Preserved Stories Blog

Manhattan Community Board 5 focuses on shadows cast on Central Park

The following message is from Peggy Moulder of the Lakeshore Planning Council Corporation:

The town hall, which was organized by Manhattan Community Board 5, was focused on the long, dark shadows that these new tall buildings will cast deep into Central Park. Read article that follows: http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=7166

Similarly, the Mimico Secondary Plan will put the Mimico Linear Park and waterfront in dark shadow before 3 p.m. in September. Sunshine and sunlight make parks enjoyable in the cooler months in Spring and Fall. The removal of afternoon sunshine from parks makes them far less pleasant to use.  Parks are there for everyone to enjoy and should not be unfavourably (and unnecessarily) impacted by new development.

TO QUOTE THE ARTICLE:

“A better New York … doesn’t have to come at the expense of the public or the developers. There is plenty of room in this town for preservation, protection of open space and great new growth. New York City deserves it, we have to demand it.”

There is also plenty of room in TORONTO and MIMICO for preservation, protection of open space and great new growth.  TORONTO and MIMICO deserve it, and we too have to demand it.

Conclusion of text by Peggy Moulder

 

Posted in Construction, Historiography, Mimico, Mr. Christie's Bakery, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Bain Capital sees opportunity in methadone clinics – Boston Globe, April 13, 2014

An April 13, 2015 Boston Globe article is entitled: “Bain Capital sees opportunity in methadone clinics.”

An excerpt from the article notes:

  • This foray into one of the most challenging, and financially complex, areas of health care may seem contrary to the kind of dealmaking Bain Capital is best known for — investments in brand-name companies like Dunkin’ Donuts and Bright Horizons child care.
  • But as opiates ravage communities from rural Vermont to Hollywood, treating addiction has become big business. The push for national health care, and recent changes to federal health insurance laws could make it even more attractive. Substance abuse treatment is a $7.7 billion industry, according to a recent report by IBISWorld Inc., a New York research firm, and growing at an annual rate of about 2 percent.

[End of excerpt]

The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973 (2013)

The article is of interest in the context of previous posts regarding gangster literature and research regarding wars on drugs:

The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973 (Kathleen J. Frydl, 2013)

Drug wars and the power of rhetoric

The rise of luxury rehab (New Yorker, Dec. 1, 2008)

The rational choices of crack addicts – Sept. 16, 2013 New York Times article

Updates to Drug Wars (2013) and related topics, discussed in previous posts

Gangster movies

Starting in the 1920s, gangster movies underlined the capabilities of talking pictures

Updates: Drug Wars (2013) and the gangster genre

American Hustle (2013) is loosely based upon the late 1970s FBI Abscam sting

Farmers’ fields north of Montreal is where the City of Laval was built

Blurbs define us and tell us who we are

Machine in the garden

A related topic concerns the Machine in the Garden metaphor.

Steven High (2003) highlights the Machine in the Garden aesthetic of postwar factory design

Updates to previous post regarding Machine in Garden aesthetic of factory design

Long Branch

These topics are of interest in the context of my local neighbourhood of Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey):

What conceptual framework drove the British to establish themselves in Long Branch?

The bottom line

The story of drugs and related concepts such as drug wars and drug rehabilitation is concerned – at an empirical and metaphorical level – with historical narratives related to power and authority, the accumulation and circulation of financial resources, and the processes that serve to define – typically through blurbs or taglines – the situation at hand, whatever that situation may be, as viewed by a wide range of players.

With regard to the available narratives, Drug Wars in America (2013) provides a coherent and cogent historical overview. It serves as a good starting point for reading about these topics.

Altered states of consciousness

Around the time that it was published, as I’ve noted in a previous blog, I read a book by Charles Tart entitled Altered States of Consciousness: A Book of Readings (1969).

The book introduced me to a concept that I found appealing.

In the book, Charles Tart or some other writer asserts that if one wants to enhance one’s level of consciousness, engaging in  a systematic way in practices such as meditation are more likely to produce favourable results than dabbling with psychedelic substances.

The concept had a strong impact on my efforts to make sense of reality. Eventually, I found that mindfulness meditation was my perfect means of enhancing my perception of everyday life. After ten years of daily mindfulness meditation practice, I’ve begun to make progress in experiencing mindfulness in everyday life. It’s a bit of a relaxed wonder, I would say, to be able to experience the moment to moment flow of events – in the sense of being consciously aware of the here and now of the present moment – in one’s external and internal reality for sustained periods. It’s taken me ten years to make progress. I’ve heard some people pick up the skills at once.

