Thursday, 29 April 2010

Loose Moose eat shoots and leave(s) for the cameras

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Gorham's coach tours have a 94% chance of seeing a photo-friendly moose or two

There is more chance of seeing a moose on the loose while taking part in a Gorham Moose Trail tour than basking in sunshine on a visit to the beach!
The 174-year old town, nestled in the Androscoggin Valley and adjacent to the picturesque Presidential Mountain Range, have a 94% successful sight rate when it comes to close encounters of the Moose kind.
Gorham is surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest and the spectacular Mt. Washington and Great Glen Outdoor Center are only eight miles away.
Tourists should not miss the unique opportunity to take the Gorham Moose Tour in search of the giant of the North Country and other area wildlife, including deer, osprey, eagles and more.
Climb on board a comfortable, air-conditioned, 15 or 21-passenger tour bus for a 3-hour tour along the picturesque Androscoggin River and into the 13-Mile Woods Area. There are daily tours throughout from May to October and evening tours almost every night of the week.
Tickets are available at the Gorham Information Booth and reservations are recommended. 2010 rates are $25 per adult; $15 per child, ages 5-12; $5 per child, 4 & under. For information or reservations, call 603-466-3103 or toll free 877-986-6673.http://www.mtwashingtonvalley.org/newhampshire/attractions/gorham-moose-tours.cfm

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

New Hampshire: Victoria Day Weekend and Spring/Summer Packages




QUEEN VICTORIA WOULD BE AMUSED BY ALL THE DEALS FOR HER SUBJECTS

The Canadian dollar is on the rise and so are the savings in New Hampshire.
The Granite State appreciates the business and visitors it receives from Canada and many properties are offering up discounts and other added value items for the Victoria Day weekend and some extending it throughout the spring or even summer. Check out www.visitnh.gov for all the latest information and packages or visit the websites listed after each package below for specific details.

* Appalachian Mountain Club Highland Center/Joe Dodge Lodge -Bretton Woods, NH Enjoy the outdoors at the Appalachian Mountain Club's Highland Centre and Joe Dodge Lodge and book May 22-24 and save 50% off their regular rate for the second night during this time period. You must mention promo code "VDAY" when you call (603) 466-2727 for reservations. Offer only available by phone. Lodge details at www.outdoors.org/whitemountains.
* Mountain Edge Resort & Spa at Sunapee - Newbury, NH Stay two nights in their all-suite hotel and receive a credit towards spa treatments for $100.00 US plus a free late check-out ($100.00 value). Rates begin at $199 US for a spacious one bedroom, den suite with kitchenette. www.mountainedgeresort.com
* Franconia Notch Vacations - Franconia, NH Franconia Notch Vacations wants to show their appreciation to its Canadian visitors by offering a choice of any of their rental homes and properties for a 2-night stay during the month of May, 2010 and receive a 3rd night free. They will also throw in a complete set of detailed area hiking maps. Use the reference promo code "CVS1" when making reservations. www.franconiarentals.com
* Courtyard by Marriott - Portsmouth, NH Ideally situated in the seacoast town of Portsmouth, special Victoria Day rates are available May 20-25, 2010 at the Courtyard by Marriott. The special promotional rate begins at $149 US per night and includes breakfast for two. Mention the Canadian Victoria Day rate program when booking. www.marriott.com/PSMCY
* Wentworth By The Sea Hotel and Spa - New Castle, NH One of the four Grand Hotels in New Hampshire this stunning seacoast destination resort is offering a Victoria Day special during the period of May 23-28, 2010. Book the "Canadian Resident's Rate" and receive complimentary breakfast fro two guests at the Wentworth or the Portsmouth Courtyard - request rate code RZL. The resort offers many activities from spa, golf, and numerous water activities. Located only a few minutes from downtown Portsmouth. www.wentworth.com
* Attitash Grand Summit Hotel - Bartlett, NH The Attitash Grand Summit offers mountainside accommodations with beautiful scenic views, outdoor heated pool and hot tubs, and onsite dining at Crawfords Pub & Grill. Promotional packages from April until June 17, 2010 start as low as $55 US per person/per night/based on double occupancy. www.attitash.com
* Royalty Inn - Gorham, NH The Royalty Inn is located close to all the White Mountain attractions and nearby to the North Conway outlet shopping. They are offering a Spring Super Saver Special Rate from April 16 until May 23, 2010 for only $39 US per person (based on double occupancy). Price includes accommodation, free hot breakfast, and an appetizer and beverage of choice with a dinner purchase. www.royaltyinn.com
Maple Leaf Gazette

