Sinner's View

Hidden Church: Sinner's ViewHidden Church: Sinner's View

The view from inside the confessional at Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic, AKA "The Hidden Church"), Amsterdam. 2009-07-05.

Amsterdam at night

Amsterdam at nightAmsterdam at night

July 4th, 2009. Amsterdam is full of spectacular scenery at any time of day or night. On this particular evening, we were meandering through the city on our way back to the hostel after dinner. And yes, it's not an optical illusion: Some of those building are crooked.

Bikes in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Bikes in the Vondelpark, AmsterdamBikes in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam

First stop on our European vacation: Amsterdam. Yes, we were there mainly for the cycling culture and not the drugs!

The main beauty of cycling in Amsterdam is that it's completely normal. Almost everyone does it, young and old.

May she ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston

Jen with a Charlie Card in BostonJen with a Charlie Card in Boston

Last year's European vacation started with an unscheduled stop very far from Europe: Boston. We missed our connecting flight to Iceland and had to spend a whole day in Beantown. We made the best of it though! After getting a good night's sleep in a hotel, we took the bus and subway downtown and spent the day walking everywhere.

It's a beautiful city with plenty to see, but the most exciting thing for Jen was that she was able to buy a Charlie Card for use on Boston's public transit system. The "Charlie" character was popularized in a 1949 Kingston Trio song, which you can watch a great live performance of on Youtube.

Some more photos from our day in Boston are here.

Back from the dead

Vic and Jen in Trakai, LithuaniaVic and Jen in Trakai, Lithuania

Wow, it has been almost 2 years since I last updated my "blog" on March 6th, 2008. I have been pretty good at keeping my photo album updated with new pics though, so that sort of filled the gap.

It's not that I didn't have anything to write about. In fact, these last couple of years have been some of the busiest and most fun times of my life. Without getting into a long play-by-play of the last two years of my life, here's a selection of highlights, with links to related photos (of course):

I have made a bit of a promise (or is that a challenge?) to myself to keep this website updated much more frequently from now on. The main thing I want to do is maintain a photo blog in addition to the huge pile of photos in my complete album. My goal with the photo blog is to post a photo every day, along with the occasional bits of other "stuff" that I might find interesting. I hope you'll enjoy it too.

And please feel free to leave comments on any of my posts. The fact that so many people are commenting here about pigeon eggs is kind of amusing, but I'd like some variety too.


Cyclists Dismount

Cyclists DismountBack in January I noticed that these "Cyclists Dismount" signs were added along the Bloor St. sidewalk by the railway underpasses between Lansdowne Ave. and Dundas St. West.

I don't necessarily have a problem with telling cyclists to dismount while riding on sidewalks. After all, sidewalks are meant for pedestrians, and I have personally had some close encounters with sidewalk cyclists along here. It's especially dangerous to pedestrians stepping out from the Bloor GO train station.

However, these signs may be an indication of a bigger issue. Many cyclists hit the sidewalk when riding through these underpasses because they fear for their safety on the road. I often see cyclists ride on the roads along Bloor St., only to hop up on the curb when they reach the underpasses.

I can understand why cyclists might want to do that.

From the Don Valley to Central Parkway in Mississauga, this is definitely the worst part of Bloor St., for many reasons (Ok, Six Points stinks too). But for cyclists in particular, the problems are:

  • Between Dundas and Lansdowne, Bloor St. opens up into four lanes of fast-moving traffic. The only bit of traffic calming is the traffic light at Symington Ave.
  • The pavement is awful.
  • Motorists seem to speed through here in a race to arrive first at the next pinch point in the road.
  • When you're down in the underpasses, there's no chance to "escape" to a sidewalk in an emergency.
  • It can be difficult and dangerous to make a proper vehicular left turn off of Bloor St.

It's no wonder that cyclists take to the sidewalks here. But instead of hanging up some signs to address the symptoms, maybe something can be done to address the actual problems of the dangerous and scary roadway?

Cross-posted to I Bike T.O.. I have also been doing alot of work on the South Junction Triangle Residents Association website recently.

Lots of walking this winter

Walking in snowy OttawaMost people coming to my website would probably expect to see me write about cycling. All the time. And maybe some occasional computer nerd stuff too, I guess.

But the truth is, the few stories I posted about pigeons seem to be attracting the most people who write comments! I kind of miss those filthy yet beautiful birds on my balcony in Etobocoke, but in so many other ways I'm much happier in our new (old!) house closer to downtown.

