Doublespeak deluxe

“ISPs are the underlying telecommunications facility that customers use to access the Internet and that content providers, including broadcasters, use to transmit their content. ISPs do not buy, package or sell programming or any other Internet content.” [Emphasis mine.]

Rogers VP for Regulatory Affairs Ken Engelhart giving a presentation to the CRTC, quoted in the Star.

Oh, really? Selective memory is just so convenient, isn’t it?

I think what Rogers really wants to say to the CRTC is, “How dare you fleece our customers! That’s our job!”

The face of 24 below

Like the layers of an onion

In homage to Goldfinger actress Shirley Eaton, I leave one square inch of my skin exposed so that I won’t suffocate.

The worst thing about riding in -24°C windchill isn’t trying to stay warm. It’s not the extra time I spend each morning bundling up with a face mask, neck warmer, balaclava, and headband to keep the harsh wind off my delicate face and neck. It’s not even trying to unlock the bike while wearing lobster gloves. No, by far the worst thing about riding in this weather is frightening all the kids at the daycare next door to the office. Sorry kids; spring’s almost here. I know I said that last week, but I really mean it this time.

Trabemaster rebux

After I picked up a pair of Trabemaster gloves last week, I sent an email to the Canadian distributor asking about the misprint. I got this response a couple of days later:

Thank you for your email and also for letting us know about the spelling mistake.

We went through a full investigation and have found 2 sku’s out of 84 that show a spelling mistake.

Even though this does not affect the performance of the gloves , we will take appropriate action on this issue.

Appropriate action in this case doesn’t seem to include sending me a free case of gloves, but there you have it.

Jack of all trabes

Jack of all trabes

So much for pribe in workmanship when it comes to these Trabemaster work gloves I bought at Home Bepot tobay. I unberstanb that errors sometimes slip past without anyone noticing until it’s too late, but it’s rare to see such an obvious mistake on such prominent bisplay with the name of the probuct misspelleb on the probuct itself. Yes, the whole rack of gloves lookeb just like this pair. Anb no, they weren’t in the clearance bin.

Another year in review

An old streetcar has seen better days

Although Dodgeville has been around in one form or another for close to fifteen years, this fourth incarnation celebrated just its second anniversary yesterday. My informal goal when I started this blog was to produce interesting, varied, and somewhat unstructured content on a regular basis. I like to think that I usually succeed. Dodgeville’s tagline, “Random wanderings and wonderings,” was originally intended to be a placeholder while I thought of something better. I never did, and it seemed as appropriate as anything else I could come up with to cover my mix of ramblings. I do try to make this blog less about me and more about the world around me, but I did occasionally bring my half-dozens of readers a little deeper into Dodgeville this year to follow our kitchen renovation. It was finished two weeks behind the original timeline, which was well within our expectations.

Classic car hoodDodgeville’s sophomore year was quite productive even though, as with its first year, most potential posts never quite made it beyond the idea or initial draft stages. You may consider it a blessing that a tiny fraction of the 5500 pictures I’ve taken in the past 12 months have made it into the blog. As with last year’s wrap-up, the pictures accompanying this post are a few of the many that I’d set aside for posts that I never quite got around to developing.

I changed workplaces around this time last year and much of my sights-of-the-city reporting changed venues with me: instead of watching red-tailed hawks and urban wildlife in and around E.T. Seton Park, this summer I tracked red-tailed hawks and urban wildlife in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Mount Pleasant has also been the source of some of my griping this year, but mostly I really like exploring the cemetery. You’ll be seeing more of it in the year ahead, too.

Lurking in the hallway

Following up on the previous year’s explorations of old Pottery Road and Don Mills Road, I paid visits to Indian Line, an abandoned DVP on-ramp, and Passmore Avenue.  Every time I think I’m running out of abandoned roads, another one pops up onto my radar. I hope to spend more time exploring hidden and neglected corners of the city this coming year.

Some of my favourite finds this year included a colourful garage door, notes to the cleaning crew, a leet car, a poorly-designed intersection, Eddie Shack Donuts, the city’s best bike lane (courtesy of the TTC strike), and a traffic camera watching the Don River.  I posted a number of my discoveries on Torontoist instead of here; they included a readymade on Merton Street, a very Toronto display of passive aggression, a touching neighbourhood notice, and a grossly inaccurate official notice.

Torontoist was also home to one of my most ambitious blogging projects yet, The Travails of Mr. Stickman. I spent about three months obsessively examining every commercial vehicle and piece of heavy machinery that I walked or biked past to compile the three dozen photos. It was a lot of fun, but I was happy to turn my concentration to something else shortly afterward. I also contributed about a dozen business names to the Great Torontoist Pun Hunt including my personal and long-time favourite, “Bin There Dump That.”

Relaxing at the fountain

One of the things that continues to surprise me about the city is how much of it lurks just out of sight. For the curious, there’s always more around the corner or a block away. It’s the primary reason why I continue to vary my commuting and walking routes. Although my schedule has put a crimp in my wandering for much of the last year, I should be coming out of the worst of my overcommitments just in time for the spring hiking and cycling seasons.

Old caboose in the woods

So what’s up for Dodgeville this year? Many more random discoveries, for sure. A couple more abandoned roads, I hope. More explorations in Toronto’s outer suburbs and rural surroundings, thanks to the extended day-tripping range I get out of the combination of the GO train and my new (incredibly zippy!) road bike. Some new Supermarket Finds are on deck in the next few weeks. And of course, there will be celebrations when the Chester Hill bike lane is finished early in the spring.

