July 2010 Review

July felt like a long month. With all the hot summer weather and long days we’ve been having, it seems like there’s been time for so many different activities. And without further ado, here’s a recap of some of the interesting things that went on during my July.

1. Weilin Visiting from Australia
Early in the month, I had a friend from Australia come and visit. We had met a couple years ago from a cultural exchange trip to China, and it’s been nice to keep in touch (even if sporadically) over the years, and pickup our friendship and fun times from where we left off. It was also nice to have a chance to play tour guide and show off the fantastic city I get to call home. Some of my favourite experiences were going on a tour of the Steamwhistle brewery, riding the Maid of the Mist ferry in Niagara Falls, and taking lots of comical photos.

2. Swimming
This month, I decided to return to part of last year’s morning routine – which is waking up early to hit the pool and get some exercise. The schedule that I’ve set up for myself is to go on Mondays as well either Thursday or Friday. The first day getting back in the pool after a several month layoff felt quite rough. I was much more out of breath than I remembered and everything just felt awkward. On the bright side, by the end of this month, I feel like I’m really getting my form back and getting back up to where I left off. There are a couple of things I’m going to focus on for the next couple weeks. They are: balanc ein the water, stronger kicking, and more distance per pull. I think after that I’m going to seriously start working on my flipturns.

3. Celebrating Wing’s Birthday on Centre Island
Another highlight of the month was celebrating Wing’s birthday on Centre Island. I got introduced to a new frisbee-related game, got a chance to play some disc golf, and spend an enjoyable afternoon outside.

4. Biking
In the middle of the month, I finally got around to fixing the flat tire on my bike. I’ve had it since last fall, and unfortunatlely the first replacement patch that I put on the inner tube didn’t hold and then the new inner tube that I bought had a really slow leak that ended up not being very usable. Finally, I had enough of not being able to bike around and hastily one Saturday morning decided to finally get out and get my inner tube fixed. I was in a bit of a rush to get going, but luckily, I manager to swing by the bike store, get a replacement inner tube, rush home, and in 20 minutes flat change the inner tube, pump it up, and go for a quick test ride to make sure all was A-OK. It was a bit of a mad scramble, but it got done, and now I have a bike back in riding shape. Anyone up for a bike ride in August/September?

5. Rooftop tour of Royal York
As part of our non-profit organization YUF CSA, we organizaed a tour of the rooftop gardens of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. They’ve got a whole variety of stuff growing up there, inculding lots of herbs, a few grape vines, and even a number of bee hives. It was really interesting to see what they’ve got growing up there, and it even gave me a few inspirations for things I’d like to try to grow in the future.

6. Crab Apple Cider
As another of my random summer experiments, I decided to try making crab apple cider. I picked about a quater of a bushel of crab apples one day and proceeded to spend the next couple of hours washing, coring them, and simmering them over water and a moderate amount of sugar. After the simmering, I strained the resulting liquid through a cheesecloth and was left with a beautiful pink coloured liquid. Because I didn’t add that much water when making the cider, there was a very strong astringent after-taste of the crabapples. Besides the after-taste, it is actually really tasty and refreshing. The way I ended up using it was to dilute it with water, and mix it with a cold-brewed pot of green or black tea for a refreshing iced crab apple green tea beverage.

7. Shiitake Mushroom Harvest
July also marked the month for my second harvest of shiitake mushrooms. After soaking the logs in ice water overnight (you need to literally add a bunch of ice to your container) and then “shocking” the logs by smacking each end with a hammer, each log produced a handful of large, earthy, beautiful shiitake mushrooms. They were probably the best mushrooms I’ve ever had, stir fried with butter, and a litte salt and pepper. Yum!

8. Strategic Planning Session
July was also the month where we had some time to sit down for some strategic planning sessions. We’ve got a couple of ideas we’re looking to implement going forward, so look for new things happening in the future.

9. CBC Metro Morning Interview
Right near the end of the month, I had a chance to speak again with Matt Galloway on the CBC Radio program Metro Morning. It was a fantastic opportunity to promote my business spread the word about what I do. Originally they wanted to do a program more geared towards the early harvest of the summer fruits, but since we don’t really have a focus on summer fruit, we ended up talking about the early harvest of veggies and how we help people in the city grow and connect with the freshest, locally grown food.

10. Eat-in at City Hall
Also at the end of the month, I went for an “eat-in” event at City Hall. Designed to bring people together to talk about food as an election issue, it was a nice chance to network and meet with other people involved in the local food scene. As a bonus, it also drew out a couple of the mayoral candidates and/or their representatives.

11. Frisbee
As many of you know, frisbee is one of my favourite sports. And July just seemed to be the month where my throwing game has really started to tighten up and become more consistent. While I’ve usually been one of the main handlers on my Tuesday team, it’s been nice to be able to step up my game for my Wednesday team as well when some of the other guys haven’t been on top of their game.

After many years and thousands of throws, my consistency and accuracy has gone way up, I’m comfortable hucking the disc my game-time throwing decisions have improved, making a variety of break throws aren’t anything to get nervous about, and being able to place the disc in the hands of the receiver at the right speed, at the right angle, and right place has also improved as well.

That’s it for this July update. It’s been a busy, but good month.