As with many skills, once the fundamental skills are in place, a person gains enhanced proficiency in the practice of mindfulness through the daily exercise of it.

I personally don’t see much value in recreational drug use, but I do believe people should be free to indulge in such activities without the risking of a criminal record and incarceration. The latter approaches entail a vast waste of lives, resources, and human potential.

As many narratives related to the drug trade underline, in this context, the distinction between the legitimate and criminal use of force, and between the legal and illicit practice of business, is characterized by a consistent arbitrariness.

Mindfulness meditation

I learned mindfulness meditation through a field-tested, evidence-based, systematic means of instruction developed at the Stress Reduction Clinic of the University of Massachusetts Medical School (now The Center for Mindfulness). The website for the classes that I attended in Toronto in 2004 defines mindfulness as follows:

  • “Mindfulness” is nonjudgmental, present moment awareness – being here, now. To practice mindfulness, we pay attention to what we’re experiencing, moment to moment, without judgment or expectation. We simply observe whatever we’re aware of, letting the moment be as it is.

[End of excerpt]

Among other things, our everyday state of consciousness entails the emergence of recurring thoughts, throughout the day, about the past and future. These tend to attract our attention, and take us away from the experience of the here and now. With mindfulness, the thoughts occur as always, but we have a choice whether to get let them take us away, or observe them as each occurs, and let them go on their way. Conversely, if we have a task at hand, we can focus on completing it, without distractions getting in the way.

Mindfulness also entails that the sensory details of everyday life are viewed with a degree of acuity and freshness – as if “seeing things for the first time,” as the expression goes – that is otherwise not readily available to us, in my experience, in our everyday life, except perhaps in very early childhood – in our everyday perception of the world around us.

My own experience of mindfulness remains sporadic, but learning about mindfulness is among the best things I’ve learned. My experience of it remains sporadic. After an hour or two, I’m back on autopilot. Fortunately, soon I notice what has happened, and I’m back on track. It reminds me of learning to ride a bike, or mastering any new skill.

The practice of mindfulness does not require the adherence to any particular religion. Whatever a person’s belief system or frame of reference, there is value in this practice.

Updates

A May 2014 Walrus article is entitled: “Weeding Out Organized Crime: What legal pot in the US means for BC drug gangs.”

An excerpt reads:

  • Holcomb, who led the team that drafted Washington’s cannabis legislation, claims that concerns over the presence of drug gangs, and Canadian gangs in particular, was a key reason voters supported legalization in the state. “They put two and two together and realized that gang members were the ones in control of the market,” she says, “just like when we handed alcohol to criminal organizations during Prohibition.” By regulating cannabis, she and her allies argued, the state could deal the illegal market a crippling blow without anyone firing a shot. “We expect much of the consumer base here to start patronizing stores where shopkeepers have acquired licences,” she explains, while the growers, rather than toting guns, “will be paying taxes to their communities and being good neighbours.”
  • Martin Bouchard, a professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, is more cautious in his projections. “Washington state, after all, is only part of the route,” he says. “You go through it, but you don’t necessarily reach your destination there.” One can find BC Bud competing with such products as Quebec Gold as far away as New York state, which speaks to the brand’s incredible strength.

[End of excerpt]

An April 16, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “Casual pot users may show brain changes that could foreshadow trouble: Marijuana users showed differences in 2 brain areas associated with emotion, motivation vs nonusers.”

An April 14, 2014 New Yorker article is entitled: “It’s my jail: Where gang members and their female guards set the rules.”

A related April 15, 2014 New Yorker article is entitled: “Finding former prisoners – at McDonald’s.”

 

Posted in Communications, Film and sound, Historiography, Newsletter, Scams and scamming, Toronto | Leave a comment

Flash Boys is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders

I learned of “Flash Boys” when I heard an interview with Michael Lewis on CBC Radio’s The Current.

The blurb below is from Flash Boys by Michael Lewis.