Dodgeville will also be getting a redesign with support for those newfangled tags and some other new content. For those of you who read the site directly instead of through an RSS reader, one of the improved features is already visible in the sidebar to the right. In addition to the cycling mileage counter of previous years, I’m now keeping track of my walking, public transit, and automobile mileage. In the first seven weeks of the year, an unexpected result is already emerging: I fully expected the car and walking totals to be inverted. I think I travel about 2000 km by car in an average year and I’m on pace to walk around 1500 km this year, so we’ll have to see if the numbers hold.

Anyway, thanks for reading for yet another year. Stick around; there’s lots more to come.

Chester Hill bike lane construction continues apace

A sign has finally been erected allowing bikes to turn into the bike lane.

Some six months after the last bit of work done on the still-not-quite-finished bike lane on Chester Hill Road, a little more progress was made in January. And not just once, but work was done on at least two different occasions. Now that’s progress.

For those not familiar, Chester Hill has a 70 metre long contra-flow lane from Broadview Avenue to Cambridge Avenue. Yes, that’s 70 metres, not 700 metres or 7 km; not even as long as an Olympic sprint. The lane has been worked on in fits and starts since construction began in November 2007. I realize how terribly complex and difficult it can be to put up a few signs and paint a 70 metre long stripe down a quiet residential street, but surely 15 months (and counting) is a little long for the completion of such a short lane.

The temporary stop sign that was erected at the end of the lane last spring blew over in late December and was quickly buried under the snow banks that the city ploughs have been storing in the bike lane this winter. It seemed like a perfect metaphor for the bike lane (and the Bike Plan in general). But early January brought an unexpected sign of action on Chester Hill. Not only was the sign pulled out of the snow and re-erected, but it also got two fresh sandbags to hold it upright for another few months. Although the metaphor has changed a bit, it still seems appropriate.

A couple of weeks later in mid-January, another small item was knocked off the to-do list: there are now “bicycles excepted” signs hanging from the “no right turns” signs on Broadview at Chester Hill. Yes, well over a year after construction began, there’s finally some indication that cyclists are allowed to turn onto the road and actually ride the bike lane for the five seconds it takes to traverse the entire length.

As far as I can tell, some kind of work has been performed on the lane on exactly six days over the past 15 months: two in November 2007, one each in April and July last year, and now two in January 2009. At least they’re picking up the pace again.

I figure that all of the work required to complete this entire bike lane project from beginning to end would take one person no longer than five hours (including a lunch break). In fact, I’m quite confident that if the city dropped off paint, signs, and a ladder at my house, I could have done the entire thing on a Saturday afternoon. At this point, about 4 hours of the work is done. Another few weeks of hard work this coming spring, summer, and fall should be all that’s required to finish the job.

The sad thing is that as short as this lane is, it’s actually part of an important and already very popular connector to the Bloor Viaduct. A formal bike lane here is simply an acknowledgement of its long-time use as such. Too bad that it’s been so terribly neglected.

At this rate (70m in 18 months, assuming that Chester Hill is finished in May), it would take the city 345 years to finish the bike lane on Lawrence and 8,570 years to finish all of the lanes in the Bikeway Network. Here’s hoping that the Bike Plan is Y10K compliant.

Who's up for burbee?

A story in Sunday’s Star highlighted the difficulty of counting the number of words in the English language, partly because of all of the local dialects constantly spawning words that never make it into dictionaries. And these aren’t just national or regional dialects, either; words can be hyper-local:

In Toronto, a popular schoolyard game involves painting (or chalking) a rectangular strike zone on a wall. There’s a pitcher, who aims for the strike zone, and a batter, who stands in front of it. It’s called “burbee” in Toronto’s east end, “french” in parts of East York, and “wall ball” in other areas of the city.

None of those expressions made it into Barber’s book, Only in Canada, You Say, a treasury of words unique to the great dominion. Nor does “squared,” a Torontoism of ancient coinage that means, well, kicked in the groin.

I grew up in three different parts of East York and we didn’t call it french in any of them. We always played burbee. I didn’t encounter the term french (for this or other entertainments) until well into my teens, despite regular exposure to kids from all over East York. There was a severe shortage of suitable walls during my Scarborough years, so not only did I not play burbee, but I have no memory of ever even mentioning it. Good thing too, as I probably would have been laughed out of the borough for calling it burbee instead of wall ball. As for getting squared, how can such a wonderful term for such an awful thing be limited to use by Torontonians? For that matter, I don’t think I’ve heard it for 20 years or longer.

It’s wonderfully surprising to discover that some of the language I grew up with would have sounded foreign to kids just a few blocks away.


I had my first-ever winter cycling wipe-out on the way to the office this morning. There wasn’t much snow on the road when I tried to set up for a left turn by crossing from one side of the lane to the other. Unfortunately, there was just enough slippery slush (perhaps concealing an ice patch) between the the car tracks to make my front tire slide sideways when I tried to cross. Although I can’t be positive, I’m pretty sure that I had a light touch on the front brake, which is probably what did me in. Turning + brake + slippery road = nothing good.

By the time I knew what was happening, I was already lying on my side marvelling at how soft the landing was. Beyond wounded pride, there was no damage to me or the bike. The best thing about wiping out in the winter is the lack of road rash. I consider myself extremely lucky by the most important measure: I don’t think anyone saw me.

I try to learn a lesson from everything, and I got two today: first, even if you don’t think that conditions are very bad, lower your tire pressure a bit to get a better grip. Second, always ride appropriately for the conditions. I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t taking this morning’s flurries very seriously. Serves me right.

Ironically enough, I spent this morning’s (pre-wipeout)  ride thinking about writing a winter riding post in which I would dismiss the supposed danger by noting that I’d fallen off my bike four times as an adult, none of which were during the winter or caused by road conditions or bad weather. Make that five times, and once.