Monthly Archives: May 2009

On revisiting silent movies

I love good silent movies. Some of my favourite films are from Fritz Lang and Charlie Chaplin. They never get old for me.

Sadly, they aren’t seen that much anymore. They need a way of getting people to rediscover them. One way of doing that is with music mashups. I’ve seen someone do a great version of “Fade Into You” over Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth. (You can find it on this blog, or YouTube). Here’s another mashup using The Killers and Mr. Brightside and combining it with the luminous Louise Brooks from Pandora’s Box.

It would be great if people who like The Killers, see this, and go out and rent or download Louise Brooks and others. It could be the start of a beautiful thing.


The architecture of emergency rooms

Emergency rooms need better architecture. I started to think about this when I had to go to an emergency room a few years back. Reading this blog post, concerning “How do we decongest our overcrowded and dangerous emergency departments” (The Daily Dish by Andrew Sullivan) had me thinking of it further.

Essentially you have one room where everyone comes in and gets processed at a rate slower than they come in. You have people who aren’t really an emergency but who may have no where else to go (e.g. someone needing medical care at midnight). You may have people who really do need care but are wrongly ignored until it is too late. And I am sure there are lots of other problems as well.

I think doctors, nurses, patients and architects could work together to come up with a much better approach to dealing with this overwhelming situation.  If you were to visit an ER, what would you likely see:a seating area,
nurse’s station, and then a secondary area for waiting/treatment.
Maybe there is a coffee shop. Perhaps there is a TV. Right now the situation is constrainted by the architecture of the ER room. and the ER process. I think both should change.

One way to change this is to look at what other organizations do to relieve this bottleneck. Retailers are a good example of this. They have essentially broken down their bottleneck: the checkout space. For example, car rental agencies have people who come to your car and check you other there. They are essentially extending the checkout space over a much larger area. Other retailers are providing people kiosks or scanners that people can use themselves which again speed up the process and eliminate bottlenecks.

And such services are being provided in the area of medicine. Where I live, the province provides Telehealth Ontario, which is free access via telephone to a registered nurse, 24/7. I have used this in the past when I have had a sick child and it has been a great benefit to me, my daughter, and the local ER which wasn’t clogged with my presence.

There needs to be more of this, however. Redesign the ER to allow for check in kiosks could speed up the process. Ceiling mount monitors to provide people with updates on how quickly things are going. Give out pagers to allow people to leave the ER , but then provide them with areas within the hospital or around the hospital that they could go to in order to have a coffee, a rest, a bite to eat, a diversion of some sort.

These aren’t the best of ideas: I think someone who works in ER and is really familiar with the problems there could also come up with better ideas. But better ideas are needed now.

(Great photo from Mark Coggins’ photostream at

Now that’s how to wear a bowtie! :)

OPENING CEREMONY has lots of great fashion online for sale. But you need to see what they have, so they need models. I think they’ve made an excellent choice in their models for the bowties they carry from Alexander Olch.

You and I should look so good. 🙂 It’s a pretty smart association: Churchillian, you could say, since he was associated with both bulldogs and bowties.

I suspected bowties were going to be hot before I saw this: I am pretty sure of it now.

(Tip to the great blog, Cup of Jo)

What do people want to know? On Saturday night, mostly song lyrics

I learned this via The Edge of the American West. Try this trick:

  1. Go to Google.
  2. Type in the beginning of a common phrase (e.g., “how do I..”, “where are…”, “is barack…”)
  3. Look at the drop-down list of suggested searches.

I tried “god is” and here are some of the answers:

  1. not great
  2. dead
  3. an astronaut
  4. love
  5. not a fish inspector
  6. a girl
  7. good

Most of these I get, some (3) are a bit odd, but number 5?! What’s up with that?

Ok ok…you have to go try it now. 🙂

(Tip from Andrew Sullivan).f

What to wear – men’s shoes

Over at The Moment Blog – is a number of articles on men’s shoes that should be helpful to any man looking to pick up something new. This article, Fancy Footwork | Designer’s Men’s Shoe Collaborations, features these numbers from Florsheim that not only have some great models in black, brown and tan, but they slip in a blue number, too.

They also have a good write up on low cost Zig Zag shoes (like these below) that are perfect for summer.