Friday, 23 April 2010

BEAM ME DOWN SCOTTY - RODDENBERRY DIVE TEAM

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BUY THE DECAL. WEAR THE SUIT. JOIN THE CLUB.
The Final Frontier begins with the Roddenberry Dive Team

By Stephen Weir, Diver Magazine

BEAM ME DOWN SCOTTY. Space may be the final frontier for astronauts, but, Eugene Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry the creator of Star Trek, knows that for the vast majority of people back here on Earth, the only place you can boldly go where no man has gone before is underwater.
California based Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry has introduced a new line of dive suits and formed a dive club to encourage people to explore the underwater world and save the planet. Rod is hopeful that his Roddenberry Dive Team will live long and prosper.
“The Roddenberry Dive Team is about exploration, adventure and education,” the club founder wrote on his website. “Members can take part in regular ocean, space and science action related activities; including scuba trips to both local and exotic locations, VIP events and fundraisers, special lectures and seminars, aquarium and scientific facility tours.”

“This is the beginning, the Rodenberry Dive Team (RDT) adventures have just begun,” Eugene Roddenberry told Diver Magazine. “We just want to say ‘Get off the couch’ and explore the world (through diving). This is not a protest. The more you experience, the more you understand. RDT is looking for people who not only have an interest in ocean exploration and recreation but also a love for the vision and optimism that was handed down by my father Gene Roddenberry.”
“"Star Trek promoted a beautiful future,” he said.” There is a tremendous parallel between floating in space and floating in an alien (underwater) environment.”
RDT has formed a California chapter and has already taken part in the 29th Annual Avalon Harbor Underwater Cleanup off Catalina Island near Los Angeles. Future RDT events and trips are already in the works.
“We want to establish chapters where ever there are like-minded divers,” he continued. “ I would love to see one in Canada. I lived in Toronto for 10-years and still have a lot of friends there.”
You don’t have to enlist in the RDT to become an underwater trekkie. Eugene Roddenberry has brought out a line of Star Trek: The Original Series wet and dry suits.
As JMJ Wetsuits (the makers of the wetsuits) explains, “these wetsuits are not novel gimmicks, they are the real deal, made using the highest quality materials and expert craftsmanship. This is the ultimate in warmth and exposure protection when exploring strange new worlds!
The 7MM wetsuit is available in three colors: Command Yellow, Science Blue, and Engineering Red. Each suit features a durable Star Trek chest insignia, Rank Braids, and RDT shoulder logo.”
Canada’s Whites Manufacturing make high quality dry suits including the new Fusion line of futuristic dry suits. RDT members can now purchase a Star Trek version of the Canadian Fusion dry suit.
Editor’s Note: too bad that Fusion suits don’t use vulcanized rubber boots like earlier Whites dry suits.

“People are used to wearing black suits, but not us! When you put on a Star Trek suit you are making a statement.”
“The suits are selling,” he continued,“but not like hot cakes. They are expensive. They are a custom fit. We don’t send out orders of 10,000 to China, these are American made (wetsuits). You will pay $450 and you will get a fantastic suit that looks, well, out-of-this-world.”

“The Whites dry suits sales have just begun. We have had a couple of people show an interest. We showed at DEMA and I expect that interest in all of our suits will grow!”
Don’t want to buy a suit or join the team? Roddenberry’s ship stores sell a variety of logo-enhanced articles including tank covers, apr├Ęs dive parkas and a beverage cozy. http://www.roddenberry.com/roddenberry/dive-team/

Cutline: James Griffiths, left, Vice President and Operations Manager, Whites Manufacturing Ltd., and Justin Balaski, Whites’ Regional Sales Manager, at launch of the Star Trek Fusion drysuit,

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Diver Magazine Exclusive: Peter Hughes sells his business to the new owner of the Aggressor Fleet

