Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kayaking in Shangri-La

I have been wanting to get a kayak for some time.

My Shangri-La is nestled in at the shoreline of Georgian Bay at White's Bay, which is sheltered by a sand bar extending from the peninsula which forms part of the Collingwood Harbour area.  Sounds kind of funny, eh?  A bay on a bay.  That is because Georgian Bay is about 200 km by 100 km and it sits off and and adjoining Lake Huron  - so it is a Bay itself, but of course there are many bays on its shores.

For my foreign blog visitors whose Canadian geography is not that good go here to see where I am.

I have to thank my son Eric for helping me get the kayak and delivering it to me.  It easily fits on top of a smaller car without much fuss.  I suspect I could even manage to load it on top of my EOS.
So here is my new baby as  I was getting her ready for her maiden voyage.  Still thinking about a name for her.  I will spend some time stenciling it onto the hull.  But not now - time for the water!

The shallow depths of White's Bay make it ideal for a newbie like me - water as calm as glass and shallow.  In any event, if there is a mishap and I tip it is just hip deep here in the bay close to shore.  They have dredged a channel for the boats to get to deep water, but once out of the marina and channel it is not deep.   Sometimes I see fishermen out with hip waders, so no worries for me as I get comfortable with all the paddling and turning skills I need and at some point - tipping and self rescue skills I will need to master before I head out to the deep water beyond the sand bar in Georgian Bay.  I have favourited a bunch of kayaking how to videos on You Tube and will be studying up so that I can do some more adventurous journeys before too long.

Kayaks sit down so very close to the water.  Gives a unique perspective.

Sun was setting down behind the clouds in the western sky.  I am looking back at Rupert's Landing from White's Bay.  I hope to be able to be out on the water during a proper sunset next week.  Should have some fabulous pictures.  There are lots of wonderful places to explore which are close and fine for a beginner like me.  I should be able to have lots of adventures during my week of holiday next week.

 I was trying to get close enough to take a picture of this swan, but she was just not cooperating with her paparazzi and kept swimming away from me.  Her paddle skills were better than mine.

And so back into shore at the Rupert's Landing marina.  When I got ashore, I sorted out my gear and made all sorts of adjustments to the seat positioning (the back support is held in place by adjustable straps) and the feet "stirrups" and then carted it back up to the kayak racks at the end of the marina parking lot.  I guess I will be getting a few muscles with the to-ing and fro-ing!

I am very happy with my new putz about boat.  At a weight of 38 pounds,  I can easily schlep it each day from the racks to the boat ramp and it is just the right size for a beginner like me.  It is a cute little kayak - only 9 feet long when most are 12-14 feet, but it is quite serviceable for a newbie and does double duty for light touring (which is what I will mostly do) "ocean" kayaking and river "white water" kayaking, which is probably what I won't do.  But I do have a standing invitation for my adult children to borrow my new "baby" so maybe they will take it out for some exciting white water adventures at some point.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To All Those Fathers Out There - Happy Fathers Day

I have to thank my good friend Kathleen for reminding me about this wonderful song - a perfect song to celebrate Father's Day.  The song is a conversation between Father and Son.   The Father wanting the son to stay near home and settle down, and the Son who is about to embark on the journey of life and travel away. 

The song Father and Son, was released in 1970 in the album Tea for the Tillerman, his 4th album.  According to Wiki:
In 2001, this album was certified by the RIAA as a Multi-Platinum record, having sold 3 million copies in the United States at that time. It is ranked at #206 in Rolling Stone Magazine's 2003 list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".

Yusuf Islam is noted for his philanthropy and has received a number of philanthropic and humanitarian awards in this last decade.

The Song Father and Son - The 1970 original.

It's not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
It's always been the same, same old story.
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.

It's not time to make a change,
Just sit down, take it slowly.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to go through.
Find a girl, settle down,
if you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.
(Son-- Away Away Away, I know I have to
Make this decision alone - no)
All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.
If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them They know not me.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.
(Father-- Stay Stay Stay, Why must you go and
make this decision alone?)

