Pondering the Danforth tree-trashing

A friend alerted me when he saw paving crews ripping out the raised-bed trees, wondering why the destruction? We wondered, too, so Danica and I went to see.


Obviously the removed trees were goners, never to be replanted as was done when Gerrard was paved. How come?


Something WILL be planted in the new beds (left), now at ground level. And look at the remaining trees, still in their boxes. The root base is a couple of inches narrower than the box. Why the gap?

This much is clear. Toronto loves and protects its trees, so there ought to be reasons and plans for the greater good of our canopy. It occurs to me that our last harsh winter was deadly to many trees in planter boxes. There just wasn’t enough soil to insulate the roots, so they froze to death.

Maybe a decision has been made to stop putting trees in planters. They need to be in the ground, as I found myself with a front yard cedar. Ground, good. Planters, bad.

It remains a mystery to me, though, why decades-old trees could not have been saved and replanted. I wonder too, what’s going to happen to those planter trees that seem to have been readied for movement (that gap around the root ball). The destroyed trees were in an older style of planter box.

But then, the survivors are in newer style boxes that sit on top of newly paved sidewalks. They seem to have been repositioned, after the recent repaving. They look healthy. Maybe they will stay and the gap will be filled with soil. There goes my no-more-planter-boxes theory.

Time will tell, but for now I have more questions than answers.

[Update] I found some information here.

Sigh. He’s at it again, only worse

We can get rid of Stephen Harper next year, but it may take years to get the smell out.


Setting aside the question of the deal’s terms (good for us or bad), it’s bad because it’s being done behind our backs. It’s bad because it lasts for 31 years. It’s bad because it hasn’t been debated or discussed nationally. It’s badly secretive. It’s bad because it’s probably unconstitutional, as so many Harper schemes turn out to be.

Find out more about the FIPA deal and sign the NDP petition against it if you think it will help. I’m not NDP, either, but they are the Official Opposition. Elizabeth May has warned us, too.

Testing and timing Google images

Let’s see how quickly Google will grab these images from my blog and associate them with an image search for “Raymond Souster”.

It is a mystery to me how Google grabs images from everywhere on the web and serves them up in collections so quickly when we enter a search term or two. Imagine the computer power it must take and the storage capacity!

souster-plaque-unveilingFirst, a shot that has not been posted online before. From the left: George Elliott Clarke, John Robert Colombo, Sarah Doucette and Donna Dunlop prepare to reveal the new plaque at the foot of “Souster Steps”.

donna-dunlop-raymond-sousterDonna Dunlop at the September 6th plaque unveiling, reading poetry she has written about Raymond Souster. Donna is Ray’s publisher, literary and estate executor.

barker-fairley-raymond-sousterAnd last, an image that I discovered while cooking up this test. I should have known that Barker Fairley would have done a Raymond Souster portrait, but had not seen it until now. One online source dates it to 1957.

I like Barker Fairley’s work and I have written about it before. He painted portraits of our friends Ruth and John Robert Colombo. Let’s see if Google can connect the dots … and let’s see how fast it happens. I’ll come back and add the result, if Google succeeds (or fails).

Result, after 10 hours.

Google did manage to find the image of Donna Dunlop overnight, placing it further down the search results page than other, similar images from my blog. The unveiling photo has not yet been found and listed, nor has the Barker Fairley painting.

For comparison, I searched the same terms, “Raymond Souster”, in Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Results there were either better or worse, depending on your criteria. Bing was more specific. Its results focussed tightly on images of Ray, leaving out images loosely associated with him. So Bing had fewer, but more precise results. It did not find the Donna Dunlop picture or any other the other speakers at the plaque unveiling.

Shooting nobots on the Danforth

Danica figured out how to photograph through the window reflections at 1847 Danforth today. It was a matter of holding the lens close to the glass.

Here’s a look at some of the inventive sculptures on display. A sign in the window gives this link to more photos and information about Shuttlewerks. My guess is that the figures are called “nobots” because they don’t move, but look like robots.

In the adjacent store window, Quack Quack Animations responds colourfully with assembled characters of its own.

The figures are not only fun in their own right, they are fun to examine closely, to see the bits and pieces they’ve been made of.

Searching for sameness

As our paradoxical global culture is driven by a restless obsession with novelty, our roads and cities look more and more alike the world over. Do we love what’s different or do we yearn for fuzzy sameness? The answer, of course, is yes.

Personally, I find “averaged” images bland and unsatisfying, but the notion that averages represent ideals goes back at least as far as Aristotle. The video displays technology that is very old and very new, at the same time.