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In the Caribbean and on the Pacific and Indian Oceans Wayne Brown is the new Dance Master

By STEPHEN WEIR

His hand is no longer on the tiller; he is no longer the admiral of his fleet. Yes, the title on the business card says “president”, but, according to Peter Hughes, it is now Wayne Brown who is walking the Poop Deck on his Dancer fleet of live-aboard dive boats.
Peter Hughes, the man who introduced luxury live aboard dive travel to North America and established four-star standards for land-based Divi operations in the Caribbean has told Diver Magazine in an exclusive interview that he has sold his company, lock, stock and dive boats. The new owner, Wayne Brown, is the owner of the Aggressor Fleet of live-aboard dive boats, Hughes’ fiercest competitor.
Speaking at the Adventure Sport Exhibition in Toronto, Mr. Hughes said that he sold his operation to multi-millionaire Wayne Brown 24 months ago. “ We were very very quiet about the sale,” he said. “It was months before anyone had an inkling that a change had been made. We just did not make a big deal out of it and yes, this is probably the first time I have officially spoken to the media about it.”
Peter Hughes sold his company two years ago at the height of the US economic meltdown. High unemployment, bank closures, a squeeze on lending and a near collapse of the American tourism industry took its toil on the Hughes operation. “ I had to sell. It was purely done for financial reasons”.
And while the poor economy has hit the dive travel industry hard, the recession has had little effect on 49-year old Brown. According to newspaper reports the new owner is “a globe-trotting multimillionaire” who, up until 2006 owned 60 Taco Bell restaurants. He sold them and developed a management company that has a portfolio, which includes a British-based luxury travel agency, the Aggressor Fleet and now Peter Hughes Diving.
“Other business ventures, such as his upscale scuba-diving service, reflect the adventurous lifestyle that he (Brown) leads with his wife and college-age children,” reported the Augusta Georgia Chronicle (his hometown paper) shortly after the deal was made.
“I was born in Scotland but family moved to Trinidad … learned how to dive in Tobago at an early early age (10 years old – some 50+ years ago)” said Mr. Hughes. “Diving has been part of my life since then.”
Over the years he has been involved in dive resorts and live-aboard dive boats (sometimes at the same time) in some of the world’s most popular sites. Hughes is as comfortable in Bonaire, Cayman, Belize, Bahamas, Grenada, Tobago, Grenada, St. Vincent, Roatan, Egypt, Ecuador, Palau, New Guinea, Raja Ampat, Fiji and the Maldives as he is in his south Florida office.
The dive world first became aware of him back in 1972 when Hughes turned around the dive operations at Anthony’s Key Resort (Honduras’ Bay Islands.) and the Divi Flamingo Resort in Bonaire. One of the big changes was not requiring paying customers to load their own tanks onto dive boats (the norm back then) and using multiple dive boats to dive different sites at different dive levels at the same time.
His first move into the live-aboard industry began in 1986 when Peter Hughes and his wife Alice, made a deal with Divi Resorts to purchase a 100-foot oil field crew boat. Divi and the Hughes converted it into an 18-passenger boat to carry scuba divers to areas not easily accessible to land based dive operations.
“It was a vast departure for a company who owned and operated only land based resorts,” reads Hughes’ history on his website. “It was the beginning of a new life for Peter and his wife Alice; and it eventually brought a new dimension to the world of dive travel.”
“Nowadays it just makes sense – personal service, luxury, good food. But back then …” he told Diver Magazine. “ I credit my wife Alice. She told me there was no way she was going to go on a live aboard, sleep in a windowless hold (in bunk beds) and have to line-up for the head in the morning behind 5 sleepy male divers.”
“That was the norm back then. We didn’t want to do business that way,” said Hughes. “Individual cabins and heads, good food, even better service, that became our working model for years to come. Just bringing some of the cabins above the waterline and giving them picture windows, twin, queen and even King sized beds, were huge steps.”
On a Hughes ship, passengers come on board, hand over their gear, show their c-cards, hear a safety lecture and unpack their luggage. The passenger to crew ratio is about 2 to 1; so after that divers can just sit back and relax and let the Dancer crew do everything. The boat prepares your gear, fills the tanks (Nitrox always available), looks after your cameras, gets you in the water, leads you around underwater (if you want), helps you back in the boat, gives you a hot towel, a back-rub and a cup of hot cocoa. The food is usually outstanding, and there is always someone on watch 24-hours a day.