I was so pleasantly surprised to hear the more recent BBC concert video version, recorded in 2007 to be as rich and emotionally charged as the original recorded in .
The song Father and Son - An older Yusuf Islam performing on a BBC broadcast concert.

Cat Stevens or more correctly, Yusuf Islam,  your voice is as mellow and as calming now as I remember it to be when  I listened to your album Tea for the Tillerman, in my bedroom as a teenager.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

G20 Summit --Downtown Toronto Gets Ready!

Next Friday through Sunday the G20 Summit is going to be held in Downtown Toronto, mere steps from where I work and a few short kilometres from where I live. All week we have been seeing the results of months of advance work, barriers being erected on the city streets to keep protesters separate from the VIPs and endless communications about procedures to us who are affected due to proximity to the venue.

There are quite a few thousand who work within the security zone many of which  are being told to take the time off or work at home the Thursday and Friday. We have also been put on notice to be prepared to start working from home earlier in the week if security measures dictate.

I am with RBC and they have been singled out for special protest attention.  An RBC branch was fire bombed in Ottawa on May 18th  by a group calling itself FFFC who claimed RBC was targeted for its sponsorship of the 2010 Olympics.  Excuse me, but does that sound stupid only to me?

All week we have been seeing groups of 4-6 policeman patrolling the area and construction guys busy erecting the barriers and fences.

I did a walking tour today after work to see what the area looks like less than one week before the Summit starts. So here you go:

This is the building where I work, it is right next door to CSIS Headquarters which is also next to the Metro Convention Centre where the G20 is being held.
It is inside the security perimeter and anyone who needs to get into the building during the summit has to have special security passes.  We are all doing our "Disaster Plan" work premise plans due to the concern for our security in the midst of perhaps violent protests.  For me, that means working from home (er, well actually working up north on the dock by the Lake. LOL)

When I come out of my building I pass a walkway that goes to the CN Tower.  This whole area will be a "No Go Zone" and the CN Tower and the Sky Dome are walled in and closed for the full week.

This is the view down Front Street, which is the street that the Metro Convention Centre is on (plus the CBC Building in this view).  Even though it is inside the Security perimeter - No one can access this without passes, there are two inner fences.  This whole area is bounded by an outer fence which is a block away.  I guess they are ready for anything!

This is Front Street looking down the other direction, just past Metro Convention Centre.  A busy day today with a baseball game happening tonight, but as of next Thursday this will be empty - closed except for Convention delegates and police.

This is what the fence looks like on the north side.

As the sign says....

I believe this is the road that the cavalcade of VIPs will be chauffeured in.

There are fences everywhere!

This is the main entrance to Metro Convention Centre

The City removed all garbage bins last week.  No where to hide explosives with clear garbadge bags tied to poles.
So What is all this Hulla Baloo All About?

According to Wiki:

The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (known as the G-20 and also the G20 or Group of Twenty) is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 economies: 19 countries plus the European Union. Recently summits meeting at level of Heads of government have been introduced. The 2010 chair country of the G-20 is South Korea.

The G-20 is a forum for cooperation and consultation on matters pertaining to the international financial system. It studies, reviews, and promotes discussion (among key industrial and emerging market countries) of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, and seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization.

So my next question is what are the Protesters protesting about? Again, thanks to Wiki:

The expressed reasons for protests at meetings, have included the following common issues: blocking neo-liberal efforts to undermine local democracy, workers' rights (especially in developing nations), environmental protection, and resistance to globalization which many protesters view as a manifestation of neo-colonialism. Protests have been ongoing since 1999, and continue to have violent elements.

The last word from Wiki is:
It is often argued that the G-20, although it provides broader representation than the G8, is not entitled to make decisions that affect the whole world, because its member states are selected arbitrarily. The G-20 does not have a charter and its debates are not public, making it an "undemocratic institution." Critics propose an alternative such as an Economic Security Council within the United Nations, where members should be elected by the General Assembly based on their importance in the world economy and the contribution they are willing to provide to world economic development.

