Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Stills at The Distillery District

The Stills played a free concert at the Distillery District this past Friday night. It was part of the Lexus CT200h weekend concert series. Well, it was just this weekend they were sponsoring four Canadian bands to promote their new car.

The concert was supposed to start at 7:00 p.m. I got there at ten to 6:00 in anticipation of seeing a large crowd. I had gone to see Metric a few weeks earlier down by Union Station and there were thousands of people there. I ended up arriving a bit late and got stuck farther back than I wanted. This time I wasn't taking any chances.

Well, to my surprise no one was standing by the barriers waiting. There were plenty of people milling around doing their own thing, but no one was actually waiting to see the concert. There were people checking out the Lexus car display. There were newlyweds getting their wedding shots taken. There were people checking out the various stores and restaurants, but no one was waiting to see the show.

So I found the nearest bench and sat down to wait. Luckily I brought the Metro and 24 free papers along so I could do the Sudoku puzzles. Unfortunately I messed up the 24 one and didn't have another copy to do to kill more time.

Lexus had some freebies they were giving away as part of their new car promotion. You could win an Apple I-pad if you signed up for some thing... obviously I didn't do it because I don't know what you had to sign up for.

They were also giving away free bottles of water and frozen treats. I was sitting beside one of the ice cream carts so was positioned ideally to get some. They had two kinds. One was a sort of orange Creamsicle and the other a frozen Cherry/Pomegranate bar. That's the one I picked. Man, was it good. It was incredibly delicious. After finishing it I continued doing my puzzles. A little while later the ice cream lady offered me another one. I decided to try the orange one. It was okay, but couldn't hold a candle to the Cherry/Pom.

At ten to 7:00 I decided to get up and go stand by the barrier near the stage. There were more people close by waiting, but nobody wanted to be the first to stand there. So I went up and then more people followed. I figured the concert was supposed to start at 7:00 so I wouldn't have to stand for that long.

Well, the band didn't show up on stage until about 15 minutes after 7:00. No big deal. There was a fenced off section right in front of the stage that was empty. A couple of photographers went in there. Then a few people with VIP badges followed.

The area was relatively empty. So after the first song the lead singer told no one in particular that they should open the fences and let everyone else in. No one listened. The security fellow at the opening to the area did beginning letting random people in though.

I took quite a few shots from my post just outside the fence. Then I went over to ask the security guy if I could go in to take more shots. He said, okay.

I got some pretty decent photos I think. The concert was good too. I like The Stills. I think they're a really good band.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another visit to the Museum

I went to the Royal Ontario Museum this past Wednesday. During the summer it's free from 3:00-5:30 p.m. My friend, Fiona, went the week before. As like she mentioned to me the line outside to get in was quite long.

When I got there at ten to 3:00 the line up was already around the building (from the main entrance on Bloor) part way down Queen's Park Circle. I ended up standing in front of the old main entrance which is opposite the Gardiner Ceramic Museum across the street. Once they started letting people in the line did move fairly quickly. I think I got in by around 3:20.

Now I had gone once before when it was free last year. But, that time I was only interested in seeing the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal which I had never seen before. This time I wanted to see everything else I missed.

When I went in I grabbed the museum visitor guide with the layout of the entire building. But, I must be dumb or, at the very least, quite impatient. Because for the most part I couldn't be bothered to read it. I just ran around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to take pictures of whatever looked interesting to me.

I have to say, a lot of the time I was pretty much lost. There didn't seem to be much flow to the layout of the building. It's just a weird shape as far as I'm concerned. Excluding the Crystal the original building seems to be "H"-shaped. As well, there were certain sections that were closed off because they were being prepped for future exhibits. So you couldn't always go through. I often found myself doubling back in order to get somewhere else I wanted to go.

All-in-all I think I got some pretty decent photos though. I'll post them on and . Take a look there in the not too distant future and you'll see them.

And, if you're free next Wednesday afternoon (September 1st, 2010), take advantage of the last day they're opening free early (at 3:00). After that I believe they'll be returning to opening only for an hour for free from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Small Group Sandwich Run

On Friday I went on the smallest Sandwich Run ever. The group we took out consisted wholly of three strong. There were supposed to be seven, but four of them went AWOL. It was the first time there were actually more leaders than volunteers. So Joe and Darlene left and Jenn and I took the group consisting of Jeff, Andrea and Debbie out. They were from Heart Lake Baptist Church in Brampton. Jeff and Andrea had been out many times before.