Save or Splurge – or do both – when you travel has some great approaches to travel writing. I’ve mentioned the “36 hours” in a city article before: those are great for the quick visit to a place. They also have save-or-splurge guides that give you the high and the not-so-high cost ways of seeing a number of the great European cities. You can find it here: Travel – Guides and Deals for Hotels, Restaurants and Vacations – The New York Times

I’ve already found a place I want to stay in Paris in the “save” section: it’s Mama Shelter Philppe Starck had a hand in it, it’s in Paris, and the price is right, so I have to go!

The blog everyone is talking about: Ecocomics

What’s great about blogging is that someone, like the writer of the blog Ecocomics, can take what appears to be two very different interests (economics and comic books) and put them together to come up with something very different and interesting. For example, where else would you find someone posing the question: Where Does the Canadian Government Get the Money from to Keep Making Super-Soldiers?, other than at Ecocomics?

If ecocomics had come out sooner, we’d have alot more people interested in economics! Go see.

Roo Reynolds and his blog

Roo Reynolds now works for the BBC. He used to work for IBM, where I got to know of him. He has a gift for social media, and anyone who wants ways to use it more effectively should consider following Roo.

One of the things he does well, among many, is write about which books he is reading. He takes a photo and then talks about them. It’s simple, but it works well, I think.

Here’s a recent selection of works he is reading, including some books by Stephen Fry (always a good choice).

Go see his blog.

Canada’s Governor General and the eating of seal at an Innuit skinning ritual

There was alot of flippant commentary after Canada’s Governor (GG) General Michaëlle Jean participated in an Innuit skinning ritual, including the eating of seal (specifically the heart). I think it pays for people to at least read what she said. Some of what she said is here: GG defiant about eating seal – The Globe and Mail. They should also learn more about her and her background and how she approaches the role of GG. While people can still disagree with her or the hunt, they should at least try and understand what she was trying to do.

Gerhart Richter and me

I think I have been looking at Richter’s images too long. In a number of his works, he employs a tripartition, which creates depth in the work (in many ways). I thought of this today when I snapped this photo of myself. Here’s me followed by two of Richter’s works.

I especially like the second work, since it seems to use an incandescent light source for illumination, giving it the flat, bright lighting that you see, as well as creating the deep shadows on the wall. But the skull is obviously very powerful too.

The brilliance of The Reeling (Passion Pit)

Sometimes I overlook something that appears simple. Deceptively so. If I am fortunate, someone comes along and says: look and listen carefully…you will see and hear alot more if you look and listen carefully.

This video, The Reeling by Passion Pit, is one of those things. What is it? Is it simply a catchy pop song video of young people going to a club? Look and listen carefully…

Chloé Richard, Gerhart Richter and Vermeer

Thanks to the blog, Letter To Jane, I’ve discovered another great photography blog, this time by Chloé Richard.

What struck me was the similarity I found between this photograph of Richard’s

and this work of art by Gerhart Richter:

which no doubt borrows something or is influenced by this painting by Vermeer

There are similarities to each of the works, particularily in the contemplative aspect of the single woman in the work, the triangular composition, and the importance of the light source. Even the nature of the woman’s hair. There is likely alot more that I am missing, not being an art historian. And I can’t say that Chloé Richard is influenced by or even is aware of Richter’s work. But I was struck by the common elements in each of the work.  What do you think?

Regardless, you should check out Richard’s blog and the great photographs there. Oh, and check out the work of Richter and Vermeer: they’re pretty good, too. 🙂

Now THIS is a Bike Tour that I can get excited about

If you are a lover of cycling and cake, and you are in Toronto, then you might want to consider a new event: the Tour de Dufflet. As the site explains, participants will…

“Get a little exercise and something sweet by cycling to all 3 Dufflet retail café locations in one day. Registered participants will receive a souvenir gift, something sweet and other goodies by cycling to each Dufflet cafe and having their Tour de Dufflet Passport stamped when they arrive.”

Registration fee is merely $5 and it goes to charity. What’s not to like? Did I mention something sweet? And not just any ole sweet, but something sweet from Dufflet. Sweet! 🙂

Excited?  Check out their site for the details.

Texting and Teens

According to the, Texting May Be Taking a Toll on Teenagers.

