Monday, October 29, 2012

Belated wanderings

Somehow I overlooked scribbling this up at the end of July, back when it was still warm and pleasant outside, not like now where we're waiting for the arrival of the "remnants" of Hurricane Sandy. I had photos set aside and some preliminary paragraphs that I will now expand upon. The stroll took place on July 30th and this should have been a post for the next day.


So probably the most interesting thing this weekend was heading out the east end with P-Doug to explore another abandoned farm line that turned out to be anything but abandoned. It's a road called Buckley Road out in Durham Region. I'd noticed on Googlemaps it was bisected by a creek, and that often promises an old bridge or the remnants of one. So we headed out there yesterday around 10:30. Took about 45 minutes to get there.

View Larger Map
The road was still open for maybe a quarter of a mile, and I parked at the end, even though it looked, strangely enough, like it might be possible to drive further. Later I was glad I didn't.

Anyway not long after we started we heard a car behind us! It was a bunch of 20-somethings in a blue Jeep kinda thing. We got out of their way and they told us they were there to get their car out! About five minutes later we saw what they meant. They'd gotten it hung up in a mud rut a day or two earlier. At that point I was definitely glad I'd parked where I did. Even if I hadn't hit that rut, I'd have had to back up for about half a mile. We wandered past them and they took off, apparently deciding to try it from the other side (we saw them again, not long afterward, coming in through a cleared area on the east side of the line, north of where the car was stuck. We heard them at it for a couple of minutes and apparently they were successful.)

After that we came to an open gate that gave access to an open area, nicely kept, with a little shack of some kind and a tended, mown lawn. It struck me very much as typical of a camp ground, though it was a little small for that and appeared to be, at least for the moment, deserted. P-Doug, who has a fair amount of youthful camping experience backing him up, said that the fire pits had been used the night before. We lingered a bit and then continued north.

The road got too narrow to let a car pass but we noticed someone had been sawing out obstructions. I wondered about ATVs but P-Doug figured too narrow, just motorbikes. But what should come along behind us a couple of minutes later but an ATV. Some 60-something guy in a crash helmet, going about as fast as you would on a ride-on mower. Born to be mild.

Eventually we were coming within sight of Concession Road 5, at the north end of the "closed" road with all the traffic on it. We turned back a few minutes short of the road. If you look around on the map above, you'll see what appears to be an abandoned railway curving through the field, with its course eventually becoming an actual road to the northwest. I hadn't noticed that detail in planning the trip and so wasn't looking for it. I wish I'd been on the watch for it. Where it once crossed Buckley Road, assuming I'm right about that being what that feature is, is right around where we turned back. It would have been a treat to have worked out just where the level crossing had once been. Maybe next year.

On the way back we noticed the car was gone. I stepped into the rut and it was 9 or 10 inches deep and mostly mud, and right next to it, the packed-down earth they got hung up on. After that, I stepped off the road for a bit and wandered up the stream beside it for a ways. All the reasons I love going barefoot on the trails. :) Funny. Puddles when you're shod are a messy nuisance. But when you're barefoot they're a positive invitation. You'd think it would be the other way around. Anyway, I managed nearly two miles that way, so it was a nice wander full of different sights around and textures below.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The What of 1812?

I was just watching a video on YouTube and off to the side I noticed a little ad, one of those ones they tailor to your ISP location. This one was from the Royal Canadian Mint, advertising the first of a series of coins they're releasing commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812 (the two $2500 gold coins, each actually priced at $69,000, are kind of impressive... wouldn't want to accidentally drop those in your piggy bank). I thought, "Hmm, gee, that's neat," but then I started wondering if it's having any kind of impact at all in the States.

The War of 1812 is a sort-of-kinda big deal in Canada. English Canada, anyway. Right or wrong, it's been spun into the defining moment of our nationality, which predates our actual country by more than half a century. Early English Canada was, by and large, populated by folks who left the States between the American Revolution and, well, the War of 1812. It was largely administered by guys in feathered hats who arrived on boats from Portsmouth and London, but the people themselves who made up the place came first because they were loyal to the British Empire (hence "Loyalists") or people who wanted the land grants (hence "late Loyalists"; cynical sneer issued with the latter word). Whatever. They essentially established what and who we are. This all happened within a generation of the place being New France, so there really weren't all that many English speakers living here prior to that to speak of (in any language).