The following blurb for Flash Boys, which features a Canadian connection, as one of the Wall Street guys – Brad Katsuyama – is from Markham, Ontario, is from the Toronto Public Library website:

  • Flash Boys is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, post-financial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, and more controlled by the big Wall Street banks. Working at different firms, they come to this realization separately; but after they discover one another, the flash boys band together and set out to reform the financial markets. This they do by creating an exchange in which high-frequency trading – source of the most intractable problems – will have no advantage whatsoever. The characters in Flash Boys are fabulous, each completely different from what you think of when you think “Wall Street guy.” Several have walked away from jobs in the financial sector that paid them millions of dollars a year. From their new vantage point they investigate the big banks, the world’s stock exchanges, and high-frequency trading firms as they have never been investigated, and expose the many strange new ways that Wall Street generates profits. The light that Lewis shines into the darkest corners of the financial world may not be good for your blood pressure, because if you have any contact with the market, even a retirement account, this story is happening to you. But in the end, Flash Boys is an uplifting read. Here are people who have somehow preserved a moral sense in an environment where you don’t get paid for that; they have perceived an institutionalized injustice and are willing to go to war to fix it.

 

Posted in Communications, Historiography, Newsletter, Scams and scamming, Toronto | Leave a comment

Artisano Bakery event with George Takach will take place at 10:00 am Saturday, April 12, 2014. You are cordially invited to attend.

The purpose of this post is to invite you, as a visitor to my website, to a meeting with George Takach, who is running for the federal Liberal nomination in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding.

I support the Liberals provincially and federally.

Among other things, the Parkview School story turned out beautifully thanks to the decision by the Ontario Liberals to release $5.2 million some years ago to enable the school to remain in public hands. I set up this website some time after I became involved with the Parkview project.

The latter story was my introduction to local issues in my neighbourhood. Otherwise, I would have been content to just go about walking my dog. As it turned out, our family dog played a key role in enabling us to mobilize resources to address the Parkview sale – but that’s an other story.

The purpose of the meeting with George Takach is to enable a small group of people to discuss topics of interest affecting our neighbourhoods.

I much enjoy face to face meetings. They’re a great complement to social media; face to face meetings are the original social media and in my view are tremendously valuable.

The meeting is on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 10:00 am

Adam Feldman, from the George Takach Campaign for Liberal Party of Canada Nomination in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, will say a few words at 10:00 am, with George saying something at 10:30, followed by a Q & A.

The location is the Artisano Bakery (1020 Islington Ave., at Islington and Titan Road) this Saturday. You can view 1020 Islington Ave., which is north of the Queensway and south of Norseman, at Google Maps.

I look foreword to meeting you at this informal get together.

Local and federal issues are closely connected

At a recent meeting for campaign volunteers that I attended, George Takach spoke of the saying that “All politics is local.” He’s also spoken of a close connection between local and federal issues. By way of example, he noted that public transit is an issue affecting all levels of government.

He spoke of three things, at a recent meeting, as they relate to the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding.

Residents in Humber Bay Shores, he noted (as I best recall; my notes were rudimentary), can have a concern about whether a GO Station will be built to help with transit for the new condos in the area. In Long Branch, the concern may be with regard to the development that will be under way in Lakeview in Mississauga. In an area further north of the Lake Ontario shoreline, a concern is with regard to what’s going to happen with the Six Points project.

Comment from a resident regarding public transit issues

I’ve spoken with a number of residents with regard to the connection between what happens locally and what happens federally. Here’s one comment that I’ve recently received from an area resident regarding this topic:

  • We are a country without a national transportation policy so that’s a federal issue! And the TTC is subsidised less than any public transit system around the world so that is both federal and provincial! At the transit forum that the Community Forum group held a month or so ago at Father Redmond school a group emerged I think called SEMTAC (South Etobicoke Transit something or other) which has been looking at transit issues because everyone agrees we are a forgotten corner when it comes to improvements. But most people are asking for service improvements rather than major investments like an LRT. There are suggestions of going back to have streetcars turn at Humber Loop – there is one group wanting the 501 to go up Roncesvalles to Dundas subway station and everyone wants more streetcars and more reliable service. Metrolinx have made it clear that they do not foresee another Go station and the renovations to Mimico Station will include a tunnel to the south side of the tracks to make access easier for people in Humber Bay Shore – there will be a path up Mimico Creek to join in with Manchester Street. Humber Bay Shores have the express bus which costs the TTC a bundle and is not very well used.

[End of comment]

This is a great overview, shared by a local resident, of issues we are facing.

As I understand (to the best of my recollection: this point will require confirmation), George Takach supports a GO Station at Humber Bay Shores.