We did the Spadina/Queen St./City Hall route. They made 70 bag lunches which was great. Summer is much busier than the winter and we had been running out regularly before getting through City Hall.

The small group was really efficient. That was nice. We covered both sides of Spadina as we headed south. Andrea and I were on the east side while the other guys covered the west. There wasn't too much dawdling like we have with larger groups. We still spent time chatting with the folks we met on the street, but it didn't drag on like it sometimes can when more people are involved.

Raymond, Robert and Dan were camped out in their usual spot on the median on University in front of Osgoode Hall. It was our (Project 417's) third time out this week, so we only chatted with them briefly. They're a great group of guys who've just hit a rough patch in life. I know they'd like to get off the streets. Raymond says he's contacted the Streets to Homes guys so hopefully he's well on his way. His daughter in Ottawa just had twins. I hope he gets to see them sometime soon.

We met a few people on the path south of the Courthouse through to City Hall. I think some were stragglers from the Osgoode Hall meal program which gave out food earlier in the evening. I saw a fair number people coming out of the building when I rode by at around 6:00 p.m.

At Nathan Philips Square we saw the regular guys at the northwest corner. I don't remember most of their names unfortunately, only Richard and Oz. They hang out together near one of the sets of stairs that goes to the upper level walkway.

Normally we run out of lunches right around here. But, since the Heart Lake group made so many we had enough to visit the rest of the people around the southeast corner of the square. There were at least ten people camped out in this area. They were a varied group. Mostly men, but a few women too which is sort of unusual to see. There normally aren't a lot of women on the streets. Only a few. All different backgrounds as well. But mostly Caucasian and some native Canadians too.

One woman we spoke to said that her and her husband had a place lined up to go to in the next month or so. That's good. The colder weather isn't too far off. It's best to try to stay out of it if you can.

All-in-all it was a really good run. We had some meaningful conversations, satisfied a few hungry stomachs and stayed out of trouble. That's all you can really ask for.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Last Game of the Season

The Golden Nuggets - Girls' table + Chris

We played our last Ultimate game of the season this past Tuesday. It was the second week of playoffs and we were vying for 5th place. Unfortunately we lost and ended up in 6th. That's not too bad considering we started the season on a huge losing streak. Out of the first five or six games we played we only won one. It was only at the end when we pulled off two straight wins to finish off round robin play and won last week's first playoff game which elevated us to a respectable placing.

Nevertheless the season was fun, regardless of where we ended up. It was cool meeting some new people. We certainly got our exercise. Especially the girls who on occasion had to go without subs because the other girls were away. That was definitely tough.

The season ended as it began... at Boston Pizza. Part of our league payment went to an opening night and closing night celebration with snacks provided. We all got drinks, appetizers, and light fare which included garlic bread, salad, pasta and pizza. It was a time to hang with your friends and talk about how things went over the course of the few months we played.

Thanks go out to Gord Lau who organized the league. And to all the team captains and other people who made it turn out as well as it did. Cheers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cathy's Going Away Party

Cathy had her going away party this past Friday at The Raq down on Queen West and Bathurst. She decided to leave and do freelancing which is what she did before she joined Trader. She invited a bunch of current and former employees down for one last kick at the can on her last day.

There were quite a few people there. For me it was sort of like a mini reunion. I was laid off from Trader about a year ago. That was the last time I saw most of my friends there. There were some people I was disappointed not to see. But, there were also a few faces I hadn't seen in quite a few years like Terence and Maki. It was great seeing them again.

Anyway, it was nice hanging out, having a drink and catching up with old friends again. We're going to have to try to make it a regular affair.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ultimate Frisbee

Back row: Rahim, Tim, Me, Jason; Middle row: Calvin, Taku, Curran, Chris, Benson; Front row: Tomomi, Mila, Mary, Laura, Michelle, Anju; (missing Doug)

After a two or three year absence I rejoined the Cornerstone Ultimate League. I played with them a few years ago when my former company was located near Yorkdale Mall. But, after we moved west closer to the airport it was just too far to get there on time after work. Now that I'm not working I have all the time in the world.