So in Canada, even in parts of it that had nothing to do with it, the War of 1812 has come to be the point where these people finally had to take a stand. It's arguable that English Canada might have drifted into joining the United States in another generation or two without the war, but having people show up, make a lot of declarations, and burn and loot things kind of set their jaws firm against it. Given how Canada emerged by evolution rather than revolution, the War of 1812 doesn't really have the punch for us that the American Revolution has in the US. There's no 4th of July moment. But it's been portrayed as the time when a lot of people from the States who didn't really care too much who actually ran the place began to conceive of themselves firmly as something different and apart from their former home; something they created for and transmitted to generations not yet born and, eventually, people whose ancestors came from places that had nothing to do with the Empire.

Meanwhile, in the United States, I think the war boils down to just two things... Francis Scott Key penning The Star-Spangled Banner as the British fail to take Fort McHenry (the fact that they'd previously taken Washington doesn't tend to get a lot of airplay)... which would subsequently be set to a faintly baudy British wine-drinkers' club anthem (To Anacreon In Heaven) with a tonal range broad to the point of virtual unsingability to any anatomically modern human being; and the Battle of New Orleans, which technically took place after the war was over and largely praises the defenders for using tactics that are now condemned as "insurgency" and "terrorism" when used in Afghanistan and Iraq against Allied troops. It's all about spin, I guess. :) Nevertheless I don't anticipate the Franklin Mint falling all over itself striking quarters with Zebulon Pike and Winfield Scott on the reverse. Correct me if I'm wrong. :)

P.S. Incidentally, this is the very best version of The Star-Spangled Banner ever performed. WNED (PBS, Buffalo) used to sign off with this (begins about 44s in):

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What a view!

In conjunction with the map location updates I just did for the previous post, I noticed this, below.

Talk about your front row seats for development. These folks must be just over the moon. Interestingly, this is only visible at certain resolutions. If you pull back just one notch from what I was viewing this at, above, the planned road path simply vanishes. Makes me wonder what else I'm missing if I'm not looking closely enough on these views.

This is quite close to the second bridge in the previous post, which would be just to the south of this view (here it is in greater context). The extension of James Snow Parkway, which has existed for a long time further to the north in Milton and has been slowly creeping southward from its interchange with the 401, is, in my opinion, a much-needed enhancement to Halton's infrastructure. This part of Halton Region is rather poorly served with north-south links. There are no major north-south roads between Hwy 25 and Trafalgar Road, and few enough that ably cross Sixteen Mile Creek without risking head-on collisions on dinky bridges that served the needs of farm communities at the turn of the last century feasibly well. James Snow Parkway will connect the 401 with the 407, where Neyagawa Boulevard now currently ends. I'd like to be there to watch this bridge vault the Creek, but it seems a bit remote from any easy public access, so it might just go up without my being able to record it.

A bit sad to see that home will have to go. As long as I've been taking shots of this area, dating back to the late 90s, it's at the end of their driveway I've been parking. One more for the history books, I guess.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another one bites the dust

Another two, actually.

#1—The easternmost of the two one-lane bridges carrying Lower Baseline Road across branches of Sixteen Mile Creek in Halton...

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Going concern still open to traffic (obviously), Feb. 28, 2010:

 Closed to traffic but still there, May 21, 2011:

Poof. March 11, 2012: can see the shadow of the new bridge there on the right. I was convinced they'd keep this one for fishermen and stuff, and was really surprised to find they hadn't. But they've closed the parking area just past the old bridge in the field on the left there, and are down to a tiny spot behind me in these views that can hold three cars at best. Clearly, they no longer want folks enjoying the valley here. Keep moving. Nothing to see here.

#2—The bridge that formerly carried 4th Line across Sixteen Mile Creek in Halton. I actually rode across this a few times in the 1990s when it was still open. By then, it was being seasonally closed in the winter. It was permanently closed around the turn of the century, and recently removed altogether and replaced with the pedestrian/bicycle bridge below.

View Larger Map

September 1, 2006:

December 24, 2011:
At least the folks running Halton Region still want people to enjoy this part of the valley. A century ago, there was a one-room schoolhouse off to the left. Yeah. Down in a flood plain. Typical pioneer planning.

