Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Get your '50s kicks for FREE ...

On New Hampshire's Retro Route # 3
(from New Hampshire's Maple Gazette)

Who says you can't turn back the hands of time? It can if you take a motor trip to New Hampshire. The State's Route 3 Retro Tour shows you how to drive back in time.
The 133 miles of gorgeous byways between Tilton and Pittsburg contain a treasure chest of affordable, 1950's and 1960's-era, owner-operated motels, motor courts and attractions.Route 3 is situated between Lake Winnipesaukee and the northern border of New Hampshire. This was the main north-south travel route for vacation and business travellers alike during the 1950's and 1960's. Attractions still abound along the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, in both Weirs Beach and Meredith's abundant shopping areas, where New Hampshire's Route 3 Retro Tour begins.
It is surprising how much of the 50s has survived. The 104 Diner -- the last Worcester (railroad) Lunch Car to be built in America -- is a must stop. So is Chutters (and its world's longest candy counter) in Littleton and the 58-year old Santa's Village in Jefferson.
The New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development has recently published a colourful 8-page Route 3 Retro Tour brochure that highlights all the 50s style diners, motels and attractions alongside the scenic highway. The brochure is available on the department's website as a downloadable PDF:

"Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that Granite State trip
Get your 50s retro kicks for free
On New Hampshire's Route Number 3*** "

***Apologizes to Little Richard's Route 66

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Vampire Rules In Toronto Condos - Candidates Have To Be Asked In

Leaving the Vampire Rules Behind
Will Condo Owners Flex their electoral muscle this October?

