Monthly Archives: November 2014

Fatbikes Gone Mainstream?

First, it was fixies and single speeds that began to show up on Walmart shelves. Now, fatbikes too? By the way Canadian Tire has begun to stock speciality wide-tire bikes, like this Iron Horse Dolomite below, I’d say yes!

10298816_10152666177993653_4044519150387049363_n

 

This particular model retails for around $199, and although definitely a basic run-of-the-mill bike component wise, it wasn’t too heavy. Quality is definitely a step up from the typical monstrosities with heavy, saggy suspension and chinzy off-brand derailleurs. This does, however, suggest that fatbikes have crossed the ‘critial mass’ threshold, since they have started filtering down into department stores. Compare this (most recently) with the fad in 29ers and fixed/SS, and (a number of years ago) the glut of MTBs which flooded the bicycle market.

But hey! Maybe this popularity will bring the price point down far enough to allow me to pick up a new ride for my Bicycle Stable without breaking the bank. After all, Torontonians are expecting a heavy snowfall this year, and I am looking for something which can power through the mounds of snow + slush without taking an unexpected tumble!

Union Station, Home to some Unique Features

Toronto’s Union Stations is easily one of the most recognisable structures in the city. Upwards of 95% of GO transit’s 65+ million yearly rides are to and from this massive railway hub downtown. For many commuters, passing through Union station is a daily ritual. Union’s exterior and Great Hall are a homage to Beaux-Arts executed on a grand scale. Physically, the station and it’s train shed span 17 acres of land – 5 more than the SkyDome/Rogers Centre.

This huge, sprawling complex of railway tracks, platforms, tunnels, halls, and office space is a mishmash of new an old. Just walking from entrance to a platform, a casual observer cannot help but to notice pathways between grades, stairways that zigzag far too often, and a jumble of different architectural styles. In addition to its architecture and public areas the station also is home to some unique features that make it an interesting urban exploration location. Since much of Union is under ground level, it isn’t a surprise to learn that many of its service tunnels share connections to electrical, water and transit (think subway + streetcar) infrastructure as well. This article from Infiltration magazine is an interesting read about these utility tunnels.

Nevertheless I was surprised when I ended up stumbling into one of these paths, entirely by accident and with it entirely in plain sight! I had missed my train one night, and had about 30 minutes to pass waiting for the next one to arrive. I spent the time walking around Union. On the Bay Street side of Union, there is a small glassed-in enclosure with stairs leading down to what I presumed was the garage level. Boy was I wrong. Dimly lit and with beer bottles, dirt, and partly-cut boards laying about, it was a (slight!) departure from the usual state of affairs at Union. It was only upon walking down 3 flights of stairs and seeing a dead-end at a metal door that I began to think this staircase wasn’t to the garage….

…And that’s when I heard the subway honk!-honk! and pass by beyond the door. I had heard that there were tunnels that lead directly to the TTC subway station through Union, but I had not expected this. Although the entrance to this stairwell was in a public area, with no markings on it and without any kind of locks – I decided I had better not risk going further, lest I really find myself facing a subway train. I hurriedly removed myself from the area and made my way to the train platform bound for home. Where in the Union subway station that door opened to I don’t think I’ll ever know for certain.

Union station is currently undergoing its 2nd major renovation (the 1st being the addition of the GO concourse in the 80s), and will almost double in size by adding a second concourse level underneath the current one. I can only wonder what kind of odd stories the engineers working under station have dug up!

S̶n̶a̶k̶e̶s̶ Feet on a P̶l̶a̶n̶e̶ Train

It’s wet, winter-y weather in Toronto! Know what that means? Of course you do. Wet boots. And with wet boots, most GO train riders know to start looking out for wet seats. The GO-transit-related blog ‘You. Me. Ride This Crazy Train’ sums up the annoyance that are ‘Foot Riders’ pretty well here.

Since GO is spending big bucks refurbishing their fleet of railway coaches, replacing seats and cushions, it irks me that seats less than 3 months old now have dirty edges from all the salts and dirt from shoes.

Dammit, Samuel – /walking/ on the seats now?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much one can do about it. GO transit doesn’t have any fine system in place for dealing with discourteous passengers, though they do have a bylaw in place. And since sometimes I am outnumbered by foot riders upwards of 5-to-1 (which happened today – prompting this rant!), there doesn’t seem to be any point to chewing someone out.

Hopefully GO’s transit officers start ticketing for dirtying up the seats, because I for one prefer getting up from a trip and not having to dust off the back of my legs.

Explorations: Panel Lamp

The University of Toronto is home to some pretty unique buildings. Many of the buildings – for one reason or another – retain much of their original fixtures. A great example of this are the old, open-bodied service elevators found around Front Campus. Walking into Gerstein Library, this gem of a panel lamp glowed to life upon visiting the old journal stacks’ elevator:

lightbulb

Housed in its red opal glass enclosure, it really did look like a little gemstone. However, upon closer inspection the side-spiralled filament caught my eye. This is an odd arrangement that you don’t seen any more – manufactures traded this in for shorter, more robust filament coils decades ago. Considering this elevator isn’t used much (maybe 2-3 dozen times per day at most), and that panel lamps last 10K+ hours,  I suspect this little indicator bulb is at least 4-5 decades old!

It’s neat to see something that has not been touched in ages still working as if it were just installed.

Food Item of the Week: ‘Blizzard Warmer’

 

This is a very neat dish that one can whip up in a jiffy. Makes a great meal on a cold day; the spice will really warm you up!

IMG_20141120_012155

Ingredients

  • 6 Sausages (spicy!)
  • 450g Fusilli
  • 450mL chicken broth
  • Italian meatballs
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tbs of oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp oregano flakes
  • 1 tbsp parsely flakes
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes

Instructions

  1. Heat deep saucepan or pot, adding the oil to the centre.
  2. Place meatballs and chopped sausages into pan and fry
  3. When cooked and browned nicely,
  4. Add chopped onion, and cook on med-high until onions are semi-transparent
  5. Add 450ml of chicken broth to the pot
  6. Bring to simmer, using medium-high heat so as to avoid boiling
  7. Add the coleslaw mix
  8. Cook for 10 min, or until greens are tender
  9. Add in pasta and simmer until soft
  10. Drain excess broth.
  11. Add tomato paste, the sausages and meatballs, the seasonings and salt+pepper
  12. Toss the pasta thoroughly, and serve

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 20 mins

Total Time: 30 mins