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Beacher: Bill Buxton

Bill Buxton is a Renaissance man who says that there can be no such person in today’s complex world. There’s too much to know.

Until my neighbour Rob mentioned him in conversation, I knew nothing about Bill Buxton, even though he lives within walking distance. He’s been working for decades as a top-level, innovative thinker with an international reputation. Look at the CV on the guy!

Buxton published a book in 2007 called Sketching User Experiences. The Toronto Public Library doesn’t have a single copy. I wonder why not.

Ebook unavailable in my region. Very odd.

I missed a show and presentation he made in April of this year at his wife’s studio on Queen Street East. Drat.

At least there’s a ton of Bill Buxton material online. Below is a 2008 talk that convinced me he’s a smart guy. (45 minutes)

Rush hours: Woodbine bike lanes

Back-to-school Day One, I went to see Woodbine traffic during morning and evening rush hours.


 There really wasn’t much to photograph. No big traffic snarl due to the new bike lanes.

A red light at the Woodbine/Gerrard intersection used to create 3-block lineups during evening rush hour. Now it appears to be 5 blocks or more, but the traffic is moving well.

Most drivers, by far, were patient. Only a few ignore the No Through Traffic hours and use the side streets. Some of them may live on those streets.

Flying Pony party time

The date and time for the opening party celebrating Andrew Horne’s one-man show, Still Life with Typography, has been set and you’re invited.

Saturday, September 17th, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Flying Pony Gallery/Café, Gerrard Street East at Rhodes Avenue


Andrew in his studio with the almost-finished title piece for the show.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the only piece featuring road kill, but there’s a lot of Andrew’s trademark typography, used in new ways.

We’ve bin binned

Today, Beach Hill is getting new green bins. Since it’s pick-up day, the old ones are also out, so a comparsion photo was easy.

Much hoopla was made about the new bins being “raccoon-proof” (later downgraded to “animal-resistant”) but the main reason for the new ones is the height change. The short ones didn’t work with the automated trucks.

Love and ice cream for Olga

The bay window in the front bedroom of the semi-detached house/shop at 716 Gerrard Street East once lit the last days of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, sister of the last czar of Russia and cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

Photographed today: Bill Andersen

Newspaper stories dwell on the Cinderella story in reverse, contrasting Olga’s opulent life as a Russian royal to her death in 1960 in such humble surroundings. I don’t see it that way.

Elderly Olga, left, and painted at the age of 11 by Valentin Serov

From what I read, Olga was not keen on her pampered existence, so perhaps it wasn’t such a loss. She was an accomplished painter and I like to think that she derived great pleasure from her art. She lived simply and unostentatiously, telling those who addressed her with her title, “Just call me Olga”.

Examples of Olga’s watercolours. She also worked in oils. Her output is estimated at 2,000 pieces.

Olga spent her last year behind that little bay window, bedridden by cancer, a guest of loving friends, eating only ice cream. There’s nothing good to say about cancer, but does the kind of room you die in really matter? I prefer to think of the love and ice cream at the end of an extraordinary life.

For Andrew Horne to find

I figure that, if Andrew Horne surfaces from his studio where he is working hard toward an upcoming one-man show, he might like to see this.

Andrew rides a nifty Bonneville himself and has also collected some fine carved horses to decorate his Flying Pony Gallery Café.

I’m not showing the rocker to tempt Andrew into another purchase. It’s probably not for sale. I spotted it in a beauty parlour window on the Danforth. Just a different kind of flying pony, and unusual window dressing for a salon.