Toronto streetcar

I had a few minutes at this intersection and produced a quick drawing. Several tram lines connect at this spot, which is at the corner of Bathurst Street and King Street, looking here towards the east. The 511 streetcar connects the subway line at Bloor Street, north of here, with the waterfront, which is to the right of the picture. The tracks continue through the Queen's Quay loop and then go on to Union Station.

My coffee pot

This is a quick and dirty sketch in my notebook of my aluminum stovetop coffee maker. It's called a Moka Express and it's design goes back to 1933, when Alfonso Bialetti came up with an ingenious and economical way to brew espresso at home. He apparently got the idea from observing a washing machine.

The way it works is fairly simple. Water is placed in the bottom container of the machine and is heated. Once the water reaches the boiling point, it rises from the chamber and passes through a filter cup containing the coffee grinds. It then proceeds up a spout and collects as coffee in the upper chamber.

Here's what it looks like when it's coming through:

The Bialetti design has become an iconic image. While many different shapes have been developed for this type of stovetop appliance, the edgy Moka Express has endured relatively unchanged since it was invented. This type of coffeemaker is found in the vast majority of Italian homes.

The Bialetti company is now a large international firm.

For more information on the Moka Express, see here.
For more on Bialetti, see here.

Adventures by Disney offers an interesting approach to travel

It's not that the Walt Disney Company needs more publicity, but I ran across some nice reviews about their relatively-new holiday service. If you haven't heard about it, it's called Adventures by Disney.

The company's touring branch offers 17 world destinations. The staff prepares unique, hands-on travel experiences for adults and children. Because of its size, Disney has the clout to open doors that are not always accessible to regular tourists.

The company offers an engaging three-minute video description of the service here.

Some people don't like the Disney "everything-can-be-perfect-if-you-want-it-to-be" approach, but travellers seem to be responding favourably to Adventures.

National Geographic's travel blog recently posted some information and reviews that make for interesting reading, if you're an armchair traveller like me. You can learn more here.

For a related story about Disney, see how the entertainment company is reaching out to the business community and providing consulting services.

Thanks to C May for the photograph of the Disney Caribbean Beach Resort, Orlando.

A traffic lesson

Here's an example from this morning that shows how much I still have to learn about drawing fundamentals.

I got a ride to work and thought I would try my hand at sketching the traffic on the highway as we headed towards Toronto. I got so fixated on the pick-up truck in front of us and the constant movement of vehicles that I lost my sense of scale and perspective. I was using an ink pen, so couldn't erase anything.

In frustration, I decided to pick a point and draw perspective lines, then drew the new traffic over the old. Strangely, the superimposed jumble creates a sense of motion.

Or maybe it was just me getting car sick.

After-dinner treat

After yesterday's not-so-positive thoughts about Italy, I return today to reflect on all the wonderful things the country has to offer. One of these is the habit of having an after-dinner digestif, or digestivo, as we say.

I drew this on my kitchen table, waiting for my son to come home from the restaurant where he works. Amaro Lucano is a nice digestivo, with a mid-range bitter taste, comprised of a mixture of herbs, spices and alcohol. It can be enjoyed warm, at room temperature or on the rocks, with a twist of lemon. This product comes from Pisticci, in Southern Italy. Most of the commercial recipes for Italy's amari were crafted in the 1800s, although their origins go back to the experimentation of monks in medieval times.

If you'd like to learn more about these Italian bitters, see sommelier Carmine Caravaggio's interesting notes and photos here.

Government in trouble

Once again, the country of my birth is deep in political crisis.

Italy's Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, lost a vote of confidence on Thursday and the government fell. It was the 61st government since the end of the Second World War. If there's one certainty about the political system, it's that it's perpetually unstable. In this current crisis, Italian politicians realize the country faces substantive economic and political problems, and the divisions among the parties and government coalitions indicate that politicians are deeply divided about what to do. Consultations with Italy's president, the country's head of state, are continuing this weekend in an effort to plot a path forward. Another general election, or some type of caretaker government, are distinct possibilities.

Italy's image on the world stage has taken a beating since before Christmas, when piles of garbage started growing in the streets of Naples and the surrounding area. Garbage collectors went on strike when landfills reached capacity. Residents have supported the collectors, and are living with huge piles of unsanitary and malodorous refuse on city streets. They say the landfills have been used as dumping grounds for toxic waste, creating big health concerns, and want someone to clean up local administrations that have been influenced by mafia-controlled disposal companies.

The country desperately needs political reform, but with no single party able to hold a majority and no clear consensus, the political climate will remain turbulent for some time. Meanwhile, Italians get by on personal initiative and making the most of their connections.

Remembering a remarkable man

This is in appreciation of Sir Edmund Hillary, who died Jan. 11 at the age of 88.

