Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Morning Beach Trek

The kiddie playground

I woke up relatively early today and had a craving for the McDonalds sausage and egg McMuffin. I started walking toward the local McDonalds but veered off at the last minute and ended up down at the beach instead. The sun had just started to poke through the clouds bathing everything in an orangey warm light.

The beach itself was sparsely populated by dogs and their walkers while on the boardwalk, the sporadic jogger or power walker floated by. In the morning I find that people on the beach are more friendly saying "Good morning" or "hello". In the evening no one really says anything to each other.

Some dog tracks to the life guard stand

I spent about two hours walking around the beach, looking off into the water, watching the waves lap onto the sand, water crash onto the rocks, and the odd dog run away from it's owner to sniff another dog's butt. It was all very relaxing.

Eventually I made my way back home foregoing the McMuffin.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Superman Returns

An ad on today's paper.

I saw this on the way to the stem to meet up with Emmanuel. It's an ad that takes up the full front page of the local newspaper. Oddly enough it's an ad that looks like a newspaper front page of the Daily Planet. I wonder how much the cost of running the ad would have been?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Laptop Magic

Typing up email while watching TV.

I found myself at Neil's again today making myself available for the Microsoft project. Just in case there were any tweaks or last minute changes required on my part I thought it would be prudent to be at the point of delivery. I camped out in the living room typing email, surfing the web, and watching the Space channel. I think I watched four hours of Trek in a row. The Original series "Where no man has gone before", the next generation, followed by Voyager, and Enterprise.

I have always thought that owning a laptop was more trouble than it's worth. Expensive to upgrade or not upgradable at all, expensive proprietary batteries, high repair costs, crappy speakers, crappy keyboard, the list goes on. But I must say that the more I use this laptop the more dependant and lazy I become.

For example, in pre-laptop times I would have to wake up and schlep over to the desktop computer located way, way, way across the room, turn it on while freezing (usually the rest of the room is cold compared to being in bed), then sit and wait for the thing to boot up just to read my email. Now, I just stick my arm out from my cocoon like blankets to my bedside table and power up the laptop. My head doesn't even have to leave the pillow.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cat Training

Neil's cat drinks tap water

I was at Neil's place today with my final renders. While waiting for the tap water to turn cold and letting the water run, the house cat of unknown name was found drinking directly from the sink. For most cat owners this probably isn't that big a deal. Seeing the cat drink reminded me of an article I read on the web on how to toilet train your cat (located here).

If any of you readers out there decide to give this a go let me know if this technique actually works as I don't have a cat to experiment with.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bowling for Laura

I'm not really sure what Gord is doing here.

A group of us bowled in memory of Laura, who passed away last week. As Laura was fond of hats we wore various head gear ranging from something a mountie would wear to a lobster hat I found in Nova Scotia at some tourist trap type store. The object was to have fun in the Laura spirit of things. I suppose all we needed was a guenia-pig to complete the picture.

We played five pin bowling. For those that aren't familiar with five pin bowling you bowl with a ball the size of a nice round grapefruit. There are only five pins. Other than that I'm not really sure what other rules differ from the 10 pin cousin. Five pin bowling is a Canadian invention for all you trivia nuts out there.

Paula with a love jam hat and Gord with a baseball cap.

Rob the mountie

Bowling is hard work

Watching Gord bowl

Rob and Chris change hats

Gord lets one loose

Friday, November 24, 2006

Macro Lens

My lens shot with a 60mm Nikkor Micro lens

I ended up going down to Downtown Camera with William which eventually brought me to the used lenses section. The 60mm micro lens is sweet. I've had my eye on the 105mm micro lens for awhile. I was thinking of getting it to shoot my next lego movie, the odd bug in the backyard, food, and whatever else I can think of that needs photos taken close up. Yep, this is totally an impulse buy.

The 60mm which the sales guy at Downtown camera allowed me to attach to my camera to try out, very willingly I might add, allowed me to get pretty close to the subject. But not close enough for what I want to do. I didn't buy anything today.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Chocolate and Gold

Darryl on Spadina avenue

Met Darryl for a late 3:00 lunch at Swatow. I had to get down to the computer corridor (college street, west of Spadina) to pick up an ethernet card, and a router. It was time to see if my high speed connection could be optimized.

Table of Ganong chocolate

Tonight's evening was pretty full up. Emmanuel has a movie thing at the ROM and wanted me to take some photographs of people watching "It's a Wonderful Life". It was part of a movie networking event which sounded like a lot of fun but I was previously hired by GAT to shoot a chocolate party.

It was the annual Ganong chocolate party, Canada's oldest chocolate making company. Upon entering the large room located at the Toronto Dominion Building you were greeted by a large table filled with boxes of chocolate and jellies. Further into the room there were finger sandwiches and to the left of the room a bar. If that weren't enough, on the way out you got a goodie bad with more chocolate and jellies.