Clearly teenagers are texting alot these days, but I wonder how much of it is taking an actual toll vs a perceived toll by their parents and other authority figures. After all, what is too much? (For one thing, teens are not so wordy as adults in text messages, based on my not very signifigant sample. I would like to know how many of those messages were “K”, “BFN”, “LMAO”..I am guessing alot! 🙂 )

And it’s not just texting. I was watching my teenager using my laptop the other day, and she was texting on her cell as well as using Facebook and IM! Oh, and watching YouTube. The world is increasingly networked and generating more and more information that is coming at us. Not to mention being generated by us. However, it’s not just about processing information. How we socialize is more and more revolving around this. That’s what’s in front of us, whether we embrace it or reject it.

Is it bad? I think it is simply different. Indeed, this article, The Benefits of Distraction and Overstimulation in New York Magazine defends all this information. Good or bad, it’s something we need to address.

The $99 computer…

…is actual a plug. But no ordinary plug: it’s a fully functioning computer with a fast processor, sufficient memory, Linux (of course), gigabit ethernet and a USB 2.0. What can you do with it? Well, pretty well anything.

I think this is the next big thing. You can configure this plug computer into anything you want. I want one! 🙂

This article, Plugging In $40 Computers in the has more details, including why it is (going to be) a $40 computer.

Why the story of Oxford’s First Female Professor of Poetry Resigning Could be a Great Novel

This is the stuff of modern novels: first female professor of poetry, sexual harrassment charges, great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, Oxford, beating — or should it be cheating? — a Nobel laureate out of the position…it goes on. For a summary: read
Oxford’s First Female Professor of Poetry Resigns.

Innis & Gunn – Oak Aged Beer

Innis & Gunn – Oak Aged Beer is one of my favourite beers. Because it is aged in oak,   it has an unusual taste for a beer. I really like their “Blonde” beer: if you think you might not like such a beer, try that one first, since it is lighter. And check out their site: it has all you want to know about the beer, from where to buy it to what it goes well with. Regardless of which one you try, you owe it to yourself to discover it. Treat yourself!

Iran blocks access to Facebook

Here in Canada, I think of Facebook as an interesting way to keep in touch with family and friends, nothing more.  It’s just one of a number of social media that I use. However, for the government of Iran, Facebook is seen as a serious threat, as shown in this article: Iran blocks access to Facebook from The Globe and Mail.

I am not sure how successful this will be. I recall James Fallows writing that Iranians were using the same technology that the Chinese were using to get around the Great Firewall of China. I suspect that this blocking of access will be more of a slow down than a stoppage of use of Facebook in Iran.

Regardless, it just shows you that Facebook is more than throwing sheep and sharing pictures and other such silliness that some take it to be. For some, it can be a powerful means of organization and communication.

The greatness of Tony Bennett and Jerome Kern combined for “The Way You Look Tonight”

In a few simple words and with a beautiful melody, this song captures what it means to be in love: the admiration for the one loved, the passion of the one who loves, the timelessness of it all.

Here’s Tony Bennett, still, wonderfully, singing “The Way You Look Tonight” by the great Jerome Kern.

P.S. And to add to all that, Tony Bennett takes the time to promote his pianist, Bill Charlap. It goes without saying that Tony Bennett is a class act.

Obama and Cheney and the words they spoke and the things they thought…

…can be summed up like this. Here’s one speech via

…and here’s the other:

I think it is obvious which one belongs to which speaker.  For more on this, see Word Cloud Of Obama And Cheney Speeches | Political Hotsheet – CBS News

If you are frugal and efficient and travel alot…

….then you owe it to yourself to check this out: How to Pack Everything You Own in One Bag : NPR

As for me, I am hopelessly inefficient at packing. This is something I aspire to. 🙂

How to stay in Manhattan cheaply

Personally, I think I am too old for this. But if don’t have alot of money and you have to see NYC, then this article, Manhattan hostels for less than 25 dollars, could be just the ticket. For instance, this place, the Central Park hostel, is one block from Central Park. And hey, if you do stay some place and you think it is amazing…then let me know. At the very least, you will save alot of dough (which will come in very handy in Manhattan.)

