Thursday, April 27, 2006

Magic Pony, April 27

Team Macho opened their second exhibition at Magic Pony tonight. It's on until May 30.
Magic Pony is a Japano-centric concept shop that moved recently into their new ground-floor digs at 694 Queen West. If you like graphic novels, Team macho will turn your crank. There were lots of budding young artists with purple hair in attendance.

The Team Macho exhibit is not my cup of tea. Magic Pony baffles me, truth be told. Why would anyone pay $300 for a clock. The only item I would consider buying from Magic Pony is the series of Toronto attacks postcards, by Seth Scriver, pictured above.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

the fix is in

We were able to get our battered 11 year old dishwasher fixed today for $127. Oh how I wallow in the cheapness of it all. The penny pinching. The resource saving. We bought the dishwasher used in 2001, and are still using it. Muhuhahahahha. It may seem like a small thing to be proud of, but I hate to throw out useful items.

It's a bit of a Russian roulette really. The repair company charges an $80 minimum to visit, so if they show up and the appliance is not fixable, you are out $80 plus the price of a new appliance. The technician who showed up was quite sharp, he was able to isolate a difficult problem and fix it quickly.

I highly recommend the company we used:
Factory Appliance
t 416 789 0649

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bleeding Pump Conservatives

Once again the rise of gas prices brings forth a stream of invective from bleeding-pump conservatives. The same people who think that homeless shelters are a waste of money are now screaming for government help because their trips to the mall cost more. Of course, they don't say they are asking for a subsidy. Instead, they will claim that the government should cut its 'unfair' taxes on gasoline (federally, 10c per liter plus 7% GST). Frankly the taxes on gas have not changed in decades, and a directed tax cut like this is the same as a subsidy.

Today's broadcast of the CBC program Cross Country Checkup on was filled with sob stories from people demanding that the government fix the high price of gasoline: truckers, business professors, and rural dwellers. Spare us the sob stories please. If you live in the country and work in the city, you made a bad choice. Find another job or move closer to work. It's not the government's fault. If you own a business and your costs are up, raise your prices or find another business. It's not the government's fault. If you live in the city and bought an SUV, you made a bad choice. It's not the government's fault.

A common theme on the program tonight was the 'high costs of gas' compared to the U.S. Why not compare our gas prices to other countries, nearly all of which have higher gas prices? Interesting that in the United States they have the same debate. The debate simply shifts - gas price complainers will complain that the taxes in their state are higher than other states.

For a refreshing counterpoint, the Edmonton Journal has a clear-thinking article on high gas prices from Paula Simons. Says Simons:
If you don't like paying so much for gasoline, well, don't use so much.
Take the bus or LRT to work more often. Car-pool. Ride your bike or walk to the
store. Instead of using the drive-thru lane at the bank or Tim Hortons or
Wendy's, just park and go inside.[...]
So much of our economy is predicated on cheap fuel. It's been our invisible
subsidy for decades. But we've crashed head-on into a rude new reality, one we
can't just curse away. We won't find a long-term solution to high gasoline
prices in a tax cut or a government cheque.

Amen to that. Wonder if Stephen Harper reads the Edmonton Journal?

A Little History

The current book on my night table is A Little History of Canada, by H.V. Nelles, the well known Canadian historian (hmm isn't that an oxymoron?). Covering the early migrations of the indigenous people up to present-day politics, it was published in 2004. The one complaint I have is the lack of graphics and pictures in this work. If the goal is to present Canadian history in a pleasant and readable way, why not spent the extra effort on graphs and images that are appropriate. That would help break up the miles and miles of text streaming across the page. So instead of modeling production values from a PhD thesis, use the production values of a modern text book or technical manual. You know, lots of whitespace, pictures, and so on. Little call outs and sidebars too.

