Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What happenned to the CNE?

TheStar.com - Longing for the CNE of years gone by

Over the past two weekends I have been down to the Canadian National Exhibition's (CNE) 128th season.

The first weekend I was really excited to go to "The Ex" as I hadn't been in quite some time. I also had reason to, a former colleague from New York was up here on vacation and I thought "Let's go to The Ex!"

Over the next two weeks I was dissapointed:

First, after getting off the streetcar I paid $12.00 admission to get into the grounds. Sure this twelve buckaroos would have been great if it included even one or two rides. Nope sorry, out of luck. This twelve simoleans only lets your sorry ass get through the gate and the right to enter a melting pot of a flea market and land (carni market? flea land?).

While walking around the CNE I was fairly dissapointed that really the only excitement was the rides which I will point out you had to pay for at a cost of $3 to $6, various casino games, traditional "try your luck" or carni games.

Inside the old buildings things weren't that much better. A the food building, overpriced food supposedly prepared by well known vendors like Swiss Chalet, Pizza Pizza, and other Toronto area chain restuarents were a great dissapointment. This disspointment emanated from the fact the food quality people have come to expect from these chains was lacking.
Basically the food building was a large mediocre food court. If I wanted this type of environment I would head to Vaughan Mills Mall or Upper Canada Mall thank you very much!

Over at the Sports exhibition in the "Better Living" building more of the same flea market stalls were present. These "stalls" sold everything from sweat socks to ball caps. However there was a glimmer of excitement in the hall! While I was in this building for an hour there was one half time basketball show that was fairly good. The players would jump off trampolines and dunk a ball in a basketball hope. This was perhaps the funnest thing at the CNE.

Over at the Horse Palace, which apparently in the olden days used to be a two floor building brimming with the sounds of stallions and mares in yesteryear I was again dissapointed. The building was perhaps only a quarter used if that. There were two aisles describing to the youngsters what horses were and why horses were important. Sure this was great for the four or five year old who grew up in the city and has never seen or even been near a horse before. But I was looking for perhaps some trick riding or some true horsemanship.

I was sadely mistaken, all I got was one gentleman with a horse on a rope running around and around and around. I felt sorry for the horse having to be watched by all the city slickers and going around and around and around in order to get some excercise.

It seemed the horses in the horse palace seemed more like a inmates or a nuisance than anything else. Children had to use tongs in order to get a chance to feed a horse a carrot. Ride a horse? Sure the kids got to ride a horse! A fake mechanical horse at that! It seems horses at the CNE are more to be kept in stalls with "Do not pet" signs on the outside doors of the stalls. I really felt sorry for the horses that were there, at least the few of them that were there.

Was there anything great about the show? On the second weekend (and really the only reason I returned to "The Ex" at all) the Air Show was, as it usually is during this time of year, pretty good. It wasn't spectactular as the weather was drizzley to rainy. But the CF-18, the Aurora aircraft, the Harvard planes and the Canadian Snow Birds made appearances. I didn't get to see the Snow Birds while I was there on the Saturday of the Air Show because I was too cold, wet and hungry after two hours of standing outside. So I retreated to the warmth of the Food building for some substandard fries from Swiss Chalet. But at least I got to see a CF-18 woosh accross the sky and hear the unique sounds of three Harvard Aircraft doing tricks in the sky.

But I think next year I would skip paying the $12.00 admission and just watch the air show from the lake front. I found the two announcers who described every single detail of the planes right down to the type of screws used to fasten the door handle, to be a little annoying. In fact they were repeating things over and over again.

Would I go next year to the CNE? Probably not because I can go to carni land and flea markets for the less than $12.00 in other locations in the Toronto area. So this being the 128th season, what happenned to the CNE's past glory? What happenned to the CNE?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Vacation in New York!

For the first week of August saw me flying down and back to New York City on vacation!

It was a great time to just let loose with one of my former roomates from my New York City teaching time. I also got to see some of the attractions I had never seen before or hadn't seen in a long time as well as attractions that I could go to time and time again.

Perhaps the biggest memory of this trip is visiting the two Broadway Shows: "Avenue Q" and "Dirty Rotten Scounderals" (starring Richard Kind who was the press secretary from television show "Spin City"). For "Dirty Rotten Scounderals" I got to see the show from Box Seats after the person I was staying with won a draw to purchase the box seats for $26.75 each! Both shows were great!

Here are some of the pictures I have taken on my trip to New York City (they will all some day be added to the New York City section of my scrapbook section on the main website):

Brooklyn's Borough Hall in August 2006.

Dinosaur skeleton at the Musuem of Natural History.

Steeplechase Park before a Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game.

A young fan looking for an autograph from Sandy the Seagull (the Brookyln Cyclones' Mascot).

Literary Walk in Central Park

Looking south from the observation deck of Rockefeller Center.