Anyway, this post is not about cycling, computer stuff, or even pigeons. I just wanted to catch up and tell you about all the walking I have done lately. I still ride my bike to work most of the time, though I've been taking transit when I've been sick or the weather has been particularly bad, but I've started walking more often for more local tasks, and to explore my neighbourhood and city.

Here are some walks I've been on in December and January. Not surprisingly, I always had my camera with me! Click the links for more photos and commentary.

  • December 1: A Saturday afternoon walk with Jen down Sterling Rd. and other parts of our neighbourhood.
  • December 16: I was on a work trip to Ottawa when that big snowstorm came through Ontario. I went for a long walk around downtown and took plenty of photos.
  • December 31: Another walk around the 'hood, this time with lots of photos of the Wallace Ave. bridge.
  • January 1: A snowy New Years Day walk down Sterling Rd., through High Park, and more.
  • January 5: Some interesting sights while walking downtown.
  • January 12: Another walk downtown with Jen. MacGregor Park, Queen West, Trinity Bellwoods, murals, and more.
  • January 20: Walking downtown again (we're really saving on TTC fare!). Zig-zagging through the side streets down to Queen West, and more.
  • January 26: Yesterday I finally dragged myself out for a walk after being sick for almost a week. We went up to St. Clair W., enjoyed the view from the escarpment etc.

I have also been enjoying Michael's Bloor-Lansdowne blog lately. He posts some neat information about the neighbourhood, often from the perspective of all the walking he does.

Rainy January? Ride on!

My feet and bike(I haven't posted anything here in almost a year! need to catch up soon. You can always check the photo gallery to see what I've been up to. I also post on the I Bike T.O. website.)

Did anyone else have an awesome bike commute this morning? I sure did!

I don't often look forward to biking 20km to work in the rain, but today was amazing. It was 11 degrees outside, and a light rain when I left my west-end home at about 8:40am (yeah, I was running late!). I was dressed a bit lighter than I usually would in January: underwear, MEC Rad Pants, long sleeve light "Powerdry" t-shirt, rain jacket, wool socks, Shimano cycling sandals, and rain booties.

It was actually colder in my garage than it was outside. As soon as I got into the alley, I knew I'd be shedding layers soon. Riding along Annette St., I was opening up my cuffs and unzipping the top of my jacket for more air. By the time I was around Dundas St. and Royal York, I had the pit zips open.

The headwind was very light, barely noticeable. I was flying along. I think I ride faster when I'm in a really good mood too. Warm January days do that to me.

Burnhamthorpe Rd., somewhere in eastern Mississauga. Really cookin' now, and even my feet were feeling hot! I stripped off one of my booties and shoved it in my pannier's rain cover. A few intersections later, at another red light, the other booty came off and now I was riding in a stylish combination of wool socks and sandals.

I hiked up my Rad Pants to let my ankles and calves breathe more. At the next red light, Dixie and Burnhamthorpe, I completed my transformation into a summer cyclist by taking off my jacket and rolling up my sleeves.

The final 4.5km to work were the best. Starting with the downhill from Dixie Rd., I was grinning like a madman as I pushed my way towards the centre of Mississauga. The people cooped up in their cars probably thought I was nuts. I think they're nuts. The rain was picking up a bit now too, but I didn't care. I was having too much fun to be annoyed by it.

Hell yeah. Bikes rule. Can't wait for the ride home!

(Ask me about riding when it's 11 degrees and raining in the summer and you might get a totally different opinion from me!)

Cross-posted to I Bike T.O.

Smokers Have it Rough

No smoking within a 25 inch radius of entranceGeeze, smokers have it rough these days. This sign outside an entrance to the Square One shopping centre tells smokers that they have to be at least 25 inches away before they light up! The really crafty smokers can just hang their heads far enough out the door to beat this two-foot no-smoking zone.

The Long Way Home: Port Credit and Etobicoke

My ShadowSometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones. There aren't many better ways to end a day at work than taking the "Long Way" home on your bike!

The Long Way Home is something I try to do often, but not often enough. I commute almost every day by bike, and almost always enjoy it, but sometimes it's nice to see something else besides the same stretch of Bloor St. I often shake it up a bit by riding various sections of Rathburn Rd., Burhamthorpe Rd., or when I'm feeling more ambitious I'll ride all the way down to the lake and then head east.

That's what I did today. I just took off straight down Hurontario St. to Port Credit, and then took the slow, meandering Waterfront Trail route back to Etobicoke. Of course I stopped at many places along the way to take some photos and just enjoy the spring evening.

The long evenings, warmer weather, and awesome sunsets make Spring an amazing time of year to "take the long way home". I'll have to do this as often as possible. How about you?

A bunch of photos from my ride are posted here.

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