Dodgeville

Random Wanderings and Wonderings

Posts tagged: wonderings

Still raking in the dough

By , December 23, 2011

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.

Future mayoral material

By , December 12, 2011

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.

Highway fun, now at home

By , December 2, 2011

Now, read highway signs without having to put on pants and go outside.

One of the fun things about doing research is occasionally stumbling upon something wholly unexpected and completely unrelated to your original task. Such was the case the other day when I realized that I could read all of those electronic highway signs without having to get into a car and drive on any of the local highways.

On the city’s road restrictions map, you too can click on any of the amber circles dotting the city’s highways to read the message that’s currently displayed on that particular sign. You never need to miss another “obey traffic laws” or “drive according to road and weather conditions” again.

Mackenzie King generates some political capital

By , November 6, 2011

I rode or walked past William Lyon Mackenzie King‘s grave in Mount Pleasant Cemetery almost every day for three years until last month. Like most graves, not much changed from day to day. Other than a fresh floral arrangement placed on or near the ledger stone every week or two, it was pretty much the same all the time. This colourful yet reliably mundane official tribute got some company this spring when someone placed three rocks on the ledger. And then in early June, a wooden dowel carved into a candle flame and eight (and then thirteen) pennies appeared:

Thirteen pennies on Mackenzie King's grave marker

More coins were added to the pot over the next couple of weeks, until on June 27,  someone decided to turn the carved dowel and rocks into a slightly more obvious phallic symbol:

Continue reading 'Mackenzie King generates some political capital'»

If I knew then what I know now…

By , June 24, 2011

…I would have taken a picture of Rob Ford campaigning at the East York Canada Day Parade last year, where he was glad-handing the crowd instead of kicking back at the family cottage where he says he’s spent Canada Day for the last 30 years.

Granted, he could have gone up to the cottage after the parade, but his claim that July 1 is some sort of inviolable family cottage getaway is pretty tenuous.

Just one more licence plate

By , June 20, 2011

After posting the results of my licence plate hunt last autumn, I vowed never to take or post a picture of another licence plate again. And I’ve let some real doozies pass by undocumented in the ensuing months, never succumbing to the impulse to point the camera at the back of a car.  But I just couldn’t resist this meta beauty I saw in a parking lot this morning:

There’s a whole class of personalized plates that I’ve never really understood: the ones that reference the car itself. MY BMW, JIMS JAG, and so on. I mean, I can tell by looking at the car that it’s a BMW or whatever and I’m really not sure why someone needs to use a licence plate as an additional nameplate. One they pay extra for, no less. This one takes needless self-reference and turns it up to 11. I love it.

Licence play

By , September 26, 2010

IAM VAL

It’s funny, the things you keep around in your photo albums. See the last picture in the gallery below for the story about the photo above.

A couple of years ago, I spent the better part of four months examining every truck, tractor, piece of heavy equipment, and work site I passed, looking for warning labels. The end result was the Travails of Mr. Stickman. It was fun, but boy howdy, was I ever ready to stop looking for warning signs after I was done. Soon after I finished that project, I embarked on another: taking pictures of vanity licence plates. Two years and a few fits and starts later, here’s the result.

Compulsively looking at, taking pictures of, and remembering licence plates has an interesting side effect: it can somewhat de-anonymize people in cars. Other than the familiar ones I see on my street or parked along my regular commuting route, I don’t really think that I encounter any individual car more than once in my life. For the most part, people in cars are anonymous to everyone else, and you don’t really attach any significance to one Honda Civic versus another. Is it the same car and driver that I passed last week? Different? Does it matter?

Several times, I’ve seen the same plate twice in two completely different places. In North Toronto and on the Danforth; Deer Park and the Home Depot on Laird.  Somewhat more startling, I’ve occasionally seen the same plate on two different cars, with the sightings separated by weeks or years. I may not know anything about the owner of the car, but I do know that the complete stranger whose licence plate made me laugh on Merton Street in the spring traded in her Land Rover for a convertible that she was driving up Pape Avenue last week. Last week, I completed my first triple sighting of a single plate: first on Summerhill Avenue, then on the 401, and finally in Liberty Village.  I wasn’t able to get a picture of the car in any of those encounters. Fourth time lucky, maybe.

And then there was the driver who blasted his horn at me as he passed me way too aggressively on a wide-open street two weeks ago. As he cut inches in front of me on a quiet residential street (and signed bike route, no less), he almost certainly didn’t realize that I not only recognized his peronalized plate, but that I knew exactly which driveway it was parked in three minutes earlier, where I see it virtually every morning. The wronged cyclist’s dilemma: let him know, or let it go. I’m still undecided.

IM URSThrough all of this, there was only one complaint about a guy on a bike (usually) with a camera stopping to take a picture. The vast majority of drivers that I spoke with were not only amused to be part of my project, but also told me the story behind their personalized plate. The owner of IM URS, for example, told me that he’d inherited it from his mother and it was one of the things he remembered her by. Most of the time though, the cars were empty and no one was around to tell me the personal significance of a plate.

Of course there were almost too many to count that got away, passing too fast for a picture, in weather I refused to subject my camera to, or just at the wrong time of day while I was too busy scurrying along my way. Many them were better than the ones that I did catch. Oh well. For the next post.

Check out the full gallery below the fold. Those of you reading through the RSS feed should visit the original page for the full gallery effect with commentary.

Continue reading 'Licence play'»

Hosting provided by Finite Digital Inc.