Thursday, February 28, 2008

25 Months Old!

...and we're beginning to think he may be a human after all. Look! Art!


Mysterious ads for a product called "Obay" have been plastered all over Toronto for the last couple of weeks. Everyone has been guessing what they could be about -- a culture jamming ad that critiques the overmedication of youth? Ads for some kind of self-help system? Or just a joke?

Their point was revealed this week (you can read about it here and here). I wasn't too surprised to find out that they were done by Smith Roberts + Co., the same advertising firm we are working with on the United Church of Canada's WonderCafe campaign. I knew there was something familiar about this twisted approach to marketing!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cold Weather Update

Frozen hair isn't that bad. Mine froze this morning while walking to the bus stop from my mechanic's place. It was crispy. It's been so cold here the last couple of days (currently it is -11F). Tonight even the temperature sign at the local mortuary was frozen solid. The city has been hauling away the snow in trucks, because there is no way it will melt at these temperatures and we have run out of places to put it all. This morning, after dropping Amado off, Wendy and I nearly slid into four lanes of rush hour traffic from a side street, where there is still a lot of ice and snow. Snow's ok, but I'm getting tired of it being really, really, really cold. It makes a little hard to go outside.

(Picture above from the folks at, who appear to be stranded in Antarctica and experiencing a bit of cabin fever.)

Your Fez

Tai didn't win her fez, so I thought I would post one for her to make her feel better. Tai, this fez was home-grown in Anaheim. It's a green fez, in keeping with the environmental spirit of the times. I thought your aerophant might appreciate knowing that.

This is from the website 20x200, where you can buy great art cheap. They make 200 prints (8.5 x 11) of fine art photography and offer them on-line for $20 each. What a brilliant idea.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sometimes One Pacifier is Just Not Enough

We've been trying to break Amado of his soother habit, but it only seems to be getting worse.

Salvador de Bahia

I once had an opportunity to travel to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil with a group of friends. I had to decline because I didn't have the vacation time. Bad mistake.

Picture by Paolo Sammecheli, more at:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Out in the Desert

My Mom has a great story on her blog about her and Irene's recent trip to the Mojave Desert. Check it out here. I loved their photo of the desert shack and hope they don't mind if I borrowed it for a new title banner! (Thanks Mom!)

Good Morning Toronto XXII

Nowadays, when you wake up in the morning and the first thing you see is a massive tower of smoke rising from downtown you can only think one thing. "Thankfully" it was only a six-alarm fire. Lots of stunning pics here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weekend Update

1. Gun Moll: In 1972, after watching the movie, Bonnie and Clyde (above, the real deal), I raced around the streets on my bicycle for a couple of weeks wearing a beret and a scarf tied around my neck playing cops and robbers. Of course, I imagined I was Bonnie. I don't know where that came from, though it was hard to miss the fact that she had a killer instinct for fashion.

2. Family Day: As a reward for voting him into a second term as Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty gave the people of Ontario a new holiday, Family Day, which was celebrated today for the first time. There was widespread confusion in Ontario about what we were supposed to do on Family Day, but as for my family, we celebrated quietly, exchanging family heirlooms and enjoying a family dinner while sitting beneath the family tree.

3. Weather Update: We're having a great winter this year, with tons of snow and some bitter cold temperatures. As a native Californian, I still find the Canadian winter exotic and totally exciting. Of course I live in an apartment and don't have to set my alarm clock to dig my car out in the morning. I also live very close to my office and don't have to spend a couple extra hours commuting on snow days. However, I do spend an extra half-hour getting our two-year-old dressed every day, including snowpants, snowboots, scarfs, mittens, hats, etc. You don't have to do that in LA, now do you.

4. Spring is Coming.... And I've got two field-level tickets to the Blue Jays opening home game vs. the Red Sox on April 4. Oh yeah.

5. Oscars: We watched Juno the other night on DVD (I know it's not out yet, but we have our sources). It's a really, really sweet movie and I loved it. But I can't see it winning picture of the year, though of course I don't keep up with the movies so I have no idea what it's up against.

6. Beans: I may have had one too many double tall lattes at Starbucks this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Opera Warm-Up Routine part 2

Amado likes this, so I'm posting it to the blog. Now we can watch it over and over and over....

