Saturday, September 30, 2006

C.J. Strikes again

Calamity Jane is scrabbling at straws again. Thin straws. This week, Jane appointed herself "Defender of the Gardiner Expressway" This will prove to be a big wasted effort on her part, sadly. Aside from the idiocy of making your campaign hinge on being the defender of a big ugly elevated expressway, there are no credible plans in motion to tear it up. It would cost billions, and if the money were found tomorrow, it would still take probably ten years with all the planning and environmental assessments that are necessary with a project that size. So it's a non issue.

And let's add in the fact that 90% of people in Toronto don't depend on the Gardiner. Anyone north of Bloor Street is unlikely to depend on the expressway, and anyone close to it would presumably be happy for the large jump in property values that accompanies destruction of ugly elevated expressways.

Did nobody mention to C.J. that the thousands of people who would have their driving time increased (roughly four minutes from the studies that have been done) are mostly suburbanites? So yes, Jane, this may be a polarizing election issue where a large number of people feel strongly for your point of view. However, the issue is primarily a wedge issue between people in Toronto and people who aren't voting in the Toronto election.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


On the to-do list: re-use these historic bricks from our roof ina tasteful landscape feature. They are too old to use in any critical structure, but perhaps a nice garden wall would do. There's something warm and comforting about a nice brick structure. A connection to the land perhaps. Across the city another project on a much larger scale is reviving interest in Toronto's brick building heritage.

Toronto's Brickworks are under redevelopment. From 1889 to 1984 the The Don Valley Pressed Brick Works Company in the Don Valley producd bricks for a growing city. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority are the stewards of the upcoming redevelopment which will include a farmer's market, offices, a park, and artist spaces.

With all the nasty environmental issues happening these days it's easy to fall into the trap of bashing our industrial heritage; the companies that built this city. However there is much to celebrate in our past. The Brickworks is one of those sites.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Calamity Jane

Calamity Jane Pitfield illustrated again why she doesn't deserve to be mayor. On Tuesday the bumbling councillor from Leaside inadvertently voted for the Miller trash disposal solution which she vigorously opposes. Oops.

"I regret it, but it was human error," said Ms. Pitfield, who confessed to being distracted during the vote.

Hmm. The garbage disposal issue is pretty much the biggest issue of the campaign. If Toronto doesn't figure out how to divert and dispose of its trash, pronto, we will be drowning in the stuff. So Jane can't vote correctly on yes-no question on a critical municipal issue. But she wants to be mayor. What's wrong with this picture>?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Queen West Art Crawl

Last Sunday was the Queen West art crawl held in Trinity-Bellwoods Park. The park was full of booths with everything from glass art to T-shirts showcased.

Carol Currie from Midland, ON does some amazing work on sandblasted wood. Her paintings are three dimensional works, mainly landscapes of Georgian bay and they really jump out at you.

Local artist Hoi-An Tang, an OCAD graduate, had a number of her works on display: cards, buttons, and magnets. Her work has been showcased at the designer shop Magic Pony.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dawson College

Charming fellow. The shooter who went on a rampage yesterday in downtown Montreal is the portrait of a troubled teenager. Self-obsessed, angry, obsessed with violent culture and guns. His profile at a Goth website includes the picture above.

Now, I realize that rural gun owners find it inconvenient and expensive to register their guns. However, "tougher sentencing for gun crimes" doesn't appear to have deterred the shooter yesterday. Not much of a deterrent if you plan to be dead, is it?

The Conservative governmnent has made it a primary plank of their platform to make it easier for people to purchase and own guns. I hope the Liberals point this out and beat the crap out of them in the next election.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Abba Gold

Today I found a pile of CDs in a box on someone's front lawn. This is the international signal for - we don't want this crap, help yourself.

I scored some obscure electronica music of as-yet-undetermined quality and some Abba Gold. I cannot believe that, incredibly, someone threw out the 1992 classic. Released at a time when Abba had been out of the mainstream for a few years, the album rocketed to the top of the UK charts in 1992 and three times in 1999.

The album is cleverly arranged in descending order of quality. It starts out with the ubiquitous Dancing Queen, then rocks through Mamma Mia, SOS, and begins its obscure descent into Chiquitta, Does Your Mother Know, and the little-known "Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)"

The spouse and I are bopping to the more well known hits from the album tonight... According to Wikipedia, the band ABBA is named after a well-known Swedish fish canning company. Rock on Andersson, Ulvaeus, Lyngstad, and Fältskog, may your keyboards never grow dusty, and your poppy 70's vibe never grow old.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Toronto's publicly owned wireless network is reportedly going live today. This is the largest WiFi hotspot in Canada and is free until March 2007. After that, it will be $29 per month.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Taking Stock

It's time to review the successes and failures of this year's garden

Runaway Success:

  • Tomatoes - yellow pear tomatoes grown from seed. Prolific, tasty, and juicy
  • Squash - Didn't even plant the squash, but we got some kind of squash/zucchini hybrid. Call it a squiccini. Our soil handles both squash and zuccini very well.
  • Strawberries and raspberries - the production rate of these perennial bushes is enough to keep us with fresh berries on our cereal throughout late summer and early fall
  • Basil - the only problem we have is what to do with all our basil. Maybe make some pesto in a couple of weeks...

Dismal Results

  • Peppers - This is the last time I try to grow peppers. They are high maintenance. If I don't surround them with little cardboard walls, the cutworms get the early shoots. If I don't put nylon net over them, the animals eat them. The shrimpy green peppers that result from all this work are not worth the intensive effort.
  • Broccoli - Impressive foliage, but no flower. No edible broccoli. This plant is worth a second try.

Next Year's List

  • Tomatoes - Ontario's dependable crop. Impress your neighbors! Burn your tongue with the acid.
  • Onions & garlic - my elderly neighbor grows them with great success
  • Jerusalem artichokes - an experimental - for me - native plant
  • Broccoli, attempt no. 2
  • Squash & zucchini
  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Berries (which don't actually require much effort.)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Tasty Weeds

We have been cultivating a native Ontario plant called Jerusalem Artichoke, a member of the sunflower family. It grows along the eastern seabord from Georgia to Nova Scotia. American Indians called them sun roots and introduced them to early North American settlers. The explorer Samuel de Champlain named them artichokes and sent some of them back to France where they were highly prized.

In modern Ontario, alas this plant is disliked by Ontario farmers as a weed. Agriculture Ontario recommends the herbicide Kilmor® at 1.0 litres per hectare, or Roundup® at 6.5-9.0 L/ha.

I recommend StirFry® with black bean sauce on rice.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Ground Zero is under reconstruction after years of squabbling over the appropriate replacement for the Twin Towers. In June the revised design for the Freedom Tower was unveiled, with construction of the foundation already underway. A WTC memorial costing an estimated $500 million is also planned.

7 World Trade Center is visible behind the construction fences. This building was the last to fall during the WTC attacks and the first to be rebuilt.

The firemen of Ladder & Engine Company No. 10 watch over the site of the WTC disaster. Ten House lost six firefighters on Sept. 11. Overall, the FDNY lost 343 firefighters in the twin towers. The stories of courage by the first responders on Sept. 11 are riveting and shocking.