Thursday, March 31, 2011

Japan Fundraiser II

There was another fundraising event for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. This one was at the Arbor Room at Hart House at U of T. Some of the same artists that performed at the fundraiser the week before were there as well as a few new ones. It was fun none-the-less.

The setting wasn't as casual as the week before. It was in a cafeteria/café type place. So there were tables and chair where people sat. Before we got up and moved from room to room and some people sat on the floors. That was nice.

Also, since it was held at night in a dark room the lighting wasn't that great. At one point they dimmed the lights really low because Earth Hour was on at the same time. Needless to say, some of the shots aren't as good as I would have liked. What can you do?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Comments about Earth Hour

Nathan Philips Square - Earth Hour 2009

I was on the 680 News website reading an item about Earth Hour. There were some reader comments (particularly the first one) that made no sense to me at all. I'll post them here -

I still don't see how one day changes anything .. I still have to pay exorbitant Hydro bills - so like whatevs! In fact I'll be turning on all my lights and so are a few of my neighbors actually - so in your face Earth Day!
• Josh
• Mar 22, 2011 5:06 PM

lets all participate
A good way to past the time for the hour with no lights is flashlight tag with your kids
• Ben
• Mar 22, 2011 12:26 PM

I'm In!
Funny thing is that I bet more than 10% of RESIDENTIAL homes participated. Its the business' that eat up our power but its the residential homes that have to pay for it!
• Alex
• Mar 22, 2011 12:06 PM

This event sounds dangerous, I’ll just leave my lights on thank you.
• Stevie
• Mar 22, 2011 12:02 PM

I think some of the people have the wrong idea about Earth Hour. It's not about them and saving them money, but about benefitting our community as a whole. The idea is to raise awareness about energy conservation to help reduce the damage we're doing to our planet. It's a symbolic gesture to remind us of that.

Hopefully we'll continue to look for ways to cut down on usage on an ongoing basis, not just for one day. And we shouldn't just look to cut back on Hydro usage, but on all non-renewable resources. For instance, walk 20 minutes to the corner store to pick up a carton of milk instead of driving. We all have to play our part if we want to leave this planet in livable conditions for future generations.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Japan Earthquake Fundraiser

I attended a fundraising event to raise money for the victims of the earthquake in Japan on Saturday. I heard about it from one of my Facebook friends, Asha. It was organized by a girl named Fujiko and her friend and held at The Ambrosia Hub on Adelaide, just east of John.

I got there around quarter after 2:00, a bit after the start time. I thought it might be fairly crowded by that time. After all nearly 150 replied they'd attend on FB. But, when I arrived, pretty much the only people there were the organizers. So I spent the first bit of time taking pictures of the venue (which I wanted to do anyway). I was thankful I had the space pretty much to myself.

The first group started playing 25 minutes later. It was three young guys who formed their band just three days before. I think they sounded pretty good. To tell you the truth there were so many performers I can't quite remember who they all were. It was fun though. There were a lot of different acts from musicians, to dancers and everything in between.

In all they raised $1,502.87 for their two charities - Save The Children and JCCC Foundation Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.

To see all the photos go to my page.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guess who I bumped into?

I was downtown after church last Sunday with Tony and Iris and her brother Tae Hoon. We had just finished lunch in Chinatown and Tony was on his way to meet a friend of a friend to watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade. I believe the parade started at, if not close to, Bloor and St. George. It wound itself down Yonge and across Queen to University Avenue.

After we finished eating we made our way across Dundas, through Grange Park to McCaul and down to Queen. At Queen and University we could see some of the parade going by. So we stopped for a few minutes to let Iris and Tae Hoon take a few pictures. Tony called Max's friend (I forget her name) on the phone and found she was at the Starbucks at Queen and Bay watching the parade from inside with her friend.

It took us longer than it should have to get there. We kept stopping along the way to watch the parade go by. As well, I bumped into my friends and former co-workers Hilda O'Connor and Dave Wilson. They were there with their son, Patrick, on the south side of Queen near City Hall. I think Dave said they attend the parade fairly regularly. It was great seeing them again.

When we finally arrived at the Starbucks we chatted for a few minutes... then the parade was over. We came way too late unfortunately. So we headed out to look for another coffee shop to hang out at. We wanted to go to the Second Cup in the Eaton Centre off Queen, but it was too busy. Tony suggested another Starbucks in the basement of The Bay department store, but it wasn't there any longer.

We ended up at some tables in the PATH underground system. Tony bought a few bottled drinks and we sat for an hour or so and had a nice chat.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Curling with Cornerstone

Yes, we did it. We went curling... a true Canadian experience. A few of us from our Cornerstone Church Thursday Sport Night group went last Saturday. Ken organized an afternoon out at the Richmond Hill Curling Club on Elgin Mills, just east of Yonge. Out of the sixteen of us who went only two had gone before. Jennifer had gone once and Chris twice. The rest of us were neophytes.