I look forward to meeting you at the Artisano Bakery event with George Takach at 10:00 am on Saturday, April 12, 2014.

 

Posted in Communications, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Town of New Toronto: Soldiers of The First World War (website mentioned by Colleen O’Marra)

Colleen O’Marra writes (I will post the link she mentions, in the next while):

There’s a fascinating site called Town of New Toronto:Soldiers of The
First World War.So many young men from 6th to 9th Street signed
up.Young men who worked as gardeners at the old Lakeshore Psychiatric
Hospital, tailors, apprentices, mill workers…all killed overseas.
There is also a site for the men of Mimico complete with biographies
and actual house addresses of these brave boys. Library Archives of
Canada has the Canadian Expeditionary Forces database for all
soldiers.(600,000 names) I was able to find the enlistment papers of
my grandfather and five great-uncles easily, even their medical
records.I’m setting out to find the men of Long Branch who enlisted if
I can in this centennial of World War One. We must remember these
soldiers. ( C. O’Marra)

 

Posted in Historiography, New Toronto, Newsletter, Toronto | 2 Comments

The Big Sleep (1946) demonstrates the effective application of screen direction, sound, lighting, and editing

The Big Sleep (1946) serves as my choice of a movie for a recent assignment in the Technology of Film I course, taught by Pamela Matthews, that I’ve been taking at Ryerson University.

The assignment requires students to show how four of the techniques taught in the Ryerson course are applied in a film of our choice.

The techniques I’ve chosen – as applied in the opening credits and scenes of The Big Sleep (1946), based on  a novel (1939) by Raymond Chandler – are:

(1) screen direction as described in Cinematic Storytelling (2005),

(2) Foley sound,

(3) film lighting, and

(4) sound and picture editing, as these items – that is, items 2, 3, and 4 –  are discussed in The Filmmaker’s Handbook (2013).

Screen direction

Fig. 1. Laptop screen grab of silhouette scene from opening credits for The Big Sleep (1949). Left to right: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall.

The credits open with the Warner Bros. logo followed by a silhouette (Fig. 1) achieved with backlighting of the lead characters, portrayed by Humphrey Bogart (as Philip Marlowe) and Lauren Bacall (as Vivian Rutledge, General Sternwood’s eldest daughter). The silhouette is recorded from a low camera angle. The flame of the lighter is clearly visible and stands out in strong contrast, as the top third of the background is relatively dark.

Bogart lights Bacall’s cigarette.

The credits proceed in batches, left to right in the context of two-dimensional screen direction, accompanied by an optical effect simulating cigarettes smoke exhaled left to right across the screen.

The logo is introduced with stirring, aptly portentous music, which continues as the credits are screened.

Fig. 2. Screen grab - The Big Sleep (1946). Ashtray appears at bottom of screen.

Fig. 3. Screen grab - The Big Sleep (1946). Two cigarettes are in place in ashtray at bottom left of screen.

The camera moves in on an ashtray (visible at the bottom of Fig. 2) to create a diagonal movement, in terms of three-dimensional screen direction, from the middle ground of the Z-Axis to the foreground at screen left.

Ashtray emerges from the darkness

The ashtray, visible as a black object with pinpoints of reflected light, appears to emerge out of the darkness coming to rest at the bottom left of the screen.

The object is filmed from a high camera angle.

Bogart’s hand is seen to emerge out of the darkness to deftly and smoothly deposit his cigarette in the tray.

Bacall next deposits her cigarette, with equal care and attention to timing.

The two cigarettes, positioned vertically and approximately parallel, remain in view as the credits are presented (Fig. 3).

Sternwood mansion

Fig. 4. Screen grab - Front door

Fig. 5. Screen grab - The Big Sleep (1946). Buzzer is pressed.

The film then opens with a view of the front door of the Sternwood mansion (Fig. 4). The camera quickly pans diagonally to the lower left of the screen where a hand is seen to emerge from the left to press the buzzer located slightly to the left side of the screen (Fig. 5). The diagonal pan adds a sense of drama to the camera move.

From this point – in continuity with the screen direction established in the opening credits – the direction of movement is strongly and steadily from left to right.

We observe this sense of left to right movement as Bogart makes his way – briefly interrupted by his first encounter with the younger Sternwood daughters, Carmen (played by Martha Vickers) – to the greenhouse where the elderly General Sternwood (played by Charles Waldron) is waiting Bogart’s arrival.