I have to admit, despite what Wiki says, and the obvious truth of it, I am at a loss to understand why the protests are so passionate and violent.  It is a gathering of the world's economic leaders from the  largest and most stable nations - and I don't really see anything they might do as harmful to anyone.  The truth of the matter is we do have a globally interlinked economy and we do need to cooperate in its orderly management.  I have observed  that the United Nations does not seem very effective except to aid developing nations perhaps, and its "one country one vote" also generates criticism as the largest populated countries have the same vote as the smallest.  It  would be a stretch to expect them to set appropriate economic policy I think. If you are interested in how the G20 members are selected, check out the Wiki article -  it seems to make sense to me and is rational and reasonable - this is not a dictatorship we are talking about.  I think that the protesters should all fly to Somalia and have a big protest against Piracy!

Personally could think of many other World events/circumstances which IMO are more deserving of protest and am astounded at the amounts of money being spent on security and lost by local businesses as a consequence of all this, let alone any losses they might sustain through damages consequent to protests. 

I will be exiting the city on Wednesday as soon as I can leave work.  I can easily work from my Collingwood Shangri-La home and escape all the fuss and bother - and I will be very glad to do so!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yet Another Poem and some Poetic Views of Summer

OK, so perhaps I should rename this blog "Poetry is My Thing" rather than "Toronto is my Town"  Enough said, one more poetry blog accompanied with a views of Lake Ontario I enjoyed this evening.  I know it is full on summer when on a Tuesday night the lake is full of sailboats.  I like to watch as they come in through the channel into the Toronto Harbour as night approaches.. 

Join me for a few minutes appreciating the poem following.  The message seems quite right for me at the moment as I sip a glass of wine all on my lonesome. No moon tonight, but I did glimpse just a sliver of a moon last night.

Li Bai's poem Drinking Alone by Moonlight (月下獨酌, pinyin: Yuè Xià Dú Zhuó), translated by Arthur Waley, reads:[17]
花間一壺酒。 A cup of wine, under the flowering trees;
獨酌無相親。 I drink alone, for no friend is near.
舉杯邀明月。 Raising my cup I beckon the bright moon,
對影成三人。 For her, with my shadow, will make three people.
月既不解飲。 The moon, alas, is no drinker of wine;
影徒隨我身。 Listless, my shadow creeps about at my side.
暫伴月將影。 Yet with the moon as friend and the shadow as slave
行樂須及春。 I must make merry before the Spring is spent.
我歌月徘徊。 To the songs I sing the moon flickers her beams;
我舞影零亂。 In the dance I weave my shadow tangles and breaks.
醒時同交歡。 While we were sober, three shared the fun;
醉後各分散。 Now we are drunk, each goes their way.
永結無情遊。 May we long share our eternal friendship,
相期邈雲漢。 And meet at last on the Cloudy River of the sky.

Li Bai (AKA Li Po or Li Bo),  701 – 762, was a Chinese poet. He is regarded as one of the greatest poets in China's Tang period, which westerners often consider China's "golden age" of poetry. He was part of the group of Chinese scholars called the "Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup" in a poem by fellow poet Du Fu.  Approximately 1,100 poems attributed to Li Bai remain today.
The following poem is one that young Chinese school children memorize.

Quiet Night Thoughts by Li Bai
The moonlight glistens in front of my bed.
I thought it was the frost on the ground.
I lift my gaze to view the shimmering moon,
Then lower my head, and miss my homeland.

More Poems by Li Bai 

I promise a blog and some pics of the G20 Summit Toronto preparations next weekend. What a lot of hulla balloo there is going on...

Monday, June 14, 2010

You Tube Finds: RSA: 21st Century Enlightenment -- Since 1754!

Today's blog is brought to you from my Collingwood Shangri-La, where I am hiding away for some well deserved R&R, trying to get back some mental capability after having worked my brain to the bone for far too many months...