Edited Version Of This Story To Appear In Torontoist October 25

By Stephen Weir

When it comes to talking politics in most condo buildings, Vampire rules are in effect … no politician can cross the threshold unless invited in and best that they come after dark. Hundreds of thousands of voters in the GTA keep their crypts in condominiums – is this the October that a stake is driven through the heart of the condo group apathy towards all things political, and this block of voters takes its rightful place in the sunlight?
Some high profile city candidates including both mayoral and city council seat seekers, wonder and worry whether 2010 is the year that condo owners exercise their franchise. A fledging condo association has flagged civic issues that condo owners should take an interest in, and a veteran NDP MPP has once again introduced a private member’s bill that, in effect, will create a charter of rights for people who own condos.
“ The voice of the condominium is beginning to be heard (this campaign),” says councillor Adam Vaughan who is seeking reelection in the multi-dwelling riding of Trinity Spadina. Vaughan, the defacto voice of the condo owner at City Hall, says that owners are now realizing that politics, be it local, provincial or federal has a bearing on their downtown lifestyle.
“The kick start (for condo owners to take an interest in civic politics) is based on time. The longer you are there, the more you are aware,” he continued. “And, at the same time, the older the building is the stronger the condominium corporation (the building’s ratepayers association).
“In the first few years there are the growing pains of the building that the corporation deals with. As the building stabilizes, they start to look outside the building and begin to deal with other issues. For example, in my area, it is how close are the nightclubs? What can be done (at City Hall) about the noise?”
Zip Car parking. One-way streets. Bike lanes for car-free condo owners. Even the noise of late night garbage collections in the city core, are issues that candidates are being asked now by the condo-ites.
Adam Vaughan has been working the condos this fall. He lives in a house but he knows the issues. He has been speaking about high-density living issues long enough that condo associations are inviting him into buildings to knock on doors and speak to voters.
“It is significant (getting permission to get into a condo building during election time) especially when you are new candidate. Over the past four years I have attended many of the condo corporation meetings, so I am known, which makes it easier to interact with condo owners.”
Permission for access to buildings is a difficult task for anyone running for government. The halls of a condo are private property, private security often controls access to buildings, and, jaded suite owners are more likely to ask their corporation to keep canvassing candidates out rather than ask them in.
The hallways are considered private property, there is hired security at the front door, and, while some condo corporations encourage canvassing a lot don’t. Most condos don’t allow signs in the windows or flyers at the doorstep. It is like that vampire rule; you have to get invited in before you can step over the threshold.
“ Getting into rental buildings is easy. As a candidate you have rights and you can walk the halls and knock on doors,” said Rosario Marchese, the MPP for Trinity Spadina. He is working with city politicians, condo corporation presidents, unit owners, and a fledgling association of Ontario Condo Corporations. and fellow NDP MPPs to pass a private members bill that will modernize provincial laws governing condominium ownership.
“ There are currently no politicians in the House that I know of who have been elected while living in a condo,” said Marchese. “My sense is that most of them (sitting members at Queen’s Park) are homeowners. I’d wager a bet and say 99% of them are homeowners. The same holds true at City Hall … how many live in condos? There is (retiring) Kyle Rae and not many after that.”
“We have some big issues. There are over a million condo owners who can cast a ballot (in provincial civic elections). That is a powerful block of power … if they decide to actually vote.”
“It is my belief that we are seeing a community arising out of condominium living. I believe it is emerging, where they are beginning to exert themselves and creating an identity,” explained Marchese. “They didn’t have one before. They are beginning to create one. So whatever issues are happening, let us say, in the Queen’s Quay district, people are beginning to talk to each other. People are beginning to respond to things because this affects my condominium community, and me, which is what my Condo Association Bill is all about. This community has not been able to influence governments in the past, I believe that they will begin to do so.”
I do believe that it (the political might of the condominium) is going to get stronger and governments are going to have to listen to them. I suspect that as the identity grows and as the problems grow, people are going to ask governments what they are going to do for condominium owners.”
Two of the three major mayoral candidates live in houses. George Smitherman lives in a condo in central Toronto and Joe Patalone has part ownership in a Bathurst and Bloor area condominium.
“ I am addressing the condo owners in this campaign,” said Patalone. “The growth of this kind of housing – efficient urban housing – is very important to the health of the city. By-laws, zoning and an understanding of the condo lifestyle have to keep pace with this (condo boom).”
“Civic engagement (with condo owners) is a serious issue and here in Toronto there is a real problem,” said the mayoral candidate. He feels that communication between the city and the condo, or the lack there of, keeps tower dwellers out of the political milieu.
Privacy concerns at times trump city efforts to keep condo owners informed. Patalone points out that with owners of low-rise housing (detached, semi’s, quads etc) receive notices of all proposed rezoning matters in their neighbourhood. “In the towers, the only name we have is the condo corporation board, not the individual owners. The condo board know what is happening but the individual owners may not.”
There are over 2,000 condo buildings in Toronto; some have over 500 individual owners. Each condo corporation may not know who owns the suites in their buildings. Towers in the downtown core have significant numbers of units rented out by absentee owners, some don’t even live in the country.
“Historically, condo owners in my riding don’t vote. Simple as that” said veteran St. Paul’s West councillor Joe Mihevc. “ They have not engaged themselves politically to the same extent as house dwellers. I believe it is a lifestyle thing.”
“One thing is important, people choose a condo lifestyle to make living in Toronto easy. They focus very much on their personal life, whether it is extra curricular activity, or maybe their profession. They have very much a more simplified life,” says Linda Pinizzotto.
“It is amazing. They basically want to take that whole side of their lifestyle and put it in the hands of the property management and of course the board of directors who oversee the corporation. If you have a good board of directors the building will work extremely well, but …”
She is the founder and the Political Action Chair for the new Condo Owners Association Ontario (COA) and the owner of several condos in downtown Toronto. COA was launched in April of last year; it is an association that draws its membership from individual condominium corporations in the province. By mid-summer there were about a dozen buildings involved.
Pinizzotto’s association wants to create a cohesive united voice on behalf of the condo corporations and to represent them to all levels of government. Warranty issues, the impact of HST on condo fees, the Condo Act and city standards for buildings yet to be built, are all part of their mandate. COA wants to get condo owners involved in the political process.
Why are there no sitting members (Queens Park) and few City Hallers who have been elected while living in a condo? “It is a matter of timing. The new wave of condo owners could move towards that direction. You see the condominium didn’t really take off until 1999 and most of the people that are in politics are beyond the age of the ’99 condo lift,” she continued.
“The age of most condo owners tends to be between 25 and 35 (younger than most elected officials). That is a very strong age limit. Some people stay in condos (past 35) depending on what their desires are. But a lot start to have children and then move out to a single-family house.” Trish Mason owns a co-op suite in the Spadina Village District. She has over the years sat on the building’s board and has taken an active interest in politics. Mason is no longer on the board and her interest in civic politics has waned. She says that it is a lifestyle thing for many people in her building, they have simply opted out.
“Not sure if I am going to vote. I have made my place a refuge away from the city,” she said. “I happen to be at the top at the back of an old building. It is an illusion, I know, but I feel so lucky, that I feel away from it all. I don’t mind buzzing in a politician, but, on the other hand I don’t want one sitting on my couch for half an hour!”
For Mason, her building has issues with the city that the high-end Forest Hill homes in her riding don’t face. “It is all about garbage. Our building was built before recycling and so we have to use big bins that are easily accessible from the street. Sometimes they fill up quickly, and the garbage ends up out in the open. Strangers go through our recycle bins, I don’t mind homeless people harvesting liquor bottles, but they do it loudly at night on what is supposed to be private property – who is going to police our blue bins?” “I do vote when there's a candidate that I want to vote for ... otherwise I don't bother,” said Harbourfront District condo owner Laurie Sakamoto “If the voting station is in an inconvenient location I don't vote. Last election I didn’t vote because they told me to leave Yas (her small dog) outside, which I refused to do since someone would probably have stolen her.”
“I just don't want the airport to get any bigger. I love the fact that I can walk there and that it's small with short wait times,” she continued. “The only thing that really bothers me about Queens Quay is if they decide to close it for events and charity walks I can’t use my car. I wish the new mayor would stop closing automobile lanes for bike lanes. He should also make cyclists abide by the same rules as motorists ... no drinking and riding, no going through red lights, no cutting off motorists. We all have to get along.”

