A grudge is born

As Starbucks takes heat this week for racial discrimination, a friend has his own grudge against the coffee chain. His beef goes back to those days when cafés were allowed to have separate areas for smokers.

An incorrigible tobacco fiend, my friend asked a Starbucks barista if they had an area for him. No. So he said, “Hold the coffee” and went to use the lavatory. There on the wall was a receptacle labelled “USED NEEDLES”.

“So I can go into Starbucks and shoot up in the washroom,” he fumed, “but I’m not allowed to smoke a cigarette.”

Free, commercial grade photos

Shopify (a Canadian online store platform) gives free, high resolution, high quality photos to its storekeepers … and everyone else. The high res pictures will cost you your email address, but the low res versions I am using don’t even require that.

Survivor of Toronto ice storm weekend

Weather advisor to Toronto cats

I found it fun to find Toronto locations.

” … that iceberg that hit the museum …” — Leonard Cohen

Models working pro bono in the Distillery District and Trillium Park

Bill Buxton at Studio 888

I finally met Bill Buxton in person yesterday. He’s an innovator, teacher, inventor, historian with a long list of credentials, awards and Silicon Valley connections. “I know all those guys,” he says … and they know him. Bill Gates hired him as Principal Researcher for Microsoft.

Buxton’s boyish enthusiasm is contagious.

“I had more intellectual freedom at Microsoft than I ever had in academia,” he said. Smack! I was speaking to a fervent believer in the free exchange of ideas. He is also a charismatic advocate for human-friendly design. We need more of that!

Neighbour Rob (foreground) first told me about Bill Buxton over a year ago. Rob met him when they both worked for Microsoft.

Buxton has been an international figure since the early days of the digital revolution and continues to be a sought-after speaker because his insights, especially into human-computer interaction, remain highly relevant today.

He’s 70 now … and he lives in the Beach, married to artist Liz Russ. Liz operates Studio 888 on Queen Street, where Buxton welcomed visitors to his current display of wearable tech wizardry and 3D/VR history.

The Amazing Gadget 2.0 show is a well organized presentation of devices dating from the 1800s through to the present. Bill Buxton has collected them, restored some from parts and displayed them under short, information-packed poster panels. “That’s a lot of work,” I said. “Tell me about it,” said he. The collection will go to the Smithsonian, eventually.

You can visit the display until April 22nd.

What’s all this, then?

It’s been a while since I monkeyed with web tech. Oli Goldsmith’s VR things (post below) inspired a bit of VR (virtual reality) play.

Move the image around with your cursor or, on a mobile device, by finger or tilting the screen.

The mask icon splits the image for stereo viewing with VR goggles.
This is the back of Andrew Horne’s studio at the Flying Pony Gallery/Café, on a rare occasion when part of it isn’t behind a parked car.

A WordPress plugin is rendering it in VR form, so that you can explore the images.

Here’s the conventional shot.

Truth and Reconciliation at Notre Dame

Danica is very glad to have attended, but I missed out because of another commitment. Students and staff of local Notre Dame High School created a moving, dramatic performance as part of their “Journey to Reconciliation” with Indigenous peoples.

Bear Standing Tall starts off the slide show of Danica’s photos. I’ve met and talked with him before, at one of our neighbour Natalie’s workshops.

School principal Jolanta Hickey is a longtime friend. We are proud of her and her team.

In addition to the auditorium performance, you’ll see walls lined with birch trees. These identify a new area of the school library that will remain as a continuing reminder of our abuses of First Nations and Inuit people, but also our intention to build respectful relationships now, and into the future.

Elder Bob and Bear Standing Tall were on hand to help dedicate the space. Local politicians, federal and provincial, also attended.

Appropriate snacks provided by Tea‘N’Bannock, a local restaurant serving “A Taste of Aboriginal Canada”.

Oli Goldsmith at the Flying Pony

Oli Goldsmith is a Pop Surrealist now exhibiting at the Flying Pony Gallery/Café, where proprietor/artist Andrew Horne displays art by others whose work he likes. Often it is challenging stuff, and I value that.

Below is a detail from one of the jam-packed, mixed-media, resin-coated collages I was sitting beneath yesterday, while having a cup of coffee.

I didn’t get visual pleasure from the busy, somewhat crusty-looking pieces and I’m not temperamentally inclined to spend a lot of time rummaging through jumbles of bits and bobs looking for … what, anyway?

But having been introduced to the work of Port Hope’s Mr Goldsmith, I pressed on and was rewarded with something I found very interesting and filled with potential … handmade, artist concoctions of surreal landscapes, fed into virtual reality (VR) software.


What I like is the rebellious counterstrike of the idea. Goldberg twists the technology to his own purposes, exploiting the fantasy of virtual reality. There’s nothing real about it at all.

“Stills” examples from which Goldsmith makes his VR pieces.

The VR stuff has given me a way into Goldsmith’s work, I hope. I see him now as related to 20th century Dadaists like Marcel Duchamp, but using the vocabulary and technology of our day.

Now, perhaps, I will be willing to give more attention to the pieces at the Flying Pony. They are up until April 29th.

Ganesha update

Toronto’s pride in the vibrant diversity of its population is certainly based on fact, but it’s also a fact that cultural tensions exist. The mural depicting Hindu god Ganesha was defaced, then painted over.

Corner of Highfield Road and Gerrard Street East, “Little India” Bazaar

You can still see the elephant trunk going up the chimney. The painted-over head is slowly reemerging.

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