A Community Commons – Victoria Park

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 14th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m going to have to get out of the neighbourhood and roam a bit. We went shopping for a new pair of Timberland boots today. No luck – they only have them in stock in the fall for some strange reason. I’ll have to try when I get to Sedona.

So, for today, it’s back to Victory Park, a lovely, compact community commons in the centre of the city.

At the base of the statue of Victoria is one the finest of the classic regal lions that I have seen:Victoria Park - the Regal LionAnd here is the great lady:

Victoria Park - the great lady
The modest fountain in the centre of the park is a magical setting to exercise a long zoom lens. The flying rats are always cooperative:Neighbours chatting in Victoria Park

Remember, while in Canada we are always playing the “Spot the Tim Hortons Coffee Cup” game.

It won’t be so difficult in this image:Victoria Park canon complete with obligatory Tim Hortons coffee cup

There are, of course, the obligatory canons in the park. They make convenient trash receptacles.

We’ve spent much of our day communicating with a young teacher at the school in Toledo, Ohio which has been locked down because a teenage boy who aledgedly wrote threats to teachers and pupils in his diary has been missing and presumed to have in his possession a gun. It also appeared that he had stolen a vehicle. The school was closed and threatened persons taken to safe places until the mystery could be solved. We just received word from her that the boy has been arrested in Tennessee.

Many innocent people will sleep easier tonight and there is hope now for healing for the boy. Blessedly, tragedy has been averted.

Until the next time.

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Up Close and Personal in Hamilton Ontario

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 5th, 2009 by MadDog
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Hamilton has the healthiest looking flying rats that I’ve ever seen:

Hamilton has healthy looking pigeons
Eunie and I took a short stroll around the city centre on Sunday afternoon accompanied by my new Olympus SP-590. The 26x optical zoom on this baby is as sweet as candy. More about that later. We’re staying at a place called Staybridge Suites for the next three weeks. I know it sounds swanky, but it’s actually reasonably priced, especially since our kids offered to spring for half  the cost. We also get a sweet ‘Seniors’ discount. I think it was a mutual understanding that, while we all love each other, having grandma and grandpa living in the house for nearly a month might strain family relations a mite.

Anyway, back to the pigeons. My theory concerning their uncommon vitality is twofold. First, I think the winters are just so unkind to anything living that the sick ones simply don’t make it. It’s the survival of the fittest. Broken feather, forget it, you’re dead. Twisty beak, a goner. A few cooties, sorry Cooie, you’re frozen toast. The other thing is that, despite signs everywhere sternly warning, “Don’t Feed the (######) Pigeons!”, everybody and their brother feeds them. The image above was grabbed from about 20 metres at about half zoom. The little flock was pecking away furiously at a big pile of illicit grain.

A long zoom is just the ticket for candid shots. You are so far away that people don’t have a clue that you are shooting them. It’s a bit like hunting, except nobody gets holes punched in them. I like it much better that way. The holes are so messy. I fell in love with this shot the instant I punched the shutter release:

A lazy Sunday stretch by the fountain in HamiltonIt’s not National Geographic, but it’s got a moodiness that I really dig. I love images that speak to me. Please take note of the Tim Hortons coffee cup. In honour of my recently initiated love affair with Canada, I’m going to attempt to include a Tim Horton product in one image of each day’s post as long as I’m in Hamilton. It will be fun. You can play “Spot the Horton.”

I really like Hamilton. It’s chock-full of people who so obviously don’t care what you think of the way they look. People dress as goofy as they like. It’s a very in-your-face place. I feel very comfy in Hamilton. Nobody gives me strange looks. I walk down the street with my wild Cherokee hair flipping in the breeze under by black fedora and people just grin at me and wink. It’s like I was born to be here. I shot this guy carrying a grandfather clock from about a city block away. Nobody even noticed him. It was like he just had an unusually large wristwatch: (Hey, dude, nice Rolex.)

This guy never goes anywhere without his Grandfather Clock
Hamilton is full of interesting signs. I’ll be showing you some of the more amusing ones over the next few weeks. Here is today’s interesting sign:
Even naughty businesses are folding up their tents in Hamilton
I see several problems with this sign. First, I can’t imagine that this sleaze oozing joint is Canada Largest ANYTHING. What happened to Truth in Advertising? (Okay, okay, that’s an oxymoron.) Next, where’s the apostrophe? I hate this. It should be Canada’s Largest and Best blah blah blah. Can’t these porn people spell? Didn’t they go to school? Finally, I think that if you are going to offer the largest and best TERTAINMENT to the public you should at least offer some explanation of what it is, as most of us probably are not familiar with the product.

Apparently, this of varitey of Tertainment is tailored to adults. Ah, Hamilton, you’re a wild and crazy place.

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Donuts to Die For? – Famous, Certainly – Delicious, well . . .

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 8th, 2008 by MadDog
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Founded in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1964 Tim Hortons could fairly be characterized as a Canadian icon. In mid-2007 there were 2,733 outlets in Canada alone. That was about twice as many as McDonald’s, making Tim Hortons Canada’s largest fast-food chain. The first store is located only a few blocks from my son’s house in Hamilton. Here is the plaque mounted on the front of the store:

Plaque at Tim Hortons #1

Tim Horton was a very famous ice hockey (is there any other kind in Canada?) player between 1950 to about 1968. There’s far too much material to cover here, so check the link. (Sorry, competitive sports of any kind simply bore me – I prefer to compete with myself. When I get tired, I can just quit and declare myself the winner. Yea! Fifty pushups – I’m the champ!) You can read about the hockey stuff on your own time.

What interests me, in a Homer-like way, is the donut shop. Tim Hortons is certainly ubiquitous around Hamilton and, presumably, around the whole of inhabited Canada. Here in Hamilton, near the house we’re staying in, I noticed, at one intersection, a Tim Hortons on three of the four corners. Is this possible? Can you make money like that? I guess so. Here’s a photo of Store #1:

 Tim Hortons Store #1

A guy who heard us mention that it was our first time at Tim Hortons said (I think with pride), “This is my third time today.” It was not yet noon. Does this guy have a job?

Okay, let’s get to the donuts. Frankly, I’ve had much better. I’d give them a seven on a one to ten scale. Please, Canadians, do not have me drawn and quartered. It’s just one man’s opinion. It wouldn’t be fair to compare Tim Hortons donuts to the royalty of the donut kingdom found at Long’s Bakery off of West 16th Street in Indianapolis. Long’s bakes theirs in small batches. With donuts, freshness counts. So does special ingredients and baking techniques. Sorry to say, Tim Hortons are definitely good donuts, but nowhere near the best.

And now, completely off the point, what’s the deal with leaving out the apostrophe for possessive nouns? Shouldn’t it be Tim Horton’s not Tim Hortons. I find this very disturbing. Even McDonald’s, which gets just about everything else wrong, gets this one right. (Although, in McDonald’s defense, I should mention that, in Austria, you can get a beer with your Big Mac. It’s a taste treat that you can live without, believe me.)

And now, as a protective measure, I should mention to my Canadian friends that this is in no way a character assassination attempt on that fine country. I have the greatest admiration for Canada, an excellent, upstanding nation that seeks constantly and earnestly to bother nobody. My latest tattoo (more on that later) will attest to my esteem for my son’s adopted home.

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