Top Two: One day before the election only one election sign could be seen in the windows of downtown condos. This highly visible condo on Parliament Street (Distillery District) sports a George Smitherman sign.
Second from Bottom: Condo as Refuge
Bottom: Joe Patalone finds it easier campaigning outdoors than inside Toronto's downtown condo towers. Photo taken by sweir at Word On The Street book festival (Queen's Park)

Do Toronto Condo Dwellers Vote In Civic Elections?

Sidebar: Voting by the numbers.

Councillor Mihevcfeels that condo residents tend to not take as much of interest in local politics as people who live in houses and apartment buildings. MPP Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina) agrees that Toronto’s condo culture works against residents – owners and renters alike – to get involved in civic politics, but feels that it is changing.
“This is one of the things that come out of that culture of living in a condo, it was sold as ‘you live in your unit, you go away for a holiday, and here is your key’. You lock the door and you are gone, you don’t have to worry about a thing. The point of a condo living in the beginning of the boom was that you don’t have to talk to anyone. You don’t have to be part of a community, “explained Marchese. “The culture of it was based on the idea that you have got things you want to do in life and your condominium offers you an opportunity to do just that, and it gives you the privacy you are looking for. That is changing!”
“It is a mixed bag, in condominiums you have got renters, (which is another reality within a condominium reality) to what extent renters vote versus condominium owners voting is an interesting question that we haven’t analyzed but that effects community living as well,” he continue. “There is no ideology in a condominium at all. Some are New Democrats, more condominium owners are Liberal, and an equal number of them vote for the Conservative candidate. It is pretty representative of the way people vote in general.”

High Rise vs. Houses – who votes more?