A young lady, who mentioned she just recently started curling, was our instructor. She had a us walk on the ice and get used to the feeling of how slippery it was underfoot. She then had us practice pushing off the "hack". It's sort of like the sprinter's blocks that runners use at track meets. You use it to push off of when throwing rocks/stones down the ice. We practiced sweeping with the brooms and she told us about scoring and a few other rules then let us play.

I have to say, the most difficult part was judging the correct draw weight. In other words, trying to figure out how heavy to throw the rock down the ice. More often than not, we threw it either too hard or too soft. It was tough getting it anywhere near the button (the circle in the middle of the house/scoring rings).

The second most difficult thing was getting the stones to go straight. It was sort of like bowling. If you were a little bit off-line at the beginning it just got worse as the rock slid down the ice. If it touched the black lines on the side it was deemed out of bounds and taken out of play.

Sweeping was a lot more physically demanding than most of us imagined too. You really have to sweep hard and fast when trying to get the stones to slide further. Especially if someone threw too lightly. You could burn yourself out pretty quickly sweeping vigorously trying to get it to go past the "hog line". That's a line 10 metres from the end of the ice that the stone must pass to remain in play.

Needless to say we were all pretty crappy at first. We did improve slightly after awhile. But, we have a long way to go to to even achieve mediocrity. Still it was fun. I know we all enjoyed ourselves.

After the game we headed over to the nearby Kelsey's on Elgin Mills, just east of Leslie where we had dinner and watched the pro's put on a show at the Tim Horton's Brier (Canadian Championships) on TSN (The Sports Network).

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Beginnings

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."
~ Maria Robinson

I like this quote. I think it's quite inspirational. I heard it through my friend Mari. She had it written beneath one of the photos she had for sale at the Quaff Cafe at 668 Queen Street West. Her work is quite good. You should check her page out.

The cherry blossom photo is mine. I took it in the spring of 2008 at High Park. There's a hillside full of cherry trees not far from the Grenedier Cafe. The trees blossom for about two weeks at the end of April/beginning of May. If you want to catch it you may have to go there often to check because the blossoms don't last for very long. If you happen to miss it (like I did a year or two in a row), you'll have to wait a full year before they come out again. Many people bring a lunch and make a day of it. They'll have a little picnic on the side of the hill and enjoy the scenery. It's a lovely way to pass the afternoon if you have the time.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Milk Story

You know things are slow with me when I decide to write a blog about milk. But I think you can take this as a public service announcement.

Milk can actually last pretty long unrefrigerated. I found this out the hard way. I had gone shopping at my local Shoppers Drug Mart. They normally sell their 4-litre bagged milk for $3.99. As well they had 1-litre cartons of chocolate milk on sale. Since I love chocolate milk I decided to buy four cartons along with one 4-litre bag of 1% milk.

When I got home I put the milk in the kitchen beside the fridge and went into my room. Of course you know what happened next. Nothing... Like a complete bonehead I forgot about it.

They next day, a full 12 hours later, I went into the kitchen and saw the milk sitting on the floor. I couldn't believe I didn't remember to put it away. Well, being the cheap guy that I am I decided to put it in and take my chances drinking it later.

I started with the chocolate milk first. Over the next few days I drank on carton after another. They seemed perfectly fine. The 1% milk was next. I drank the first of the three bags in a few days. It seemed alright. I finished the next bag a few days after that and it seemed pretty good as well. It was only when I got to the last bag that it seemed a bit off. I drank more of it than I probably should have. It wasn't terrible.

I'm happy to say that I'm still alive and feeling fine. So, my message to you is milk can last quite a long time unrefrigerated. You don't have to pour it down the sink if you happen to do something silly like me and forget to put it in the refrigerator right away.

Monday, March 7, 2011


As most of you know I've been out of work since June of 2009. After going to Imperial Buffet with a few of my friends on Monday night one of them, Dickie, mentioned I should go drive a delivery truck for one of our other church friends, Sid. Sid owns a business called Wet Towel International. They supply hot towels and wet towels to restaurants and dental offices and other businesses.

I went in briefly to see the facilities off Eglinton, east of the DVP on Tuesday. Sid showed me around then gave me a short "road test". It just involved me driving around the parking lot in the panel van and backing it down the narrow path to the door we pick up cases of disposable towels from.

After that we made a run down to Union Station to drop off 36 cases of cloth towels to Via Rail and pick up the dirty ones. That particular run is a little more involved than most. Not only is the volume of towels higher, but you have to navigate a maze of hallways to get to the place to drop the towels off because of the ongoing renovations there. We brought a heavy duty dolly which allowed us to transport 12 cases at a time. A great time saver for sure.