This is probably our 10th or 11th week playing. We had a couple of weeks of practice at the beginning. After that we formed our teams. Since we have yellow/gold coloured shirts we decided to call ourselves the Golden Nuggets.

Our captain is Jason Cook. He's quite a good player. Calvin Lee is his assistant. We have a mix of players. Some are new, others have a bit of experience.

Our turnout at the beginning was quite good. We had a good number of guys and girls showing up. But, in the past few weeks the attendance for the girls has dropped. So the ones who do come out don't get any rest. It's tough on them, but they're warriors.

I thought our team might do alright, but we started off kind of poorly. We lost a whole bunch of games in a row. Finally a few weeks in we won one. And oddly enough in the past few weeks we've strung together a three game winning streak. Things are turning around for us it seems. It's too bad the season is ending next week. We should have started this winning streak sooner, eh?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cursed Backyard for Birds

I think my sister's house may be cursed if you're of the avian variety. First it was the hard luck Cardinals. Now it's another bird I found injured in her backyard (which my sister discovered is a Northern Flicker Woodpecker).

I came upon it while checking an area for these vine-type weeds I had pulled up earlier in the week. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed something in a patch of dirt by one of the big trees in the back. It was a little lump lying on the ground. I had an idea that it might be a bird. But, I thought it was probably dead when I went over for a closer look.

To my surprise it was very alive. But, it was lying on its back with it's feet in the air. Kind of like it was resting. But, of course, birds don't rest in that position. Nor do they stay put when approached by anything that looks like it may harm them.

But, this bird lay helpless on the ground. It did move a bit when I moved closer. I'm sure it was trying to get away, but for some reason it couldn't. I went up to the front of the house and grabbed a blue bin I had filled with yard waste. It was filled soft leaves and branches and stuff like that. I figure it would make a nice bed for the bird to rest in while I figured out what to do. I didn't want to leave it lying on the ground for any extended length of time. That just wouldn't be wise.

I scooped the bird up with a little plastic shovel and dumped him amongst the cut foliage. He protested a bit, but that was expected. He squished himself into a corner of the blue bin and tried to hide. Poor little fellow. I put the blue bin by the back door and went in the house to tell my sister what had happened.

After a bit of discussion we couldn't agree what to do with him. I thought the bird needed some time to rest and recover. I wanted to put him somewhere high so he would be safe outside overnight.

What I ended up doing was placing him (still in the blue box filled with leaves and stuff) on a little patio table on the back deck. I figure if one of the neighbourhood cats happened by it wouldn't be able to climb up the table because it's top was too small.

After I had put the blue box on the table I went back into the house to look for a camera. Even though I didn't want to upset the little bird I still thought it would be nice to have a picture of it. Well, when we went back out my sister discovered it lying on it's back on the deck. It had somehow managed to hop out of the blue box, but was back in the same position I first found it in.

I think it somehow had injured it's wings. We turned him right side up again and he managed to hop around a bit. But, he couldn't get off the ground. I wanted to put him back in the blue box, but he hopped to the back edge of the deck and plopped about 6-feet down to the ground landing on his back again (dumb bird).

We put him back on his feet again and he hopped to the far side (front) of the underside of the deck and tried to hide. Rather than freak him out again we decided to leave him there.

I went home shortly after that.

Later in the evening my sister when out to check on him again. Guess what?... He was on his back again. She flipped him over and went back in.

This happened one more time (at least). My last update was at about 11:00 p.m. I don't know what going to happen to that dumb birdy by morning. I just hope the little feller is alright.

Latest update from my sister: Sad News - So I just went outside and found the bird dead. It was just between the stone patio and the deck. I was out there yesterday and didn't see it. At least the animals didn't get to it. I have a bird book, and it was a Northern Flicker woodpecker. They actually spend most of their time on the ground, hopping around looking for ants to eat. Oh well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Car Runs into Building

We had an interesting visit to the boarding home this afternoon. Normally on our bi-weekly trips there we just bring a few snacks and hang out inside the common room at the front of the house with the residents and chat a bit. Today we decided to hold our first barbeque there.

Rodger and Kate brought the food and the barbeque to cook the food with. I forgot about the bbq, so I just brought the regular snacks I normally bring.