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

WonderCafe: The Series - Webisode 3 - Homeless

Speaking of homelessness...we have an new WonderCafe webisode out on that very topic.

This webisode asks the question that's always on the top of everyone's mind: "Why aren't the homeless more professional?" Ok...maybe not everyone's mind -- but it sure makes for good conversation! Join in at

Monday, February 11, 2008

Homeless in Toronto

A homeless person sleeps on a grate in Toronto's theatre district. This picture is from two weeks ago when there was a lot less snow than there is now. There's an interesting discussion over on WonderCafe about what this image says about Canadian society.

Get Out of my *^%$! Bathroom!

Don Amado is in the bath.


I think I'm just looking for an excuse to post this great photo on my blog. It's from the site of Geez, a magazine I have been reading and recommend. Their blurb is almost as good as the photo:

Holy Mischief in an Age of Fast Faith
Geez magazine has set up camp in the outback of the spiritual commons. A bustling spot for the over-churched, out-churched, un-churched and maybe even the un-churchable. For wannabe contemplatives, front-line world-changers and restless cranks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I'm doing a story on the flora in my life and I searched the Internet high and low the other day trying to figure out what kind of flower my paternal grandmother had growing in her yard in East LA. I think they may have been exquisite gardenias, such as the one above. Also in her yard, I remember a tidy Missouri Synod Lutheran collection of roses, purple irises, and Bird of Paradise flowers.

I'm contrasting this with exploding cacophony of flora my maternal grandmother had in her quarter-acre suburban El Monte plot. She had mints and cati, poinsettias and poppies, along with a billion other exotic plants. But the most amazing thing about her garden were the fruit trees, from kumquats to apricots to oranges, limes, pomegranates, and walnuts. For a child, it was a wonderland, rivaling the mystical gardens of Babylon. But best of all, you could eat your way through it too.

In the Toronto winter, there is nothing I miss more.

Dispatch from a Civil War

Anyone who doesn't think Hillary Clinton is in deep trouble in her primary fight with Barak Obama just needs to read Frank Rich's column, "Next Up for the Democrats: Civil War."

Among many troubling points for the Clinton campaign is this:

Clinton paid a small fortune for an hour of time on the Hallmark Channel plus satellite TV hookups for the assemblies of supporters stretching from coast to coast. The same news media that constantly revisited [Obama's] Oprah-Caroline-Maria rally in California ignored “Voices Across America: A National Town Hall.” The Clinton campaign would no doubt attribute this to press bias, but it scrupulously designed the event to avoid making news.

Meanwhile, the “Yes We Can” Obama video fronted by the hip-hop vocalist of the Black Eyed Peas had been averaging roughly a million YouTube views a day. (Cost to the Obama campaign: zero.)
And, even worse, this:

Last month a Hispanic pollster employed by the Clinton campaign pitted the two groups against each other by telling The New Yorker that Hispanic voters have “not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.” Mrs. Clinton then seconded the motion by telling Tim Russert in a debate that her pollster was “making a historical statement.”

It wasn’t an accurate statement, historical or otherwise. It was a lie, and a bigoted lie at that, given that it branded Hispanics, a group as heterogeneous as any other, as monolithic racists. As the columnist Gregory Rodriguez pointed out in The Los Angeles Times, all three black members of Congress in that city won in heavily Latino districts; black mayors as various as David Dinkins in New York in the 1980s and Ron Kirk in Dallas in the 1990s received more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote. The real point of the Clinton campaign’s decision to sow misinformation and racial division, Mr. Rodriguez concluded, was to “undermine one of Obama’s central selling points, that he can build bridges and unite Americans of all types.”

It all makes for great political theater. But obviously this battle of titans is not good for the Democratic party. It could all lead to John McCain becoming the next president, just like Business Week predicted back in December (and they were probably the only ones in the world making this guess, which was quite an absurb statement at that point).

Saturday, February 09, 2008

From Tourists to Pilgrims

The other night I had a dream that Joni Mitchell had died and I was watching as her fans started sidewalk memorials to her in front of all the places in Toronto where she got her start as a young folk singer in the 60s. "It's true," one fan sobbed, "she's gone." Then I heard Joni's voice, as if coming from everywhere: "You're acting like a bunch of tourists, man," she said. "When are you going to become pilgrims?"

