Saturday, July 31, 2010

No excuse for not exercising

I had an MRI last week. My arteries are clean. No plaque forming in my arteries. Ah, the benefits of a lifetime of exercise. I tried roller blades once but in the end I preferred jogging or biking. Today I just walk at a brisk pace. Despite some heart problems the doctors in London, Ontario, tell me the best thing I can do is stay active. If you don't exercise, see your doctor, make sure you aren't about to tackle more than is wise, and then get out there and work up a sweat. You won't be alone. Trust me; It's good for you.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Not everyone believes in helmets

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) each year about 800 bicyclists are killed in the States and more than half a million are treated in hospital emergency rooms. Almost two-thirds of these deaths and a third of the injuries involve head and face injury. The CPSC says helmets may reduce the risk of head injury to bicyclists by as much as 85 percent. Yet, only about 50 percent of bicyclists wear helmets.

I understand that in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Nova Scotia mandatory helmet laws apply to all cyclists. In Ontario only those under the age of 18 are required by law to wear bicycle helmets, but only when riding on public roads.

In this group of seven cyclists spotted zipping along a paved recreational pathway in London, Ontario, only one rider is not wearing a helmet. There are those who would come to this woman's defence. These people argue those bikers at high risk of suffering a head injury are those who do not obey traffic laws. And cyclists out at night would be wiser to put their money into some good lights before buying a helmet.

For more on the subject of helmets, check out the Wikipedia entry. It states, "Cycling is no more dangerous than being a pedestrian." And no one is arguing all pedestrians should be wearing helmets.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Let them eat worms

Did you ever wonder why bread and crackers are not good for the cute ducks at the park? If you're one of those folk who like to toss bits of white bread to the eager-to-feast ducks, don't! This is not healthy food for ducks. It enlarges their internal organs, making them fatty. Also, ducks have a small pouch in their esophagus to store food before passing it on to the digestive system. Bread gets stuck and blocks the passage of food. Let them eat worms, insects, seeds and leave the bread at home.

Original City of Toronto coat of arms found in London

Have you noticed all the beautiful bank branches that have closed throughout downtown London and in the area known as East London?

When the former Bank of Montreal branch on Richmond Street at Queens Avenue was painted red there was a big hullabaloo with even local politicians wading into the fray. Unfortunately, outside the downtown core it's a different story. This elegant former bank building, now painted a bright red is found on the edge of East London. Its humiliation has gone relatively unnoticed.

Curious about the coat of arms above the entrance? This presently  empty corner store was originally an elegant branch of the Bank of Toronto. A century ago the Toronto-based bank was known to display the City of Toronto coat of arms. For instance, a former Bank of Toronto branch in downtown Brockville sports a similar decoration.

Over the years the City of Toronto coat of arms had gone through a number of changes. These bank versions predate most of the modifications and for that reason are reportedly very close to the original sketch which was quickly drawn on a barroom floor and paid for with a few drinks.

It's odd to think that some of the best examples of the original City of Toronto coat of arms are to be found on former bank buildings scattered about the province and unappreciated they are in danger of being lost.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Recently I spent almost six weeks traveling across the United States and Canada. For dramatic scenery, you cannot beat the States: Yellowstone Park, Yosemite, the Pacific Coastal Highway, the California Red Woods. For a beautiful country, Canada delivers. The Canadian Rockies are simply awesome.

After returning to London, Ontario, I took Miss Baby for a walk and little girl took one look at the purple flowered slopes across the street from my home, leaned forward for a closer look, pursed her lips and softly said, "Ooooo!"

And you know, as usual the little kid was right. I only had to travel a few mere metres to find a scene worthy of an "Ooooo!"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Info-Tech Research Group

Usually I like to tell you, my readers, a little background about my picture of the day. Today I am wordless. These images are of the Info-Tech Research Group head office in London, Ontario. I know that when I worked at the local newspaper, the business department did some stories on Info-Tech and they were all very positive stories --- that much I remember.

Check out their website and who knows, maybe your IT department can use their expertise. If Info-Tech brings the same attention to detail in their work as they have brought to the exterior of their head office, these folk are beyond good.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Honey, you've got to see this!

Southwestern Ontario is not know for its hills. Yet, my home sits smack-dab on top of a rather tall, and very long, glacial moraine. From our home, we can see all the way to the farms north of the city. But the best part of the view are the sunsets. They can be downright spectacular.

The other night, as my wife walked by our front door, she noticed this sunset and called me, "Honey, you've got to see this!"

I saw it, and now you can see it, too.


p.s. I was going to write that my camera might have added its own little colourful twist to the scene but my wife on seeing this post exclaimed, "That's yesterday's sunset! It was great!" I'll leave it at that.

Fraternal Twins

Note how the addition of a ventilation panel, left, has altered the decoration.

How often have you read that one thing that separates suburban development from the neighbourhoods in a city's core is the frequent repetition of home models in suburbia? It is jarring, and boring, all at the same time --- almost identical home all too often sit side by side. Not good, we are told.

The fact is, as Jon Blackwell of the Trentonian wrote: "No two styles were ever built side by side." Blackwell was writing about Levittown, Penn., but he could have been writing about any number of suburban developments right across North America.

The truth is that building side by side housing twins and triplets was often done in the past. It is not always as obvious today as was when the homes were newly built, changes made over the intervening years have hidden or removed some the striking similarities.