Once Bogart has arrived for his meeting with Sternwood, we have the sense that the general is settled comfortably and securely – ensconced – at the end of a journey that has taken Bogart steadily and patiently from left to right in the space (mental space) in which we picture the movie to be taking place.

Foley sound

The footsteps of Bogart’s arrival at the door are clear yet unobtrusive. Enough Foley sound is evident to get across the point that a person is walking across the grounds of the property and then proceeds to walk inside the house. The sound of the footsteps does not, however, bring attention to itself.

Norris the Butler (Charles D. Brown), who meets Bogart at the door, has no Foley sound accompanying his steps in the scene in which he first meets Bogart.

One does not, however, notice the absence of the sound of footsteps. The viewer gets the sense that the butler just glides along, going about his work.

He only makes his presence felt as required, in the execution of his duties.

Lighting

Fig. 6. Screen grab - The Big Sleep (1946). Soft lighting is evident in this shot of Lauren Bacall. The key light is set fairly high. The forehead area gets less light than the face. The shadow from the nose is kept clear of the mouth and does not reach the smile line.

The lighting from each scene to the next is consistently low key, with a high contasrt between light and dark areas.

Scenes are lit in pools of light existing in darkness, rather than being witness to even and uniform lighting.

Hard light, creating high contrast modelling of facial features, is used for close ups and medium shots featuring Bogart.

Soft light is used for close ups and medium shots of Bacall (Fig. 6) and the Sternwood sisters.

Such lighting is characteristic of black and white 1940s Hollywood movies in the film noir genre.

Editing

After Bogart has made some progress in his left to right movement across the imagined spatial setting of the film, the younger Sternwood sister, Carmen, pretends to lose her balance and ends up falling into  his arms.

At the point (Fig. 7) where Bogart and the sister are aware that Norris the Butler has arrived on the scene, there’s a very quick dissolve, from the shot in which Bogart and the sister look to screen right, to the shot where Norris appears (Fig. 8).

The dissolve acts as a quick cut. It moves the story forward at a crisp and deliberate pace. No bit of information is belaboured in this film. Each point that needs to be made, is made quickly and effectively, and the story moves on.

Fig. 7. Screen grab - The Big Sleep (1946). Philip Marlowe and Carmen Sternwood notice that Norris the Butler is walking toward them.

Fig. 8. Screen Grab - The Big Sleep (1946)

Comment

The Big Sleep (1946) was first screened 68 years ago, as of 2014. When I see such 1940s films, I think about the fact that in the 1940s and 1950s and some ways beyond, people smoked everywhere and pretty much through all their waking hours – in schools, workplaces, homes, in cars with or without children present, and in movies. To an extent, times have changed. Possibly, sugar will, in time, undergo a similar change with regard to knowledge of health effects and social attitudes. It has been remarked, in this regard, that “Sugar is the new tobacco.”

Update

Portrait of Lauren Bacall by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1949. Source: April 10, 2014 Slate article entitled: "Defining cool, from Steve McQueen to Audrey Hepburn."

An April 10, 2014 Slate article, entitled “Defining cool, from Steve McQueen to Audrey Hepburn,” includes a 1949 Alfred Eisenstaedt portrait (below) of Lauren Bacall, photographed in the low key, high contrast lighting style reminiscent of (albeit not identical to) 1940s Hollywood black and white movies.

 

Posted in Communications, Film and sound, Historiography, Newsletter | Leave a comment

Grade 7 class picture – about 1958-1958 – Cartierville School in Montreal

Cartierville School, Grade 7 graduating class. We assume (at this point) that this is from the 1958-1959 school year. Photo courtesy of Howard Hight.

As a follow-up to recent posts about Cartierville School, which you can find at the Malcolm Campbell High School category at this website, I’m pleased to share with you a photo that Howard Hight has emailed to me. We’ll try to get a high resolution scan so that we view the photo in more detail. I recall the point, in my teaching career in Toronto, when smoking was no longer permitted within school buildings. From the signs in the photo, it may be noted that in the 1950s some places within a school were okay for smoking, some were not.

This photo is from a tweet dated April 6, 2014 from Deb Matthews, Ontario's Minister of Education. It's a retweet: "Beautiful. RT @History_Pics: Couple pose for picture in the same place, 51 years apart. Amazing." I've posted it as it reminds me that some people from MCHS I haven't seen for over 50 years!

