Retrospective

Auld Lang Syne

The end is drawing near.

What have you accomplished this year?

It’s been an interesting year here on Barking Space. I thought that I would go through some of the highlights of 2005. Hopefully this will not be as painful as one of those clip shows that you see on sitcoms.



In the Beginning…

At the end of January, Barking Space went online. With a little nudge from a few people (most noteably Dave), I took the plunge and started writing online.

Why did I bother?

At the end of 2004, I took my passion for photography and started to groom it into something more than just a hobby. I decided that I would use the blog to push my photography. I also figured it would be something fun to try. Of course, quite a number of people had already been doing it for a long time, so there were a lot of good examples to follow*.

Somehow the photography angle wasn’t as dominant a force on the blog as I had planned. Writing was something I used to enjoy doing when I was younger, and now the opportunity to take it to a new level had presented itself.

It was an interesting experience, writing my thoughts for all the world to see. Remarkably, some people found what I had to say interesting. I discovered a whole new community, which led to the formation of some new friendships.

I can safely say that blogging is just as much fun now as it was back then. If anything, naming the titles most entries is still something fun to do.



The Creative Juices…

A little later in the year, some new features were added.

Hai-Kuul was initiated to help me keep my poetic skills** up to snuff. People could send in a topic, and in return I would write them a haiku poem. At first, a veritable flood of entries poured in.

The awarding of prizes to certain milestone requests didn’t help stem the flow.

Later on in the year, limitations were placed on the number of topics one could submit at one time. This was more to help my sanity than anything. The creation of good poetry isn’t easy. Sometimes too much material can be as hard to deal with as too little.

That being said, I am proud to say that once in a while I did write something I was proud of. At last count we hit haiku number 893.

The Fig-tionary was born at around the same time as Hai-Kuul. The idea behind the Fig-tionary was to allow people to justify their typos. While not as numerous as haiku poems, these alternate definitions were rewarding in the sense that they took a bit more thinking.

Let’s also not forget that there’s a Guide to Toronto on this page as well. Not the most accurate thing, to be sure, but definitely fun to read.



Anec-Do’s and Anec-Don’ts

Barking Space was a showcase for many of the interesting*** stories and ponderings.

The occasional rant also made it into Barking Space.

Blogging about things like this is a very convenient thing. Sometimes you have a story that a lot of people would find interesting. Repeating this story becomes tiresome. Or perhaps a critical part of the story is forgotten.

Solution?

Write it down.

Blogging is an excellent way to share events in your life. If people want to read them, they can. So it’s really a non-invasive form of communication.

Sharing rants can also be therapeutic, especially when you realize how many allies you might have out there in e-land to help you battle in the war against stupidity.



Friendships Found and Fortified

This year also saw the introduction of many new and interesting people into my life. I’m not going to bother naming them here, because they know who they are.

It’s a strange feeling when you first meet someone in the flesh who has, up to that point, been merely words on a screen. The most interesting of these meetings has to be my evening with Kris. It was incredible how we clicked. Even my wife really got along with her.

Ian was fun to meet, as well. I’d known him for longer than Kris and had spoken with him on the phone prior to our get-together.

There were also friends who started blogging because I told them that they should.

And who could forget the incredible Dave? Always there to help you up to your feet when you’ve fallen, and to trip you when you’re getting ahead of yourself. A better friend no one could ever ask for. He also provided a lot of the more humourous material here on Barking Space.

Please check out the Tome for really great people to read.



The Best For Last

Of course, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my wife, who is one of the most incredible people on the planet.

Without her, I don’t think I would be who I am today.



My Wish To You

This year has been full of fun and laughter. From making my way up the Karate ladder to Brown Belt to meeting Mestre Acordeon. So much has happened, and I am glad that I could share it with all of you.

I hope that 2006 is even better than 2005.

May you all party hard, and stay safe****.

Cheers and Happy New Year,

Jorge






* – There were unfortunately a lot more bad examples. In true optimistic form, I decided to use these as guides of what not to do.
** – Some would refer to my poetry as bad comedy, I’m sure.
*** – Interesting to me. Yes, there is no end to my ego.
**** – While you’re at it, you might want to get off your butts and vote for a 10th entry for Best of Barking Space.

Hai-Kuul – December 28, 2005

Nightshifts (Requested by anurs2)
In the world of health
Sometimes more problems happen
When the sun goes down


Love is Blind (Requested by anurs2)
If love wasn’t blind
There would be a lot of folks
Without a partner


I Hate Christmas (Requested by anurs2)
What is going on?
The best of holidays is
Now so commercial





*Remember, you can submit a topic to inspire your very own Haiku Poem by clicking here. You can read about Hai-Kuul here.

