Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Doors Open Toronto - 2013

I went to Doors Open Toronto this past weekend. After helping my sister and mother set up their garage sale in the morning I headed downtown.

My first stop was the Elephant & Castle bar on Yonge and Gerrard. I arrived there at around 11:00 a.m. Built in 1929 it used to be The Dominion Bank in a former life. John Lyle, the architect, also designed Union Station.

My next stop was the Mattamy Athletic Centre. It occupies the top few floors at the repurposed Maple Leaf Gardens. The athletic centre is used by the students of Ryerson University. Also calling the former Gardens home is Loblaws grocery store which uses the lower levels of the building.

Now I had intended in going to four places in total. The Elephant & Castle, the Mattamy Athletic Centre (at Maple Leaf Gardens), MaRS Discovery District and the Spadina Museum. But, after finishing The Elephant & Castle and Mattamy Athletic Centre so early (by 12:30) I thought I'd tack on some more buildings. So I decided to head down to the Distillery District. That was a bad idea.

I visited the Stone Distillery in the Distillery District. It was so-so. Unfortunately most of the old buildings there have already been repurposed. Not much of the original equipment and other things remain. So that was pretty disappointing.

To make matters worse, the trek down there took longer than I anticipated. I pretty much ran out of time to see anything else after because I had planned on meeting one of my friends to go to a barbeque later in the day. So that ended up being my last stop of the day.

Luckily for me I was able to visit the Spadina Museum just before closing on Sunday after my boarding homes visit. It's a nice building. It was built by Toronto financier James Austin and his wife, Susan, in 1866. It's located on Spadina Road right by Casa Loma.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tim's Fundraising Concert

My friend, Tim, had a fundraising concert on Saturday. It was for a bike ride he'll be doing to Montreal to help raise money for the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation. It was up at his church in north Scarborough.

His quartet played selections from Schubert and Dvorak (40 minutes of Schubert with a 20 minute intermission followed by 30 minutes of Dvorak). Tim was on first violin, Meagan second, Henry played the viola and Lynn the cello.

It was a great concert. I'm sure they all practiced very hard for it. I believe Tim raised over $1000 towards his cause. Good for you, Tim!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Delivery to Montreal

Over the past month and a bit we've been having problems at work. Our supplier for the raw materials that we use to make the wet towels decided we weren't important enough to honour their commitment to deliver to us on time.

My boss, Sid, had placed an order in February for delivery in March. But, our supplier (shipping out of North Carolina) after repeated inquiries told us they wouldn't be able to get our order shipped until the end of May. How ridiculous is that?

So, Sid, had to scramble to find another supplier for this unexpected snafu. He eventually found another one (also shipping out of the U.S.) and they shipped us a truckload of material by the end of April. Unfortunately, up until that point, our plant sat idle for one month. Many of our customers we shorted for that period of time.

One of our biggest customers runs out of Montreal. Normally we would ship them 420 cases (of 1000 wet towels) in a big truck each time. But, since we were so late with our delivery we had to ship them the cases as we made them. Sid would drive up to 90 cases at a time in our Ford van 550 kilometres each way.

He had made many such trips when I offered to do one. It was that or deliver the other driver, Stephen's, route. Stephen normally drives the last half of the week, while making wet towels the other half.

Since Sid wanted him making wet towels to try to catch up on all the work orders we were behind in I offered to drive on the Friday I was off. But, since I didn't know Stephen's route well I thought it might be easier for me to just make one drop off in Montreal instead. The total time on the road would be longer, but it would be simpler overall.

So, after work on Thursday, I loaded up the van with 60 cases of wet towels (that's all that were ready up until that point). I checked Google maps for directions, but also had Sid's GPS. The directions looked simple enough from Google maps - I would just take Highway 401 east. It would change into Highway 20 near Montreal. From there I would briefly go up Highway 30 north then continue east on Highway 40 to Boulevard Roi-René.

The trip for the most part was straightforward and uneventful. Since I was driving so late at night there was hardly any traffic which was great. I stopped once or twice to go to the bathroom or take a little break. The trouble only started when I neared Montreal when the GPS decided not too cooperate.