Hillary (right), a quiet beekeeper from New Zealand, and Tenzing Norgay from Nepal (left), became the first people to climb to the top of Mount Everest in 1953. After gaining world-wide fame, Hillary devoted his life to helping the citizens of Nepal by establishing the Himalayan Trust. The organization helped build schools, hospitals and transportation infrastructure in Nepal.

I drew this from a photograph in Time magazine. A similar photo (same day, different moment), along with several others, appears on the National Geographic website here.

Heading into the city

As more cars clog the roads around Toronto during rush hours and as the price of fuel rises, the popularity of commuter trains grows. "GO Transit" is an interregional transportation system that moves 50 million people every year.

Inspired by a "GO" photograph, I drew this winter view of one of the trains crossing a frozen river on it's morning run to downtown Toronto. These trains service 58 stations and cover 390 kilometres of track. The locomotives are diesel-electric, and new models are being introduced this year with more pulling capacity. Each one of the passenger cars can seat 162 people. Most trains today are comprised of ten of these cars. If you do the math, you'll see how many more automobiles would be on the road if the people who occupy just one full train elected to drive. GO trains make many trips each day over seven lines.

A warm reception

This is my view of the atrium area of the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. I was there tonight to attend a financial seminar organized by our bank. Afterwards, people gathered in the atrium for a reception.
I found a corner and sat down with a drink and tried to sketch out my impression of the space. The glittering hall is dominated by a large, curved glass wall that dominates the entire side of the building. The theatre entrances are opposite (not shown). A staircase rises on the window side, while a glass-enclosed elevator is at the far end.

The Living Arts Centre was built in 1997 and hosts a variety of artistic and cultural events throughout the year. It features two separate performance venues, Hammerson Hall and the RBC Theatre. Singer Amy Sky will be performing this coming Saturday night.

After 40 years, Martin Luther King Jr.'s words take on added meaning.

On the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. day, I think it would be fitting to recall some of his words. I was listening to one of his speeches being re-played on the radio and I was struck by the force of his conviction.

It was a speech from 1967, in which he outlined why, in his view, America should not be involved in Vietnam, why it was wrong for America to try to take on the role of the world’s policeman, why America should instead work positively to “remove…conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice” that he said were the “fertile soil” feeding communism at the time.

When you hear the speech today, it’s impossible not to perceive, forty years later, an uncanny and almost spooky resemblance to the present situation in Iraq.

I’ll post the links to the full speech at the bottom, but first I wanted to post an excerpt and say how his words on the radio hit home with me. Hearing him refer to the concerns of the time, which were related to the Cold War and the United States' fear of a global wave pushing communism into many parts of the world, it’s impossible not to see a new reading in it for us today, at a time when Europe and the United States are trying to understand the rise in militancy in many parts of the world. Martin Luther King seems to issue a new call to find a dignified way to help people. I wonder whether things would be better if we had chosen this path in the struggle with militancy in the Middle East.

Martin Luther King:

"A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: ‘Let us love one another, for love is God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.’ ‘If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.’ Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.
We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. (…)

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, 'Too late.' There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: 'The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.'

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response.”


If you'd like to hear the entire speech, the audio is on YouTube at this link

The talk, delivered as a sermon to the congregation at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967, was entitled, "Why I am opposed to the war in Vietnam." You can read it here. This site also has an audio link.

Martin Luther King Jr. was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. For more information about his legacy, see here.

The illustration above is public domain, courtesy of

The wonders of Dubai

Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, located in the eastern Arabian Peninsula, must be one of the world's most interesting places to visit. The ambitious construction projects underway in this desert city continue to make headlines.

You may already be familiar with this building: it's the Burj-Al-Arab hotel, one of the most expensive hotels ever built. Note the helicopter landing pad up high on the left. Very tall and shaped like a sail, it's luxury is unparalleled. You can read all about it's unique features here.

Now there's word that Dubai has entered into an agreement with the city of Lyon, in France, to build a replica of Lyon's cobblestone streets and quaint buildings in the desert city. The intent is to attract even more tourists to a place that is increasingly focusing on travelers for revenue. National Geographic's Intelligent Travel blog has an article with a photo here.

Dubai also has the distinction of offering the world's most amazing indoor skiing facility. You've go to see this place to believe it. Here's a YouTube video taken by a skier heading down the run. Check out some of the other videos (one shows a wonderful snow slide for those not interested in skiing or snowboarding. It's here.)

You may have heard about Dubai's famous palm-shaped land reclamation projects. Now, the world's tallest building is under construction in Dubai. A company is also building the world's first rotating skyscraper, and another the world's first luxury underwater hotel. Proposed name: Hydropolis. For an overview of this city's innovative architectural features with illustrations see the Dubai City online guide.

