Sunday, October 30, 2011

When God was a Rabbit

I went to the library the other day. Just to see what was there. Ever since they renovated it I like going there. It's such a nice place to hang out.

When you first enter there's a section of new books on the left. One of the first ones I saw was a design book on logos. I took some time to go through it and realized I still love design.

The next book I picked up was When God was a Rabbit, by Sarah Winman. I'm not sure why I picked it up, but I did. Perhaps it was the cover. Or maybe the reference to God, who knows?

I took it, I found a good chair and started reading.

Ms. Winman writes really well. I have to say, I'm not a big reader. But, the way she describes things is marvelous.

Now I'm not going to go into much detail, but the book is basically about a girl named Elly. It follows her life, from youth through to her mid to late thirties.

It's about her relationships. With her older brother Joe, Joe's friend Charlie, her best friend Jenny Penny, her aunt Nancy, her parents, Arthur and more. You find out how these people shape her life and you begin to care for them.

Along the way, Ms. Winman, inserts actual historical events. Some of them, like the passing of John Lennon or Princess Diana act like signposts along the way. Telling us, this is the particular time that we're now in. Others, like the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in New York City, play a more integral role in the story.

The overall theme is of sadness and struggle. Of learning to live as an outsider. Someone who doesn't quite fit it. At the same time it shows compassion and caring. From those who are close to you. The people who love you.

I enjoyed the book.

About the author: Sarah Winman grew up in Essex and now resides in London, England. She attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and went on to act in theatre, film and television. Winman’s debut, When God Was a Rabbit, is an extraordinary novel about childhood and growing up, friendships and families, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The 99%

Not my photo

Direct from Wall Street in New York City the We Are the 99%/Occupy Wall Street movement made its way up to Toronto this past weekend. While largely peaceful I fail to see the reason behind it here.

While I can sympathize with the plight of many Americans, the situation in Canada isn't quite the same. Our government never had to bail out the banks. Our tax system is different too. It's scalable. People who declare more pay a higher percentage of tax. So what is our beef?

Perhaps we just want to copy what everyone else is doing. The movement has spread worldwide. People in Toronto don't want to feel left out?

It seems like a lot of protesters (no matter where they're from) don't even know what they want. Maybe they're just jealous that there are people who are better off than they are.

I know things are tough out there. A lot of people are struggling. But, I don't think we can blame any one particular group. Some people were greedy, others may have been shortsighted. It all culminated in a catastrophic event that affected everyone.

Unfortunately recovery has been slow. Much slower than people hoped or expected. People are justifiably upset.

I think Americans have it worse than us. But, I also think they have themselves to blame. They're a more self-centred society than us with less social welfare programs. That's part of the reason there's more disparity in wealth there. So, why are you protesting? Isn't this the American way of life you so proudly espouse?

And, to the Canadian protesters... why are you protesting? Really. How badly off do you think we are here? Out of all the G7 countries we're in the best shape. Could things be better? Of course they could. And they will be. Just don't try to blame Bay Street for any of the mess will you?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fall Walk #2

Cynara, May and Alan

Okay, as you can well see, this autumn outing wasn't nearly as nice as the previous one, a scant seven days ago. What a difference a week makes. From sunny, blue skies, 25C+ temperatures and leaves on the trees that looked like they were on fire to a cold, wet, dreary, grey day. Yep, that's Canadian weather for you.

Alan organized this walk for us. He found a place called Speyside Forest on the internet. It's west, near Limehouse (a bit north of Milton off the 401).

Eight of us met at Fairview Mall in the early afternoon. We assembled into two groups and carpooled from there. I went with Alan. He drove May and Sopheak too. I don't know what Sopheak was thinking... but, he had nice, leather shoes on. Sopheak! What are you doing? Jon drove Cynara, Norm and Amanda. One couple, Oliver and Teri, met us there. They live in Mississauga (which is half way to Milton from Toronto).

When we left Fairview it was grey, windy and dreary. When we arrived at the trailhead it was grey, windy, dreary and rainy. I must say it was a light sprinkle and, more or less, intermittent. But, nevertheless, it was rain.

Still we trudged on. Alan sported a bright, yellow, rain poncho. While not a high fashion statement, it was very practical. A few others, myself included, brought umbrellas. The rest made do with hats or hoodies or just let the rain fall on their heads.

Jon and I were the only ones who brought our cameras out. I have to admit I felt tempted to leave it in the car. But, you never know what you might regret not shooting if you don't have your camera along. So, of course, I brought it.

I was happy I did. Even though it wasn't a spectacular, bright, sunny day like the week before, I still got some moody shots that I liked.

Check out my page soon to see them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dumb Protesters

Not my photo

I believe some people are confused about how to get sympathy/support for the cause they're fighting for.

In recent years there have been a lot of protests and strikes in and around our fair city. People want support for citizens of their homeland. Or they're unhappy with their working conditions and want them improved. That's all fine and dandy, but I have to say, in most cases, you're going about it the wrong way if you want Joe Public to support you.

For instance... not long ago there was a support workers strike at Ontario colleges. They wanted more pay among other things and possibly more benefits or job security. All I can say is, buddy, in this day and time you're lucky to have a job.