Statistics on the voting record for condominium residents is not readable available. However, one can look at voter percentage turnout is wards that have a lot of condos against those that don’t.
In Trinity Spadina, Ward 20 there are 197 registered condominiums and more are being built. City hall statistics show that in 2006, just fewer than 60,000 people lived in the ward. 87% of voters live in high-rises and low rises dwellings. 13% live in single or semi-detached residences. Voter turnout last election was 39%.
In St Paul’s (Ward 22) there are just under 60,000 and 74 % of the voters live in high-rises and low rises dwellings. 26% of voters live in semi-detached duplexes, single, semi and row houses. Voter turnout last election was 42%

CUTLINE: Fortress Condo - keeping the politicans out!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Background for Nassau Article - Log Books

Photos of Stephen Weir by Janine, Halifax underwater shark wrangler and photographer at Stuart Cove, Nassau

Dive #1
Wreck of the port royal and bacardii reef
Stuart cove
Depth 109 ft
Buddy – some guy from texas
In; 3,100 LBS 32% NITROX OUT 100 lbs
Stops 4 minutes computer on setting for air and it NEVER went into decompression

Worst dive since the time maria got lost in the dam in peterborough. Lost my camera, flooded. O-rings. I was stressed. Checked out a wreck. Govt gun ship, now an artificial reef. Covered in small fish. Quite a colony of groupers there. Lion fish abound. Stuart Cover says he has a licence to trap the lionfish but he says he has lost the battle. Got the resident photographer to take a picture of me inside the wreck with a lion fish.
Lost my buddy. Instructor from texas. He was wearing earphones and listening to music. Found him as he was going over to the wall. It started at 100 feet. \he said let’s take a look but since \i only had 1,000 lbs by this pt, \i couldn’t stay. Next thing \i knew we were at 109 ft. . Just hung in the water staring at the computer. Sunk in \i had a minute before getting in to deco. Went up as fast as \I could without fgetting warning. Worried about oxygen problems with nitrox. But I was aware enough not to go too fast. My buddy actually went down farther. 140. He acknowledge my wave. I went to 15 feet and hung till my tank was almost dry watching him break all the rules.
Full suit. 86 degrees. 14 lbs. calm. Viz 60 ft.
Bottom time 45 minutes
Dive #2
Mini wall
Same buddy
3,100 lbs nitrox 32 %
Out – 1,000 lbs
Bottom time 50 minutes
Viz 60 feet
Nice mini wall dive. 24 in the water. Most following the guide. Took us to a very small lobster and then took my buddiu and others down to a sponge a 75FT where there was a small crab! Underwhelming. I stopped at 59 ft and watched everyone go down to see the crab. Could tell that the divers let him know that he should only tell them about bigger stuff. \He didn’t bang his tank when a 6ft reef shark came by. |My buddy and I found each other off from the rest of the group and this large shark circled us and then kept circling us at the edge of visiion. Reef in great shape. Called pumpkin reef because of the orange sponges. We kept looking at the reef while the shark lurked. We got bored, came back to main ground just as a 3 ft shark swam between us.
a-1 dive site. Coral colourful for the bahamas. Orange and green and umber. Lots of blood red sponges too.
Stuart cove will give us photos. I am relieved.
Maximum depth 59ft

Dive #3
Shark and Wreck
3,100 lbds
Post lunch dive
Same buddy

Story Idea – Ladies of Steel

Trio came from around the world. Halifax (my mother always writes and says Why Can’t You Feed Whales like your sister. 24 year old from Australia and a videographer from Germany. All under 30, all quite willing to wrestle with potentially deadly sharks, most bigger than them, two or three times a week …. And for no extra money.

Dive #3 – 60-80 feet
Shark orientation dive
3,200 lbs of nitrox at 32%
Wearing bathing suit and t-shirt and 6lbs of lead
Calm. Water 86 degrees F
Bottom time 50 minutes 3 min deco out with 1,000 lbs
Maximum depth 60ft