Just after 4:00 p.m. we set up in the parking lot in the back of the house. Rodger ran the barbeque and Kate helped serve the food. As usual, whenever people are preparing food, I just try to stay out of the way and not get into trouble.

I was talking with a few guys there when I thought I heard the sound or a car crashing into something. It wasn't really loud, but I was pretty sure I heard something. It sounded like it came from the underground parking at the apartment building next to the home. A few seconds later I heard another sound of metal crunching. It was odd. I looked over to the ramp coming out of the parking garage and a yellow Mini cruised up in 100% mint condition. So I thought I was imagining things.

Next thing you know there are sounds of sirens coming down the street. First it's a fire engine, then a bunch of police cars show up. Someone mentioned that somebody may have jumped off the balcony of the building. A bit later another resident says to go to the front of the building and have a look. There on the front lawn of the apartment building is a car that had driven through the lobby. It had back up to the place it sat currently (which is when I heard the second sounds).

One of the residents of the home we were visiting, Wayne, saw the whole thing. He was sitting in front of the house on one of the lawn chairs there just chilling. That's when the car went up the driveway in front of the building and didn't stop going right through the floor-to-ceiling window in the lobby.

Wayne said that one of the occupants of the car took off on foot. The other was apprehended by the police when they arrived.

Darn... I really need a camera on my cell phone.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Saturday was Fun

This past Saturday was fun. I met up with my friends Diane, Daphne and Taku. Diane invited her friend Myron out too.

Our first stop was the Centennial College Campus near Broadview and Danforth. They had a bbq there with sausages, chicken and pork Souvlaki and other Greek related food items. It was to coincide with the annual Taste of the Danforth which is a street festival here in Toronto where they close off a stretch of road in the Greek area of town and set up stalls that sell food and other things related to Greece. There's music and other performances as well. This year they expected one million visitors over the 3-day event.

We didn't actually go down to Danforth to experience it. We were more than satisfied with the food we got at the college. Instead we decided to get our in-line skates out and go blading.

Originally we had thought about going around some of the local streets in the area. Our friend, Taku, lives close by and would have been able to show us some quiet roads to go along. In the end we decided to stay put and use the relatively empty parking lot there.

It was quite fun. We spent a couple of hours blading around. Except for the odd fall or two everyone emerged pretty much intact. We would have gone on a bit longer, but the security guard at the college kicked us out. There was a sign stating no skateboarding or in-line skating which we had chosen to ignore.

Next on the slate of things to do was visit nearby Todmorden Mills. From the City of Toronto website this is a description of it -

Set in the scenic Don Valley, Todmorden Mills Heritage Museum and Arts Centre is a complex of historic buildings which were once part of the small industrial community of Todmorden.

Today the site consists of two historic millers' homes dating from the early 19th century, the Brewery building and the recently renovated Papermill Theatre and Gallery. Adjoining the site is a 9.2 hectare wildflower preserve with walking trails exploring a number of natural habitats, including upland and bottomland forests, dry and wet meadows, swamp lands and a pond.

We went on a short guided tour of two of the homes there. I have to say I found it quite fascinating. I always love looking through old buildings and hearing stories of historical events.

We were all pretty tired after visiting Todmorden Mills. I think it was a combination of the walk there and going around the grounds and the time we spent in the sun in-line skating. It was still a bit early for dinner so we decided, sans Taku, to go to Tim Hortons to chill for a bit before grabbing dinner. Taku had to go home and do some shopping after.

We drove to the Tim Hortons across from the Shops of Don Mills. We went there because we wanted to grab dinner at the nearby Congee Queen afterwards. While there we ordered shrimp dumplings in noodle soup, slightly spicy, fried turnip cubes and a plate of beef and Chinese broccoli and a couple of bowls of white rice to eat. I think it was Myron's first time having some of those things. He was the only non-Asian in our group. I'm sure he enjoyed everything though. After dinner we took him to participate in another favorite Asian pastime - Karaoke.

We headed to a Korean place we often frequent up Yonge near Finch. Since she can read Korean Diane ran the show there. The buttons on huge remote control that run the machines there are all in Korean. If you go up to Richmond Hill you'll run into the same problem, only the remotes have Chinese characters instead.