Chuck and shoulder = Cheap AND Delicious

One good thing to come out of this recession, ahem, I mean Great Recession, is the rediscovery of how good certain low cost / free things can be. One of those things is low cost meat. Certain meats, for example, if prepared properly can taste superb, with loads of flavour you won’t find in more expensive and tender cuts.

But don’t take my word for it. See this article, It May Be Cheap, But It’s Also Tasty in that gives the rundown on cuts of meat that contain the words chuck and shoulder.

(Mouthwatering picture of beef stew from the startcooking kathy & amandine’s photostream at Bonus: if you go to the photo, you get a beef stew recipe.)

Is part of the United States in the Third World?

That’s the provocative question the blog The Map Scroll poses. I think it pays to read the blog post to get a better understanding of what the map above implies. To me, at a minimum, it indicates that parts of the U.S. are worse off than other parts. And of those parts that are worse off, most of them are in the South, in places like Arkansas.

Fascinating. See the post.

Growing a Vegetable Garden…you can do it.

Whether you have barely room for one pot or a enough space to fit 1000 pots, there’s alot to be said for growing your own vegetable garden. The food tastes better, you save money, you help the environment, etc. What’s not to like? The only thing stopping you are some instructions and a few things to pick up. You can get the former from this article:
Growing a Vegetable Garden at The rest you can get from any number of places, easily. Once you get something that you can harvest, let me know, and I’ll come over and share a salad with you. 🙂

What is PPZ?

Recently Jane Austen has followed up her masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice, with a sequel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ).

Ok, that’s only partially true. There is a book known as PPZ that is a…monster hit! But it is by one Seth Grahame-Smith, not Jane A. One of the many good blogs published by the, Paper Cuts Blog, has a run down on the new novel.

I’ve heard people complain about how hard it is to get. I believe that has to do with the overwhelming success that small publisher Quirk Books is trying to deal with. If you can snag a copy, you should do so. In Toronto  I’ve seen some at Urban Outfitters; if you have an UO in your city, try there. To their credit, not only did they have PPZ, but they had the original PP as well. Having them side by side is great stuff.

For more on the phenomena, see Jane Austen Ate My Brain – Paper Cuts Blog –

Who is Francis Bacon?

Well, there are two of them. One is a famous philosopher. A second is a famous 20th century painter. The latter has a retrospective in NYC at the MoMA that I recently blogged about.

If you are interested in who he is, has a great posting on a documentary concerning the artist. You can find the details here at Francis Bacon documentary

Advice for the day

from the superb blog, { rose-coloured-rain }

P.S. when I see blogs like this, I think: this is why I read more and more from blogs and less from print media. It’s not that the print media is bad: it’s that the blogs are just so good.

Jody Rogac and other blogs by artists (including a suggestion)

What I love about the web now is how many more people contribute who are not techies/IT people (like myself). In particular, there are alot of artists who are using blogs and tumble logs to post their work (as well as using sites like to sell their work).

I’ve already highlighted Tim Moore’s Letter to Jane as a great example. He recently highlighted another photographer who has some wonderful work, Jody Rogac. The wonderful photo is just one of a number of great pieces from her blog. Check it out.

I hope she is ok with me using this photo. Which leads me to my next point. For people who have such blogs and web sites, I would like to suggest that they mark at least some of their work with a creative commons designation that allows others to use it. I am always hesitatnt about pulling in the works of others. Most people are ok with it: big agencies like Getty Images are not. If I was American, such use might fall into the category of Fair Use, but even that is debatable (and I am Canadian, so Fair Use shouldn’t apply to me). Regardless, copywright laws are not internationally consistent, but the Creative Commons designation is. I recommend you use it. And of course, you keep posting great work for others to enjoy and share.

Recycling your old technology and saving lives

Speaking of recycling, the excellent blog Ushahidi has a great idea for anyone with an old cell phone they want to replace. The organization Hope Phones will recycle your old phone and use it to buy new cell phones that will help ultimately in providing medical services in developing countries. Go to Hope Phones for more on this smart idea. Better yet, if you have an old phone — and you likely will in the next year or two — why not send it to them?

Waste = failure to innovate

A good chef will take anything not used in the final dish and use it for something else. Extra dough gets baked as a smaller cookie or cake, extra vegetables are turned into a soup, and extra batter goes to hovering children. Nothing gets wasted.

