dying ain't much of a living" - classic Clint Eastwood. This film might easily be considered the back story to Unforgiven.

Bronson
Despite a charismatic lead in Tom Hardy playing the enigmatic & violent prisoner "Charlie Bronson" (née Michael Peterson), this is an extremely boring film.

Inception
Another Tom Hardy film (he does play an important role). It's as good as people say it is.

Regardless of what some critics have said, this is a great film. You can enjoy it either as a Film Noir puzzle piece, as a straight ahead action film or as a reality twisting Philip K. Dick sort of fable. Beautifully made, well acted and completely absorbing. Up there with Children of Men and Moon for me, though a lot of people will probably compare it to The Matrix due the self constructed reality the main characters inhabit (Dark City also comes to mind).

Paul Blart Mall Cop
Stupid. Fun. Not very well directed with oddly paced montages and choppy set ups. As a send up of Die Hard the model was easy to parody which sets the film apart from the similarly themed, though much creepier, Observe and Report. Kevin James is the movie, of course. Now a stain on my permanent public video rental record. Filmed in a mall we've actually been to in Burlington, Mass.

Harold & Maude
The classic May-September romance (maybe even January-December). A modern day remake might feature Michael Cera and Betty White. Great 70s comedy with a dark side and a surprisingly sophisticated aesthetic. You can't help think how this film may have influenced someone like Wes Anderson. Memorable soundtrack consisting entirely of Cat Stevens songs.

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