The Annex in Toronto is growing up, literally. First there are the new condos going in on the corner of Bloor and Bathurst. Now the other end of it, at Spadina and Bloor, is getting the same treatment.
A mid-September application submitted to the City of Toronto seeks Zoning By-law Amendments to permit a 35-storey mixed-use condominium tower at 334 Bloor Street West, above Spadina subway station in The Annex.
In my humble and limited opinion, tech has many gaps when it comes to who works in the industry, especially when it comes to women and when it comes to black and indigenous people. Any efforts to address these gaps are a good thing.
I had some other things to say about Philip Guston until this article came out in the Times, saying:
Last week, a handful of museums decided to postpone a retrospective of the painter Philip Guston over concerns that Ku Klux Klan imagery in his work, intended to criticize racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry, would upset viewers or that the works would be “misinterpreted.”
I was disappointed, to say the least. Fortunately I am not alone. The article goes on to state:
On Wednesday, a letter drafted by the art critic Barry Schwabsky addressed to those museums — the National Gallery of Art in Washington; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Tate Modern, London — and signed by nearly 100 artists, writers and curators, was published by the Brooklyn Rail, protesting the postponement. To date, more than 2,000 names have been added — young and old, Black, Asian, Persian, Arab, L.G.B.T.Q.
So I am collecting a list of sites and pages on Guston, because he is an artist people should get to know more about. Especially if they were to simply mindedly misinterpret his work and think he has anything but abhorrence for the KKK.
I am also doing this because I am a fan of his courage as much as I am of his work. He made a big break from abstract expressionism late in his career and suffered for it. I don’t know many artists who have done such a thing. I think he needs to be more well known.
I also find it surprising to think people were surprised by this big break with AbEx. The elements he reintroduced were there from the beginning. And the cartoonish nature of his work is parallel to the drawings he was doing of Nixon and others. He needed to break from AbEx and went with the tools he had.
If you want to learn more about Guston, here is some links I have found that are useful:
The title is odd, but don’t let it put you off. Martin is a fascinating person, and a great artist. I find her work challenges me like no other. But it rewards too. I hope you will learn more about her and feel the same.
P.S. Since I wrote this, I found some other good links on Agnes Martin. Here’s a list:
As a book lover myself, I have coveted the collection of books above from Penguin. As they say:
This spectacular box set of the 80 books in the Little Black Classics series showcases the many wonderful and varied writers in Penguin Black Classics. From India to Greece, Denmark to Iran, the United States to Britain, this assortment of books will transport readers back in time to the furthest corners of the globe. With a choice of fiction, poetry, essays and maxims, by the likes of Chekhov, Balzac, Ovid, Austen, Sappho and Dante, it won’t be difficult to find a book to suit your mood.
Sounds great! For more information, including how to order it, go here.
Yesterday I encouraged you to take up a hobby. If you haven’t decided on one yet, I recommend drawing. You may be terrified or at least put off by the idea of taking up drawing. It’s ok. Many people feel that way. To help you, here’s some good links to get you thinking at least of taking up drawing.
I am sorry to (not) break this to you (since you know it already) but the pandemic is not going away soon. That’s bad. What’s good is it may be the right time to start a hobby. Here’s two links that can help:
Every October 3rd I mark my anniversary starting working at IBM. Back then, I took a 1 hour commute via the “Red Rocket” to 245 Consumers Road in Willowdale (now Toronto) to start work in the tape library (which looked a lot like the photo above).
What else was happening with IBM back then? Only the advent of the IBM PC. Here’s a story on it here.