Anyway, we drank beer and sang songs for three hours. Part way through Daphne went to grab a couple of tambourines and we banged on those as well. It was immensely fun. I forgot how much I enjoy going to Karaoke. The only thing I'd like to see changed is the book of songs have a section with artists/bands grouped together with their songs instead of just a list of songs in alphabetical order from random artists. It's just a suggestion...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Metric at Union Station

Local alt, indie band Metric played a "surprise" free one-hour set on Front Street in front of Union Station this evening. According to Wikipedia, they were formed in 1998 by vocalist/keyboardist Emily Haines and guitarist James Shaw. Current members also include bassist Josh Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key.

After hearing about the concert this afternoon on the news I thought I should go down and have a look. I have to say I really like a lot of their songs. As usual I brought my camera along.

I arrived a bit late and Front Street was completely packed. Still I managed to squeeze through the crowd and find a spot not too far from the stage. The problem is whenever I bring my camera anywhere to take photos more often than not I concentrate so much on trying to get good shots that I don't get to really fully experience whatever event I'm attending. This one was no different. I only remember actually listening and enjoying a couple of songs.

It was still good though. I'm glad I went.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Toronto - Caribana 2010

Saturday, July 31st was Caribana 2010 Parade day. I believe it's the 43rd anniversary of this event in Toronto.

This year, as in the past few years, it began in the Exhibition Grounds and moved onto the Lake Shore West (westbound). Supposedly it was to begin at 10:00 a.m., but when I got down to Lake Shore, just east of Jameson, at around noontime it still hadn't passed. Well nothing of significance anyway. I heard from the fellow beside me that the mayor and premier had gone by, but that was about it.

The first float I saw was the diversity one sponsored by the Toronto Police. The next one appeared around an hour later. All the spectators around me (myself included) were pretty annoyed at that. We heard something about a broken manhole cover that may have been the cause of the delay. But, even afterward the floats/trucks were separated by gaps of at least 10-15 minutes.

There was some good music, great costumes and wonderful bands, but, overall, what should have been a really enjoyable day out pretty much sucked. Far too much sitting/standing and waiting and waiting and waiting...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Summerlicious - The Sultan's Tent & Café Moroc

We ate at Café Moroc on Saturday for Summerlicious. It's located across from the Flatiron Building on 49 Front Street East. I joined my friends Diane, Daphne and Gabe there for lunch at 11:30.

Summerlious/Winterlicious has been going on in Toronto since 2003 I believe. Ever since the local tourist industry needed a little boost after the SARS outbreak. Over 100 local restaurants offer special lunch and dinner menus to diners at a special price. Normally you get to choose from a selection of appetizers, main courses and desserts. When I go with my friends we often pick different dishes and sample from one another.

Diane and Daphne arrived at the restaurant first. They drove down from Richmond Hill. I came next taking the subway down from my place. Gabe was last (also taking the TTC).

The doors of the restaurant were locked until opening at 11:30 a.m. We had to wait outside with a few other patrons until they let us in.

After they let us in we got a seat by the front window. I looked briefly at the Summerlicious menu before making my selections then wandered off to take photos. The restaurant, Café Moroc, was pretty cool looking. The back dining area was set up to look like a tent in the desert.

When the hostess saw me taking photos she offered to let me have a look at the lounge area downstairs (The Sultan's Tent). It actually wasn't open at that time, but she was kind enough to let me go down anyway. It was pretty cool. I'll have photos posted here soon.

After taking a few shots I went back upstairs to join the others to eat. For the appetizer I had Maftoul which (directly from the menu) is a hand rolled “Moroccan Cigars”, hot crispy pastry stuffed with a mixture of mildly spiced beef, cashews and raisins, topped with our chipotle aioli. It was similar to a spring roll, only with meat in it. My main course was Mango Salmon. It's a pan seared 5-ounce fillet of salmon, topped with mango salsa, served with saffron basmati rice and traditional Moroccan root vegetables. It was pretty good. Though my friends commented it didn't really seem to be traditional Moroccan fare. Dessert was Brulée Royal which seemed to me just to be a regular crème brulée. It was tasty too.

To me the food was just regular. I liked the interior of the restaurant and café though. I thought it looked really neat.