March 2010 Review

This is only going to be a short update as I’ve been swamped with a ton of stuff to do recently, so here goes my shotgun approach to this month’s review


1. Seedy Saturday Scarborough
-It was a great event, though not nearly the same turnout as the main Toronto event.
2. Homemade wine
-I’m in the process of making my own wine (though not with grape). It’s sitting in my basement doing a bit of aging and should be ready in about a year
3. Volunteered at Canada Blooms
-The City of Toronto had one of the best displays and I was inspired by their beautiful inter-planting of veggies and flowers in ornamental and tasty ways
4. Fitness swim time trial
-Not knowing what I was capable of doing, I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up swimming 100m in 1min28sec.
5. Soup, soup, and more soup
-I went on a soup making binge this month making 3 large pots: lentil soup, a butternut squash soup, and also a mixed veg curry soup. Let’s say that each pot was enough to feed at least 10 people with leftovers
6. Grant writing.
-I was involved in submitting our first grant for our non-profit organization-submitted my frist grant. Let’s hope this is just the first of many we apply for, and receive funding for.
7. TYFPC Food Systems Fair
-We participated at the inaugural Food Systems Fair at UT campus. Great turnout, cool speakers, good food courtesy of the Hot Yam, and more.
8. First garden setup of 2010
-I helped setup the first garden for the 2010 growing season
9. More public speaking
-I gave a school presentation to an elementary school (some grade 7’s and some grade 3’s) on food security. Unfortunately, I think I ended up boring the kids for pretty much the entire time I was up.

A lot of things happened in March, much of which isn’t ready to be shared just yet (or in such a public forum). There were triumphs, defeats, lessons learned, character-building moments, opportunities seized, and more. With time, I’m sure many of these (positive) things we’ve been working on recently will come to fruiting and the other (negative) things will come to pass.

Parting Quotation
Our achievements of today
are but the sum total of our thoughts of yesterday.
You are today where the thoughts of yesterday have brought you
and you will be tomorrow where the thoughts of today take you.
-Blaise Pascal

Lane Swimming at the Public Pool

 A couple weeks ago, I started lane swimming again at my local community pool. And it’s been an interesting experience seeing the variety of people and various social interactions that go on at the pool. At my pool, it’s primarily a social/relaxation time as it’s mostly old Chinese people who go and swim (or rather chat and hang out in the water). After being there for a couple weeks now, I thought I’d put together some random observations of the things that go on at the pool:

1. The slow lane is really, really slow
These people just sort of seem to flounder their way down to the other end of the pool, going even slower than an inner tube along a lazy river. And while it looks like they’re kicking and moving their arms, they don’t seem to really go anywhere. I even saw one person who was “swimming” down to the other end by pulling themselves along the lane rope the entire time.

2. The medium lane is not much faster, and is usually very clogged with people
The medium section takes up the middle 2 lanes and usually has the most amount of people in it. During busy times, it gets super clogged up with people doing all sorts of weird combinations of strokes (if it can even be called strokes). Also, the area at the end of the pool at the shallow end is usually filled with people hanging out doing way more chatting than actual swimming.

3. The fast lane handles the overflow from the medium lane, and again isn’t really that fast and has the biggest variation in speeds. The worst is when you get stuck behind slow swimmers who don’t let you pass at the ends and the people who shouldn’t be in the lane clogging it up for everyone else there.

Now that you have a basic idea of what the pool is like, there are a couple of interesting types of people the pool attracts.

Types of Swimmers
1. The “I’m going in a lane that’s beyond my speed and I don’t care” swimmer
There seems to a couple people who like to move into the fast lane to try to have a semi clear lane to swim in, but don’t realize that the speed is beyond their abilities and don’t adjust accordingly (i.e. let people pass, get out of the lane, or swim faster). These people are super frustrating to get stuck behind as there’s not much you can do.

2. The mind-boggling “non swimmers”
I’ve dubbed this category the kind of people who are at the pool, but doing things that defy explanation. Here are a couple examples:

  • the overweight man with the glasses swimming breast stroke in the fast lane (while putting his face in the water for each stroke)
  • the old woman in the wading area who looks and flounders about like an inverted beach whale
  • the people who make up their own stroke, like the two-armed backstroke with a whipkick
  • the people who attempt to swim freestyle but really end up just flailing their arms in a stroke that looks like they could drown at any minute
    • there’s a guy at the pool the lifeguards have called “the pirate” as every time he comes up for air, he has the look on his face like he’s saying “arghhh”. All he needs is an eyepatch to complete the look
  • the people who walk instead of swim down the lanes. They would probably walk the entire way if it weren’t for the gradual drop off to the deep end

4. The passive-aggressive swimmer
This kind of swimmer usually swims 1/2 a length (in the fast lane) and then turns around in the middle of the pool to avoid having to swim behind a slower swimmer or avoid getting stuck behind one of the swimmers listed above. I think of these people as being too slow to actually pass the swimmer in front of them, and passive aggressive to avoid any type of confrontation whatsoever. It’s quite funny (but super frustrating) when you see 2 or more swimmers turn around in the middle of the lane to try to avoid the congestion right at the same time, making it even worse by clogging up the entire lane and not making their situation any better.

5. The fancy gadget swimmer
These people have interesting gadgets like hand paddles, flippers, or other weird swimming gadgets, but really don’t utilize them to their full extent. I think they would probably be better off without them, but it’s their decision to use whatever gadget they want.

6. People there who are actually serious about swimming.
This is the rare category where people are actually there for the primary purpose of swimming. And by swimming, I mean going for a workout rather than going for just a relaxing couple of lengths. I like to consider myself in this category as 90% of my time there is spent swimming, rather than resting or chatting.

Swimming at the public pool has been an interesting experience, but something I quite enjoy doing. Miraculously, I’m able to drag myself out of bed 2-3 times per week for these early morning swims and I have seen some decent improvements in my stroke. And despite the frustrations of the other types of swimmers at the pool, it’s an enjoyable experience and something I intend to keep up.