Given the political structure of the Emirates, I'm not sure what it would be like to live there; but I would certainly like to visit. If you have been there, post a comment and tell us all about it!

Thanks to Pravit Nuntanasirivikrom of Thailand for his nice photograph of the Burj-Al-Arab hotel.

Europe on my mind

The other day I was browsing through some photographs sent to me by a colleague (thanks, Mickey) who in September went on a bus tour of Europe. One of the photographs caught my eye because I had seen the location before. It's from a square in Monaco. I've done this sketch from a portion of that photograph. A little mental vacation.

It reminded me of something I wrote last year about my memories of the Principality:

Late in the evening, just when the crowds in the restaurants were thinning and the port was quiet, the fishermen would sit on the seawall in the shadow of the Loews Hotel and throw out their lines in the water. Their preferred catch from this spot was small octopus that swam in the harbor. The men would sit under the amber street lighting, peering into the water, enjoying the night breeze and the camaraderie. It was their time to relax after a busy day. They were good at fishing. Each octopus, drawn wiggling from the sea, would be admired and placed in an icebox. I was there, too, watching with interest.

I used to enjoy spending time down by the water. My favorite place for introspection was down on the seawall where I could feel the power of the ocean, as the surf pounded the rocks and the wind blew on my face. The salty air was invigorating and I took comfort from the wet spray. The sea and the winds will remain long after all of these buildings are gone, I thought.

I used to go up to the Old City on the rock promontory. I enjoyed roaming around the outside of the Grimaldi palace, in the big square and along the narrow stone streets (Mickey's photo). I once saw the actor David Niven go in to see Prince Rainier a few months after the death of Grace Kelly. Movie star moments aside, I preferred the southwest side of the Rock, facing that blue, blue sea. My mind's eye remembers the weather as always sunny, always warm there. I would visit the Oceanography Museum, an architectural marvel made of stone, perched on the cliff face overlooking the sea.

One of my fondest memories was of cycling up the steep hills behind Monaco to the towns of La Tourbie and Eze, still very medieval and steeped in history. At the end of a long uphill ride, they offered amazing views of the Riviera. One night I was up here, watching the lights far below, when a gigantic orange glowworm seemed to snake along the cliffs by the water's edge and then disappear into a mountain. I was puzzled for a moment, then realized I had been looking at a train, seen from a great height, its cabins lit, making its way to Nice and disappearing in a tunnel.

Taking the train home

Last night, I was on the 7 PM westbound from Union Station on Go Transit. The train is a double-decker and I like to sit upstairs. I ended up sketching this as if I was looking down into the coach. Not my original intention, but it turned out that way. I have a lot to learn.

On the ride, I was reading a magazine article about Hillary Clinton. After the New Hampshire primary, political observers applaud her for being more natural; more "human."

Unfortunately, I turned her into a pencil sketch.
My apologies, Senator.

Mona Lisa's descendants alive (and still wealthy).

Following yesterday's news about the identity of the woman we know as Mona Lisa, the Toronto Star newspaper today printed an interview with one of her ancestors, a Tuscan woman who is quite used to the limelight.

According to feature writer Sandro Contenta, the lineage of Lisa Gherardini (Mona Lisa) runs to the family of princess Natalia Giucciardini Strozzi, who today helps manage her family's 1,000-year-old winery and who twice hosted former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the estate.

Strozzi is thirty years old and traces her roots to two noble Florentine families of the Renaissance, the Gucciardinis and the Strozzis. She muses about Leonardo's famous portrait and tells the Star, "I don't have her smile at all. But around the eyes, people have said there's a resemblance...But our father, when he does that smile, it's precisely the same. You can see our father in the Mona Lisa's smile."

The Strozzi family history is a fascinating read, a story that includes relations with some of the greats of the Italian Renaissance - artists Michelangelo and Leonardo, important banking families and the philosopher Machiavelli.

If you'd like to follow the details of this story, the link to the Toronto Star article is here.

Thanks to photographer Jack Kuzuian for his beautiful photograph of Florence's Arno River at sunset. He made his photo available at

Related post:
Reflections on Leonardo's Vitruvian Man

Two mysteries solved !

The newspaper offered fascinating revelations today about two famous historical figures and two mysteries apparently solved.

The first relates to the inspiration for this street artist in Paris. It's one of the most famous faces in the world, the woman with the beguiling smile. We know her, of course, as Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. For 500 years, her true identity has been cloaked in mystery and speculation. Who, in fact, was this woman?

Well, German scholars from the University of Heidelberg now seem to have proof that she was indeed Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a rich merchant from Florence, Francesco del Giocondo. It turns out that her married name, Lisa del Giocondo, more popularly expressed as La Gioconda, is correct.