“ We established the standard. Divers keep coming back year after year after year. Some divers want to try all of our boats, others stay with just one,” continued Hughes.
“The Aggressor did its best to match our service. There has always been a lively debate amongst divers as to who is the best - The Dancer Fleet or the Aggressor. Now in the Galapagos you will see the Sky Dancer tied up beside two Aggressor boats and you might think there is a difference but … (they are ultimately controlled by the same person, Wayne Brown).”
For both the Aggressor and Dancer Fleets, there have been challenges over the years. The Wave Dancer was lost in a 2001 hurricane (20 people died). The Aggressor boats have had diver fatalities at some of their more challenging destinations -- the latest was only last month in the Galapagos.
So, aside from a few scuba bloggers how come no one has mentioned the take-over of the Dancer Fleet and the new ownership of the Aggressor operation? “ In many ways it is business as usual, “ said Hughes. “ There have been changes made, the Wind Dancer has left the Caribbean (for Cocos Island) but very little that people might pick up on. I notice though!”
Although he might chaff at bit in his new role as employee Peter Hughes is still called the president and is the face of the company. He keeps a busy pace occasionally shipping out on any one of the eight boats bearing the Dancer name. He still attends dive shows and conventions around the world. “ I came to Toronto because I have a good relationship with Greg Woodward, (owner Squba Travel -- London, Ontario) so I support the Adventure Show. “
“Wayne has cut back on some of the International shows – if the Aggressor is exhibiting, lets say in Moscow, then we won’t be there. Next time around I could be in Russia in which case the Aggressor won’t be there. Since we came here to Toronto, the Aggressor stayed away. It just makes sense.”
It is also the case of Meet the New Boss, Same As The Old Boss. Wayne Hasson co-founded the Aggressor Fleet back in 1980 and lived in the Cayman Islands for 20-years. Hasson is, like Hughes, a president within the new company.
An informal man, the force behind the Aggressor fleet was simply known as Wayne. The new owner is also named Wayne and until recently the purchase wasn’t well publicized in the industry. Many divers hear the name Wayne and assume that it is still Hasson who is in charge.
In fact Wayne Brown has pulled a Victor Kiam … Millionaire businessman Kiam says that he took control of the Remington electric shaver manufacturer because "I liked it so much I bought the company".
The Aggressor website explains the take-over of Hasson’s company this way: “Brown was so impressed with the trips they took with the Aggressor Fleet that in 2007 he decided to make it a more ‘intimate’ relationship. Wayne is committed to great customer service providing you with the Ultimate diving experience aboard every Aggressor Fleet yacht. From the reservation team, to the diving, to the accommodations and ship’s crew you will experience first class above, adventure below.”
With the start of the new dive season both the Aggressor and the Dancer Fleets are printing new high gloss brochures that will be distributed around the world. Both booklets will spell it out in black and white that Wayne Brown is the captain of a lot of ships in the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
In the world of live-aboard charter boats there is a tangled web of boat owners, part owners, franchisees, private contractors, and marine insurance firms. Despite the many players Peter Hughes has always been in charge of his company’s destiny.
62 ½ ear old Hughes readily admits that Wayne Brown is now calling the shots and that his role has diminished within the company. He says that while he hasn’t agreed with some of the destination decisions made by the new boss, --there is now only one Hughes yacht servicing the Caribbean, what was once his biggest market - he is happy that he can continue to support causes that he believes in (i.e. REEF and its Lionfish Invasion study) and of course, to go out on the Dancers and dive in style and comfort.
CUTLINE: Peter Hughes at the the Toronto Adventure Show
Bottom: Peter Hughes and Gregg Woodward, Squba Holidays, at the Adventure Show in Toronto February 2010

STORY UPDATED - PETER HUGHES LEAVES COMPANY MAY 2010 http://stephenweirarticles.blogspot.com/2010/05/follow-up-peter-hughes-has-left-his.html