The next day I made my first solo run. It was out to Stratford and St. Thomas. I was to deliver 15 cases of disposable towels to Kings Buffet in each town. Now I rarely venture out of Toronto, and never in that direction. But, we printed out maps from Map Quest online the day before and I went home and drew some more detailed versions out. It helped a lot. I'm happy to say I didn't make one wrong turn.

The weather conditions weren't great when I went out. There wasn't any snow on the ground, but it was really windy. It pushed the van around quite a bit along the highway (401). And when I got out close to Stratford there was a lot of blowing snow which cut visibility to near zero in places. So that was kind of unnerving.

The first run from Toronto to Stratford took about 2 hours and fifteen minutes. I dropped the cases off in the back kitchen area of the restaurant and had the manager sign a receipt saying he received the goods.

Driving outside of the city can be nice. I really don't like traffic at all I have to say. And being this far out you're able to avoid it for the most part. But, it did get boring at times since the drive was so long. I listened to the radio part of the time. The Toronto FM stations cut out after you got too far from the city. So I had to listen to 680 News (AM) part of the time. It was better than nothing. A CD or MP3 player would have been nice though.

The second run from Stratford to St. Thomas was slightly quicker. It took about 1-1/2 hours. I took Highway 7/8 west to Embro Road and headed south to the 401. From there I traveled west to Exit 177A and got off on Colonel Talbot Road which pretty much went straight to the restaurant some 13-14 kms later.

I dropped the towels off where the waitstaff put the dirty dishes just outside the kitchen. I had to cart all the cases through the kitchen to get there. Three trips with five cases each on a dolly. Again I got the manager there to sign a receipt and I was done. I took ten minutes in the van to eat some noodles I had brought for lunch and set off for Toronto.

According to Google Maps, the drive back is 220 kms and is supposed to take 2-1/2 hours. I was pretty close to it because I had gotten a fairly early start in the day. After loading the boxes onto the truck I was on the road by 9:30 a.m. Still I hit some stop and go traffic near Highway 427 coming back into the city. It was probably about 3:30 p.m. by that time. Rush hour never seems to end. I noticed it was worse going westbound, so I shouldn't complain.

I believe I got back between 4:00-4:30 p.m. Sid was still at the office. His son, Joseph, was there too. He was loading some towels into his car. I suppose he was going to go out to deliver them. Dickie was there too. He was doing some work around the facilities. He's been helping out a bit there since he stopped working regularly at the church.

Before I went in I called the guys out to show them something I discovered about the van. The day before Sid told me to be careful with the doors to the back of the van. He said that if they ever closed on you you'd be locked in. He mentioned that happened to him once. And it happened to his son (I believe) and one of the other workers there. When that happened, he said, you had to bang on the window to get a passerby's attention so they could open the door from the outside to let you out.

Well, after looking at the locking assembly on the back door I noticed you could open from the inside by sticking your fingers on this mechanism and pushing it a certain way. I guess it was good news for everyone. No more worrying about a gust of wind blowing the doors closed and anyone getting stuck anymore.

We went back in after and discussed when I might come in next. Sid said to come back next Tuesday (six days later). He was trying to figure a new route out. This one would probably involve a lot more stops, but be slightly closer to Toronto. I might go up to Barrie and do the Union Station run after that.

Sid's other workers have the two vans on other days to make their deliveries. I suppose I'm sort of the back up guy for now. I don't mind. I guess I still feel like I'm in "retirement mode".

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Academy Awards Night at Dickie's

Dickie, Steve, Glen, Monica, Cathy, Jason, Flora, Me, Perry

We went over to Dickie's house to watch the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday evening. Perry and Dickie arranged everything. Dickie's mother made two trays of noodles and Perry brought meatballs, salad and fruits. The rest of us chipped in a few bucks to cover the costs.

I arrived at Dickie's place "fashionably late". I was sleepy in the afternoon and took a nap beforehand.

Upon arriving Perry had me fill out my picks for winners in the various nominated categories. I have to say there were quite a few movies I'd never even heard of. Not even that... I hadn't even seen any of the movies. To tell you the truth my interest in movies has waned over the years. I pretty much chose my winners according to reports I heard on the news from various critics. Either that or I made wild guesses.

Now, I have to confess, when the awards show came on I didn't actually watch it. To me they're rather boring. If it's not sports or news or the Discovery Channel, not much on TV interests me. Instead I played Rock Band by myself on the Xbox. Playing Rock Band by yourself isn't really "playing" Rock Banding either. It's basically Karaoke (which I happen to love).

It would have been nice if there were some new songs. But, the Beatles Rock Band always has good tunes. Rock Band II was getting a little stale by this point in time. I only sang a few songs from it. I believe I had as an enjoyable time as the others (or maybe more so).

As for the Oscar pool... Perry won it. Can you say, fix? ;-)