Weight training has many benefits. If you have been considering it but balking, you likely have multiple reasons for not getting started. One reason might be: you have no time. Well, if you have thirteen minutes, you can do a weight workout. As noted here, In a Hurry? Try Express Weight Training – The New York Times, you can get stronger no matter what. Of three groups tested for strength gain:
One group was asked to complete five sets of each exercise, with about 90 seconds of rest between sets. Their total time for a session at the gym was almost 70 minutes. A second group was asked to complete three sets of each exercise, requiring they work out for about 40 minutes. The third group had to finish only one set of each exercise, meaning that they were done after a brisk 13 minutes. Each volunteer performed his given workout three times a week for eight weeks and then returned to the lab to repeat the muscle measurements. After the two months, all of the young men were stronger, a finding that, by itself, is beguiling, since it suggests that people can continue to gain strength even if they already are experienced at resistance training. But more interesting and surprising, the strength improvements were essentially the same, no matter how many — or few — sets the men completed. The men who had stopped after one set gained as much strength as those who had done five sets or three.
As with anything, your results may vary. But if you want to get stronger with the least amount of time put in, consider this.
Most people I’ve read say: “LOL. No! Are you crazy?” I agree, with one exception. I would strongly discourage people for getting one for their primary residence. But if they had a second property (a cottage or a business), then I would encourage it. I might also encourage it for people living in a big property. Any time where the risk of privacy intrusion is secondary to the risk from break ins or other property damage is the time I would encourage it.
It’s interesting technology. I predict stories about privacy problems in the next year, though I could be wrong. Amazon could have done a great job of dealing with privacy concerns. We will see.
The pandemic is a good time to pare down your life. No doubt it has already helped with that. Now it’s time to take it further. For example
Cut back on possessions — get rid of the extraneous clutter that is just weighing you down, and find joy in owning little.
Sounds good, right? I thought so. I took that quote from this piece: Paring Down Your Life : zen habits. I recommend you read it and consider what else you can eliminate from your life in this life changing time.
I’ve read some good and some not good reviews of the Lenovo smart clock. The not good ones point out the obvious limits of it, but I think they miss the point.
To me the main reason you want this smart clock: it can help you get your smartphone out of your bedroom. If you get one of these for the night table near your bed, you get most of the things you want your phone to do: wake you up, play white noise, tell you the temperature before you get dressed. It does all that, while preventing you from doomscrolling or exposing your eyes to light that keeps you up. For those reasons, I think it is a great thing and the main reason you want it.
You can also turn the microphone off if you are concerned about Google listening in on your bedroom (a proper fear). Or if you just don’t want anything “smart” in your bedroom, phone or otherwise, I recommend you check out this beautiful Moon Clock from LL Bean. My grandfather had one of these and it was a beauty.
Here are two good pieces on Richter for fans like myself. First is a good look back at when he first started painting. Second is a write up of his recent work, seen below. It’s the second time Richter has done a stained glass work for a church, and it is both similar and yet different from it. (You can see that one, here.)
Reading both pieces, I am reminded of how long Richter has been working and how much great work he has produced and continues to produce. He has long been one of my favourite artists, and I am glad he is capable of still doing great things.
He says this work shown is going to be his last big work. Let’s see. I’ll be glad for anything he can make now and in the future.
One of them was these were underground washrooms at Queen and Spadina:
The other is the once planned and then abandoned Queen Subway line.
Of course Queen Street isn’t the only thing with underground secrets. At Bay and Bloor is the famous closed off Bay Street subway line. And at the shopping mall at Hudson Bay used to be the Plaza Cinema, which you can longer get to.
I am sure there are many more such hidden gems, but here are four of them.
However there is a very wide spectrum for programming, and some people are very advanced in the form of programming they do. That should also be acknowledged. The work I do automating tasks by writing Python scripts is very different than the work done by people writing operating systems or other difficult tasks.
I like to think of it like running. If you run, you are a runner. End of story. If you work at running, you can enter a big race like the New York City Marathon and you will be with a range of runners from the very best in the world to people who will finish many hours later. The first and the last are all marathon runners, and the last are as real a runner as the first.
Same with programming. If you program, you are a programmer. You are as real a programmer as the person writing new code for the Linux operating system. Just like you can always get better as a runner, you can always get better as a programmer. It just depends on what you want to put into it and what you want to get out of it.
I’ve been reading less since the pandemic hit. For many reasons. It started to bother me, since the last few years I have been reading dozens of books each year. I felt I was failing. Then I read this: How to Read Fewer Books, from The School of Life.