 

Posted in Malcolm Campbell High School, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Stories about missing millions are of interest to many people

Photo source: Randy Risling/Toronto Star. The caption for the photo, which is from an April 5, 2014 Toronto Star article (see link at this blog post), reads: "A vacant mansion at 7 High Point Rd. in the Bridle Path neighbourhood. It is one of dozens of properties listed in a massive civil claim alleging mortgage fraud that investors believe could be worth as much as $17 million. The Law Society of Upper Canada reviewed documents related to three properties, including this one, and found them to be fraudulent."

From time to time, I like to share stories about evidence related to cases, or alleged cases, of scams and scamming.

I’m responding to what I’ve learned people like to read about.

Lawyer in hiding

The focus of the current blog is an April 5, 2014 Toronto Star article entitled:

Golnaz Vakili: Lawyer in hiding accused of stealing millions swears she’s innocent

The subhead reads:

Golnaz Vakili, now in hiding, swears she’s innocent of an alleged mortgage fraud investors say could be worth as much as $17 million. The Star probes what happened.

 

Here’s an excerpts from the article:

 

  • Within a month of her abrupt departure, Vakili would be named in a massive civil suit alleging she was a central figure in a sophisticated mortgage scheme investors believe could be worth as much as $17 million. The courts froze her accounts and the law society suspended her licence. Then Toronto police charged her with fraud in absentia and issued a warrant for her arrest.
  • This is a story about missing millions, stately mansions on the Bridle Path, broken business relationships and an alleged death threat. It features a cast of characters operating in the world of real estate and private loans. Among them is Vakili, a promising young lawyer now on the lam; a businessman who bought the largest home in Canada and who in the past has been charged with several violent crimes though never convicted; his former business associate – a wealthy woman who accuses both of them of defrauding her family – and a shell-shocked husband searching for answers.

Another excerpt reads:

“Vakili says she chose to open a private practice because it made her more accountable.

“‘I just don’t seem to have the same results when I’ve got somebody constantly looking over my shoulder.’”

[End of excerpts]

 

Posted in Historiography, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

David Godley’s travel report from Hawaii

I like from time to time to share reports, articles, and viewpoints from a wide range of visitors to the Preserved stories website. Such items do not necessarily represent my own views, and do not serve as my endorsement of particular viewpoints.

I like to post such reports because I like the Preserved Stories to feature a wide range of viewpoints. As well, I often follow up by doing research – for example by consulting Toronto Public Library resources – about topics that people write about in such reports, or topics that people write about in their comments to blog posts at this website.

Long Branch and Mississauga

One of the things that I’ve learned is that former residents of Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey) now live in urban and rural settings across Canada. As well, residents of Long Branch enjoy travelling – to Mississauga and to Hawaii, and elsewhere, as the case may be.

It takes some physical and especially mental effort to update my website but it’s well worth it. I have the motivation and I’ve had plenty of practice. Like many people, I have many projects on the ago aside from a website. It’s great to have the opportunity to feature reports from individuals in addition to myself. Such reports ensure that the website serves as a valuable community resource.

The following report is from David Godley regarding his visit to Hawaii:

 

Hawaii O’One Four

David Godley photos

The tropical islands are one of the few places that live up to the tourist brochure hype. They also contain the wettest place on earth, deserts and the most active volcano.

Forget going for architecture; go for the dramatic mountains rising from the sea, covered in verdant tropical foliage with exotic trees, fruit, flowers and birds and beaches. Hollywood has recognised the visual potential with numerous movies and TV series based there.

Hawaii has more symbols and icons than most places. It is the rainbow state and the capital of microclimates. Its state flower is the yellow hibiscus and the state bird the native Nene goose, a distant relative of the Canada goose.

The sea yields exciting viewing with humpback whales breeding 2000 miles south of the wintering quarters in Alaska and spinner dolphins which, as their name suggests, spin round when jumping out of the water.

Reef trigger fish

Then there is the colourful reef trigger fish which looks a bit like the South African flag – in Hawaiian the humuhumunukunukuapua’a fish, which rolls easily off the tongue once you have had an hour’s practice. Hawaiin only has 12 letters including 5 vowels. A thirteenth letter, the silent ‘ is sometimes counted.