Convo

Dave and Jorge Convo Part 12: Return of the Stupey

Dave is holding a 24 hour movie marathon soon. He sent out a list of movies for us to rank so that we might come up with a group of movies to watch.

The following short discussion revolves around one of the movies in question.

I am not so smart, it seems. Dave, however, was on fire…


Jorge: The Thin Blue Line? Is that like The Thin Red Line?
Dave: No. The Thin Red Line is a war movie.
J: Really? I thought Clint Eastwood was in The Thin Red Line.
D: No.
J: Isn’t that movie about some guy trying to protect the president?
D: That’s In the Line of Fire.
J: Whatever. As long as the word line is in there, it’s all the same.
D: So it’s the same as The Line, the Witch and the Wardrobe?


Dave is a bastard.

To: You From: Us

Warmest wishes from myself, Mrs. Haiku and our little munchkins this Christmas. May warmth find your hearts and may all of your dreams come true.






Cheers,
Jorge

Why Am I Proud?

Why Am I Proud?

I recently asked people why they are proud to be Canadian* and I have received a lot of really great comments. Thank you all so much for your contributions to the discussion.

Of course, I yet to list the reasons why I am proud to be a Canadian…

  • There are many countries with massive rates of immigration. The US used to be called the melting pot, while Canada was nicknamed the mosaic. These names reflect the mindset of the past. To become American was almost more of a total assimilation than to become a Canadian. This is no longer the case (and has not been for a while). While the idea of the US being a melting pot no longer really applies (people are proud of their origins and don’t hesitate to say where they are originally from), our country has a bit of a head start in terms of cultural diversity and celebration. Note, I am not saying we are necessarily better. We are just a little ahead due to how we came to be. I’m proud of the fact that we are a young country with a lot of potential, and that we embrace change much more readily than other countries in the world.
  • We have our share of evil in Canada. Crime, racism and all sorts of negative aspects of human nature are apparent here, as they are everywhere else. I am proud of the fact that for every negative, there are positives. Certainly there will always be racism as long as we have diversity. It is the type of racism that is a concern, and the results of it. I’ve seen people that embody the worst in terms of what racism can be. However, I also notice that there are those who live in harmony. I do have to say that there are a few places where I know I am being stared at. I definitely feel like an outsider. But there are so many more places where I feel like I belong. I am proud that we all try to work towards a more utopian society (or something as close as possible). It’s not the easiest task, as not everyone knows they are working on it, but it is only a matter of time…
  • I am proud of our creativity. A lot of incredible ideas have come out of here. So many have taken root all over the world. Basketball, the electron microscope, IMAX and the zipper are but a few of the amazing inventions that have happened due to folks that live here.
  • I am proud of our talent. Every year we export or retain (sometimes both) incredible artists, scientists, thinkers and more! These people bring their Canadian flair to everything they do.
  • I am proud that we live in such a majestic landscape. There is beauty all over the world, to be sure. Canada, though, has a rugged, untamed quality in its vistas. It’s hard to explain, but check out some of my photographs to see what I mean.

These are just some of the reasons that I am proud to be Canadian. I hope that this particular post is worthy, considering the most excellent responses I have received from the original question.

Cheers.




* – Without bashing our southern neighbours.

Pride, No Prejudice

Why Are We So Proud?

I have a serious question for my fellow Canuckleheads.

I read an article recently that repeats the message that Canadians are essentially proud of not being American.

This really doesn’t cut it. It’s a half-assed idea of patriotism, to say the least.

Ironically, Americans (at least the ones I know) have quite a number of intelligent reasons why they are so patriotic.

So I want you all to tell me one reason each why you are proud of where you live and who you are.

And I don’t want you to say because I am not American because that is not a reason. That is just lame.

As a good friend of mine said…


Everyone should be proud of who they are and where they are from, but not at the detrement of the feelings and beliefs of others.
– Handsome B. Wonderful, 2005

Jorge’s Guide to Toronto – III

We’ve Only Just Begun…

The guide to the city I live in continues…

In this chapter, I will be dealing with another section of town, as well as a small section on how to ride our public transit system.

Toronto is a large city. It’s certainly not as populous as, say, New York, but it’s got its share of people.

If everyone drove cars here, it would be a nightmare. The city follows a loose grid system, and thus is not all that efficient when it comes to moving traffic around.

This is where our public transportation system comes in…



Ride the Rocket (Or, a Quick Breakdown, So to Speak)

There is no need for me to go into too much detail when it comes to the Toronto Transit Commission. If you want to read a bit about the history of the TTC, this page is a great place to start.