Monday, 19 April 2010

World's Worst Underwater Magician

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Water too cold in Toronto in April - new underwater camera tested in local pool

In anticipation of the completion of a product review article that I am writing for Diver Magazine, I have shot and posted an underwater video on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W83vzlzMxYA. The review is about the new Kodak Play Sport. The video camera looks like a cell phone but is in fact built to be taken underwater without a housing!
Members of the Etobicoke Underwater Club assisted as I taped Marianne Collins conduct an underwater magic trick. After filming her waving her magic wand and making a flower grow underwater I decided to call her the World's Worst Underwater Magician.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Toronto Star: Destruction to construction - Dust to Dust in the Condo industry

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Wrecking and recycling
From a brewery to beer cans
Destruction to construction
By STEPHEN WEIR
SPECIAL TO THE STAR HOW IT'S BUILT

It is taking a lot of Molson's muscle to recycle Toronto's landmark lakeside suds factory.
An environmentally bent demolition company is painstakingly deconstructing the Fleet St. Molson's Brewery, turning it into powdered concrete, ingots of steel and, eventually, aluminum beer cans.
Even as the Molson building is being taken down, there are still parts of it that tower above the nearby raised Gardner Expressway. The shrinking factory is a beacon for the disappearing industrial district that once employed thousands along Toronto's eastern waterfront. The beer building and almost all other factories and warehouses in the Bathurst and Lake Shore area are being shuttered, shut down and converted into upscale housing projects.
"This puppy was over-built. There are at least 3,000 metric tons of steel in there. It was as though they were getting ready for World War Three," says Frank Provenzano as he points to a growing pile of twisted steel girders.
Provenzano is one of four brothers who own and operate ProGreen Demolition, a Concord, Ont., company that specializes in recovering recyclable materials from the buildings it tears down. (The family also owns and operates Anpro Excavating & Grading Ltd.)
The Molson site is being cleared in two phases to make room for the West Harbour City condominium development, a project dubbed "Toronto's last great downtown waterfront address."
ProGreen is in the midst of recovering almost 80 per cent of the material in what once was a city-block-long brewery. The company is saving steel girders, concrete walls, brick, aluminum window frames and copper piping. Some of the material is going to recycling companies while the rest will be reused in the construction of the large West Harbour City townhouse condo project on the Fleet St. lot just east of Fort York.
"In the bad old days of the 20th century a demolition team would come with a tall crane and a wrecking ball," notes Provenzano. "They start at ground level and quickly reduce a building like this into a mountain of unusable rubble.
"Using our new precision machinery it will take us months to bring this one down. We start at the top floor and our equipment surgically removes those parts of the building that we can reuse."
At first glance the heavy equipment that is used to reach up and pull out strips of aluminum looks prehistoric. The tongs at the end of the articulated arm of the High Reach "demolition evacuator" machine look and act like the jaws of a T-Rex. Made of heavy iron, they easily brush, bash and snip their way through a factory floor seven storeys high.
The German-made Liebherr High Reach is a strange-looking piece of heavy equipment. The engine of this 53,000-kilogram evacuator sits affixed to the top of tank-like crawlers. There is an articulated cab attached to the base that tilts up to a 30-degree angle, giving the operator a flexible line of sight into the demolition zone. The most important part of the High Reach is the three-part bendable arm that can snake its 4,400 kg iron tongs through a window and pull out huge pieces of stone and metal.
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This new generation of multi-million dollar equipment is not only versatile, but very clean and quiet, too. The site is beside a new upscale condo project (the Aquarius) and, to date, the demolition has moved forward without any complaints about noise or dust.
"The secret to our recycling is our experience and in the very strength and precision of the machinery," says Provenzano. "Once we have taken the structural steel out of the building, we have a shearing machine (which looks like a mutant steam shovel with scissors) that snaps the steel into manageable metre-long pieces."
The steel blocks, along with the recovered copper and aluminum, are trucked from the site to a number of Ontario-based recyclers. Aluminum window frames are melted down by a firm that, fittingly, will use it to make (among other things) beer cans.
ProGreen does get paid for the scrap, but the real savings for the owners of the site come from not having to pay to dump the rubble in a landfill site. "We will divert about 80 per cent of the material that was used in the Molson building," explains Provenzano, "and the savings to the builder are greater than if they used a traditional wrecker" which would haul the refuse to a dump.
All of what ProGreen pulls out of the building is reused. The thick concrete floors and walls are ripped down and then pulverized in an unused corner of the lot by a number of machines.
The concrete will be processed into coarse white particles, which will be used in the making of gravel when construction of West Harbour City begins.
ProGreen expects to be finished taking down the first phase of the Molson building by the end of June. The southeast section of the 11-storey brown brick building remains intact for now, but will come down when all the condos are sold. It is now the sales centre and has two model suites on the top floor facing Lake Ontario.
The destruction of the Molson Brewery and the construction of the West Harbour City project are being quarterbacked by The Plazacorp Group/Berkeley Development. The two companies have already teamed to build more than 3,000 condominiums in Toronto including University Plaza on University Ave. and Wellington Square in King West Village.
Construction of the first phase of West Harbour City will begin this summer and it will probably be a couple of years before the 36-storey limestone-coloured precast tower and accompanying townhouses are completed.
The complex has more than 100 floor plans ranging from full-size one-bedroom suites to two full-floor penthouses on the 35th and 36th storeys. Units in Phase 2 of West Harbour City will go on sale this summer and range in price from $250,000 to more than $1 million.
Jun. 17, 2006. 01:00 AM
CUTLINE: Top. One of the new condos
Middle: ProGreen in action
Bottom: Frank Prvenzano. Toronto Star photograph