Rainy Saturday

It is cold out. Colder than Stephen Harper at a climate change conference. After being cooped up in the house this week I resolved to go on a bike ride rain or shine. Unfortunately I couldn't find one glove, nor my hat, nor my cycling pants. So I was completely soaked from the waist down within five minutes and riding with one hand because it was too cold for the other one. Despite this unpleasant weather, I was able to accomplish my two goals for the morning ( I use the term 'morning' liberally, for me, morning indicates the time from when I get up until about 2 hours after my first coffee):

1. Trying Kensington's (181 Baldwin St.) coffee and breakfast. They claim to have the best coffee in town and are located in a pseudo-Commercial Drive left wing bastion called Kensington Market. The short answer is: Coffee good. Breakfast not good. If you want a coffee, and a place to hole up with your copy of The Nation on a rainy Sunday, it's worthwhile. Otherwise forget it.Never mind the food. I had their breakfast special; the potatoes were stone cold

2. Going rechargeable. Canadian Tire has a good selection of battery rechargers and batteries. For approximately a hundred dollars I was able to replace all our electronic gadget batteries with rechargeables and a charger that only takes 15 minutes. I can't believe we didn't do this sooner.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Yeesh. Been crazy busy over the last few weeks. Lots of work to do at work. It's hard not to be submerged with stuff when you are a perfectionist. I'm learning to say no to people. Anyway, one of my ongoing projects is to track the spousal expenses. Every cup of coffee, every bill, etc. gets entered into an Excel spreadsheet. The goal is to get an idea of our monthly spend, and where it goes. So if we have to cut back we at least have some idea where that needs to be.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sharp Centre for Design

The Ontario College of Art and Design's flagship building on a Sunday afternoon. Will Alsopp's innovative work has provoked much controversy. Frankly I think that we need more creative buildings such as this one. The Sharp Centre exudes a sense of passion for ideas, a certain expansiveness that reflects well on an art school.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Massey Hall, April 8

Massey hall is a room steeped in history. In 1908, Robert Peary spoke here about his plan to journey to the North Pole. Oscar Petersen, George Gershwin, and Dizzy Gillespie played here at various times. In 1965 Bob Dylan enraged music purists by 'going electric' with his guitar performance. More recently, Gordon Lightfoot has the record for most solo appearances at the hall.

On Saturday, Ron Sexsmith cemented his place in Canadian music history by headlining for the first time at Massey Hall, a gig he had been dreaming about for years. The concert featured special guest Andy Kim, and a visit from Gordon Lightfoot, who had a seat in the audience in row J or so. It was a friendly affair with joking catcalls from the audience and a strong performance by folk singer Kathleen Edwards.

At one point Sexsmith and a guitarist stepped forward, disconnected their amps and played an acoustic guitar solo before the packed house, "just like in the seventies."

"Welcome back," cheered an audience member.

"I never left," replied Ron.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Blue Monster

Well, I got rid of my 400 lb couch. It took three people to wrestle it into the truck helpfully sent by Treasure Land, an estate sales place which sent someone to pick this heavy-assed blue-upholstered item. This thing was so heavy it fell off the dolly and into the flower bed on the way out. The new owner of my couch figures he can get $500 for it after re-covering it. What's that? Re-cover it? Why would you want to recover a shiny blue couch with only a bit of topsoil stuck to it?? I thought the 80s were back in style

Me, I was glad to get it out of the house and somewhere other than the landfill. There's something honourable about taking an old item and renewing it into something better.

New Stairs

Here's a couple of photos of our new Douglas Fir stairs. I'm very pleased with our carpenter's work; they are beautiful and rock solid. I put in the trim which is made of MDF and carefully cut and coped around each of the risers and treads and then painted white. We finished the stairs with a Benjamin Moore acryclic finish which is an effectiv water based alternative to nasty toxic urethane, but quite expensive.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Well, things have returned to normal. Writing lousy code. Saying unprofessional things at work. The usual.

The latest book on my night table is Electrical Code Simplified by P.S. Knight. I find strange comfort in long passages of technical and detail-oriented mundania. The auther is an Ontario Hydro inspector who seems to have retired on the Sunshine Coast of BC and now writes books on how to rewire your house.

It looks like PS. Knight got his grandson to make his website (in 1994 or so) But I love it. Why shouldn't people write books after 40 years of work.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Long Long Run

After 565 days of renovation, we have moved into our new space. We popped open a bottle of champagne and celebrated the end of an era. As a fitting tribute I read the Key Porter novel, The Long Run. This book is a Canadian gem, and has nothing overt to do with renovations. It's a bittersweet tale of growing up male and orphaned in 1960's Newfoundland at a Catholic orphanage. The characters are real and hard-edged, but it's mainly about sticking together in the face of adversity.