But, I digress... sure, you have the right to strike. You have the right to picket. But, if you think you're going to garner support for your cause by inconveniencing students on their first day back to classes by blocking the roads leading to their campuses you have another thing coming. If you think you're going to gain their sympathies by not processing their loans so that some of them might have to drop out because they can't afford to study any longer, you must be dreaming. If you think the public will support you when you stage a protest march during rush hour in the downtown core, I have to say you're delusional. No one will support your cause. In fact all you're doing is making enemies. People with loathe you and you will get sympathy from no one.

To me this doesn't seem that hard to understand. I don't know why these clowns can't figure it out either. If you want people to like you you do nice things for them instead of pissing them off. Try baking everyone cookies why don't you? Maybe instead of people giving you the finger as they drive by they'll say a kind word of encouragement.

Personally, the activities of this particular group hasn't affected me. But, I've seen long lines of agitated people trying to drive onto campus and heard (on the radio) angry, frustrated students stuck in those lines already late for their classes. I sympathize with them, not the greedy, inconsiderate people who disrupt the lives of others trying to further their cause.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Walk

Last Saturday I went to Edwards Gardens and Wilket Creek for a walk to see the fall colours. I have to say they were spectacular. In conjunction with the bright blue skies, the leaves looked like they were on fire under the afternoon sun.

I walked over there from my parents' place. They live about 10 minutes away on foot. Not only was it a bit of extra exercise (which is good for anyone). But, the parking situation at Edwards Gardens was a mess. They had torn up at least 2/3 of their parking lot for resurfacing. So many visitors had to find spots on the surrounding side streets (there were a few wedding photography sessions going on).

As usual, the park was in immaculate condition. The lawns were well manicured and the flowers and other plants looked beautiful. I strolled around for the good part of an hour taking pictures there before heading down the path to the Wilket Creek side.

The scenery there was just as spectacular. Just in a different way. The star of the show here were the many colourful trees.

Now I've complained over the past few years that the leaves on the trees aren't as vibrant as they used to be. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's the pollution or something. And while that may be the case, on this day, they still stood out against the lovely, blue skies. I think I got some really fantastic shots. Check out my page in the near future to see them.

Anyway, it was a really nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon. It's too bad autumn will be ending soon and we'll be stuck with the dreariness of winter for the next few months.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Funny things people have said on Facebook

Here are a couple of conversations I'm reposting from my Facebook home page. The first is from my friend's nephew. It's him texting his mother. The second is from a high school acquaintance of mine. Funny!

Me texting mom -

Me: I got an A on my chem test

Mom: WTF that's great :D

Me: do u know what WTF means?

Mom: Well that's fantastic!

True story! Gotta love moms :D"

Gail R: Thinking of switching to Cox? They're huge! Let me know prior and maybe I can hook you up with a deal.
Like · 12 hours ago via mobile · 2 people like this.

Tom R: Next time I get paid, does cox hav a friends and family deal?
12 hours ago · Like

Gail R: Well they might, I've seen emails pop up so let me check. If I can save anyone money I am happy to do it. This goes for anyone =). Will msg you monday
12 hours ago · Like

Tom R: Righty-o!
12 hours ago · Like

Christine K: Did you really just say Cox are huge?
12 hours ago · Like · 3 people

*Cox Communications is the third-largest cable entertainment and broadband services provider in the U.S.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

2011 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

Once again I went to the annual Scotiabank Nuit Blanche event. This year I started with my cousin David. He was in town for our grandmother's funeral. This is something I normally don't do. Besides the first year when I went out with a group I've always gone solo. It's just easier to take photos when I'm on my own I find.

We arrived downtown at about quarter to 7:00 and parked at my church. As in previous years we were blessed with dry weather. The temperatures were cool though with a low of 5C predicted. I wore my winter jacket and a warm hat to fend of the cold.

The nearest installation to our church was B16 at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It was called The Other Painting Competition and like the name states was a competition between different artists. Over the course of the evening they would paint different subjects and be judged to see who was the best.

The most elaborate set up was Flightpath Toronto at Nathan Phillips Square. As well as a laser light show they had a series of towers set up where people could get hooked up to lines strung between them and go for a ride.

My favorite types of installations involve those with colourful lights. There were quite a few of them of course.

As well, C9, Soon, at Commerce Court courtyard was neat. It was big and loud. It consisted of a bunch of floodlights following people on the ground with the soundtrack of what sounded like army choppers blasting through speakers.

The atmosphere is always quite lively. A lot of people roaming the streets having fun. It's surprising how many young people were out.

I didn't stay out as late as previous years. This year I packed it in at 4:15 a.m. I took a lot of pictures like I always do. Check my page soon to see them. I still have to go through quite a few of them though.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sandwich Runs - the Link

I know I've posted something about Sandwich Runs before. But, I noticed our organizers at Project 417 have produced a short video about what we do. It's just over one minute long and well made. You should have a look.

Basically, we lead groups through the streets of downtown Toronto handing out bag lunches to the homeless folks we meet. If possible we'll try to engage them in some sort of dialogue to see how they're doing because, quite frankly, most people won't even give them the time of day. They'll either walk right by totally ignoring them or say something snarky like, why don't you get a job? To us it's about outreach and instilling a bit of dignity and self worth in their lives. And sometimes all it takes is a bag lunch to start it all off.

So if you're ready and willing, why don't you gather a few friends together and go over to the Project 417 site and contact us to let us know you want to go out. We'll be waiting to hear from you.