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Toronto Star: Turning Starch Into Award Winning Homes along Port Credit's waterfront.

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Washington’s Urban Land Institute believes you can’t take
the starch out of lakeside Port Credit condominium project


By Stephen Weir


When the US research organization Urban Land Institute (ULI), set out to pick the ten best land-use projects in North America, Europe and Asia, one of the 21 finalists was the Port Credit Village development on Lake Ontario's north shore. The Washington based nonprofit association vigorously likes how the privately owned Fram Building Group has transformed a demolished starch factory into a lakeside condominium project which, through its design, encourages residents to work at home, walk, ride bikes and use mass transit.
The annual competition is based on ULI’s guiding principle that the “achievement of excellence in land use practice should be recognized and rewarded.” Its Awards for Excellence makes an all-encompassing holistic examination of each nominated project, looking beyond its architectural design. The criteria include: “leadership, contribution to the community, innovations, public/private partnership, environmental protection and enhancement, response to societal needs, and financial success.”
The nominating principal has a definite downtown Toronto ring to it but it is in fact all about Mississauga’s undiscovered waterfront. Port Credit Village is a major condominium project that includes 167 townhouses, 18 live/work residences and three waterfront condominium buildings. The new community is near the Port Credit River and its namesake Yacht Club built on land that was for over 100 years used by the “Starch Works”.
Back in the early days of Canada, The St Lawrence Starch Factory was the major employer in Port Credit (which is now part of Mississauga). Built in 1891 at what is now the foot of Hurontario St, the factory was a large sprawling brick complex where millions of bushels of Ontario corn was crushed and ground into starch and corn syrup. The massive brick factory was shut down in 1991, and all but the “Starch Work” office building on Lakeshore Road was demolished.
St Lawrence took the buildings down to ground level, leaving -- well almost --a 26acre clean slate of land for the family operated Fram Building Group to build a community on. “ When we started digging in 2000 we found they had left the foundations buried. When we were done the removal there was a pile of concrete as high and as big as our six-storey Regatta condominium,” explained Fram president Frank Giannone. “We took it out, crushed it and used as roadbed. We managed to recycle almost all the concrete we found above and below the ground.”
Given a site of virgin waterfront land, Mr. Giannone and his architect brother Ralph Giannone could probably have designed and built a wildly profitable megaplex condo that would be high on density and low on sight lines, open space and public access to the water. Fram didn’t do that, working with the city, the Port Credit Village now includes 4 acres of walking trails, Starch Work historic monuments, lakeside pavilions, public squares and parkland. The 3 small condominium buildings, the grouping of the luxury townhouses, storefront live/work units are built with brick and stones and blend well with the small-town style of Lakeshore Road, Port Credit’s main drag.
Along Lakeshore Rd there is a block long three-story building with eighteen shops on the ground level. All of the businesses have living quarters attached; the commute to work is the time it takes to walk down a flight of stairs. The Live/Work building has been open for about 3 years and all of the 18-condo units are spoken for.
