0101 Walks

The traditional greeting of the day: Happy New Year!

For the last couple of years, my primary resolution has focused around my walks: my goal has been to expand my walking, keep myself (moderately) in shape, and to explore different parts of the city… or any city I might be in. So… in 2017, I walked 1000 km through parks during the year. That was successful, so last year (2018) I committed to walk 1050 km. That was a little hard because I walked very little last winter; I enjoy winter hiking, but last winter was a difficult one. But I got it finished on the last day of the year.

So now this year (2019) I’m going to do 1100 km. I’m also going to take pictures on each of my walks, and write about why they are significant. This one, above, is of me on my first walk of the year, down in one of my favourite places in Toronto, the Black Creek Parklands.

Let’s see if I can do it…

Distance walked: 4.58 km

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Last Picture

As I described yesterday, Mr Sam died about a month ago. He had (as far as we could tell) colon cancer, and had stopped absorbing nutrients when he processed what he ate. He had thus lost more and more weight, in spite of being chased with cans of food (and believe me, he loved being chased with cans of food). Mr. Sam was fairly photogenic, and this is one of the last selfies I took with the boy, about six weeks before he died. One thing that makes me happy is that he knew he was loved until he died.

Relate posts from this year.

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Goodbye to Mr. Sam

For those of you who don’t know, yesterday marked one month since the the Sam-cat, our ginger tabby, passed away. He had been battling colon difficulties for the last year or so; we figured out that he was having difficulties over the last Christmas holidays, and worked through several of the symptoms that were manifest. But he continued to lose weight, he continued to be anemic, and he continued to have his strength fail.

After he died, I was pretty much a mess for several weeks. Sam had been my “transition kitty” after Mrs. Whatsit died, back in 2003, and he was the first of our cats whom we adopted in Arkansas. So Sam had been with us for 15 years, and he had not been a kitten when he arrived.  He’s had a long and happy life, much though it had been eventful. And he was one of the foundations in our household. He welcomed visitors and most of our friends knew him.

The day after Sam died, I ran into this graffiti on my way to work. “Mr. Sam” was a common nickname for the Sam-cat… even at the vet’s, they called him “Mr. Sam”. Now I’m sure this has been around for a long time, perhaps even years, and I’ve walked by it many times. But this was the first time I actually saw it, the first time it impressed itself on me. It brought me some comfort.

Related posts from this year.

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang CarMy book for this month is “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Ian Fleming, 1964). I’ve always loved the movie, and when I saw it (for the umpteenth time) a couple of weeks ago, I realized I’d never read the book. And it’s almost as old as I am. So I looked it up in our local library, put it on “hold”, and picked it up today. After I’d done my walk (on om of the the last hot days of the year), I snuggled down and started reading.

There are some fundamental differences from the movie, but it still reads wonderfully well. And I have to admit a certain stumbling happiness as I got about a quarter of the way through. It was just the beginning of the magical changes that were to take place through the story, and the paragraph started… “And a sort of soft humming noise began… then the most extraordinary transmogrifications (which is just a long word for changes) began to occur…” (emphasis mine).

It might be a word, but it isn’t (yet) in my spell-checker.

So everyone else is probably already quite aware of this. I first experienced the word in the old “Calvin and Hobbes” comic that blessed my young adulthood (1987). For anyone who has not seen the “transmogrifier” series, I found a link to the comics. I had always thought that Bill Waterson had virtually made up the term, and that it had entered pubic parlance only afterwards. So I was happily surprised to see it in print more than twenty years earlier.

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Electric Cars

I took the day off today, ran some errands that I’ve been intending to complete for some time. For lunch (and for cinnamon rolls) I dropped by IKEA. Out front they have a section of the parking lot dedicated to electric cars. Of the eight spots available, three of them were charging.

I thought this was great. Until I noticed that they were all government vehicles. The province started adding electric cars to the fleet over a year ago. I suppose that because of the cutbacks in subsidies for alternative fuels, the government is one of the few able to afford them now. So much for the new premier stimulating the economy.

But the conservatives should be happy. The charging stations at IKEA are free, so at least they’re not wasting taxpayer dollars.

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NPR News LogoOne of the things I brought with me from the States back to Canada is NPR, “National Public Radio”. When we bought the new car, it came with Satellite Radio. I was planning to let the subscription expire… I think it came free for six moths. But I enjoyed the variation in music, particularly the indie programming. And then I discovered “NPR Now”.

One of the reasons I first started listening to NPR in the States was the perspective, the information… and the consistency. It was one of the few radio programs that was available all across the country, wherever I was visiting (and I travelled a lot in those days). I finally started supporting KUAR in Arkansas. So I was happy to discover a version that is available up here… it may not be Canadian, but many of the values reflected make me feel at home.

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Stop Lights

The power failure yesterday (Bowles, 2018) was a significant event. It was something out of the ordinary, something where all of us, as residents in one area, had to work together to overcome the difficulty. And it was difficult, not just because so many of us lost power. But even if you were just passing through, there were so many stoplights that were out that traffic was reduced to a crawl. “Passing through” took some time.

It’s funny. A lot of people… a surprising percentage, actually… weren’t very compliant when it comes to broken stop lights. They’re supposed to treat them like four-way stop signs, coming to a stop and going through the intersection in their turn. Lots of people didn’t do this. Many went through as a group, sneaking through with the person in front of them; at the smaller lights, they didn’t even slow down. I wonder if they realize that such behaviour actually made the whole system work slower? They might gain a second or two at one light by cheating someone else of their turn, but they then lost a minute because they’ were behind a whole bunch of people ahead who are cheated out of their turn. Those who weren’t willing to take their right-of-way, and took longer to avoid those who cheated? We’re so focused on immediate gain that we don’t realize that our behaviour is making things worse.

I met two young women from China on that walk. They needed help just getting across the street. Everyone was so intent on getting through the intersection that not a single person stopped for the timid pair to walk across… a violation of not only general civility, but of the law. They had been trying to get across for ten minutes, but the stopping was so random and so quick (we often call them “California stops”) that they did not have the confidence to even start. So I showed them, and walked them across the street. A simple thing, but it can be important when everything seems against you.

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