Monday, January 30, 2006

Marie Curtis Park

The diversity of wildlife that lives in the city of Toronto is surprising. Take Marie Curtis park, for example. (Lakeshore and Browns Line) Mom visits this park almost every day and sees the most amazing wildlife. This area was devastated by the flood waters of Hurricane Hazel in 1954, and subsequently was acquired by the city as a marsh habitat and park. (what a concept: don't let people build on the flood plain)

Mom emailed me to list all the wildlife sightings in recent memory:

  • Most recently a family of 3 beavers. They devasted some trees in the park. Big ones too. At least tem of them are down. Now there are wire cages around the trees close to the creek

  • A night heron - this year he is staying the winter.

  • A big blue heron at migration time

  • Muskrats

  • woodpeckers

  • flickers

  • pileated woodpecker

  • chickadees

  • cardinals

  • blue jays

  • Swans all year round

  • Squirrels: Black ones, grey ones and a rare red pine squirrel.
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The disappearing range

I am always amazed at how fast unwanted items disappear from my front lawn. On Saturday I threw out a very old 1970's stove with a broken oven. Within hours it was completely consumed by the Jawas of Torontopia.

    1:34 - Leave ugly 1970's stove at end of curb. Plan to put it on Freecycle. Go to coffee shop to get cup of strpng coffee.

    1:42 - Return home, coffee in hand. Mmm, coffee. One burner missing from stove. Uh oh . This will make it hard to give away. Enter house and work on other tasks

    3:32 - Pass stove. All knobs and burners are gone from stove. Stove drawer is missing. Well, now I'm screwed, no one could possibly want it. Get more coffee. Slurp slurp.

    4:13 - Hear dragging noise outside. Stove carcass is being dragged onto a pickup truck by enterprising junk dealer.

The scrap guy explained that scrap yards are willing to buy these old appliances and they can be torn apart for parts. So after over 30 years of constant use, my old stove will live on in other people's homes. I can only hope that my new stove will be working in the year 2036. Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 27, 2006

2005 warmest year on record

Good Washington Post article on climate change. 2005 is the hottest year on record, according to NASA's Goddard institute.
NASA scientists estimate that 2005 average global land and sea temperatures were
1.04 degrees Fahrenheit above average, just beating out 1998's 1-degree
elevation. NOAA researchers, by contrast, say this year's global average is
1.06 degrees Fahrenheit above average, compared with 1.1 degrees in 1998.

Maybe it's time for the Harper Conservatives to rethink their opposition to meaningful action on climate change.

Mien Trung

Had a mighty tasty Dinner the other day at the Mien Trung Vietnamese restaurant (207 Ossington Ave., tel. 416-531-0498). This restaurant is one of those holes-in-the-wall where 4 people can eat for about $30 total. The menu selection was extensive. The food was excellent; decor non-existent.

It's been four years since I had Vietnamese and that was in the armpit of Toronto (Carlton & Yonge). They must have been using Grade F meat because that was enough to put me off anything that starts with Pho. No matter- cured now.

After dinner we squeezed into the Communist's Daughter (Dundas & Ossington), a hotspot for indie music types. We were fairly uncomfortable since the place was packed and it was difficult to find a spot, and once we found a spot, to have a conversation.

Friday, January 20, 2006

In Transit

Saw the In Transit exhibit on opening night yesterday at the Toronto Free Gallery. Well curated exhibit on transit related art, mostly photography. Good turnout; and the great news is they were selling those subway buttons that are hard to find. Now I'm kicking myself for not buying more buttons; they would make a great gift.

I never know how to behave at these openings; it's difficult to look at the art because there are so many people; so is it about the visitors more than the art? At least you have a conversation topic in the event that you want to strike up a conversation with a total stranger.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Environment hits - election

It's interesting to compare raw Google search numbers for 'environment' between the party web sites. The number of hits directly corresponds to what I would informally evaluate as the relevance of the environment for each party

282 hits for 'environment' which sounds like fair bit. Once you dive in, these are slim pickings -multiple repetitions of the proposed Conservative tax credit for transit passes. Also a pledge to provide 'more research' on BC's fisheries, the standard tactic for buck-passing governments the world over.

