Sunday, September 29, 2013

Steve's Birthday at Montana's

My friend, Steve, celebrated his birthday recently. A mutual friend, Bobby, organized a dinner at Montana's Cookhouse at Don Mills and Steeles for him.

Most of the attendees were from Steve's Richmond Hill Christian Community Church fellowship. As well, there were a few of us stragglers; friends of friends like me, Dickie and Big Jon.

Since I don't see the RHCCC gang very often I decided not to sit with Dickie and Big Jon. Not that I don't like hanging out with them. I just wanted to mix things up a bit. So I sat at one of the far tables. I'm not sure of the name of the girl I was sitting beside. But, later on Sam and his wife Aileen sat by me. And Pastor Fred sat opposite me when he came. So I got to chat with those guys.

My dinner was fine. I had penne with chicken. Aileen and Sam shared a steak. It looked almost raw. She ordered it medium-rare. And she said it was a bit tough. So she wasn't too happy about that. Fred had soup. He had already eaten beforehand.

I went around to take pictures for Steve. He e-mailed me earlier about doing that. Of course, Dickie and Big Jon had their cameras too. We're always snapping away at different events. I tried to take my photos early so I could put my camera away and concentrate on eating and mingling with people. But, I had to take it back out for the cake presentation and opening of gifts and things. Oh well. That's typical for an event photographer. You never get a chance to rest at all.

It was nice seeing everyone again. I don't get a chance to see the Richmond Hill gang too often. We did go out on a Sandwich Run not too long ago. The previous meeting was probably Steve's birthday one year earlier.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Michael's Birthday Dinner

My friend Michael invited me out to his birthday dinner on Friday. I know him through my other friend, Rob. They all work together at Nadurra an eco-friendly, hardwood flooring company near Yorkdale Mall.

Michael had e-mailed me earlier in the week telling me about the dinner. It was going to be at Churrasco Villa, a Portuguese restaurant located on Eglinton, near Mount Pleasant. Only a few blocks from where I live. He said they were going to meet there between 5-6:00 p.m., but he'd get back to me to confirm the exact time.

When Friday rolled around I still hadn't heard back from him. No problem, I thought. I only live about 5 minutes from the restaurant. I didn't think they'd be able to get there that early coming from work and having to worry about traffic and parking. 5:00 p.m. rolled around and still no word.

At 6:00 I sent Michael a text and told him to let me know when they arrived at the restaurant. A short time later he replied saying they arrived at the restaurant at 5:00. Hm. I walked over quickly.

Everyone had already ordered their food sometime between 5:30 and 5:45. When I got there they had just been served. I glanced through the menu, but instead, to be quick, asked for suggestions. Brian said, the fire-grilled chicken was good. So I ordered the double-leg with seasonal vegetables and rice pilaf.

The waiter brought my dinner less than five minutes later (I'm estimating). I believe he put my order in ahead of the queue so I could join the others at my table who were already eating. That was nice of him.

It was good seeing everyone again. I don't go in as often to help at Nadurra. Normally I go in and help with labeling samples at the office. And, sometimes, they ask me to help set up or tear down at trade shows. I think they're trying to cut down on costs now. That's alright. I'd rather have my Fridays off to tell you the truth.

I got the chance to see Sandro again. He left the company a few months to a year after I had first started going in. I thought he was a really nice guy. Brian, Ian and Samantha were also there along with Ian's wife and daughter and Michael's friend, Gary, and Michael's wife, Amber. Sandro brought his young son, Luka (sp?) too.

After dinner Michael, Gary and I hung out a bit longer. We grabbed beverages at the nearby Timmies and headed over to the new Minto condos on Yonge. They have a courtyard with outdoor seating. Since it was nice out we decided to take advantage of that instead of sitting inside.

We hung out there for an hour or so and talked about a variety of things from the condition of Gary's father who is in hospital to Shin Dong-hyuk, the Korean man who escaped notorious Camp 14 in North Korea.

It was nice hanging out with the guys. I'm happy I made it out. Even if they almost forgot about me at the beginning of the night.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

50 Designers You Should Know - My Top 10 (6-10)

The rest of my Top 10 list from the book 50 Designers You Should Know.

6. Arne Jacobsen, 1902-1971. Yet Arne Jacobsen himself, one of the most influential Scandinavian designers of the 20th century, resisted the term "designer." Although he created timeless modern seating furniture such as the Egg and the Seven, he always saw himself as an architect. In fact, outside Denmark, his architectural work, which includes private residences and settlements as well as public buildings, has rather unjustly taken a backseat. His constructions were part of the pioneering achievements of Scandinavian modern art before World War II. His visionary designs for the circular House of the Future (1929), a flat-roofed building constructed of glass and concrete with a heliport, and the Bellavista settlement (1931-1934) in particular made Jacobsen a forerunner of the International Style.