And, oddly enough, a much more impressive bridge off to the right, crossing the river at a much more impressive elevation (view below dates from 1916)...

Same view today (well, "today" as in 2006):

A view of one lost bridge from the abutment of another, from 2006. The centre of this shot is where I was standing to take the cross-bridge shots. This was taken standing on the abutment in the shot just above.

Monday, October 22, 2012

More markings on dead trees

I found myself in Oakville yesterday. One was to get some pretty much penultimate shots of the Dundas Street bridge(s) over Sixteen Mile Creek, a topic I haven't blogged sufficiently in recent times but mean to sum up presently.

The other was to visit Bolt in his new place. That turned out to be kind of a comedy of errors, at least initially. He wasn't home when I got there, but at the other place, still hauling stuff back and forth. I texted him that I'd be at Hopedale Mall, killing time.

There's a used book store there he introduced me to earlier this year. At that time, I picked George Carlin's autobiography. This time, as I waited to hear from Bolt (in fact, we had a conversation by text while I was shopping), I picked up at few titles.

The first I spotted that I really wanted was  Eniac: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer by Scott McCartney. It looked approachable for someone like me, and I started reading it this morning. The early part that I'm reading right now is about 17th century mechanical precursors to the modern electronic computer. It looks like it's going to be a really enjoyable read.

The next was The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. When I was 18 or 19, I read his The Blind Watchmaker, and it was one of those moments that comes in your life when something fundamental really clicks in your understanding of things. I've seen a lot of what Richard Dawkins has to say in YouTube videos, where to be honest, I find him a little bit prickly for my tastes, but I'm looking forwards to reading the book.

The third was The Joy of Finding Things Out by Richard Feynman. I recently listened to a biography of Richard Feynman I downloaded from the library, and I'm interested now in hearing, in his own words, some of the same tales. I approach it with mixed feelings. Other things of his I've read have rubbed me the wrong way and stuck me self-aggrandizing... no matter how much a person might warrant it, it's never pretty... but I'm curious to be thrown into the water of some new ideas and trying to swim.

The last was Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. I actually thumbed through this book in the Stouffville library the night I went up there to meet my cat Ally for the first time. While I waited for the call from her then-guardian (I don't like to say "owner"), I had a look through the book. Peanuts was my favourite comic strip when I was in elementary school; I encountered words and concepts like Beethoven, ophthalmologist, eloquent, security, sarcastic, psychiatric, sincerity, and dozens of others in the pages of my friend's collection, mostly from the mid-1960s, when in my opinion the strip was at its peak. I've always been interested in the story of the phenomenon of Peanuts itself... how it got started, how it evolved, why it lasted so long, and what drove Charles Schulz such that he didn't seem capable of just retiring and letting it go even after it got tired and clicheed. I'm hoping the book answers those questions.

So I guess I'm set for books for the next month or two. The best part was, since the store's moving and trying to lower inventory, I got books that would have cost me about $120-150 retail, or $40 generally at the store's prices, for just $27; less than the average cost of just one of them alone. Used book stores are just the best. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Childhood fantasies were da bomb

I had the strangest thing come back to mind last night just as I was drifting off. This strange game I used to play in my mind back when I was 9 or 10, during recess.

Most of the time, I spent recess in grade 4 and grade 5 with my posse, Bobby and Darrin (hey, Bobby Darrin; I never thought of that) and Alan. We had a game we played that sounds like something out of the Third World. It was called "can tag". At one mouth of the school's arch driveway, we chalked off an upper boundary, and our field of play was the pavement between there and the sidewalk. Leaving the bounds, including stepping onto the grass either side, instantly made the transgressor "it". "It" was the person in possession of a 10 fl. oz. steel pop can, squashed flat, which he was to kick at  the other players until the can contacted one of them, at which point, that player became "it". Fairly simple in its concept and its play, and surprisingly lively. I don't think today's aluminum 12 fl. oz. pop cans would have the necessary heft, but I'm no longer really in a position to test the theory.

As Bill Cosby would say, "I told you that story to tell you this one." This is about what I used to do when I couldn't play can tag. You know, one or two other guys were sick, or had detention, or I was on the outs with them for any of the myriad reasons kids fall out for a day or two. Or I just wanted to dream.