I whole piece is good, but this part nailed it for me:
In order to ease and simplify our lives, we might dare to ask a very old-fashioned question: what am I reading for? And this time, rather than answering ‘in order to know everything,’ we might parcel off a much more limited, focused and useful goal. We might – for example – decide that while society as a whole may be on a search for total knowledge, all that we really need and want to do is gather knowledge that is going to be useful to us as we lead our own lives. We might decide on a new mantra to guide our reading henceforth: we want to read in order to learn to be content. Nothing less – and nothing more. With this new, far more targeted ambition in mind, much of the pressure to read constantly, copiously and randomly starts to fade. We suddenly have the same option that was once open to St Jerome; we might have only a dozen books on our shelves – and yet feel in no way intellectually undernourished or deprived.
What am I reading for: it’s a great question. I think there are many answers to that. To be content, as that suggests. Or to become an expert in an area. Or to pass the time. All are good answers, depending on your need for reading. If you are feeling bad about reading fewer books, step back and decide what you are reading for. It may help you read in a new and improved way.
Hey! Thanks again for reading this, my latest not-a-newsletter of highlights and ramblings since the one in August. I had a long list of things to post here, but I cannot seem to find them. Augh. Oh well.
Newsletters: a few newsletters ago they were all shiny and new. Now they have these become old hat. Almost. It seems like more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon. I’ve realized reading them now that they are a harder thing to write than most people think. The people most successful seem to have a voice and a formula/structure. If you have a formula or structure, your newsletter will hold up even on week publishing days. If you do not, it’s likely harder to maintain a base level of consistency. From what I have witnessed.
Favorite newsletters: No new ones since my last newsletter.
Pandemic update: in Canada we seem to be heading back down to the bad times, after making such good progress. I am not surprised. I think people are breaking down and thinking “oh what’s a little socializing going to do?” and the next thing you know we are back where we were months ago.
As well, schools are back: this will have an effect somehow. We will know in a few weeks.
Meanwhile I am trying to be as normal as I can and trying to get out when I can, knowing that I might not be able to in a few weeks if things spiral out of control.
Restaurants: I am not sure what will happen with restaurants if there is another form of lockdown. Many have closed, and I have to believe that the ones that haven’t are barely getting by. If this goes on for an extended period of time, I can’t imagine there being that many restaurants as we know them being around.
Other venues: other than restaurants, I wonder about other venues where people gather in large numbers. Most theatres are not doing well, and Hollywood’s hope of bringing in people with films like TENET do not seemed to have worked. As well, more studios are putting off films that should have been out awhile ago. I think they are delaying in hopes of something that will not happen.
I almost went to see TENET. I am a big fan of Nolan’s film and how he plays with time. But I can wait and see this at home.
Cooking: While I am trying to get out more to restaurants, I am still doing a lot of cooking at home. To be honest, it is often tiring. To reduce the workload, I am trying to cook more one pot meals. One pot meals result in less clean up afterwards. Plus they tend to be less labour. If you find you are cleaning up too much, try one pot meals. I found this book really good for one pot meals. I also go to Budget Bytes and type in “one pot” in the search menu and get quite a few that way.
I’ve also found I eat more repetitively. I will go days eating the same breakfast and lunch. It just save time thinking about it.
Autumn/the New Year: As far as I am concerned, the day after Labour Day is the start of the New Year and the start of Autumn. I know fans of Summer hate that idea. Fans of Summer want you to know that Summer ends the 21st of September, not Labour Day. It’s true, it does. And it’s true, there are some very warm days in September. But I love Autumn and I am glad to pack Summer away and get on with it.
I love Autumn because I associate it with the new and transition. The start of school. The start of harvest and wonderful colour. Of mild weather. I love Autumn because I associate it with good change. Autumn is dynamic. Autumn is where we start again, move ahead, make progress. It’s the best season. A season so good we gave it two names.
John Turner passed away this weekend. RIP. I still think this is one of the best photos of Canadian politicians ever. I sometimes wonder if Quentin Tarantino ever saw it.