I will simply be giving some tips to getting around this fair city.

Before I begin, you might want to open another window and have these maps handy.

The core of the TTC is the subway. It is the backbone of the public transit system. There are four main lines that run through the city. Two of the subway lines basically end up uoutlining downtown (Bloor/Danforth and Yonge/University/Spadina). If you look at the map you will see.

Supporting this spine would be the streetcars. They run along some of the major streets downtown and just outside of downtown. Their point of origin is usually a subway station.

Last, but not least (and definitely most numerous) are the buses. If the subway is the spine, that would make the streetcars the skeleton. Obviously the buses would be the skin.

Er…

Anyway, the buses crisscross the city, allowing for (somewhat) convenient transportation from one area of the city to the other, provided you have the time.



The Better Way (Or What to Do When Riding the TTC)

You will probably notice more courtesy on those trucks in Jamaica that carry a thousand people (riding in, on top of, off the side of, and possibly underneath the vehicle) than you will on a civilized system.

Our public transport system is not primitive. Just the people are.

Here are some helpful tips to keep you sane when on the move…


  • When a subway arrives, make sure you stand aside so the people on board can get off. There are times when people are slow to realize it’s their stop. They might be asleep, or perhaps drunk, so they realize at the last second that it is time for them to get off. They usually run into you on their way out as you enter the vehicle, because you’ve usually waited for a reasonable amount of time and have figured that everyone has exited already. They will usually be rude, and will confront you to make themselves feel better. Make sure you don’t kick them in the crotch or punch them in the face, because you can stil go to jail, even though you are in the right. Try and be more subtle. Step on their foot by accident, or step on their laces so they become untied, and will possibly trip later.
  • If you are entering a vehicle, try your best to move to the back. It is also acceptible, if you are going to be only going a short way, to stand near an exit. This will facilitate your speedy exit from the vehicle without getting everyone to get out of your way twice. That being said, try to make sure you keep a patch clear so people can get in and out without too much difficulty
  • If you see a free seat, take it. WHen you are sitting, that is room for another person to stand. If an elderly, disabled, or pregnant person enters the vehicle, offer them your seat. There are too many young people who don’t respect people, and thus don’t offer them a seat. Come to think of it, there are too many older people who have no respect, too. Do the right thing.
  • Don’t stick your face out in front of an oncoming subway to see if you’re fast enough to pull your head aside in time. You are not that fast, and it gets messy.
  • You will notice that there may be an announcement over the loudspeakers while riding on the subway. This message will ususally be indicating that there is a problem somewhere. Unfortunately, the person that designed this speaker system is the same person that designed the drive-through speaker system, too. You will not be able to understand what is being said. Feel free to look around at your fellow passengers and make humorous comments about it like did he just say what I think he said? or I wonder if we should get fries with that?
  • Almost all bus drivers hate you.
  • Closing your eyes to nap on the subway deprives you of one of the best forms of free entertainment ever: people watching.
  • If you ride the TTC there is a chance I will write about you on here. Don’t be a prick to me.



Greek

A visit to Toronto would not be complete if you didn’t at least visit Greektown. They even have their own webpage!

Greektown is located along Danforth Avenew between Chester Avenue and Jones Avenue.

This is the largest openly Greek neighbourhood in North America. It is an excellent place to find Greek culture and thus, there are some pretty amazing places to eat.

Certainly you will find various franchises all around the city that have a Greek theme. But the Greek food along the Danforth is to die for. Don’t get me wrong, these franchinses do have good food. However, it’s like saying McDonald’s is the ultimate place to get a hamburger.

When you are in Greektown, you will notice that people are very friendly. They all want to shake your hands and hug you. It is a warm atmosphere.

Make sure, though, that when you introduce yourself to people, you should only ask them for their first name. Trying to pronounce Greek last names will usually lead to a brain hemorrhage.

Seriously, with names like Cosmopolotipolis, Frangalankalopopopolis and Cantseemtofindsnuffalupagus you can see why.

You should also make sure you bring one of your new Greek friends to any restaurant you might want to go to. They will be very helpful in pronouncing some of the food names that you encounter.

Once a year (usually for a weekend) there is an event called Taste of the Danforth. It is an excellent event that has childrens games and other activities. There are usually specials at all the restaurants along the Danforth (not just the Hellenic ones). Over a million people attend this event every year.

Oh! Almost forgot. Mind the flying plates and flaming cheese. It’s a dangerous world out there!




Index

  1. Introduction, Italian, Chinese

  2. CN Tower, Portuguese

  3. TTC, Greek

  4. Zanta, Ukrainian