Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lazy me...

Okay, sorry... I've been neglecting my blog. It's been a week since I've last published.

It's not like I haven't been up to anything either. I do have some things to share. I went to dinner with Dickie at Imperial Buffet on Monday (pictured here)... oh wait... that was last Monday. Anyway, I got a 2-for-1 coupon from my parents. A wonderful invention if I do say so myself. It's funny... Imperial Buffet has been sending these coupons out on a regular basis to my sister and parents' homes. I go there about once every month or two and never pay full price. I don't know how they make money.

I wrote that hockey started again for us a couple of blogs ago. It's going alright. One fellow hasn't shown up for three weeks though. I hope he's paid up already or else we might be short on money. My friend Frank is taking care of the finances this year. He was in charge of the whole operation last year, but this year I'm helping with the rest of the organization. It mostly entails sending out weekly e-mails to see who's going to be there or not and making up the teams.

Gym night has started too. I'm one of the three "captains". Truthfully speaking we don't do much. All we've done so far is chosen our teams and picked the shirt colours. There's no coaching involved. I've been sending out some e-mails to my team members, but people don't really have to respond saying if they're going to be there or not. It's not like we can really grab members from other teams if we're short (I don't think). We'll see.

We had another "Sandwich Run" this evening. It wasn't really an official one though. I just took some of my church friends out who wanted to go. Surprisingly we didn't see very many people where we normally see them. Nathan Philips Square was all but empty. We saw one fellow at the bus shelter on the northeast side on Bay Street. That's his normal spot. There weren't many guys on the benches on the east side of the Square. Same with the south side along Queen or the southeast corner where there normally are 10-15 guys in the summer. Even on the northwest side. I just saw Richard and Raymond and one of Raymond's friends (I didn't ask him his name). Normally there are about 7-10 guys there. Raymond said a lot of the shelters are open on the weekends now. So a lot of guys go to them.

On a sad note, Richard mentioned to me that his friend Ozzie passed away. They used to hang out together at their regular spot in between one of the concrete support beams for the walkway that goes around the Square and a stairway that goes down to the parking area under the Square. Ozzie was a nice, old guy. Smallish fellow with a bushy, white beard. Richard said he was about 65. Though, to me, he looked quite a bit older. I guess living on the street will wear on you. Richard found him passed away one day not long ago. That's sad. I feel for him. He's not getting along with some of the other guys who've taken up residence around him. I guess they're a bit too rowdy. I think some of them drink and cause trouble. One girl supposedly has been stealing stuff too. At least it was a quiet night for the guys who were there tonight. A deserved break for them.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Canon 50 mm f/1.8 Lens

Shot of Canon Rebel T1i with Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens.

I went to the Henry's Camera Show last weekend. It was quite good. Much better than the other photo show I went to before. They only had two areas for seminars while the Henry's one had five. As well, the Henry's show had a lot more products for sale. It was just a lot bigger.

I didn't attend as many seminars as I would have liked at the Henry's show. But, the ones I did go to were good. I attended a couple on studio lighting for portraits, another two on photo manipulation software (Aperture and Photoshop) and one on the merits of RAW vs. JPG format. They were all really insightful.

As well I got to try out a lens I was interested in, the Canon 50 mm f/1.8. It's a low-end Canon lens. But, for the price (about $130-$140) it's a reasonably good deal. I like that it's a fast lens. It's good in low light situations and has a shallow depth of field.

I also tried the Lensbaby Muse on my camera and the Lensbaby Composer on the Nikon they had there. I've always been interested in it. You can get some neat-looking shots. I couldn't figure out exactly how to focus it properly though. It was hard. Maybe I just need more practice.

Anyway, the show was good. I'll attend again in the future provided I get a free coupon somewhere.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hockey Starts Again

We started another season at Goulding this past Friday (October 15th). Officially I'm organizing this year, but last year's organizer, Frank, has done an awful lot for sure.

There aren't too many changes from last year. One of our goalies has changed. We lost one fellow who was replaced by someone else's friend. I'm going to switch the team line ups more frequently too. That should make it more interesting for the guys.