Gift bags o chocolate

After the chocolate party it was off to the design exchange which was conveniently located two blocks away. It was there that I found that Andrew had won the GOLD award for best design. For more info on this see previous post. We were told that the poster that was created by the design exchange advertising the win (and using my photo) will be on display on the main floor all year.

Andrew (fashion designer, top) poses with Anna (model, left), Daniela (makeup artist, middle), and Jordan (model, right)

Anna and Jordan pose in front of Andrew's entry photo

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Long Wait

Mark demonstrates the LED fan

It's just 10 after 10 the morning. I'm rendering my second final pass on the final animation I've been working on. It's going to be a few hours. Meanwhile on the other computer I'm downloading my email. Someone has sent me a huge file and since I'm using my dial up account I've been waiting for quite a while.

I suppose I could have used the on line web mail reader to read the header. I've been getting a lot of spam lately. Chances are the email that's clogging the system is some large video file someone I know has sent me. Another beer commercial or funny gag film. At approx 10 minutes a megabyte, this six meg file will download for about an hour. Gads!

It wasn't that long ago, well maybe it was, that a 30k program took half an hour to load into the computer via a cassette tape. The 2001, 4032, 8032 Commodore pet. In some weird way I miss those days. POKE 144,88 disable the runstop button. POKE 32768, 255 placed a PI symbol in the top left corner of the screen. It's amazing all the hours spent in front of those old computers. It boggles my brain.

Andrew told me about this site for those that want to take the trip down memory lane ( It even has the first computer I ever used, the Exidy Sorcerer!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ugly Furniture

A monkey CD rack

My second floor neighbours moved out today. They were off to live in their newly purchased house. During the move we, the neighbours of the first floor (one of them being the sister of the neighbour of the second floor) watched on the porch as furniture and boxes were being hauled out. For the record I offered to help move stuff but was told I wasn't needed. This allowed me to go back to my apartment to get my camera to take pictures of the move and for us sitting on the porch to supervise. Damn, I'm good at that. :->

One of the items that was pointed out was this CD rack carved out of wood with a monkey on it.
Upon first glance it looked like the monkey had a boner. What the...? Who buys this stuff? But more importantly how much does one pay for this kind of thing? As a gag gift perhaps. It's right up there with buying a toy, that makes noise, for your best friend's kid. If you really want to pester the "new" parent make sure the toy doesn't require batteries to make noise (ie. drum kit, recorder, penny whistle, slide whistle, xylophone). If the kid is older you could get a Merlin with a power adaptor. hee hee hee.

As a youngster I remember having a joke record that I used to play constantly. The jokes being ones like "That train conductor is mean.", "Why is that?", "He punched my ticket.". A half hour of comedy bliss on each side. It wasn't until I was much older that I found out that the reason my parents bought me a large record collection was just so I'd stop playing the joke record so much. It drove them nuts.

Back to odd furniture. It's like that wagon wheel table in "When Harry met Sally" and yet Pat, the owner of said Monkey CD rack, still managed to date Kate to the extent that they're moving into a house together. The monkey rack didn't put a dent, while in their upstairs apartment, into their relationship. That should give us bachelors some kind of hope I suppose. There are girls out there that will put up with a lot of our bad taste in furniture. At least until you move to the next place.

When you think about it, the average guy's taste in apartment decor really does veer away from what the average women tend to like. For example, how many guys out there have apartments with bare walls and the same painted surface when they moved in? It took me a few years to hang up a painting I bought. Meanwhile my friend Nilla has photos and paintings on every wall of her condo.

My friend Neil has a great theory of how to make a guy's apartment gal friendly.
  1. Get all your guy friends to help get rid of all the crap in your apartment leaving only the essentials (TV, couch, chair - GOOD, toys, girlie posters/magazines, mold - BAD)

  2. sand blast, buff and clean whatever is left

  3. make sure the bathroom is not only spotless but you can eat off any part of it.

  4. make toast and scrape some bread crumbs to be put under the toaster. This is to separate you (the hetrosexual male) from being gay. You're a guy you make some form of mess. If you're too clean there's no challenge for the girl to "change you for the better".

  5. Viola! A girl friendly environment

disclaimer: I take no responsibility if the girl dumps you.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Back Yard Status

The flower that wouldn't die.

I am posting this entry for my neighbours, Terry and Lisa, that moved down to Minnesota a few months ago. Lisa, you have one flower left that hasn't succumbed to the ravages of frost (see above picture). As far as your other plant life, dead and brown or eaten by the neighbourhood cat, raccoon, squirrel.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Juicy Stuff

Nicole Weinman and Bryen Dunn some of your staff.