There was a large, tree-bordred field at one end of the school, and not as many kids played there. I suppose these days it would be full of kids playing soccer, but back then it was just a big empty thing some guy had to mow. I could just wander around in it like a little lost drunk, talking to people who weren't there, pressing buttons that didn't exist, and watching phantom disasters.

I'd conceived of this idea I thought would make a great TV show. The premise was that the US was testing a new kind of nuclear weapon. I'd heard of the neutron bomb, so my proposed new weapon was the electron bomb. They were testing it in Arizona (I suppose Nevada had had its fill of this kind of thing). Something went horribly wrong, as it must in shows like this, and the bomb created some kind of weird effect that killed its handlers and the entire population of Phoenix. I supposed I picked Phoenix because I used to watch the sitcom Alice. If you didn't, kiss my grits. In my "show", I was the star, the leader of a courageous expedition—men and women; I was an equal opportunity destroyer—into the ruined and extremely dangerous lost city of Phoenix to determine what went wrong. I made up a kind of hurricane wind that endlessly circled the city and made it impossible for our heroes, once in, to get out (whatever means brought them safely in was lost, I imagine). They found they couldn't communicate with the outside, and the outside world either considered them dead, or didn't want to risk more lives to find out, and so they were stranded. I imaged a few attempts from outside, usually sponsored by rich family members of those trapped inside. Those efforts never went well.

This electron bomb effect was kind of like a neutron bomb. It just killed people; it left all the buildings and cars and "stuff" perfectly fine. (Hmm. I should have called it the right-wing bomb.) Turned them quickly into skeletons. You'd see them hanging out of windows in buildings, or classrooms full of seated skeletons at desks, or sitting in rows in buses. A literal city of the dead. And, this being that kind of show, sort of Space: 1999 style, every so often I'd sacrifice one or two of the crew to the effect. They'd get left outside the shelter when the winds, which swept the city daily, returned, and everyone else would watch in horror as they were skeletenized. They'd become part of the landscape. You know, "There's Joe with his shovel." I think I would bury these people now, but at the time, it just made more sense that they'd be their own monument somehow. So it was a little like Gilligan's Island except, y'know, people got killed.

I think I remember how I proposed to end it. I had the impression that the winds, which might have been quasi-intelligent, were losing their punch over time, and that eventually—after two or three skeletastic seasons—they'd be mild enough that someone on foot might survive. I think the commander (your humble narrator) finally did this, contacted the outside world, and they all finally got rescued. Now, as someone in his mid-40s, I recognize that the show would have been a real dud. "Okay, three or four dozen people are trapped in a dead city. What do they do, besides spectacularly die?" "Uhhhhhh..." Yeah. But when I was 10, boy, when I was 10... it was the best show I never saw. :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Toronto Islands, last spring, invisible

I somehow always manage to forget just how striking digital infrared photography can be in strong sunlight. In going over directories I hadn't keyworded, I came across the shots I took six months ago in April when P-Doug, Larry and I went over to the Islands in the harbour. We spent about two hours wandering west from Ward's Island to Hanlan's Point. Along the way, I was taking 3D shots with the W3, which are fine but kind of ordinary, and infrared shots with the infrared-converted S80. Some of those shots were really kind of startling after six months of having largely forgotten about them. Here are a handful of the ones I considered the best, either in terms of general interest or strong contrasts.

MP workflow

Just if anyone's actually interested, this is what's involved, and why half an hour of shooting can imply three or four hours of a Saturday afternoon... and why it was worth my while rescuing the portable drive last night. :)