One thing that hasn't changed from last year is that my skates are still killing my feet. When I first got them last year they were just ill-fitting. I could barely stand in them for very long. That part got better as the season progressed. But, another problem surfaced... blisters developing on my insteps. It's especially bad on my left foot. For the second time it worsened to the point of just ripping and tearing the skin off that part of my foot. It's feeling pretty tender and raw right now. I hope it improves enough to play the upcoming week because I do enjoy playing quite a lot.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Second Trip to the Brick Works

I went to the Evergreen/Don Valley Brick Works again last Saturday (October 9th). This time I made it part of a longer hike with my friend from church, Gloria. My other friend, Daphne, was supposed to come too, but she came down with something unfortunately. We'll have to try and make it out again. Hopefully the weather will cooperate again.

It was a great day for a hike. I met Gloria at the Davisville subway station. I had planned a route that was probably around 10 kms long in my estimation.

We started at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. There's a walkway just off Yonge and Merton Streets. From there we headed west through the underpass under Mount Pleasant Avenue in to the section of the cemetery between Mount Pleasant and Bayview. There's an exit by the Viewing Centre (at south central boundary of the cemetery) that leads to a path in the Moore Park Ravine. That will take you straight to the Brick Works.

Along the way, both through the cemetery and along the ravine path, I would stop to take pictures. It was an amazing day for taking shots. The skies were clear blue and the leaves bright yellows, oranges and reds. Perfect for photographing. To kill some time while she waited for me, Gloria collected leaves which she planned to use for a project later.

We arrived at the Brick Works and did a walk of the grounds before stopping for a break. I made a crappy peanut butter sandwich which I ate. Gloria just had some water. We sat on a picnic table in front of the pond right outside the buildings there. It was so nice. Just chilling and looking over the water at the trees and landscape, it was a great way to spend the afternoon.

After the break we walked around a bit more and I took a few more photos before we decided to head back. Instead of completely retracing our steps we took a detour through some city streets which eventually led out to the entrance of another park, David A. Balfour Park, just off Mount Pleasant Avenue and Roxborough Drive. The path in the park ends at another entrance/exit at Mount Pleasant Cemetery (on the south end of the part between Yonge and Mount Pleasant north of Heath Street). We walked through that part of the cemetery back to Davisville subway station and that was the end of our day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chilean Mine Rescue

Happy day. Guarded optimism. The first of the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground in a mine disaster are finally being brought up from 622-metres below ground today (October 12th-13th, 2010).

The men, discovered alive 17 days after the mine collapse on August 5th, 2010, have been trapped for over two months. Food and medication was sent down to them through boreholes drilled into the ground.

Because of the hard ground, a larger hole, big enough to lower a rescue capsule, down took nearly two months to drill. The capsule, named Fenix (as in Phoenix, the mythical bird that rose from the ashes), is 54 centimetres in diameter, 4 metres tall and weighs 450 kilograms. It takes about half an hour to be lowered to where the miners are and the ride back up is about 16 minutes.

The photo here (which was incorrectly labeled on the site I got it from) is of Mario Sepulveda, 39, the second miner to be rescued. They said it was the first miner to come up, Florencio Avalos, 31.

The oldest miner trapped is Mario Gomez at 63-years of age. The youngest, Jimmy Sanchez, is 19-years-old. He was the fifth miner rescued. They decided to rescue the strongest miners first to make sure everything went well. Next will be the weaker ones, followed by the strongest again at the end.

In total the extraction of all the miners is supposed to take up to 48 hours. Our thoughts will be with you as the operation continues.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cousin Bruce

Our cousin, Bruce, came to visit from Vancouver last week. He was here briefly on business. He's co-owner of a company that makes cedar sheds and other products like that. He was in Toronto meeting with representatives of Lowes, a home improvement store. His company does business with both the Canadian and American arm of Lowes among others.

