The mighty are falling this year

A huge tree has fallen, right beside the memorial to fallen war dead, at the western end of the newly hardscaped entrance to Kew Gardens Park.

Where are the roots? That’s a very small base for such a large tree. It’s a wonder it has stayed up this long.

This morning’s rain softened the supporting soil, but when I look at what’s been done under the tree’s drip line, I have to wonder if there was another cause, too.

Perfect Leslie Spit day

There was enough breeze to make the water interesting and the air bug free, enough cloud to moderate the heat and enough sun to keep us happy.

We rode our bikes to the shore and poked through the water-worn construction rubble that the spit is made of. Marble countertops, old bricks, rusty rebar … sculpted by the waves into beautiful things. There’s history, too.

People make things from their finds and leave them for others to enjoy.

Leslie Spit offers habitat to birds, fish, turtles, beaver, butterflies, foxes, and lots of other critters. The plants and trees are all native to the area. It’s a completely artificial complex of trails, ponds and marshes, made of clean fill that’s still being trucked in all week on weekdays.

On weekends and holidays, we get it. No trucks, no cars, just a laid-back, natural place, right in the big city. For Danica and me, this is the best park in Toronto.

View from a little pontoon bridge, cormorant nesting trees in front.

Toronto brings back spanking

Drivers trying to take a fast corner through the stop signs on Maugham Crescent are gonna get a paddling.

Gone are the days when the goal was to move as many cars as possible, as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Everybody agrees, cars aren’t going anywhere soon. They aren’t going anywhere quickly, either.

Deadly accurate plot

It was John Robert Colombo who first informed Brian Baker about the Toronto location of George A. Romero’s grave. Romero made the cult classic zombie movie Night of the Living Dead in 1968 and followed it up with many more. He also chose to live his last 15 years in Toronto and died last year. He rests in the Necropolis, across from the Riverdale Farm.

Click to the grave information page

I know only one zombie, personally, but he’s a good guy and might want to know where the granddaddy of Zombie Apocalypse films was buried. If he’s still there, he  may up for a visit.

Cord Cutter update: What worked

Dumping cable TV isn’t for everyone and “free” TV from an Over-The-Air (OTA) antenna isn’t truly free, but I like it and we finally have a set-up that works well.

I had this antenna installed on the roof. It could be a DIY job but I had someone do it. Attached to my chimney, it hardly shows. The channel scan finds over 50 signals here in Toronto, but some are too weak and some we don’t use. French language, for example, or TV evangelism or online shopping channels.

We use CBC, CTV, TVO, Global and PBS mostly, for news and entertainment. The signals for those, and CITY and OMNI, are excellent. Foreign networks ABC, CBS and FOX are also strong but we don’t bother with them. There are other channels full of ancient reruns and infomercials that are a waste of time. Channel 11 (Hamilton) plays some good old movies sometimes. Anyway, we get more than enough TV from the antenna.

The antenna signal is fed into a 2-tuner box (so you can watch one show and record another simultaneously). Our box is HDHomerun brand and it comes with its own software. You can buy 4-tuner HDHRs, but 2 channels at a time is enough for us. Bonus: The TV signal is streamed around the house on wifi, so you can watch on the big screen, a tablet, a phone, a desktop computer or laptop, wherever you are, wirelessly.

The brains of the set-up, running the software and storing shows

Recording live TV was the tricky part and it’s not free. You turn on the DVR recording function by paying a small annual fee ($35). Then you need something to record onto. I bought a used 2012 Mac Mini for $480. The 2012 models are easy to open if you want to add RAM or a bigger hard drive. The newer ones are sealed tight and very hard to upgrade. Anyway, it works. The picture is High Definition 1080p. We can schedule recording of single shows or whole series and watch whenever we have time. Bonus: We can zip through commercials on recorded shows.

Adding up the things I attached to our inexpensive dumb (not Smart) TV, the first year will cost the same as if we had kept cable. After that, TV will be free. We still need an internet connection (not free) and I chose Teksavvy. 25Mbps is fast enough and I bought my own modem, so there are no rental fees.

Thanks to the Mac Mini, our TV set is also a web browser, so anything watchable on the internet is also available as full screen television.


Not bad, People

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have turned me off with in-your-face hostility, but the current TTC poster campaign is more than acceptable.

The sentiment is well expressed and we aren’t having gore and horror pushed into our faces. The Pattison agency gave the ad campaign a bit of extra coverage, by stalling on acceptance of the posters. That kind of backfired, didn’t it?

I’m not about to go vegan, but if we are going to have advocacy advertising on public transit, let’s be open to many points of view. You’re getting betta, PETA.

Black humour

Some of the rich, velvety black on yesterday’s butterfly was so deep and dark, I wondered if it rivalled the blackest synthetic black pigment ever made … Vantablack.

You’ve heard that there is only one artist in the world licensed to use Vantablack, haven’t you? Anish Kapoor has exclusive rights. This so offended artist Stuart Semple that Semple invented a fluorescent pink pigment for all artists except Anish Kapoor. The prohibition is backed by a legal ban.

Kapoor’s response on Instagram:

BTW, we have a large piece of Kapoor public art in Toronto, near the CBC building.

Anish Kapoor’s stacked aluminum sculpture, Simcoe Park, 250 Front Street West