Dodgeville, now bigger and better

New and old Dodgevilles

Those of you who read Dodgeville directly rather than in an RSS reader may have noticed that the site looks a little different today.  It’s now running a theme based on Panorama with a few minor tweaks. The most noticeable change is that images and galleries in new posts will be larger than they have been to this point. When this incarnation of Dodgeville launched almost five years ago, images were limited to being a mere 500 pixels wide. That was updated within a year to 640 pixels, and is now being upsized again to 800 pixels. Images in galleries may be larger yet, up to 1024 pixels wide. The changes will allow room for more detail in images. The new theme is cleaner overall and it should hold for another couple of years.

Other changes include several new banner images at the top of each page and some backend modifications that won’t mean much to most of you. When I first put together this site, I wrote that no one ever asks me questions, but I’d post a FAQ as soon as people started to inquire regularly. Well, I now have enough genuine FAQs that a FAQ in order. You should see it under the “About” menu above in a couple of days.

I’ll be making several additional updates to the site over the next few days, so let me know if you notice anything amiss.

Feather ice

Feather ice detail

Seeing a large ice crystal like this, about an inch long, is fairly rare. Now imagine seeing thousands upon thousands of them:

Feather ice field on Rice Lake

We’re spending a few post-Christmas days at the cottage and awoke to a visual treat on Thursday: Wednesday’s sudden deep freeze and blowing wind gave us a large field of feather ice growing on the lake. The lake began the day on Monday as completely open water; Tuesday brought some long ribbons of ice along the wind lines; by Wednesday only a few open spots were left, and by Thursday morning it was completely frozen over. I don’t know much about the formation of feather ice, but I’m guessing that the low temperatures combined with the wind blowing over the remaining patches of open water on Wednesday picked up enough moisture to cause this field to form near our shoreline. It’s at least a hectare in size.

I would have spent much more time taking pictures, but lying down on a frozen lake while manipulating  an SLR on a tripod at ground level isn’t exactly the most comfortable position I’ve ever been in. Check out the gallery below the fold for a couple of additional pictures I managed to take before my pants froze to the lake.

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Still raking in the dough

Mackenzie King's grave is gathering money again

I wrote about the comings and goings of money on Mackenzie King’s grave last month. When the cash disappeared again in October, I figured that the mystery of the pennies was over: in the five months that I’d been keeping an eye on the waxing and waning of Mackenzie King’s fortune, the empty ledger stone stayed that way unless I anted up a few cents to get the penny collection started again. And since I’m no longer a daily passer-by, my ability to assist and document the phenomenon has suffered. But I was alerted last week that something may be up when someone arrived at Dodgeville after Googling “why pennies on mackenzie king’s grave.” Sure enough, when I rode by this week, Mackenzie King’s ledger was as overflowing with money as it ever has been. Apparently, someone’s been seeding the account in my absence.

It also made me wonder about what started this cash bonanza in the first place. As I’d written in my previous post, I have no idea who placed the original eight pennies in June that started Mackenzie King’s cash collection this year. At least one person noted a single penny on the ledger as early as August 2009, but that certainly didn’t blossom into the same kind of ongoing investment that I’ve seen this year. Placing money on Mackenzie King’s grave may be an old tradition, but it’s one that’s been taken up by many more people this year than in the past.

Danforth Avenue in Whoville

One of the popular trends in Christmas decorations this year seems to be the Whoville-inspired Christmas tree with a comparatively giant ornament hanging off the top and pulling it over toward the ground. I don’t pretend to understand why these have made the leap from illustrations in a  book to real life but I freely admit that they’re cute/odd enough to make passable small table decorations:

Miniature Whoville trees inside

However, The Danforth BIA has driven the trend firmly into the absurd, with trees and planters standing 7 feet tall lining the street this month:

Whoville Tree on the Danforth

I’ll chalk this up to an idea that looked better on paper but failed somewhat in execution. The Grinch has already paid a stealthy visit to remove ornaments from some of the trees.

Supermarket finds: Fake milk

Fake food, get your fake food here

Chocolate dairy beverage? Grated dairy product? Frozen dessert? Isn’t anything made with milk, cheese, or cream any more? I hate to sound like a grouchy old man (though I’m rapidly becoming one), but when I was a kid, these things were called chocolate milk, grated cheese, and ice cream. Instead, more and more items in the dairy case have “modified milk ingredients” at the top of the ingredients list. It makes me wonder where all of the real dairy products go.