Nearby is the original Starch Works headquarters. It has been restored and now is the headquarters for Fram’s international operation. Within sight of the Frank Giannone’s building you can see three recently completed condominiums, 70 Ports, 80 Ports and The Regatta. All of the buildings are set back from the lake and there is a large public square that plays host almost every weekend to jazz concerts, blues festivals and even a busker festival!
“ Here everyone has one common goal – community,” said Mrs. Margaret Dalzell, the past president of one of eight condo associations that controls the project and an owner of a million dollar 3-story waterfront townhouse in the development. “ All of our neighbours arrived in at the same time, so, no one had to prove anything to be part of the community. We have a newsletter, a book club and walking group to take advantage of the trail and we have regular get-togethers. This month we (people living in the townhouses) will be holding a Bocce Ball Party in memory of one of our dearest neighbours who died of cancer.”
The brick condo townhouses are built in small blocks. Walking past the units one can’t help but notice that there are no fences, garages, nor driveways. Cars are parked underground and the garage is actually under the common backyard that links the townhouse blocks. The development eschews fences as trees and shrubs act as property lines and barriers.
“Everyone tries to walk here,” said Mrs. Dalzell. “Mississauga Transit stops right round the corner. The Go Train is a 5-minute walk away, and we have the best lakeside trail in the province! Of course, if you do have drive the QEW is right over there (pointing north) and Sherway Gardens is a 9 minute drive … I know, I’ve have had to do that.”
Between the development and the lake there is a large concrete promenade, wide enough so that the dog walkers, stroller pushing parents and joggers, don’t nip, bang and sneer at each other in passing. The 15 km path, which links into Toronto’s own Martin Goodman bike path, has several pavilions where people can sit down and take in the lake. A giant iron whistle, grinding stones and steam pipes from the Starch Works are installed along the route with Heritage Mississauga plaques explaining what the preserved machinery was once use.
It took Fram seven years to take the rubble of the Starch Factory and make it into a showcase community. While the site was being prepared and the builder was getting the necessary government approvals, potential buyers were canvassed to see what they wanted in a new home, be it a townhouse or live/work unit. “We have developed a concept, not just built a building, and that is probably reason in part why we were recognized by the ULI,” said Mr. Giannone.
Although the project is now completed, there is a Phase Two just north of Port Credit Village in the works. Fram will be building another condo and a second building that will be geared to seniors. The company is also building communities in Houston, Caledon, Markham and Toronto. There is another similar reclamation project on the go in Collingwood on the site of a long closed Great Lakes shipbuilding yard.
In May, the ULT announced its winners – the Fram development wasn’t in the top ten. “Looking at the competition from Europe, Asia and America we were all proud to be one of just two Canadian companies (The River Project in Toronto was the other) to make the top 21 list,” said Frank Giannone.
Not winning didn’t take the starch out of the Fram president. Weeks after learning that his company didn’t win, organizers for the Urban Land Institute’s Award of Excellence, informed Mr. Giannone that the Port Credit Village condominium was nominated again for their 2007 awards!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

UPDATE on underwater records -FIRST UNDERWATER TWITTER, emailed press release received

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Ukrainian Journalist, Julia Gorodetskaya, Sends World’s First Underwater Tweet

WORLD'S FIRST UNDERWATER TWEET
It was an unforgettable experience—to tweet side-by-side with dolphins at a depth of 19-feet underwater.