  1. Take photographs while running PhotoTrackr hardware to log locations (later automatically matched to timestamps in photos).
  2. Dump photos into appropriate camera-specific directories.
  3. Use PhotoTrackr software to transfer log files to computer.
  4. In Millennium Project directory structure, create new date folder inside appropriate location or event folder in the MP directories. Create new location or event folder if necessary.
  5. Create 3D subfolder inside date folder if any photos or videos were taken with the W1 or W3.
  6. Copy all pertinent 2D photos and videos to date folder, and all 3D photos and videos to 3D subfolder.
  7. Use Stereo Photo Maker to export left and right views from the 3D MPO files (in case MPO format is “lost” in the future and not directly readable). Not currently bothering to do this with the 3D AVI files because they can at least be natively viewed in two dimensions (the left channel displays).
  8. Use PhotoTrackr software to geotag any JPG or CR2 files that do not include a geotag natively from one of the cameras. No currently possible for MPO files directly, to the best of my knowledge. If necessary, use PhotoMechanic to blanket-adjust photo timestamps if there is significant discrepancy between log and camera time stamps (log is considered correct because it’s correlated with GPS satellites); repeat geotagging process.
  9. Convert all CR2 files to DNG using Adobe DNG Converter utility (banking on open source DNG format to outlast Canon’s proprietary CR2 format in the long run).
  10. Use PhotoMechanic to add structured keywords to all applicable files (JPG, DNG).
  11. If necessary, using FileSplitter or Fuji MyFinePix Studio to trim videos to pertinent clips.
  12. Back up MP (haven’t been doing this).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tying down the millennium

"The Millennium Project" was the kind of quaint name I came up with a few years back to describe my collection of photos and videos I wanted to preserve and hand off to some government archive for people like me 50, 100 years from now. It's been on a number of hard drives over the past three or four years as it's expanded. It's currently in the neighbourhood of 460 GB, I think... astounding when I reflect that just around the start of the millennium, a year or two before, I bought my first 1 GB hard drive. Now I have a "project" 460 times that big residing on a couple of drives where it takes up about a quarter of the space. [Addendum: just checked, as I'm now backing up the MP to the new external... 507 GB, 70,136 items... but that includes a few hundred folders as well as photos and videos.]

One of those drives is a Seagate portable. Well, that is to say, it used to be portable, till about half an hour ago. I decided to spend this evening tagging and keywording recent additions to the project... mostly 16th Avenue, Kirkham Road, and Sheppard Avenue's new Agincourt underpass stuff. It's all in the right directories and geotagged, but I haven't added the keywords to the files yet that will be important for people running searches. The drive is always plugged in, but whether it's on or not is controlled by a power bar on my right. I flick a switch and the drive comes on, the computer recognizes it, and off we go.

Only tonight, it didn't come on. I figured the power supply in the case died. It occurred to me nearly at once that a portable drive is really just like any other drive you'd find anchored in your computer, except the interface and power supply is contained with the drive, which is what makes it portable. It was a gamble, but I hacked into the shell, removed the drive, and took the side panel off the "new" computer that's been sitting in my dining room since last March... never has made it over here to ass-groove central in the living room yet. Still typing away on the 5-going-on-6-year-old Gateway here with the two old 20 lb. 18" monitors. There were lots of HD expansion bays and lots of power cables... but I had to go out and get my own SATA data cable. Went and got one. Came back. Plugged it all in. Didn't know if the drive had failed or not, but I was really only gambling six bucks. The new computer said, "Hmmm..." and decided to run CHKDISK on the "new" drive. But that was 90% of the battle right there. If it could find and access the drive, well, clearly the drive was still working. A couple minutes later it was happy; no bad sectors or anything. So it strictly was the power supply. Windows opened, I started Explorer and there was the drive... even had the little portable icon beside it, as if it were still out in the world instead of locked inside a computer chassis. I was really relieved because I ran my last backup on the MP, apparently, last February. I can't say I've added just tons and tons since then, but enough that updating it, splitting all the MPO files again, geotagging everything, etc., etc., would have taken me most of a weekend. I'll have to remember to back up more regularly.

With that in mind, I also picked up a new 3 TB, USB 3.0 portable for just $140 this evening. That's enough space to back up the MP and all my photographs as well, and should suffice for another year or two. This does kind of serve as an impetus to move the utilities I use for working with photos and videos, especially the geotagging stuff, over to the new computer. Oh, but the PhotoTrackr software is so wonky and finicky... it's a wonder I get it working at all on this old heap sometimes. Probably time I gave it a shot, though.

Anyway, adventures in nerddom. :)


Borrowing a title here from Mark Fiore... utterly unrelated to the topic. :)

For a long time I've mulled over the idea of getting some kind of model helicopter rig and fixing a good P&S camera to it to give myself, and the people I'm hoping to pass my work down to, more interesting views of the places I go to. A couple of years ago I was looking at $500 helicopter and undercarriages for cameras that were roughly as expensive. I never got serious about it, but I dreamed, anyway.