Everyone associates the islands with pineapples (growing was started by Bob Dole’s family) although like the sugar plantations it is no longer economic to produce them. Pineapples are cheaper in No Frills, Long Branch than Honolulu. Macadamia nuts are a little cheaper in Hawaii.

Waikiki Beach

And of course there is surfing at Waikiki Beach and throughout the islands, hula women and nose blowing pipemen. Hawaii now has produced a president and there is an “Obama Trail” where you can see the houses he lived in and schools from which he graduated.

I expect his birth certificate is on display. Many Republicans think he is a Muslim Kenyan.

David Godley photos

The original settlers from 4th century AD were Tahitians and Marquesans who rafted 2000 miles to find richer lands. They clearly demonstrated absolute faith in their Gods. Even Captain Cook, who was killed on his second trip to Hawaii, nearly missed them.

Hawaii was a kind of honourary member of the British commonwealth and still has a union jack in its upper left corner and 8 horizontal stripes for each of the main islands.

Somehow the United States took over, incarcerating Queen Lili’uokalani in her palace in 1893. (I will have to find a British book to discover how) A hundred years later Bill Clinton apologised for this although forgot to restore the monarchy. Eventually Hawaii became the fiftieth state in 1959.

It is a progressive part of the States with strong no smoking laws, good medicare, limits on building heights and no billboards. There is no local government, only State and County administrations.

The denizens are “lei’d” back with their hang loose sign of extended thumb and pinky. No one sounds their car horn in anger; they are on island time. Visitors are adorned with live orchid leis or shell necklaces.

Floating hotel

We circumnavigated the islands on a floating hotel with 2400 friends we had not met. Norwegian is the only cruise line with sailings from Hawaii. All the others travel 2500 miles from the mainland. Fortunately it is our favourite cruise line with excellent and abundant food available one of the highest decks with superb views; plenty of opportunity to drink in the sun and watch sunsets. There are a great number of places to eat but none have specific times.

The mostly American guests were hoping to replace a polar vortex with a solar vortex. Hawaii’s high season is North America’s winter so you can expect showers or even rain. The best weather is the fall.

There were a sprinkling of Aussies escaping the heat; outside courts at the Australian tennis open in Melbourne were closed. We are used to only curled up sandwiches for sale on planes but some Aussies we met had not realised there would be no food on board Qantas Minus for their 10 hour flight. I was excited to learn that one of them had worked in Worksop.

David Godley photos

Oahu is the main island and although small has nearly one million people with Honolulu as the State capital. It is of course the site of Pearl Harbour and Diamond Head. This is the main surfing island. Maui is also small and the main resort island.

Mauna Kea

Big island, also known as Hawaii Island, contains volcano Mauna Kea which rises straight from the sea floor; some geologists classify it as the world’s tallest mountain for this reason. This is the Kona coffee island and the best place to see sea turtles close up (outside the power plant in Hilo). It has the only International airport with no international flights since tourists now arrive at more personable Kona on the leeward side of the island. Kawai in the northern extremity is the garden island with the wildest scenery and waterfalls and is the most ancient of all the islands.

We became quite used to decadence on board. The only minor stress was that Norwegian staff were so friendly and upbeat that it was difficult to appear as happy as they wished us to be.

David Godley, January 2014

[This concludes the report by David Godley]

 

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Youth Speakout – Etobicoke, Wednesday, April 9, 2014 – 5:30 pm for free pizza, 6:00 p.m. Forum: Lakeshore Collegiate Institute, Auditorium

South Etobicoke Community Forum
SEYA – LAMP
and Lakeshore C.I.

p r e s e n t

Youth Speakout – Etobicoke

Wednesday, April 9 – 5:30 for free pizza, 6:00 p.m. Forum
Lakeshore Collegiate Institute, Auditorium
350 Kipling Ave, Toronto, ON M8V 3L1

Hot topics, Hot speakers

§ Post-secondary education – cost, debt, value?
Salomeh Ahmadi, Program Facilitator, Pathways to Education

§ Youth mental health – anxiety and depression
Sydney Cormier, The Jack Project

§ Engaging youth – give a damn about your community
Desmond Cole, Journalist, Torontoist.com

§ Recreation – the antidote to Drugs & Crime?
Dwane Abbott, LAMP Street Level Youth Centre

§ Youth Employment (and unemployment) – a growing crisis
Carol Goar, The Toronto Star

Brief speeches, with breakout sessions where you have your say!

 

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