Just to see what’s up

I often steer my walks in the direction of the Craven Road fence. Its quirky collection of offerings adds character to the unique, one-sided street.

The collection changes at its own pace. Some things are faded by sunlight, others become more interesting with wear. but there always seem to be new things in the mix, too. Tap/click/ enlarge for closer views.

This week, I noticed that names have been added. Only one is from Toronto, but everyone knows them all … and what they are about.

Even the trees on Craven have character. Can you see what this one is doing? It sprouted in a narrow, challenging spot, grew straight up to get some light, them made a 90 degree turn around the corner and headed west for the wide open spaces.

🎵🎵 I gotta get outa this place, If it’s the last thing I ever do … 🎵🎵


That’s sort of how I felt when I took this photo through the front window of the Flying Pony Gallery/Coffee/Bakery. Gutted, indeed. I was expecting changes under new ownership, but the extent came as a shock.

Oddly, the space seems smaller with everything removed.

Of course I hope the new owners will create something I will enjoy as much as the original Pony. I’ll be trying it out as soon as it’s ready and COVID-19 permits.

Good times. This was taken in 2016.

Andrew Horne set a high bar, not just with his eclectic furnishings, but with his own paintings, hand painted signage, gallery shows for other artists, live music, barbecues, buffets, street parties and even a parade float (by Andrew Horne and Rob Elliott).

The winning Instagram spot is still up. Surely it will stay. Hand-drawn and painted by Mr Horne.

Bill Reid honoured again

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth, The Royal Canadian Mint is again recognizing Bill Reid … this time with a coin. [Youtube announcement]

It’s a toonie.

Reid’s magnificent Spirit of Haida Gwaii sculpture has already been depicted on Canadian $20 bank notes.

I knew Bill Reid personally, from the time when my brother Jack and I were kids watching him and Doug Cranmer carve poles and timbers for UBC’s Totem Park in the 1950s. He was kind to us and made us feel like insiders by telling jokes about ignorant tourists.

Me and The Spirit in the museum. Photo by Danica

Later, when I was in my 20s, I visited his studio a few times, to eat my bag lunch while he carved a commissioned cedar screen for the museum in Victoria. I felt shame when he told me he might be finishing the carving at a downtown department store, to make a bit more money. Why was this distinguished man not being paid well enough so he did not need to perform for shoppers? It seems so undignified to me … and ironic, now that he is being recognized on, of all things, money.

Helen and Bill in the Reid studio, Vancouver. We have this photo in a frame at the top of our stairs.

My mother, artist Helen Andersen visited Bill Reid in his studio while he was working up the full scale plaster for the Spirit of Haida Gwaii. It is now housed in the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec. The plaster was cast in bronze, one copy for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., another for the Vancouver International Airport.

Sky appreciation day

This morning’s sky brought a light, welcome rain and began to open up just as I started my walk. Do we city people look up often enough?

Rain clouds leaving

Cities are not “big sky country”, which is weird to say, since we all have the same sky. Toronto has (love ’em) lots of tall trees and tall buildings that hem in our views. There are not too many places in midtown where vistas open up for us.

The other day, what brother-in-law Paul calls a “Simpsons Sky” over the Davisville transit yards.

The fountain is back, in Woodbine Pond

After the refreshing rain, it was pleasant to hear even more water splashing. For some reason, the city has been slow to turn on the taps this year.

The dry spell lasted too long.

Woodbine Pond needs something to agitate the water. The algae were getting to be too much and still water breeds mosquitoes.

The green stuff is retreating and water levels are back up.

Here come the bike lanes

Love ’em or hate ’em, bike lanes on the Danforth are approaching Woodbine already. They are being installed from Broadview to Dawes Road.

Parking zones (marked by cones for now) will shield cyclists from moving motor vehicles.

Of course, merchants are concerned that they may lose customers when they return, post-pandemic. Drivers are not happy to be losing lanes, either. Still, this is the way of the future and people will adapt.

This dude almost ran Danica over on the sidewalk. Cyclidiot.

We have to accommodate bicycles somehow, there are so many different modes of transportation now. And that’s the truth …

Redacted hoarding on the Danforth

Double wows!!

Popular Mechanics is still being published?! DNA is being used to store data?! Holy Mackeral! (as we said back then, offending hardly anyone).

When gas was cheap and cars had fins. (We still get our TV by antenna 🙂 )

I used to love Popular Mechanics and Popular Science when I was 10 or or 12. Hard to pick a favourite, but Popular Mechanics probably. It seemed more “practical” because it applied science to everyday life … like the commuter helicoptering we’d all be doing.

My 1992 onramp to the Information Highway cost thou$ands and had a 40 MB hard drive for storage.

So now I discover that we could store all the world’s data in a shoebox. DNA is potentially millions of times better at compacting data than the silicon we have been using. They’ve already done all of Wikipedia and managed to squeeze an Esperanto version of The Wizard of Oz down to a minuscule speck. Be careful, if you read in the tub.

Capacity is what you get with DNA, not read/write speed (although that is improving). It may be used for archiving data for thousands of years, but of information that is not needed quickly.

Another advantage is format persistence. We have quickly burned through magnetic tape, floppy disks, CDs and DVDs. Finding a device that can read old data is a problem. Since we are made of DNA, we are always likely to keep machines to read it.