Probably one of the nicest dives I have done. We got in the water and swam over to a set of wrecks. No coral grown there yet. Stuart put them down, just like he has done on over 20 other wrecks. He gets them from the govt. cleans them up and sinks them.
These wrecks were covered in fish. Yellow tails. Schools of small silver fish engulfed the wreck, and the divers. Moved leisurely around the bottom like a cloud. A living cloud
The publisher of Sport Diver was lying on the bottom with Janine the videographer photographing a huge sting ray. Probably 9 ft from head to end of the whip tail. Body size about 4 ft across wasn’t going to move no matter how many times the strobe fired in his eyes.
I stayed out of the pictured and checked out the remains of an old frieghter. As I drifted down towards It huge, ugly gnarley turtle swam into the wreck area. Seeing me it turn 90 degrees and started swimming away. But, another diver there, so it turned a second 90 degrees and headed out towards the drop off. Will check the charts to see what species it was.
As our air ran low we swam back towards the boat over a rolling coral bed. Came to a flat bit of sand – the arena. Janine says that it is like the Colisuem of old, and she is one of the gladiators.
There are enough stones and blocks for 24 divers. Most of the stones are grouped in twos to allow for pairs. This is where the sharks will feed on our second dive of the afternoon (O#4)
Even though we don’t have food there are still big sharks in the water. 8ft was about the biggest | saw. They weren’t aggressive but swam in lazy circles around the arena.
We were being shown where the next dive was going to be, but I think that the crew wanted to check us out to see how we would react to the big fish. No one bolted for the wsurface. Everyone did their 3 minutes on the line while shaqrks were circling under our flippers.

Dive #4

Have to really look at the briefing as part of the dive. Three women. The aussie did most of the talking. Good natured but warned men to keep their legs close together or the sharks will try to swim between your legs. “Their dorsal fin is very hard, like steel, if it swims through your legs, well men, you do have a package under there, and that dorsal fin hurts. (We girls don’t have to worry, she said with a wicked grin, we just ride it out!. Anyway men, if you get hit, you will fall over, just lie in the sand and we girls will come over and set you right.
Warned us not to extend the camera from our body to take a picture. They will go for our hands and they might take it with them. No camera? Just tuck hands under armpits. No holding camera out to take self portraits.
Stay in the circle. Don’t bolt for the surface.. Okay if the shark touches you (and it will) but not touching the sharks. You will get slapped in the face by a fin. You won’t get bit.
But in saying that the girls struggled into armlets made of steel. Like the suits that knights of the round table used to wear. They had protecton. Aussie didn’t have a sword. Just a long fork, not unlike a bbq cooking utensil.
Nova Scotia Janine talked about taking photos. Bait, fish heads and stuff, inside a baitbox. Almost like a two level strong box. Colourful, like the rental suits and everything else, had stuart cove logo.on it. \
Aussie would bring the box close to each diver to allow cdn janine to photograph each diver with a halo of sharks. Janine’s massive, expenswive underwter digital camera has a fish eye (or should it be shark’s eye) lens with a clear glass portal. Our dive masks enhance everything by 20%, this lens does even more than this. These sharks are big, and the camera makes the tourist shots they sell at the end of the dive even more imposing.
German Janine will work another part of the circle with her video camera. After the still photographer has left, Aussie girl feeds near each diver. Before the sharks were slow moving as they swam near the divers, the opening of the box sends them into a frenzy. They circle the box and aussie girl in increasingly tight circles and incre3asing high speed. Absolutely terrifying to see a shark switch gears from lazy to attack. |And yes, the lictating lens does cover their eyes.
They do bang into the divers, they do try to swim under arms and they do scratch their bellies over peoples head.
Aussie girl had warned the men in the group – mostly men – who had bristle brush cuts (most were brush cut, shaved or just simply focilly challenged, this is a$150 experience plus video, plus stills, plus t-shirts, plus food (to replace what you might have shit out under water, so it attracts older crowd. 60 something have a lot less to lose I guess). Anyway bristle head divers she warned are favoured by the female sharks who want to use their heads to scratch their bellies. Sharks don’t have hands you know, so, they can’t scratch.