Retail densities in...Aurora!

manyhighways.com - Retail densities in NYC

So a while back while I was in New York City I did a little thing called "retail densities in NYC" which to a look at how many retail locations of various chains were within 5 miles of my then location in Downtown Brooklyn (Brooklyn Heights).

So I decided to revisit these totals with a comparison to Aurora.

Problem: Canadians do distance in metric whereas the Americans are do distance in miles. So with 5 miles equalling 8 and change kilometres I decided I would use either 5 miles or 10 kilometres depending on the website search preferences.

So here are the results (in same order as previously posted here) from my current Aurora location:

Starbucks: 2 locations

McDonald's: 7 locations

Dunkin Donuts: 0 locations.

KFC: 5 locations

Barnes & Noble: 0 locations

K-Mart: 0 locations

Swiss Chalet: 5 (estimation...website doesn't allow for distance searching).

Tim Horton's: 20 locations

Second Cup: 4 locations

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Good Samaritan or "How to Feel warm and Fuzzy Inside"

Last Saturday (a week ago yesterday) I was sitting outside of Finch Subway station waiting for a bus northbound. I had brought my extra VIVA/YRT bus tickets with me because a friend of mine from my teaching days in New York City was up visiting for a couple weeks. That night we had gone down to Toronto to see the CNE and have dinner out with another colleague.

It was around eleven p.m. and we had to wait for ten minutes for the next northbound bus to arrive. The inside waiting area, convenience store and ticketing machines were closed for the evening.

A sixteen or seventeen year old woman inquired if we had change for a ten dollar bill. We both didn't. I indicated the outside YRT/VIVA ticketing machines would give change. I thought this because YRT/VIVA shows on their VIVA maps that Finch Station has "Multi Ride" machines. Multi Ride Machines dispense one ride & monthly passes as well as change. So I thought the problem was solved.

However, in VIVA/YRT's infinate wisdom they decided to put all the multi ride machines in doors which, conveniently enough for a young woman riding alone on a dark Saturday night at an empty bus station in north Toronto, was locked for the evening. All three ticketing machines outside the station and were the only ones currently accessible were single ride ticketing machines that require exact change only.

So here we have VIVA/YRT spending multi millions of dollars on the ticketing machines and advertising Finch Subway Station as being a multi-ride machine location when, after ten p.m. the multi ride machines are inaccessible. Sure they put three single ride machines out doors for people to use. But if you advertise or indicate to riders Multi Ride machines are available at this station passengers would assume these Multi Ride machines would be available as long as you are running VIVA service. At eleven p.m. on a Saturday night VIVA service is still operational. So for safety sake, why not have at least one multi ride machine outside and accessible for people to use?

Now back to the story. I thought to myself: "would I want my younger sister wandering around Yonge & Finch Streets at night looking for change in order to get home safely?"

The answer was pretty simple considering: I had won ten free VIVA tickets playing their online game back in December of 2005. I also had found four VIVA tickets one day at York University in January of 2006 as well.

So I shared my good fortune with someone who needed it.

But I still can't believe the "bright lights" with their "PHds in transit logistics," at YRT/VIVA who you would think would have thought this out a little further, would have made Multi Ride machines accessible so a situation like this would not occur. I bet this situation has occurred in the past and will occur in the future and probably won't change until something bad happens.

Question to VIVA/YRT: Why isn't the brightly lit terminal open to at least midnight on Saturdays? Wouldn't this invite people to take transit after partying downtown instead of trying to drive, possibly drunk, home? As a single person I would feel nervous waiting alone on the platform at this terminal late a night. But perhaps a warm, dry, brightly lit terminal with bus drivers, transit enforcements, and/or closed circuit cameras would make me feel a little more safer.

But at least it made me feel good to be human and thoughtful for at least one evening.

A big thanks to the teenager who wrote a kind thank you note as well. It made my night even more warmer.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

On vacation

I'm on vacation for the month of August.... Back in late August early September!

More on Union Station (the book I'm reading) eventually as well! Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Law & Order & Muppets

Gothamist: Law & Order & Muppets

Sometimes it is interesting to see if you were to throw two television shows into a blender what you would get.

Click here to see what happens.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Finally I have found Ontario strawberries!

Since May I have been looking at my local No Frills store for fresh Ontario strawberries. Sure year round they stock Ontario Apples and other produce. But I wanted strawberries from Ontario!

I could find strawberries flown from California, but not a short haul basket from a local Ontario strawberry patch.

I also have visited a local Loblaws store in Richmond Hill and struck out there as well.

But thank goodness for the Aurora Farmer's Market where, this morning, I picked up a basket of fresh Ontario strawberries!

Why did I want the Ontario strawberries as opposed to the California ones? Simply the fresh juiciness of strawberries is lost once you start refrigerating them and transporting them miles upon miles.

Sure I am all for free trade, but sometimes free trade just doesn't work. In this case fresh Ontario strawberries is required and nothing else will do.

Popular Posts