Today's photo features the upper floor bay window treatment featured on two London homes in the downtown core. I'd say these homes are fraternal twins. Note, the addition of a ventilation screen has slightly modified the appearance of the home on the left. There is a third home in this series but it is no longer clear whether or not it was once a match. The home now has siding and the decoration below the peak is covered or removed.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A visual metaphor

A dear artist friend draws flowers --- in bud, in full bloom and in decay. All stages appear in the paintings. I never thought to include anything other than the colourful blooms in my images until I saw this artist's work and understood the implications. To not show the wilted flowers, petals shriveled, yellow core faded to brown, is only telling part of the rich story that is life.

If you are intrigued by the transitory nature of life, you might like my recent blog And When I Die.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

London Sunset

If you can ignore the mosquitoes, as this couple obviously can, the Thames River in London, Ontario, offers a beautiful spot to view a Southwestern Ontario sunset.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bruce Cockburn at Home County

For more pictures see: Rockin' On: Photography
Bruce Cockburn is the biggest name to hit the Victoria Park stage at the Home County Folk Festival in years. Mix the Cockburn name with a fine summer evening and the result is a huge turnout.

The crowd had filled the paved space directly in front of the bandshell stage early in the evening. The audience then spilled onto the grassy areas off to the sides with these areas quickly filling with folks on lawn chairs and with others relaxing on blankets. Even areas having no clear line-of-sight to the stage filled as Londoners arrived to hear, if not see, Cockburn perform.

And no one was disappointed. Cockburn's distinctive voice and guitar playing gently rocked the park with such hits as: Slow Down Fast, Child of the Wind, Lovers in a Dangerous Time, How I Spent My Fall Vacation, and Strange Waters.

In the moments before Cockburn appeared on  stage the open walkway in front of the stage filled with amateur photographers and late but bold spectators. Both developments carried surprises. First, the general rule at concerts is photos are only allowed during the first two or three songs of a performer's set. Cockburn allowed the shutterbugs to stay rooted to their spots in front of the stage for the whole concert --- very generous. 

And the audience members behind the last minute interlopers, who had claimed positions at the very front, were also allowed to stay. Being so close to the stage, these intruders did not block anyone's view and wisely it was decided by all to just leave them be.

It was a very mellow, Cockburn evening.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Barrett Breaks Special Olympics World Record

Photo credit: Doug Brown, Special Olympics Photo Volunteer
London, Ont.: Saturday morning, power lifter Jackie Barrett broke a Special Olympics world record lift in squat at 265.5kg. The packed venue at the University of Western Ontario in London Ontario gave the mighty competitor a standing ovation.

 Barrett has been with the Special Olympics for 23 years and has been training in power lifting for the past 15 years.

About this impressive, record breaking accomplishment, Barrett said, "It felt great. I felt I almost didn't get it, but I did." When asked when he decided he'd go for the record-breaking lift Barrett explained, "I decided after my second attempt. I felt I had enough left in the tank and then I went for it."

Later Saturday, Barrett may attempt a new Special Olympics world record in the dead lift. That category of the competition takes place in the early afternoon.

Daniel Reid, a coach with Team Newfoundland, was ecstatic. "I think it's super. He was undecided if he would even try to do it because he would have to do it on his third attempt, but he did it, and he made it look easy. We're all very proud of him." 

About the 2010 Special Olympics Canada Special Games: The 12th national summer competition was held in London Ontario from July 11 to 17. More than 1,400 athletes, coaches, and mission staff representing all ten Canadian provinces plus the Yukon and Northwest Territories attended the seven-day sporting event. More than 1,000 volunteers and event officials worked to make the event a success.

Athletes competed in eight official sports, including athletics, five and ten pin bowling, power lifting, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer, softball and swimming. This national competition serves as the qualifying event for athletes to become members of the national team that will compete at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blogger reader in training

It is being widely reported that children, and older kids, raised reading books rather than pointing and clicking around the Internet are brighter with better concentration spans. I find this hard to believe. There must be more going on than simply Internet vs. printed words on the page.

That said, my little granddaughter seems to have taken to books. And I'd say she was a bright little thing. Maybe there is something to all this book stuff after all.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Geek Dinner

This was the "Thank you" Geek Dinner for me. You see, it was at a previous Geek Dinner that I learned about SSDs and how these are faster and more rugged than the traditional hard drives found in notebook computers. As I was planning an almost six week driving adventure across North America in a 42-year-old British roadster, a Morgan Plus 4, well known for its rough and bumpy ride, this was great to know. The Dell notebook I eventually bought had a 256GB SSD and it withstood the weeks of bouncing tucked behind the seat of my Morgan very well.

I also had a chance to thank the young woman who recommended the Fuji brand of cameras to me. She was using an earlier model of the Fuji camera I eventually bought for the trip. It proved to be a solid performer and very well built.

I brought my notebook to the dinner and when I ran into a problem showing someone my blog page, the screen carried a message saying there was a server problem, this person removed the incorrect information which had been entered into the DNS fields of my computer during the trip.

I had to bring out my "Thank you," again.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Vacation Continues

We are now in Thessalon and winding down. This was the shortest drive we have had in quite awhile. Tomorrow we only have to drive three hours to a ferry and then we can relax. After the cruise, we have only a one hour drive.

The next day we drive home!

For more info see my post on the Digital Journal.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Vacation Continues

The stuff you see driving down the TransCanada highway over Lake Superior.

I'm blogging on my vacation on the Digital Journal.