7. Charles & Ray Eames. Charles Eames, 1907-1978. Bernice Alexandra "Ray" Kaiser, 1912-1988. They were not the first to experiment with molded plywood, however Charles Eames adn his congenial partner and wife, Ray, were able to literally bend the wood into new shapes and change furniture design of the 20th century forever with their designs. In 1941, in their apartment in Los Angeles, the newly married couple set up a workshop with their homemade plywood press - the Kazam! Machine - named for the magic spell "Ala Kazam!" (hocus pocus). Of course it was not magic; it was heat, pressure and glue that bent the thin veneer plywood into sweeping complex curves in the press.

8. Eero Saarinen, 1910-1961. Eero Saarinen's architectural masterpiece is the TWA Terminal at New York's JFK airport; his greatest triumph in the field of design is the Tulip Chair. If one considers the flowing, curved lines of the departure hall and the sculpturally shaped seat of the Tulip Chair, one is struck by their expressive, organic design, which was futuristic-looking in those days. It was thus with good reason that a slightly modified version of the Tulip Chair found itself on the set of the Spaceship Enterprise in the science fiction television series Star Trek.

9. Verner Panton, 1926-1998. Verner Panton's colourful, sculptural designs make him one of the most innovative designers of the 20th century and also the enfant terrible of Danish design. With his furniture, based on geometric shapes, mainly in bright colours, and made out of plastic, he broke with the sleek naturalism of classical Scandinavian design.

10. Karim Rashid, 1960- . Karim Rashid is one of the most productive designers of his generation. He has created over 3,000 designs for numerous famous companies such as Artemide, Cappellini, Magis, LaCie, Samsung, Veuve Cliquot and Swarowski, and has won more than 300 international design prizes, such as the Good Design Award (South Africa), the Good Design Award (Japan), the red dot design award and the Design Plus Award. His most popular products include the Garbo Can trash basket and the Oh Chair plastic chair. Rashid's interior designs for the Morimoto Restaurant in Philadelphia and the Semiramis Hotel in Athens also won prizes, as did exhibitions for Deutsche Bank and Audi. His works can be found in the collection of renowned museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

50 Designers You Should Know - My Top 10 (1-5)

I took out the book 50 Designers You Must Know by Prestel Books recently. I must admit I have a passion for all things design - architecture, product design, interior design etc. This book deals mostly with product/furniture design.

I'd like to highlight some of the designers in the book that I admire. I'll type in the first paragraph of the description in the book about them as well.

1. Michael Thonet, 1796-1971. Around 1830, Michael Thonet began to experiment with a new process that permitted him to bend laminated wood and later even solid beech-wood rods into curved shapes using steam and pressure. With the bentwood, he broke new ground in design during the mechanical and industrial age.

2. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1886-1969. As a leading representative of the International Style, Ludwig Mieds van der Rohe dedicated himself to modernity in both his architecture and his furniture designs, and he experimented with the latest technologies. His target group was the modern city dweller and, in contrast to many of his contemporaries, he was less concerned with mass production and social housing construction, focusing instead more on technology-based design combined with quality and elegance. True to his principle of "less is more," he created modern design classics with the Barcelona chair and the Brno chair, which still enjoy cult status today.

3. Le Corbusier (born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris), 1887-1965. Modern design and modern architecture are synonymous with the name Le Corbusier. It was during study tours from 1907 to 1911 and whilst working in well-known architecture agencies in Vienna, Berlin and Paris that the young Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris acquired the basic knowledge that would subsequently make him one of the most renowned architects, urban planners and designer. As early as 1914, he succeeded in designing a skeletal system in reinforced concrete that made it possible to build multistory construction with ready-made individual concrete parts. In 1917, he settled in Paris. As it was not yet the right time for his architectural ideas, he devoted himself to painting and published the journal L'Esprit Nouveau. From 1920 on, he presented his avant-garde architectural concepts in this journal and used the pseudonym Le Corbusier for the first time, which he chose in memory of this grandfather (Lecorbésier).

4. Raymond Loewy, 1893-1986. In 1919, the Frenchman emigrated to the U.S., where he first worked as a window dresser for New York department stores and as a fashion designer for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Vanity Fair. His career change came ten years later when the British office furniture manufacturer Gestetner commissioned him to create a new design for one of their copying machines within a few days. Loewy used plasticine to create the prototype of a new elegant cover for the machine, which subsequently became a best seller. He had thus discovered a completely new approach, which he continued to use for a number of diverse industrial mass products: whether it was a kitchen appliance or an automobile, most of the less attractive mechanical parts were hidden beneath an elegant, modern exterior. Today, product design is a matter of course, but in the 1930s, this was a radical new way of thinking. For Loewy, the potential of his ideas was apparent immediately: "Between two products equal in price, function and quality, the one with the most attractive exterior will win."

5. Alvar Aalto, 1898-1976. (3rd paragraph) The focus of all of his designs was always functionality, albeit a functionality that nevertheless radiated comfort. So, quite in contrast to his design colleagues from Germany and Italy, he used natural materials instead of glass and steel. The typically soft, often irregular shapes, such as waves and folds, also became symbols for the move toward a more human functionalism.

Friday, September 13, 2013

What's in a Name?