I guesss it is no surprise to anyone that I fairly regularly bumble around in the internet to find interesting stuff.  Actually, I do not methodically go looking for things to blog about, but instead, follow my nose as clues are dropped which lead me on a merry chase, like a blood hound following the trail of an animal, I follow links hither and thither - a blog, news article or email receive often leads me to some bit of information that calls out to be "re-tweeted".  Today I want to share with you something I bumbled across on You Tube. 

RSA: 21st Century Enlightenment
I am not actually sure how I found myself viewing an RSA Animated Talk on You Tube - but it grabbed my attention by subject matter and then when I noticed that it was delivered via a graphic artist doing a white board session with homour as well as with excellently put together and informative content, I was hooked.  I listened to the first RSA-nimate Video with great interest and then went searching for the source of this great format for delivery of informative ideas.   From the RSA Website:
For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress. Our approach is multi-disciplinary, politically independent and combines cutting edge research and policy development with practical action.
Wow! Since 1754, you say!
On their website is a very intersting interactive graphic which provides a historical account.  Go here if you want to play around with it a bit and discover facts like this one:  In 1770 RSA started to provide awards to industry for reducing smoke emissions.
If you want to know more about the RSA go to their website here to check out their "about RSA" video in which  Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA, introduces the RSA in this short video "about who we are: our history, our work, our Fellowship and our future Purpose, vision & strategy."

From the video, you can see that this organization is much more than the TED Talks or Idea City of the UK.  I must apologize to my UK visitors if I seem to be quite ignorant of the role the RSA has been playing over the past 250+ years, but with a bit of internet viral publicity it will become as well known globally as it so rightfully deserves.

I am going to feature two You Tube Videos I found (of the many originating from the RSA) which particularly grabbed me.  The first talk was adapted from a talk by Dan Pink which illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace. In it there are some interesting results on studies of the value of reward/punishment and what really motivates folks to work harder in jobs which are mentally challenging.  Apparently, we have evolved beyond the carrot and stick.  Listening (and watching) this talk was very enlightening and explained lots to me about this topic.

The 2nd You Tube Video I would like to share with you is one by Professor Philip Zimbardo which  conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being.  He explains how time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world.   For those folks out there who are parents, he also explains the implications of the immersion in digital technology on the next generation and quite frankly it made me sit up and take notice, wonder and worry.  Well worth viewing.

The picture at the top of the blog and immediately above were taken last evening as the sun was coming down. I can't say often enough how lucky I am to be able to get away to such wonderful surroundings and walk out on the sea wall into Georgian Bay and bask in glorious sunsets and sunrises.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Subway Shenanians - Improv in Toronto - Subway Dance Party

Next Saturday, June 5th is the 4th Annual Toronto Subway Dance party.   This is as Wiki defines, a "Silent Disco", which is a type of Flash Mob.   The first identified Silent subway disco was held in the London Underground in 2006. Flash mob is a example of an Internet meme. See here for more blogs about internet memes.

From the Video, looks like it might be a bit of fun.  I might just trot along (or salsa along, more accurately), of course only if I don't retreat to my Collingwood Shangri-La for the weekend!  

Just as a point of interest, I could try out my fancy new "moves" I have been learning at the dancing lessons I have been taking.  LOL - but I think that those moves would be more appropriate for the annual "Salsa on St. Clair" weekend which is later in the summer.  I am still learning the steps and working on the the 1-2-3-...-5-6-7...  Might need til the summer to get good enough to want to flaunt my new moves.  LOL

If you want to join in or even just turn up to watch all the fun go to the Improv in Toronto site to check out the details.

According to Wiki:
A flash mob (or flashmob)[1] is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse.[2] The term flash mob is generally applied only to gatherings organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails.
This is in fact a very tame subway goings on compared to others. I wrote about several others in an earlier blog.  I also found some other Videos of flash mobs which are kind of neat. .

For some real subway dance shenanigans have a peek at these ones!

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