Of course, these products are not exactly new, having been around in one form or another for a few years. They are clearly part of the accelerating trend in the grocery store to pass off fake food as the real thing.

I didn’t buy either the dairy beverage or the frozen dessert, so I can’t review their taste. But I didn’t notice that the “grated dairy product” wasn’t actual cheese until I got home, so I can review that: it was so salty that it was inedible. Other than the texture, a dash of Silani grated dairy product on some pasta was basically indistinguishable from emptying a box of salt onto the plate. Even the Loblaws No Name Parmesan is superior.

While most “food” manufacturers take pains to hide the fact that they’re hiding the facts from you, Beatrice was notable for positively trumpeting the non-milkiness of their dairy beverage:

Beatrice Chocolate Dairy Beverage

The text in the red circle says that it’s made with real milk “and added dairy ingredients.” It sounds about as appetizing as eating a burger made from beef and added cow ingredients. Beatrice may have learned its lesson after a few years of trying to sell this stuff and returned to selling chocolate milk again earlier this year.

Future mayoral material

The Star has been running a series of articles about the sights and history along the 501 streetcar route.  Today’s installment is an online quiz that asks readers to identify intersections along the route based on clues about nearby buildings or infrastructure. I scored seven out of ten (once again, my relative lack of detailed knowledge of the west end does me in), which makes me a Torontophile on the Star‘s grading scale, just one grade below master Google cheat. But the best thing about the scale is the wonderful snark reserved for those who get just one or two answers correct:

Future Mayor, slightly better than Vancouverite

I guess that having actually ridden the 501 means that I’m just not mayoral material. I’d agree with that sentiment judging by the current administration at City Hall, but I sincerely hope that we’ll have learned our lesson by the next election.

Coincidence

I saw this sidewalk sign outside a restaurant on Danforth when I walked past around 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon:

We live in an age where pizza arrives at your door before the police

At the same time on Friday afternoon, a woman in Vaughan called the police about a home invasion and they took 50 minutes to respond. Maybe she should have told the cops she’d order some pizza for them. But the real question is, exactly what and when did the sign writer know? I smell an inside job.

The unbearable stress of parking lots

Mall Madness tips

In the latest edition of Lifetime, a segment on the local CTV newscast, Pauline Chan gets some advice from psychotherapist Nicole McCance on coping with the stress of mall parking lots. McCance recommends that drivers prepare in advance for the stress: her advice on controlling lot rage is to eat a meal before you go to the mall, wear comfortable shoes, and make a shopping list. In the clip, McCance says that traffic in a parking lot is beyond people’s control, but that “they can control whether they’ve gone to the bathroom or eaten.” The segment summarizes her points in a bullet list that includes items like “breathe” and being “aware of [your] body.” This is hard-hitting stuff.

Okay, I know that it’s busy at Yorkdale at this time of year, and that finding a parking spot can be stressful. But seriously, if you need a therapist to remind you to breathe while prowling the lot and to eat a meal in advance so that you don’t starve to death while hunting for an elusive 150 square feet of asphalt on which to park your automobile, I feel comfortable making two statements about your quest:

  1. You’re doing it wrong.
  2. There’s a better way.

Strangely (or not), none of McCance’s suggestions involved avoiding the stress entirely by not driving a car to the mall, shopping online, getting your act together so that you can shop in the weeks before the holiday crush, or simply opting out of the annual consumer frenzy.

Me, I’m going to cope with mall parking lots the same way I always do: by taking a three minute stroll down to the Danforth where I’ll do what little Christmas shopping I still do. And I won’t have to perform breathing exercises, talk myself down from sidewalk rage, or circle the block endlessly looking for somewhere to park my conveyance. I feel the stress melting away already.

Two bucks to fiscal responsibility

Via Torontoist, Councillor John Parker was quoted by the National Post advocating for user fees on using swimming pools, visiting Riverdale Farm, and a variety of other things that his family never does:

Quite honestly, just off the cuff, I can’t see that a two dollar fee for anything is anything that should get anyone too riled up.

I’d like to agree with John Parker: two bucks is nothing to anyone. And in that spirit, I think that the councillor should advocate for the following non-riling fees to help fix this mythical budget crunch:

This may all seem radical, but hey, it’s just two bucks, right? And a two dollar fee for anything is nothing to get riled up about, right? Hell, I’ll even register and license my bike for a toonie. Whaddaya say, councillor?