On his second day in town we all met up for dinner at Linda at Shops of Don Mills. It's run by the Salad King folks. It's a pretty nice place. It was my first time there, though my sister has gone before. My sister and I did the ordering. We ordered the traditional Pad Thai (which they call Phud Thai there). As well as Green Curry Chicken and Salmon in Thom Yum Sauce. My favorite had to be the Beef Panang though. That was really tasty. Mmm.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I was over at my sister's place a little while ago and my nephews got me hooked on one of those "tower defence" type games. This one is called Zoikz.

Like all tower defence-type games you have to place your defensive weapons around the game board and try to block the enemy from getting through. In Zoikz the enemy is various computer viruses. The game board is your computer mainframe.

There are three different levels: 1 to 3. Level 1 is really easy. You can't lose unless you really try to. Level 3 is quite tough. I only tried it a few times, but fail miserably most times. Level 2 is one you can have moderate success at providing you develop the correct strategy.

It took me awhile to figure out the best suited pattern of where to place my weapons. At one point I was stuck for quite awhile having only gotten close to finishing a few times. And the one or two times I did complete all 40 levels it just as easily could have been luck as anything else.

Recently I decided to alter my placement of weapons slightly and, lo and behold, most times I tried the game I was able to complete it. Still, as I found out today, there is no guarantee you'll beat the Zoikz even if you place all your weapons in the appropriate spots. There game is still random enough to make it exciting or frustrating depending on how you look at it.

Give it a shot and let me know how you do if you want - Zoikz

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2010 Scotia Bank Nuit Blanche

This is the 5th year Nuit Blanche has been held in Toronto, and the fourth year I've attended. It's always been fun for me. Besides my first year out I've pretty much stayed out from the start to finish (7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.). This year was no exception. In fact it was the latest I've ever arrived home at 7:45 a.m. (which I'll explain later).

Overall the event was good. I always enjoy myself. I love taking pictures, especially at night. In the past I always started in the Distillery District and worked my way west eventually ending up in Liberty Village. This year I decided to skip the Distillery District to save time and start out west and come back along Queen to central downtown. One reason was because of the unreliable transportation the TTC provided in the past (which continued this year).

I have to say Liberty Village was disappointing compared to previous years when they had numerous installations. This year they noticeably pared it down. And all but one installation were relegated to Lamport Stadium and it's parking lot.

After leaving Liberty Village I walked up to Queen and hit the Gladstone Hotel. My friend Marcel was performing in a Burlesque Show there. Unfortunately he was going to be on later and I didn't have time to stay and catch his show.

After the Gladstone I continued east along Queen Street viewing various installations along the way. When I was at Trinity Bellwoods Park my friend John called me to meet up. That was at around midnight. He had a previous engagement to attend earlier.

We hung out for about three hours until he had to call it a night because of the cold. The temperatures went down to about 5C and he just wasn't properly attired. We parted ways at Nathan Philips Square and I continued on solo.

I did the circuit running down Bay and up Yonge between Dundas and Front. That took me from about 1:30 - 6:50 a.m. A long, but still fun night for sure... except for... my trek back home.

At 6:50 in the morning I headed for the subway at Dundas Station. I thought the subway was supposed to run all night long. I was wrong about that. But, according to the ticket lady there there was supposed to be one more train going northbound.

The electronic signboard on the platform read 10 minutes until train arrives in the station when I first looked at it. I impatiently waited as it counted down - 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4.... minutes to go... then it stopped. The sign said the train was delayed. The other patrons on the platform and I waited about 10 minutes longer until an ominous voice came on the P.A. and announced the train would no longer be coming. We'd have to go up to Yonge to take the bus. The only problem with that was that Yonge Street was closed to vehicular traffic up to Bloor because of Nuit Blanche. So everyone who had to take the bus had to walk up to Yonge and Church to catch the first available one. Not very impressive.

Besides that my only other disappointment was not being able to make it up to the installations along Bloor such as the ones in Yorkville, the ROM and the Royal Conservatory of Music. I was looking forward to seeing them. I guess I was overly ambitious in planning my itinerary. Next year...