Realistically, I expect the Harper government to be the worst environmental stewards in living memory. They have pledged to renege on Kyoto and are loaded with Calgary-School ideologues and their web site provides little more than tokens. The transit tax credit is nothing more than a fig leaf on their otherwise nakedly regressive platform.

558 hits, and a little more meat. Discussion of clean fuel, Kyoto and renewable energy initiatives. The Liberals trumpet some of their achievements here, but as covered in recent articles they signed the Kyoto treaty but haven't actually done much to achieve their Kyoto targets

606 hits. Heavy criticism of the government record; proposal for a Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and a Polluter Pay Act. Good stuff; they clearly outline where the government has gone wrong on many environmental initiatives while in power. For example, cabinet overruling scientists on species at risk.

Green Party:
11,000 hits; too numerous to list. Nice report from the Sierra Club giving the Green Party top marks on their environmental policies. If the NDP wasn't so strong in my riding, I would definitely be supporting Green.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Monorail crash

Here's a picture of that Seattle monorail crash earlier this year

Thursday, January 12, 2006


The Monorail society is a volunteer organization founded "to fostor more awareness and promote this unique method of transportation". They believe that monorails encourage poeple to choose transit.

I'd challenge the Society on that point - the monorail has a reputation as a frivolous and silly waste of money. For example, an unecessary monorail was the theme of a Simpson's episode. Transit activists are often fighting with bean counters and self-styled pragmatists. This obsessive-compulsive monorail advocacy leaves transit open to attack as a waste of money. Better to advocate for the most cost-effective transit available and if that project has one rail or two, who really cares?

The Seattle Monorail Project is a group specifically oriented around the Seattle monorail which is not doing too well. The proposed Green Line will not be built, unfortunately. The monorail seems to have a poor reputation in Seattle. Said my Seattle friend, C., "The monorail makes Vancouver's skytrain look good! [...] The monorail that's so well built that it has a turn in it that is too narrow for the trains to pass each other? Yup, the trains crashed last fall and they have closed it - driver error."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Subway Pride

available from the Public Space Committee The brightly coloured tiles of the subway system have long been an identifying mark; now they are a badge for the riders as well (for fun). The mayor reportedly wears one.
Is it about pride of place?. Would I wear one if I lived near Rosedale stop? Well I think Toronto is a little too obsessed with its neighborhood one up-manship but I still love the buttons. The subway is a marvelous invention; a people mover that has yet to be rivalled for efficiency and convenience. When I lived in Ottawa we visited Toronto twice a year. It was a real treat to ride the subway, and my brother & I would ride the Bloor line end-to-end just to see all the stops.

I stopped by Pages Books this week to buy one of the subway buttons but alas they are sold out, and was told by the Pages staff that the PSC doesn't stop by very often to replenish their supply.

Monday, January 02, 2006

One man's junk is...

What to do with this piece of construction junk? Unlikely that anyone would pay for it. Yet I know it's valuable. Spouse and I installed central heating on our second floor last year and ended up with a disconnected electric baseboard heater. If it were not for Freecycle it would have ended up getting trucked to Michigan for sure. (the endpoint for the GTA's garbage). Within 24 hours of my post, I was hooked up with someone who needs a free electric baseboard heater.

Freecycle allows one to give and receive gifts of unwanted things, keeping them out of landfills. They claim over 1.8 million members in 3,266 communities. The way it works is this: hit the Freecycle web site at Then click through to your local community. The actual messaging and information exchange is done via Yahoo Groups, so you need a Yahoo login (free). Post a message with "OFFER:" in the header, and describe the item. When someone replies, arrange a time for them to pick up their gift. Sweet. Posted by Picasa