(No doubt inspired by her famous scolding of unruley and unenlightened fans at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Here is a written description, and here is the scene on YouTube.)

(Or maybe there's a connection to this.)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Spiritual Leader, Dies

Deepak Chopra about the Maharishi:
His capacity to explain Vedanta was unrivaled, and if he accomplished nothing else in his long life, his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita insures his lasting name, because with acute analysis he cuts through to the heart of every verse. Imagine that someone arose in the West who definitively settled all the disputes over the New Testament and went on to exemplify the nature of Jesus. Then you might get some idea of Maharishi's impact as a guru.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Good Morning Toronto XXI

Lots and lots of new snow this morning. The whole place is socked in. You'll have it click to enlarge this pamorama, though it really doesn't show what it's like on ground level, which is DEEP. I had to pick Amado up from daycare yesterday in a sled! He loved it!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bob Marley

I know the word "prophet" has been overused--mostly misused actually. But I wouldn't hesitate to apply it to this man. Bob Marley wasn't necessarily any more holy than the rest of us, but his words, music, and positive vibration has helped to wake up millions of people and called us to live life in a better, more loving way. That's a prophet in my book. Happy birthday Bob Marley.

In the Wake of Super Tuesday

What happened in a nutshell, from my favourite (supposed) traditional, nonreligious conservative, Andrew Sullivan:

The Biggest News: I'd say it's Huckabee's astonishing resilience, with so few dollars and so little organization. The Bush-Rove party is a disproportionately religious organization and the pastor cannot be denied. The GOP's natural ticket is obviously McCain-Huckabee. It makes a lot of sense for the logic of today's religiously-based, war-motivated Republicanism. It's also a huge reminder that the so-called leaders of the conservative movement - Limbaugh, Hewitt, Dobson, Levin, et al - are very scantily clad emperors. Their bluff has been called. And it couldn't happen to a nicer crowd.

On the Democratic side, the bottom line is that this is now a dead heat. Given Clinton's massive lead only a couple of weeks ago, that's a huge Obama gain. Clinton has the edge among super-delegates (as of now). Obama has the edge in money - a real edge, and it's building. It's still all to play for.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday

I think I'm looking forward to Super Tuesday more than I was Super Sunday.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Giant Upset

Sometimes I still get surprised by a sporting event. Above, seldom used back-up David Tyree makes an amazing, game-saving, unbelievable, earth-shattering, championship-winning catch. Eli's throw wasn't half-bad either. I mean for a Manning.

"I am a man that really has to capitalize on his few opportunities," Tyree said. "Some things just don't make sense and I guess you can just put that catch there with them."

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Um, Where You Going, Dude 2

More Groundhog Day pics here.

Um, Where You Going, Dude?


Sometimes I wake up thinking about such things...

How Soap Works

Soaps are useful for cleaning because soap molecules attach readily to both nonpolar molecules (such as grease or oil) and polar molecules (such as water). Although grease will normally adhere to skin or clothing, the soap molecules can attach to it as a "handle" and make it easier to rinse away. Applied to a soiled surface, soapy water effectively holds particles in suspension so the whole of it can be rinsed off with clean water. The hydrocarbon ("fatty") portion dissolves dirt and oils, while the ionic end makes it soluble in water. Therefore, it allows water to remove normally-insoluble matter by emulsification.

The History of Soap
The earliest recorded evidence of the production of soap-like materials dates back to around 2800 BC in Ancient Babylon.[1] A formula for soap consisting of water, alkali and cassia oil was written on a Babylonian clay tablet around 2200 BC.

True soaps made from vegetable oils (such as olive oil), aromatic oils (such as thyme oil) and Lye (al-Soda al-Kawia) were first produced by Muslim chemists in the medieval Islamic world.[3] The formula for soap used since then hasn't changed. From the beginning of the 7th century, soap was produced in Nablus (West Bank, Palestine), Kufa (Iraq) and Basra (Iraq). Soaps, as we know them today, are descendants of historical Arabian Soaps.

From "Soap" in Wikipedia.

Good Morning Toronto XX

More snow yesterday...lots of it!