A chance meeting on BHGPUD


Beach Hill Garbage Pick Up Day afforded me a meeting with a neighbour. Charles was working his way down Gerrard as I worked my way up. We met at one of the new sidewalk tree beds, he bagging litter from one side while I cleaned the other.

We exchanged the usual pleasantries about how people are pigs and I said I liked his button. “You want one?”, asked Charles, rummaging in a pocket.

“Sure,” said I,  but Charles came up empty-handed.  He said he had hundreds at home and gave me the one he was wearing.

Another thing I liked about Charles … he’s ten years older than me.


BHGPUD is my own invention, not an official acronym. Catchy?


How soon we forget

This photo topped the list in one of those “things from th past” email messages. it was accompanied by another photo, reinforcing the idea that it was used for lettering. Perhaps it was, sometimes, but it had a very specific use that appears to have been forgotten. Anyone remember what it is?

Noxema skin cream, Vicks VapoRub, a dustpan and a tray of watercolours were on the same list … even though all are still common on stores shelves today. The listmaker must live a sheltered life.

Still, these lists are fun and good reminders of how quickly technologies have changed. The ashtrays show our progress. Many other items are still in my basement. Time to let go.

I saw an ad on Craigslist a couple of years ago: Antique graphic arts supplies. Pictured were the exacto knives, wax rollers, rubber cement bottles, T squares and cutting matts that I used everyday for years, before desktop publishing made “assembly” unnecessary. Remember the phrase “desktop publishing”? 

Colombo on Kindle: 21 publications


The Occult Web is a monograph, previously published in print, but recently updated and released to the Kindle Store. It joins another 20 books that John Robert Colombo has online.

James Webb was an Anglo-Scottish historian of “rejected knowledge” and the audience for a book about his writings is limited. Without Amazon’s publishing system it might not have been made available.

One of the best things about ebooks is that they can serve even small readerships. Before the internet was overrun by commercial activity, it was used by academics to share papers, writings and ideas among very small numbers of people. That original usefulness has not been lost.

Police Chief and Mayor OK with carding

Retiring Chief Bill Blair and Rob Ford replacement, Mayor John Tory

Backgrounder: “Carding” describes the police practice of stopping people on the street, questioning them and documenting the encounter although there is nothing criminal going on. Police Chief Bill Blair was told by the Police Board to stop the practice. It was affecting a disproportionate number of black and brown-skinned people. After being “carded” a person is known to police even though they have done nothing wrong.

Chief Blair refused to stop. The Police Board, on which the new Mayor now sits, caved. They tweaked the rules slightly but are allowing police to continue the practice. Charter of Rights challenges are expected. Political protests are already underway. A new chief might order his force to stop carding, but that alone will not restore civilian control of police. Can the chief just ignore the Police Board?

Professional graphics abound

This sharp little announcement arrived in my email today, much larger and more impressive. I reduced it to fit here. Even small, I think you can appreciate the smart design.

Clean, readable and beautifully composed, it even has a subtle aesthetic touch, in the central panel’s show-through of tree shapes. Made for a little neighbourhood association with very limited financial resources!

Peter Sever and I were marvelling the other day, about how we can do things now … photography, typography, video, audio … that not so long ago required ad agencies, studios, artists, writers, technicians, and deep pockets.

Knowing WHAT to do continues to require some training and/or talent. My example looks like the work of a Beach Hill volunteer who may work in graphic arts. But even the amateur eye has become more discerning, as digital tools have proliferated. All of us, now, have  been forced to pay attention to how things look.

Oh, and that’s the point of the poster, too. I’d better get out there and help keep our streets looking good. A lot of litter lurking under the snow has made its annual reappearance.


Big boxes full of goodies

Scarborough may be a little too dominated by big box stores sitting in oceans of asphalt parking lot, but it doesn’t lack culinary character.


My big, satisfying shwarma. Can’t resist the “love at first bite” cliché.

A friend and I went for lunch at Al Premium supermarket today and enjoyed amazing shwarmas for amazingly little money. Brian is a shwarma connoisseur, having sampled many, many of them in the Middle East. He declared the Al Premium offerings his favourites! We got one shwarma each plus a medium size coffee and a diet pepsi. Total bill, taxes in … $11.50. There was a two-fer special on today. It’s self-serve, so no tipping. Table seating.

What a meal and what a deal. Indescribably good, and full of healthy veggies along with your choice of chicken or beef (or mixed, if you like). It’s all pulled together with a melange of delicious, garlicky sauces and sealed in a crisp grilled pita wrap. Hot sauce if you want … each shwama is custom made.

Then, across Warden Avenue to Adonis Market


Danica knows Al Premium well,  shops there often and I have been along with her before. Across the street, though, the Adonis Market was new to me. Brian thought he should show me the gigantic pita-making machine, encased in floor-to-ceiling glass. It wasn’t running, but it must be fun to watch when it is pumping fresh pita along its elaborate complex of gleaming conveyor belts. Can’t get much fresher.

Beach Hill from Boot Hill


The photo is a weather report as well as an excuse for the heading. Shirtsleeves were enough today. The grass is greening and everything is coming back to life … except the residents in the foreground, of course.

That’s Beach Hill in the background, trees still bare, but that will fill in within 3 weeks or so. A steep dip separates the hilltop in the graveyard from the hill we live on.

I was standing just where our street would come through, if the gravestones weren’t in the way. The dead are serving the living, preserving beautiful, well-treed space where we can walk and listen to the birds.

I visit some of the stones, too. When we moved to this area 29 years ago, I knew no one in the Norway Cemetery. Now I know a few.

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