Well, thanks for reading. Take care of yourself. Give yourself some slack. We are living in historic times, and that is usually difficult.
If you want a visual feast, head over to this link to see the best street photographers of all time. Truly remarkable. I kept expecting they would miss someone, but it seems like a comprehensive essay on the best of the best. (Like Berenice Abbott, whose work is above.)
It has definitely changed, just like so much has changed during the pandemic. I predict the weekend will come back in time. Meanwhile, consider ways to make you day / days different enough so that it doesn’t just feel like one big endless day. It will take some creativity, but it’s worth it.
Your weekend is coming up: find ways to make those days stand out from the others.
The word algorithm gets thrown around too much as writers struggle to talk about technology. Often times they use the word and the concept incorrectly. Don’t be like them. To avoid that, here’s two pieces on algorithms that anyone can read (no computer science degree required):
I came across this place the other day and thought it was fantastic. According to Wikipedia:
Shibam Haḍramawt (Arabic: شِـبَـام حَـضْـرَمَـوْت) is a town in Yemen. With about 7,000 inhabitants, it is the seat of the District of Shibam in the Governorate of Hadhramaut. Known for its mudbrick-made high-rise buildings, it is referred to as the “Chicago of the Desert” (Arabic: شِـيـكَاغـو ٱلـصَّـحْـرَاء), or “Manhattan of the Desert” (Arabic: مَـانْـهَـاتَـن ٱلـصَّـحْـرَاء).
BlogTo has a list of 10 of them, here, and I have to say, they did a good job. I am in full accord with Shawn Micallef on the need to blow away all the building on the North East corner of Yonge and Bloor. No one would shed a tear for replacing them. As for me, the ugliest building — and it was close — is the Bloor Dundas Square (shown above). That monstrosity has been around forever. Pretty much anything would be an improvement on what is there now.
Toronto has many great buildings. These are none of them. 🙂
If you are in the market for headphones and you work by yourself at home, consider the GW100 from Grado. If you need convincing, read this rave review in Forbes. Working in a space with others isn’t great with them because they are open back (i.e. others can hear the sound). But WFH alone, these would be perfect. Sure, you can also go with the wired versions that Grado makes. They are also great. Even the lower end models are excellent. However, the wireless is a great feature, especially if you want to move around some or want to avoid yet another wire to deal with.
The analog one is to declutter the space you are using to work from home. Apartment Therapy has a plan to not only declutter it but to make it better. (I find it easier to declutter if you can image the space looking good at the end).
My thoughts, which don’t amount to much, is there is not one answer to deal with problems in police forces. They clearly need to be accountable. They may need to shift some of their responsibilities to other services. This has been done in the past (e.g. the officers who give out parking tickets are different than the ones that make arrests). They also should be paid well: nothing encourage corruption like poorly paid police officers.
Societies need public police forces. I don’t believe the lack of police means things automatically get better. There needs to be some form of organized force that keeps the peace and enforces laws. Otherwise, you will get individuals taking advantage, gangs of organized crime, and private police forces. An unaccountable police force is bad, but no police force is worse.
The US Postal Service has issued commemorative stamps for the great American artist, Ruth Asawa. If you don’t know much about her (I did not), then I highly recommend this piece.
She lead a storied life, and overcame great hardships on her way to becoming the artist and the person she was. That sounds trite, but it’s true.
One of my goals has been to learn more about women artists, artists who have often been overlooked but should never have been. That goal has lead me learn about artists such as Asawa. I recommend you do, too.
If you are about to buy a sofa, it is tempting to get something colourful and bold. I recommend you consider getting a neutral coloured sofa and let the other parts of your room do the colourful and bold parts. A solid gray sofa can provide a great anchor for the rest of the room. To see what I mean, check out these sofas. None of them are dull, but all of them work really well in the rooms they are in.
I also like gray because unlike some other neutral colours, it doesn’t show wear and tear as much.
It may be fun to get a bright coloured or black sofa, at first. In the long run, gray is the best choice.