Tonight we at had assembled in Juliet's (the editor) living room to go over the format and look of the site. Look for new and exciting changes in the months to come. (

Here comes Santa Claus

Santa waves at the kids

Neil, Mark (his son), and I managed to put down the Microsoft job just long enought to go out to see the last bit of the annual Santa Claus parade. It would be great to see a parade in New York just to see the large blimps in the air. Toronto doesn't have blimps because of all the telephone wires hanging above the streets.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Night Improv

Jane Luk tries to contain her laughter

Friday night. What to do? Well if you're near Danforth and Broadview there's an improv show going on at Timothy's coffee shop at 9pm. Admission is pay what you can. Get there early as seats fill up rather quickly. Mental note: try to drink beverage between laughter to avoid spit takes.

Gord Oxley directs Rob Hawk, Dave Healey, and Roger Fredricks.

Rob and Gord improv to music

The Wrecking Crew and friends

Don't mess with Paula

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ready Set and Go

David cues up the voice over for the actor to interact with while shooting.

This morning I ventured over to the microsoft set which was actually a location in a building that sells NewTek products somewhere near Danforth and Victoria. I would be used to help unload equipment, help set it up, and take a few production stills.

Our small set to shoot the Microsoft project.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bar Mitzvah

The Matador, 466 Dovercourt road, Toronto

Today's GAT assignment was to cover the Video Service Corp (VSC) 13th anniversary party. The party had a bar mitzvah theme. I had been looking froward to this for a while. Mainly because I had never been to a bar mitzvah but also because "the girl" was going to be going as well. My heart sank when I found out that she was still sick and couldn't make it.

Still, out I went. The party took place in a western themed venue called the Matador. Pictures of cowboys and western themed things, boots, lassos, etc. hung from the ceiling or were bolted to the walls. The party had various stations of varying foods. From mini hamburgers to pizza to rice crispy squares. There were also various widescreen LCD TVs playing various Canadian TV shows.

Among the guests were some Canadian celebs and like most Canadian celebs I didn't recognize any of them (to any canadian celebs that might feel slighted - I'm sorry but I don't watch current TV shows thanks to bad reception and not having cable). I did however recognize Bruce McDonald. He was wearing a trademarked cowboy hat, the same type of hat if not the same hat, that I remember him wearing while working on Re-Genesis.

Tara Spencer-Nairn from Corner Gas with some guy

"Did you get a picture of Brent and Tara?". I looked up from my camera to see this tall guy asking me this question. At ther time I felt pretty uninformed. Before I knew it I was being escorted to these people and asked to take a few pictures of them. Generally I like to let people know I'm shooting pictures of them before just snapping away. I thought it was a bit akward but Tara and Brent were nice enough to pose for a few shots before I got pulled away to shoot some other guests.

Kenny Hotz and Don McKellar

Bruce McDonald and the owner of the club Anne Dunn

The band that was featured was White Cowbell Oklahoma. A band that my friend David knew one of the guitar members. A band that featured several band members and two go-go dancers. I was told about the go-go dancers and things being set on fire. A photographic gem of a show indeed.

"Flame On"

White Cowbell Oklahoma

I liked this photo

After the band finished playing the party started winding down with some DJed music. The party ended at around 11pm which was early but it was a school night. On the way out, Ingrid handed me season three of Corner Gas on DVD, a thank you gift for a job well done. I got home and watched all the season 3 episodes in the next few hours and ended up buying season one and season two.

Corner Gas is that happy fluff stuck somewhere between watching sitcoms like WKRP and celebrating Christmas. Armed with a group of oddball characters, the stories are simple but hilarious with a bit of Canadiana thrown in for reminiscing value. As one of my friends puts it, "It's as addictive as crack". My hope is that it replaces the Beachcombers as one of the longest running Canadian sitcoms (as I anxiously await season four on DVD).

YMCA lives on... at least with some people.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Backyard Critters

A blue jay stuffing itself with peanuts

Feeling the blahs, today the highlight became going out into the backyard to shoot some of the indigenous creatures. I was surprised by the blue jays that showed up. Last year when I had the bird photography fascination (click here, or maybe here), I had noticed that blue jays were among the more skittish birds to shoot. They would fly away as soon as you looked over at them, never mind walking up to them. Today they were just a few meters away coaxed by, of all things, peanuts meant to attract the squirrels.

The neighborhood squirrel.

I spent about an hour, maybe two, on my stomach lying on the cold patio tile waiting the the birds to get closer. This is where a nice 600mm lens would come in. I've put the link there in case anyone feels real generous this Christmas. Don't feel obligated to buy it as a Christmas gift, I'd be happy anytime I get this. Actually I could use a 28-70mm f2.8 lens more practically than the back breaking 600mm f4.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dim sum at the New Treasure

Lobster tank at the New Treasure restaurant

Woke up this morning feeling a bit sentimental and thought about the girl and figuring how I could spend time with her without smothering her or making her feel cornered. Last time I talked to her she was sick with a cold she probably got from me. Thought about bringing her soup but that got nixed.