Technology's really catching up. Now for about $300 you get pretty much the whole shebang. There's something called the AR Drone 2.0 that's essentially nothing but an HD video camera with four rotors. Check this out.



Pretty impressive, given that it's all for about the price of an average mid-level P&S camera alone nowadays, and considerably less than the cost of a high-end one.

There are things I'm iffy about with the design. While I get the idea and some of the advantages of the paradigm, I am not pleased that the thing is controlled using your cell phone or tablet computer. I would much, much prefer a solid, reliable two-thumb dedicated toggle controller with a more powerful radio transmitter, though something with at least a small 3" LCD feedback screen. I'd also like something where every element, helicopter and controller, was run off USB-rechargables. I don't think that's asking for too much these days; in fact, it should be getting just about standard in new technology. That we're still running to the drug store for Duracells in 2012 boggles my mind (or, more appropriately, having to haul the batteries out and stick them in a wall charger instead of connecting the thing to a port in the car while you're driving to and fro boggles the mind, ahem).

I'm also not enthusiastic about the apparently fixed camera position. Being able to point the camera left and right is arguably redundant since simply turning the drone will achieve that, but not being able to vary the camera in the vertical axis, to look up underneath something or, more fundamentally, down to the ground, is a big, big hole in the concept for me—particularly given that they had the genius idea of placing the rotors such that they'd be completely out of the way. As it stands, it would appear the only way to achieve a downward focus at all is to angle the drone downward, which necessarily means it's moving forward, and the deeper the angle, the faster it sweeps. Being able to hover and take pictures of an element of interest, and slowly guide the drone down to it, would for me be central to the idea. A third thumb toggle could accomplish this; presumably, once the drone was hovering steadily, your thumbs would be freed up from flying the drone to angle the view. I can't think of too many instances where changing the camera angle in flight would be crucial; if it is, there's probably some clever lad out there who's got the problem of too many controls not enough thumbs sussed already, I'm sure.

I was rather concerned about the thing flying out of range, especially vertically, but now that I've seen these videos and it's clear that you can set limits on how high the drone flies, it should simply be a matter of being reasonably close to what you want to photograph, and keeping an eye on the battery power. Still, three hundred bucks is a lot of money to have just vanish into the trees and rot till some kid finds it a decade hence.

What really got me thinking about all this was my expedition to the lost bridge on Given Road just about two years ago now. The bridge still remains, about fifty years after the last car used it, but its decking is long gone and I was too timid to attempt to cross it, especially since I was on my own. And I started musing about how great it would have been to have just had a little helicopter with a camera on it to just flying over, under, and around that bridge and get some interesting shots of it for three or four minutes. This is exactly the kind of thing that could achieve that.

I'm tempted to save my pennies and see about it in the spring, but the control means in particular is kind of a show-stopper for me, and the inability to tilt the camera without tilting the drone, so far as I can tell, takes a lot of the punch out of the idea. Maybe I should wait and see what version 3.0 offers. Anyway, it's at least now possible. I wonder what Ted Chirnside and James Salmon would have made of this. 

Monday, October 15, 2012


As a form of P.S. to the previous post... kind of in conjunction with getting into old British puppet shows, I went looking for Spitting Image on DVD again and finally found it at a cheap enough snip that I went for it. Spitting Image was a puppet-based satire show of brief, punchy skits made in Britain from the mid-80s till near the turn of the century. Hard to believe that's getting on for 15-30 years ago now, but there you go. Anyway, around the time I started university, a friend of mine was taping the shows which, like so many other British imports, was being shown on the CBC at the time.