I was listening to CBC radio (99.1 FM) this afternoon. They were interviewing Ian Campeau, an Ojibway musician and DJ in the band A Tribe Called Red. Campeau, 32, had filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission against a junior football team in the Ottawa region called the Nepean Redskins saying it's name is offensive. I have to wholly agree.

What's shocking is that not all callers (to the talk show) had the same view. Well, embarrassingly enough, it was a few of the male callers who thought he was making a big deal of things. All the female callers seemed to understand Campeau's position (putting us guys to shame).

Some of the male callers said he was being too sensitive, that he shouldn't let "name calling" bother him. Are you complete idiots? What if I wanted to name my hockey team the Calgary Chinamen? Or my football team the New York N*ggers? Do you think that would fly? That's pretty much on par with calling your team the Redskins. It racist, derogatory and wholly disrespectful.

First get the Nepean football team to change its name. Then the inappropriately named NFL team from Washington should follow suit. Shame on you!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Canada vs. U.S.A Rugby

My friends Michael and Ian asked me if I wanted to watch a rugby game on Saturday. I was at the library when I received a text from Michael in the afternoon. He said they planned on meeting at the Brazen Head Irish Pub in Liberty Village for a drink and a bite to eat beforehand. Since it had been raining most of the day and the game was to be played outdoors I was a bit hesitant in going. But, the allure of drinking a beer was tempting so I said, yes. I figured if the rain didn't let up I could skip the game anyway.

Ian and Michael were already at the pub when I arrived at 5:30. Michael was well on his way through his meal by that time. It may have been the Irish Stew, but I can't be certain of that. Ian had ordered a beer and was working on it. I ordered a pint of Sam Adams. It's pretty common down in the U.S., but I don't often see it here.

After Michael finished his food, Ian decided he wanted to eat as well. So he ordered a hamburger with a spinach, strawberry and goat cheese salad. He said it was really good.

We walked over to Lamport Stadium after eating. It's about 10 minutes away from the pub at most. Ian and Michael had contacted another friend about watching the match earlier. He met us there. I can't remember his name unfortunately.

The stadium was fairly full. Though they only filled the east side stands. The west was left empty. According to the Canada Rugby League website the attendance was 3,128.

The rain held off which was good. Seating was general seating. You sat wherever you wanted after entering the stadium. Pretty much like a movie theatre.

It was my first time watching a rugby match. Ian explained there were two types of rugby - League and Union. We were watching, League. I can't remember any of the differences except that League has 13 players on the field per side, while Union has 15.

The match consists of two 40-minute long halves. It begins with one team kicking the ball to the other from centre field. The receiving team then tries to run to the opponents end zone to score a "Try". That's worth 4 points. They then try to kick the ball through the upright posts like in American football for an extra 2 points.

The game generally consists of a lot of short runs by the ball carrier. After he is tackled he passes the ball backwards to a teammate who attempts to run up the field. Every time you get tackled the other team has to back up about 5 metres (in a straight line across the field).

You can pass the ball backwards (a lateral) to any of your teammates at any time in order to avoid being tackled. If you drop the ball the other team can recover and gain possession or they can try to knock it out of your hands. If you pass the ball forwards you lose possession of the ball.

Ian said your team can only get tackled a certain number of times (maybe 5 or 6?) before you have to kick the ball away to the other team. You can kick the ball forward at any time when it's in your possession. If you recover it, it's still your ball. Most of the time the other team will get it though.

The Americans (The Tomahawks) ran roughshod over us (The Wolverines) in the first half scoring 28 unanswered points. It was pretty pathetic on our part. They seems slightly bigger, stronger and faster. We seemed to lack stamina tiring easily. I didn't see any substitutions. That may have been part of the problem.

We came back in the second half scoring 20 unanswered points of our own. It made the game more respectable even though we still lost.

It was an interesting game. I can't say it was really exciting or anything. Someone from the organization came through the stands giving away free tickets ($10 face value) for the next game on Saturday, September 28th, again against the Americans. Not sure how interested I'd be in catching it. We'll see.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dickie's Birthday

Perry organized a get together for Dickie's birthday on Sunday. We went to Japanese restaurant, Matsuda, on Steeles at Middlefield. It's an all-you-can-eat place. Our favorite kind.

This was a special birthday for Dickie, being his 50th. We had a small group of people who've known Dickie for many years. It consisted mostly of current or former CPCers (guys from Toronto Chinese Presbyterian Church). Will, me, Perry (now at RHCCC), Big Jon, Ben and Raymond (Judy and May's brother) were part of that group. So were Sid and Lawrence who couldn't make it because of prior commitments (Sid was at his niece's birthday and Lawrence at his cousin's wedding).

Steve from RHCCC (Richmond Hill Christian Community Church) and Mike who Dickie knew from working at Kodak were there too. As well, Dickie's daughter, Liana, and his mother came out. They all had birthdays around this time.

It was nice seeing the guys again. I don't see them too often. None of them attend CPC downtown any longer. They've all found new churches closer to where they live.

Of course it was great eating as much sushi as we wanted. Food is the best reason for getting a group of friends together. Eating and catching up on what everyone's been up to over the past summer. Who can ask for anything more?