Same with carpenters. Good carpenters will plan their cuts to maximize the wood that they have.

We need to have that same attitude in the way we live and work now, given all that we produce. Waste should be seen as failure to innovate. We should look at what remains and think: what can we do with that? Ultimately nothing should go to waste, for everything will have a use somehow. We need to get creative

P.S. I thought of this while reading the tweets of Andrew McAfee (amcafee) who is at an MIT conference, and who wrote:

  #mitee: McDonald’s Mike Cramer: “I hate waste. We’re allowed to fail forward, but we’re not allowed to waste.”

Great Ideas is a great idea from Penguin Books

If you are lucky, you can find a book store with books from this series from Penguin called Great Ideas. I was reading this one from Orwell today.

Penguins refers to them as books, but in a number of cases they are excerpts or essays or something short of a book. But this is quibbling. They are a nice price and the design of the books is superb. The size of them makes them perfect for short trips. And since there are so many of them, you are bound to find at least one that you want to read. For more info, see Great Ideas  – Penguin Books

Why I love

Why I love

  • If let’s anyone be a craftsperson, and let’s everyone be a DJ, then lets everyone be a fashion designer/editor/model
  • It escapes the idea of fashion and style being something that big designers, magazines and corporations say it is
  • Much of the style and the photographs are excellent
  • It integrates well with other media like Twitter, which gives it a social/viral quality

For more on what’s behind it, go here or the home page,

Thanks to Tim Moore, writer of the blog, Letter to Jane, for pointing this out. I believe anyone who has seen and liked The Sarorialist will like


this morning I blogged about the NYTimes and their somewhat old write up on Dublin. Today they had a new write up:

36 Hours in Toronto.

Living in Toronto, I must say that they’re done a great job of capturing all the “hip” places you might want to hit if you  flew into my city for 36 hours. Anyone following their recommendations would have a great visit to Canada’s largest city. It makes me think that anyone following these “36 hours” articles in the will have a great experience.

Banksy on flickr

This is good! There is a flickr pool dedicated to Banksy. Check it out here.

Francis Bacon is coming to the MoMA in NY

The Tate’s Francis Bacon retrospective is coming to NYC soon. It will be a great show of a great artist. I wish I had an oopportunity to see it: Bacon is one of my favourite artists.

For more on the show, see Richard Lacayo blog,  Looking Around at

The life of a commuter pilot (and your life too)

If you take alot of commuter flights in the U.S., you may not want to read this article: The Reality of a Pilot’s Life Defies a Glamorous Stereotype – It’s much worse than the title suggests. Not only is the commuter pilot’s life not glamourous, but it difficult to the point that it poses a danger to those that fly with them.

If you do live in the U.S., you should start by sharing this with your local political representative. It poses a real yet preventable danger. I hope changes are made soon.


This travel article, 36 Hours in Dublin in the New York Times, is a good reminder to me of how wonderful a time that I had visiting Ireland’s great city a few years ago. It is one of the loveliest cities that I have seen, and if you haven’t visited, perhaps this article will convince you to move it up on the places you should go.

Interestingly, this article was written in 2007, when Ireland was still booming. Sadly for them, it isn’t now. But what’s bad for the locals may be good for tourists, in that you may find much better deals on flights, hotels, and other expenses that you’d incur on your trip there. All the more reason to head to there soon.

(Photo from david.nikonvscanon ‘s photostream at

Great new blog to follow is…

Daydream Lily.  Gorgeous. And then some…..

(thanks to Letter To Jane for the suggestion)

Star Trek and the New Yorker

Star Trek has opened to both popular and critical acclaim. Based on the numbers at Rotten Tomatoes, it is viewed highly by  almost everyone.

One exception is Anthony Lane. His review, Highly Illogical, is so cranky it is a joy to read. I get the sense that he hates Star Trek, and yet, for whatever reason, had to review it. The title of his review is perfect, for that’s what his review is.

There have been many different productions of Star Trek: some good, some bad. Not only is this one really good, but it will appeal both to fans of Star Trek and those who just want to have fun at the movies. I recommend you boldly go and see it, if you haven’t already.

I also recommend you read Lane’s review. I read it after seeing the film and had a great laugh. You will too.