The skits were outrageously funny, going way beyond anything you'd see done domestically on North American television for the day. While its world view tended to be left-leaning, the writers had no problem making fun of the aspirations and absurdities on the left. But, it being the age of Thatcher and Reagan, most of the solid body-blows were reserved for the conservatives of the day. The humour tended to focus on hypocrisy and the casual inhumanity of people in power and privilege, and nearly all the skits centred around politicians and celebrities. Oddly enough the show could be surprisingly popular with some British MPs of the day, even those it was lampooning. To this day, I still know the names of the members of Thatcher's cabinet better than I know the names of the current Canadian cabinet of Prime Minister... Prime Minister... oh, yes... Harper. :)

For me, the magic was that it was everything Saturday Night Live wasn't. It wasn't afraid to go for the throat, and it understood that brevity was the soul of wit. Some of the skits lasted as little as four or five seconds; few of them more than a minute or two. They soared in under the radar, dropped their bombs, and tore off. I remember one skit in particular that, for no real reason at all, made fun of The Monkees, the 1960s pre-fab four, sending up their theme song. I saw it 12:30 in the morning (as usual when the CBC ran edgier stuff like this) and it had me laughing so hard I could barely catch my breath, and hoped I wasn't going to wake up my parents.

I still have all that on tape, and all those episodes have long been favourites of mine and my friend Larry. Yesterday I found seasons 1-7—pretty much the cream of the crop, as far as I'm concerned—on DVD for only about $50, and I bit. It's all Region 2, but I have an all-region player and I can re-engineer them to Region 1 using the computer anyway, which I'll probably do just so I can watch them on any player. Really looking forward to seeing the stuff I missed.

Random musings

It occurred to me that it's essentially a year ago that Twinkle died. It was a Saturday; today's a Monday. In terms of how it fits together, it was effectively a year ago that I sat here in this cube in this office for the first time, alone, before anyone else was here, taking the first couple of hours setting up all my stuff, in the wake of having just last Twinkle so suddenly. I still have a photo of her right here, a couple feet in front of my face, staring out at me. Strangely, nothing of Max. But I've been over how much easier it's seemed to make my peace with his passing than with hers; I won't labour the point.

Well, as far as the weekend that just went by goes, Saturday was spent helping Bolt move into his new place a little further west. It's in a nice neighbourhood in Oakville, as is the place he's currently living. The difference is this new place is his; the old place is his mother's. The kids are selling it because she's now in a home with dementia. I'm pretty sore from it all, and kind of jealous. I like where I live, and I like not having to mow and shovel all the time, but I miss being able to spread out, have storage space, have some options about what to do with several rooms. Not to mention being well-heeled enough to afford more. On the other hand, it took me a long time just to manage this, and not everyone is so fortunate. The grass is forever greener. Sometimes I need to remind myself that at least have some grass. Metaphorically speaking. :)

Yesterday the temperature was supposed to hit the 20s, which would be in the 70s Fahrenheit, and I'd planned to take one last hike meeting nature on its own terms, kicking through the leaves up an old abandoned concession road I love. Ah, but I talked myself out of it. Figured after the week we had and the rain the soil would be uncomfortably cool, and that the wind and moisture would probably make even the milder air less than enjoyable. I went out to pick up a few things about 3 o'clock and immediately regretted my timidity. It was verging on balmy, and I let myself miss it. Won't be a chance like that again till at least April, probably. Oh, well. The one that got away. :)

Just as a complete aside, largely because of a comment a friend made, I've actually wound up catching old episodes of Supermanionation shows by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Two of my friends both commented that Captain Scarlet was remarkable for its casual violence, and having just watched the first episode, I'm impressed. It's jaw-droppingly cavalier in the willingness of the writers and the characters to have things blow up real good. What did we need Team America World Police for? :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Flindon Road bridge revisited

I don't know why it never occurred to me to do this before, but better late than never.

Here are a couple of comparisons of views that are were taken, quite by accident, within a couple of yards of exactly the same spot, but nearly 50 years apart. One was taken in October of 1954 by James Salmon, and the other taken by me in, I think, August of 2007, before I had ever seen Salmon's photo. Salmon took his photo in the wake of the passage of Hurricane Hazel through Toronto. The water level in my shot, typical of what you'd expect to see in the Humber River, gives you some indication of the volume of water the Toronto region was dealing with at the time. It's a little chilling, actually, when I reflect now for the first time that several people who drowned upstream in Woodbridge would have passed by this spot only hours before James Salmon opened the shutter here.

Oddly enough, this bridge was one of those that survived the storm and remained in use. It was removed in the 1960s when it was superseded by the bridge that completed Albion Road across the Humber.