Instead of taking me the quickest route which I described above it took me into downtown Montreal along Highway 20. So now I was driving through the outskirts of the city where the speed limit was 50 km/h. I was kind of confused because I had no idea where the GPS was taking me (since it was different from the Google map).

Eventually I did hook back up with Highway 40. Though it was brief because they were doing road reconstruction (as they're apt to do in the middle of the night when traffic is lightest). So, along with the other cars on the road at the time, we snaked through the city streets next to the highway at an infuriatingly slow pace.

I also made a few wrong turns because the GPS really wasn't very clear. When two parallel streets are close together sometimes it's hard to see which one you're supposed to go on. Inevitably I ended up taking the wrong one heading off into the middle of nowhere.

Still I made it to my intended destination by 2:00 a.m. Unfortunately it was closed. I had asked Sid if he knew what hours the distribution centre was open, but he didn't. I was hoping they were open 24 hours a day, but they weren't. So I tried to get some sleep in the parking lot. It wasn't very comfortable because the cab (of the van) is pretty small and I'm fairly tall. And I believe the temperature dropped to below 10C overnight and I wasn't wearing anything heavy.

Workers started drifting in around 4:00 in the morning and I was able to unload at around 5:30 a.m. I finished by 6:00 and was back on the road to Toronto shortly thereafter. I was happy about that because I was able to beat rush hour in Montreal.

The drive home was much easier. I ditched the GPS and followed my pre-planned route (in reverse order) of Highway 40 to 30 to 20 to 401. On the way I stopped a couple of times at rest stops along the 401 to take naps. I was pretty sleepy and there was no rush to get back. My job for the day was complete.

I got back to Toronto at 2:30 p.m., got home by around 3:00 and took a short nap before heading out to do an errand and meet up with friends for dinner.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Birthday Dinner #2

After my visit to High Park to see the cherry blossoms I quickly drove home. My friend William had planned a birthday dinner for me at what I thought was supposed to be 5:30 (but was, in fact, 5:45). We had decided to go to Ajimi, the all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant in my neighbourhood.

Will invited Dickie, Big Jon and Lawrence along. Since I got the time wrong I arrived there first with Will. Dickie and Big Jon came together, next. Lawrence was last. Late as usual. We started ordering ahead of time so we wouldn't have to wait too long for the food to come out.

It was nice having a slightly larger group. It gave me the opportunity to try more things. Normally I come here with only one other friend. So I don't get the chance to order so much. The food here is great nevertheless. And the price, $18.99 (-10% if you pay cash) for dinner is very reasonable.

Even though I see most of the guys semi-regularly, it was nice to meet up again. I'm grateful for their friendship over the years. ... Now I sort of feel old (which I suppose I am) ... Cheers.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cherry Blossoms 2013

I went to High Park again to check out the cherry blossoms. I had gone the week before (on April 27th) and the buds were barely beginning to appear. So I didn't actually think I'd see much progress in only one week. But, I think the warmer than average temperatures spurred the blossoms along and by May 4th they were in full bloom.

I parked on the local streets west of the park. It was a big headache driving down. But, I had gotten a flat the week before while riding my bike home (from High Park) and hadn't had a chance to fix it, so I drove.

The weather was great. Of course that encouraged the throngs. The place was crawling with people. I bumped into a friend of mine, Lily. She was walking her dog when I first entered the park. We chatted briefly before I went on to go take pictures.

As usual I took quite a few shots. I'm very happy with how they turned out. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon just relaxing, enjoying the scenery and taking pictures.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Birthday Dinners

My friends and I went to Zakkushi Izakaya on Carlton east of Sherbourne on Friday. A couple of us were celebrating birthdays. This is the first time I've ever been to an Izakaya. It's a Japanese charcoal grill diner. Normally I go to sushi restaurants. So this was a nice change.

A few of us had Sapporo beers. This was followed by an array of appetizers, sampler Yakitori (shish kababs), tapas and deep fried items and dessert. I'll eventually post a few photos on Flickr.com/photos/mtnbiker404 . Stay tuned.

We ended the evening across the street at a small café for coffee and more dessert. A nice way to cap off the night.