Saturday, October 28, 2006

Silver Creek

If you drive several miles up highway 31 out past the sprawl you come to 27th side road in the Town of Halton Hills. There, by the fields and forests is one of the most spectacular sections of the Bruce Trail, the Silver Creek Conservation Area.

My lovely spouse organized a trip with some friends to that section of the Bruce Trail. Spent the whole day walking fields and forests. Then we had a beer and some soup at a pub called the Copper Kettle in Glen Williams where the surly service did not ruin what was an otherwise great day.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Variant(s): also flâ·neur /flä-'n&r/
Function: noun
Etymology: French flâneur: an idle man-about-town

funkaoshi's pictography of his idle afternoon in the west end of toronto.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Scorched Earth

At long last, on Saturday I destroyed our front lawn. I have secretly despised our lawn since moving in with my girlfriend in 2003. Over the years, I have patiently worn her down with hints, suggestions, sexual favors even. Until finally I obtained permission to put my plan into action.

The turf based lawn uses a plant that evolved in humid climates of Northern Europe. The stately lawn was a symbol of wealth and prestige in England - a person with a manicured lawn was demonstrating that he had the staff to maintain the lawn and didn't have to use his land for crops. In the New World, this romantic notion of the stately English manor house has led to an obsession with this plant. Americans are so obsessed with the turf lawn that an estimated 44,000 square miles are covered with the stuff, an area the size of Pennsylvania. Basically the reasons why lawns suck are

1. They require vast amounts of water to keep looking green, unless you live in a humid rainy climate similar to England's. In the summer, people pour vast amounts of water to keep the grass from turning brown.
2. Generally people apply herbicides and fertilizer to have the lawn look clean and neat. These chemicals run off the lawn into aquifiers and lakes, damaging the localecosystem.
3. Lawn mowers contribute to pollution. Due to poor efficiency standards and the realities of two-stroke engines, a gas powered lawn mower spews as much pollution as 40 idling automobiles.

Replacing the lawn will be a multi step process. For now we will put down mulch to cover the soil over the winter. My lovely wife has been engaged to help plan out the trees, shrubs, and natural grasses that will replace it.

The Land Stewardship Letter has a good outline on the hows and whys of lawn replacement.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Burdock day

Saturday was the Friends of Trinity Bellwoods Park's second Park Day. This event is a popular way to meet your neighbors, have a snack, plant some plants together. We ate hot dogs and biennial thistles.

The ravine slopes of the park are being invaded by an invasive plant called Burdock. The Friends of Dufferin Grove Park assisted with this problem. They pulled a bunch of Burdock out of the ground and cooked them up on a campfire and served them with bread. Cool, huh? A wild plant cook out in the middle of the city.

I took some invasive plant home to make a stir fry, which my wife will not touch. Luckily there are a number of recipes on how to cook this plant on the Internet. Thanks 'Wild Man', for your help. 'Wild Man' has written a book called Shoots and Greens of Early Spring in Eastern North America.

Joe Pantalone, local councillor, gave up part of his Sunday to give a tour of the park. Trinity Bellwoods used to be the site of Trinity College, and the old gates of the college now sit at the park entrance, where they are under restoration.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Your Secrets Should Stay with You

Last weekend at Type, I picked up a copy of Darren O'Donnel's new book Your Secrets Sleep With Me. Ugh. I got to page 33 before terminating the read with extreme prejudice. I'm just not into surrealist postmodern fiction.

This is the page that got me:

"The centre, Kaliope knows, extracts blood from the periphery to make up for the lost knowledge traded for the gained privilege.

Kaliope pukes again, the pit of her stomach squeezing her pubic bone out of her mouth. Ruth hops up and down, the need to pee unbearable. The rain buffets the house and a flash of lightning leaves behind an explosion that feels like it happene4d exactly between Kaliope and Ruth, two girls who generally walk around with a sense of impending doom, different for each, but similarly hollowing - if you listen carefully at their chests you can sometimes hear strands snapping like the pulled innards of a pumpkin."

What. The. Heck. Is. That. Supposed. To. Mean. Sigh. Norr am I going to spend two more hours finishing the book to find out. Life is too short for critically-acclaimed but opaque CanLit.

Nuit Blanche

Wow, I wish I had been at Toronto's first Nuit Blanche. This arts festival took place on Sept 30 from 7pm to 7am, and featured 130 night-time-themed art installations and performances in the downtown area. Trinity Recreation Centre had a night swim with underwater lights and a DJ. Over 400,000 people attended the inaugural Nuit Blanche

The city government has figured out that arts and cultural events are more interesting, more natural, and ultimately a more successful way to attract tourists and residents. Imagine if we could have the billions back that were poured into the SkyDome years ago by the Ontario government, and we could put that into successful cultural events like Nuit Blanche

Overheard at Nuit Blanche (from Torontoist)

"It was kinda like being in the trenches in World War 1"
-Mud-covered folk in line for poutine after walking through Fujiko Nakaya's disorienting fog sculpture on Philospher's Walk

"'Let me be your teddy bear', let me touch your Punani--can we go now?"
-Hipster girl at Chris Curreri's Neon text installation on Baldwin St.

"Stay close. Form a human wall. Nothing can touch us then."
-Adam Brodie, Adam's The Real Totally Toronto Special Guided Tours (Note: This was the superior tour despite what Mr. Kumar says).

"Excuse me ma'am, the pool is at capacity, you can't come in. Ma'am, we can't let any more people in you'll have to get out. You have to get out. Thank you." (Woman walks down to the other end of the pool and gets in) "Ma'am, I just said...Okay, everybody out. This pool is now closed."
Lifeguard (to very stoned woman in underwear), Caldarium at Trinity Bellwoods Pool.

"I wish I was drunker."
Drunk guy in Trinity Bellwoods park, 3am

"Well, that's the end of art."
Sober guy walking behind him

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


As I was hurling into a paper bag last night and I decided that air travel is not my favorite way to get around. The puddle jumper commuter plane aborted its wind sheared landing at the last minute to circle round for another try

There must be a better way to get around. Like trains for example. Nice European trains with fast efficient service.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

competitiveness and climate change

The latest Global Competitiveness report from the World Economic Forum shows that you can sign the Kyoto accord, make progress towards greenhouse gas emissions reductions and still remain economically competitive.

Out of the top 10 only the U.S. is not a Kyoto member. The U.S. signed it and later reneged on their committment under the Bush administration. The other countries in the top ten are: Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United Kingdom; all Kyoto signatories

"The top rankings of Switzerland and the Nordic countries show that good institutions and competent macroeconomic management, coupled with world-class educational attainment and a focus on technology and innovation, are a successful strategy for boosting competitiveness in an increasingly complex global economy."Augusto Lopez-Claros, Chief Economist; Director, Global Competitiveness Network