Odessa, Ukraine April 19, 2010 — Ukrainian TV journalist, Julia Gorodetskaya (@gorodetskaya), recently sent the first underwater tweet from the floor of the 19-foot-deep dolphinarium, “Nemo,” in Odessa, Ukraine. The scuba tweeting session was broadcasted by local media and documented by regional press. The preparation process and the underwater tweeting was also filmed and broadcasted live by Boris Khodorkovsky (@netocrat) to his QIK account and placed on Youtube and other social media services.
Julia Gorodetskaya Sends World's First Underwater Tweet
The tweet was sent via a mobile phone sealed in plastic, using Opera Mini’s Web-interface of Twitter. The tweeting was organized by a national mobile operator with the help of professional divers, who prepared the phone for the plunge. Radio waves passed to the surface through an elongated antenna.
Julia sent a total of four messages to Twitter. The signal from the scuba video camera was transmitted to the large plasma panel for journalists to see and record the underwater tweeting session.
Gorodetskaya, who did not know how to dive or swim prior to the event, quickly overcame her doubts when she discovered the opportunity to be the first underwater Twitter user.

“Being underwater for the first time is not easy—to navigate, to move, not to mention sending messages. Your ears are smothered; the wetsuit compresses the body; your movement constrained by fear. But it was well worth to stand the test,” said Gorodetskaya.
“The idea of transmitting something to the world from underwater was proposed by the PR manager of a national mobile operator. Somehow, I rashly agreed, not completely understanding how difficult it would be. Boris Khodorkovsky, my friend and colleague, proposed sending an underwater tweet. It was an unforgettable experience—to tweet side-by-side with dolphins at a depth of 19-feet underwater,” she added.
Here is the text of the first documented underwater tweet translated from Russian: “This is first in history #underwater_tweet. I told you, @netocrat.”

About Julia Gorodetskaya

Julia Gorodetskaya is a Ukrainian TV journalist and blogger from Odessa with 10 years of experience in journalism. Julia worked as an editor for several news programs, including holding the position of editor-in-chief of ATV TV channel in Odessa. Today, Julia is distantly working for a mobile TV channel in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, introducing prominent social issues to the public.

CUTLINES: Top: Julia Gorodetskaya tweeting from the pool - a new world record! Photo from Flickr
Bottom: Julia Gorodetskaya meets with the media after making dive history. Photo from Flikr

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Hubble in orbit on Toronto's Big Screen

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HUBBLE HOOPLA COMES TO ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE,
HUBBLE FILM'S DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHYSAYS IT TOOK 20-YEARS TO GET 8-MINUTES OF SPACE FILM


James Neihouse, the director of photography for the Hubble Imax film, was a down-to-earth fellow while fielding out-of-this-world questions from the media at a March Toronto press preview held at the Ontario Science Centre. The Canadian film maker talked at length about two decades of challenges he faced in getting useable large format space footage for the movie.
Niehouse said the film about the in-space repair and update of the orbiting Hubble Telescope, took 20-years to make and yet has only 8-minutes of IMAX quality out-of-this-world footage. Why? The camera, weighing over 300 kilos, went into space onboard a US shuttle loaded "with just 5,400 ft of film. That's all we could get on board and in the camera!". (footage from helmet cameras and shuttle cameras flesh out the spectacular film).
The Shuttle could not accommodate a traditional film crew, so in addition to their day jobs, the Hubble repair crew astronauts did some moonlighting as camera operators. To prepare, Director of Photography James Neihouse put the astronauts though an eight-month course of basic cinematography. “Part of my job was showing them how to use an IMAX camera in space –how to shoot, how to frame, how to take exposures, the whole nine yards”, said Neihouse.

In preperation to head into space and film the repair the Hubble telescope astronauts first went into a deep water tank to train in a weightless spacelike environment. The makers of the Hubble movie got wet too (and brought along their large format camera) to take footage of the space crew learning underwater.
Hubble is an IMAX and Warner Bros. Pictures production, in cooperation with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, the film reunites the Space Station filmmaking team, led by Producer/Director Toni Myers. James Neihouse, Director of Photography, also doubles as the Astronaut Crew Trainer. Judy Carroll is Associate Producer, and Graeme Ferguson, Co-founder of IMAX and pioneer producer of many IMAX space films, is Executive Producer.
CUTLINE: Top: Imax crew uses a large format camera to film astronauts training underwater for the repair mission to the Hubble Telescope. Sequences from the training sessions are seen in the new Hubble Imax movie.
Bottom: James Neihouse meets with the Toronto media at a Science Centre launch for the Hubble movie.