I ended up going for lunch with Julia, the matchmaker girl from the night of the art gallery. She wanted to know how my "dating" was going. She did try to set me up with that photographer's assistant a few weeks ago. We consumed the dim sum in front of us while I updated her on the assistant and lack of interest on both sides.

After the meal it was a quick stop at Best Buy to look for headphones and some CD that was supposedly on sale. Julia dropped me off at home with the cheer up speech, one way things will work out, etc, etc, blah, blah, regarding the girl.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Laura's Funeral

Roger tells Paula some funny Laura stories

After the move and sitting around at Peter's stuffing myself with stories and pizza I made my way to the Bloor West village to the funeral home where Laura's friends and family were gathering. Funeral's are inherently depressing, especially if you knew the person with the unfortunate luck to meet death.

It was a small but intimate send off. A room with pictures of Laura through various parts of her life all collected into a rather large frame on one side of the room. On the other side a video frame, I'm told this is a new thing, with a multimedia (possibly power point) presentation of digital stills. Even with the depressing subject matter I couldn't help but cringe at the use of technology plus the presentation was pretty crappy. It's kind of ironic as that's how I first met Laura.

We all met working at a place while creating a multimedia CD-rom on the official NHL hockey rules. It was our job to make slick, easy to navigate products. This video frame was no where near the calibre of our work. Just because a person has the tools doesn't mean the final product will shine. It was harsh judgment considering the circumstances and the time they probably had to create it.

I suppose one of the nice things about the funeral was that I got to see people in one place, all at the same time. People that I haven't seen in a while. The most common comment was "It's good to see you despite the unfortunate circumstances.". Right now, as a reader, I want you to get up and call someone you haven't heard from in a long time or someone you feel is close to. Your mother, your father, your girl friend, boyfriend, aunt, uncle, tax guy, whom ever. You shouldn't have to hear that line if you go to a funeral. What does that say about us as a society?

A bunch of us at the Dark Horse pub.

Most of us ended up going to a local pub to eat, drink, catch up and share Laura stories. Memories flooded in of when we working on the hockey project. I remember her thinking Blinn the name of our hamster at work was named after the captain not the James Blinn of computer graphics and math fame (I was pretty nerdy), flapping her arms at Darryl while standing on a desk to get him to concentrate on work and not play video games, providing the voice for some of the hockey rule quicktimes, making a creepy guinea-pig voice when talking to guinea-pigs, wearing big hats, her dry sense of humour, watching Oprah, playing the guitar and driving our effeminate boss crazy.

Making our way into the subway

People die all around us everyday but it's the people we know that tend to affect us more. I suppose Laura passing away has really put an emphasis, to me at least, on how short our lives really are. We should be so lucky to be able to surround ourselves with people we really like and be liked enough to have them attend our funeral.

Take that you green blooded, pointy eared...

Traveling the Better Way is way too much fun

Peter's Move

Peter and the truck full of stuff

About a week ago I was asked to help move a friend, Peter, from his old apartment to his new one. For some reason I forgot to return his call until the last minute. As it turned out he only had one other person show up at the old apartment to help pack. It wasn't too terrible as he had already moved all his stuff into a small room at the back of the building ready to be picked up the next morning (today).

If anyone should help people move from one location to another it's got to be me. For the last seven moves that I did in the span of eight years I've been extremely lucky to have had friends to help me over and over again. And they're still friends! Although the moving of all the boxes and the last minute packing probably wakes them up in a cold sweat every few nights and much like a solider who's seen the horrors of war they're reluctant to volunteer for another tour of duty. If there's such a thing as moving karma I suppose that's what motivated me into helping out Peter. As a side note to all that are out there still shaking from the last move.

Once we loaded the truck and got to the new apartment things were a bit easier, even with a narrow flight of stairs that had sharp tiny corners getting to the top floor. At one point we had to get a tenant from the main floor to open her door in order to navigate a bed frame up the stairs.

Anouck tries to lean out of frame.

There were three more volunteers at the new location waiting to assist moving the items in the truck. One of them being Anouck from Paris, France. I still don't know how Peter managed to reel her into helping out. She was only in Toronto for a few days and would be leaving in a few weeks for Ottawa and Montreal. Perhaps he sold the move as being part of some Canadian tradition that all visitors should experience like building your own igloo or watching beavers build a dam or seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs play hockey.

After the move you could then entice your "volunteers" with the tradition of the follow up meal while sitting around the new apartment floor, on an unpacked chair, couch or box. Today's offering, a few pizzas, beer and a few evil cans of Coke.

Peter gets carried like a sack of potatoes. I took this picture just before his face was walked into the side of a van.

Peter lounges in the new apartment

A rather large ceiling fixture