Tur ns out just aussie humour. Sharks too busy competiting for a bite of fish heads, to notice who had hair and who didn’t.
Aussie girl did scratch bellies for some of the big female sharks. She used her chain mail hand to scratch snots of the Bahamian reef shark matrons. Memorized them. They stop swimming. She says they go under, into a trance. She is a tall woman but says she doesn’t have the strength to flip them over. They will go limp and allow you to flip them on their backs and rub the bellies. Janine says the young ones are too skittish to allow the handlers to put them under.

Aussie girl has to fight them off. She is gentle. No need though. The sharks are battled scarred. Some have gashes in their back and flippers, mating wounds. Another has 2 ft plastic line attached to a fish hook buried in its iron tough hide. Another has junks of flesh missing where a motor prop hit it. |there is also a shark with a broken jaw. Not recent. 6 years has been feeding. Cqa n’t miss its lopside grin as it swims by.
“why are doing this?” asked a 60 something dive travel agent white haired granny. Janine shrugs, no answer. But, even after a 20 minute briefing on the 50 ways you can leave your hand, or your foot or the family jewells at the bottom of the warm Caribbean sea, everyone got in the water.
“ Theatre, of coures there is. We plays thinkgs up. The main thing is to deliver entertainment. People learn more about the animal, they appreciate the experience, they loose their fear, we hope of sharks, but, it is entertainment. And they sure treasure my photos and our videos!”

Janine Boyetche, from Halifax. Worked twice at Stuart Cove, quit to work Easy Dive??? in Port Hawkesbury. Left NS wnen the cold water hit. She worked in Dundee Australia
The staff haul tanks. No extra money for working with sharks. Women and Men work equal. No rules that say only men feed and handle shark. But Janine and Janine and Michelle make up the only female shark handling team in the world.

“ I think we three take a bit of the macho out of the experience (compared to male divers), well, (thinking back to Michelle’s talk about loosing one’s balls) we take a little Macho out of it.”

“There is a pecking order. Big females came in first. There are a few that 8 to 10 feet long. Probably 30 to 40 resident sharks who take part in the feeds (not all at the same time”
Some 30 might feed at any one time but only a dozen might actually get a bite of the food. And then “ it is a small amount (compared to how much they need to eat in a day) like dessert.”
“The more aggetated they get the less they get,” she said. “ It is strange what effects their level of aggitation. Low pressure on the surface and they seem to be nervous underwater.”

The three women don’t have shark bites to show for their work, but, they do get bumped and scrapped by the course skin of a shark suit. Michelle’s chain mail is ripped where sharks have got their teeth caught in the mesh and they have thrashed until eitheir the chain mail or teeth have snapped. The sand in the arena has bits of teeth that can be recovered and taken home as souvenirs.
While Janine was videotaping me a small shark came in fast, flicked his snout down to her feet, shook his head and swam off. Janine grabbed her foot as he sped off into the blue. The shark had bite her flipper. Missed the foot but left a gash in her flipper … seconds later she showed me the rent!
“ that is not the first time,” she told me, back on Cenote, the 58ft long dive boat (check name and length) “Always the same foot and the same flipper. Don ‘t know why – is the colour or the straps or what that attracts them to that flipper”
Suit made by Neptune Suit Who knew there were enough shark handlers out there to warrant have a suit manufacturer. Put on in segments. Like nylons and glves.

All three women have tatoos. All are blond. All are fearless
Just fell into the job. Came here 4 years ago. Started feeding them 3 years ago. Usually twice a week.
“Little ones won’t go into a trance. Now the 8 to 10 footers, all females are the easiest to get down. I get them down but once I try to lft them they come out of it and (sluggishly) swim away. Small onces are more my size but they are to skittsh to toucch.”

Names for the big sharks. Males are smaller. It is the females that they recognize. They have markeings that “we get to recognize” The shark with the borken jawa has been here for 6 years. Was pregnant earlier this summer. Was really fat for awhile and then was thin again!

#1 group dive
No dive suit, 3,000 lb, no nitrox, 6lbs of lead
Depth 60ft
Name of site – check boo
85 degrees, 4 ft swells – hurricane
small sharks. Fish, eel

#2 Landing Strip
60 ft 55 minutes
small patch