A manuscript expert recently discovered some notes made by a Florentine city official who knew Leonardo Da Vinci. In the notes, the official makes reference to three works the great artist was completing at the time, one of which was a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo. Art experts, who have matched the dates of the painting and the comments, say this is a real breakthrough.
It seems certain to end the speculation about her identity once and for all.

You can read the Reuters account here.
If you prefer, you can see the description of the painting in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The second revelation relates to a famous navigator and an unpleasant disease. The disease is syphilis, probably the best-known of the venereal diseases. Ever since the first European outbreak in the late 1490s, people have debated over the origins of the malady. Where did it come from?

The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that medical experts in North America now believe they have solved the mystery. Scientists say they have genetic evidence that points directly to Christopher Columbus. The researchers say Columbus and his men mingled with natives of the Americas and brought a bacterial strain back to Europe. Unfortunately, that strain later killed millions of people over the years.

The newspaper reports that a team of Canadian doctors treating the poor in Guyana scraped a tissue sample from the sores of children in the jungle and found a genetic link to the band of explorers. The children are relatives of the native people Columbus met on his voyages. The Globe says scientists "...believe syphilis to be the tragic story of a New World bug transformed by sexual contact with Old World men."

The bacteria was brought back on the explorer's ships. In Europe, a plague first broke out among French troops when they invaded Naples in 1494. It's estimated that before antibiotics finally made the disease a curable one, it had killed about five million people.

You can read the fascinating account of the syphilis mystery and Christopher Columbus in the Globe article here.

Thanks to Valentina Jori for making her photograph of the street artist available for use on the stock.xchng.

It used to be a slogan for a credit card, but these days it's just as pertinent as ever: when it comes to my Blackberry ....
I "never leave home without it."
In truth, this device, like most technology, can be both a blessing and a curse...

At the rink

Another night at the hockey arena. The community rink is a busy place and most people buy refreshments while they wait for games to begin or for players to get changed after a game.

I was rushed doing these, but liked the learning process.

Celebrating achievements in a new country

In a country like Canada, which attracts so many immigrants, it’s interesting to see how new communities develop and grow. In the years after the Second World War, Toronto attracted many Italian and Portuguese workers. In recent years, Asian and South Asian immigrants have predominated. In the last fifteen-twenty years, Toronto has also become home to many Polish and Russian families.

Last night, I attended an event organized by the Russian community to celebrate the achievements of its business people and entrepreneurs in Canada. It was an elegant gala at a suburban banquet hall that attracted several political dignitaries and also Alex Shneider, the Russian-Canadian billionaire who heads the Midland group of companies (Midland Resources Holding Ltd.).

Immigrants arrive in a country, work in small groups, gradually establish themselves and go on to form larger and more influential organizations. Meanwhile, immigrants in groups that preceded them become integrated into the larger society and the younger generation moves forward in the context of a new cultural dynamic. It’s the wheel of immigration. Canada owes much to it.

Immigrant groups do well when they get together and share their accomplishments with the local community. It sets the tone for greater prosperity but also sends out a very positive message of conciliation and cultural enrichment that also benefits the host country.

Last night's award recipients were very interesting people.

Madeline Ziniak, who has been instrumental in the development of ethnic media in Canada, received a lifetime achievement award from the Russian Canadian Business Association. She’s the national vice president of OMNI Television, Canada’s first and most important multilingual television system.

Rabbi Yoseph Y. Zaltzman, who founded the Jewish Russian Community Centre of Toronto, received the award for leadership and commitment. The Centre runs a number of programs to facilitate the integration of Russian immigrants in the Toronto Jewish community.

There were many other others, including a talented friend, Valery Tokmakov, who was recognized in absentia for his many activities in the community.

(My thanks to BSK for the silhouette illustration.)

Are you looking for me?

This sketch was inspired by a Life magazine photograph from 1990 by Norbert Rosing.

I had fun doing this. It's a new way to view the world and exercise parts of my mind that I don't use often. I find that drawing or sketching at the end of the day can also be a way to enjoy a zen-like tranquillity where time doesn't seem to matter so much.

Two new planes on the frontiers of civil aviation

Wealthy business travellers looking for alternatives to airport line-ups will soon have another option in the corporate jet market. You see it here. It’s the world’s first supersonic business jet, currently being developed by Aerion Corp., a Nevada firm. The plane uses technology pioneered in the Concorde. It can fly up to 12 passengers at speeds of 1.6 times the speed of sound (1,700 km/h), over the sea and special land corridors. The company says it will be possible to fly from Europe in the morning (GMT) and arrive in New York the same morning (ET). The jet has also been designed with noise-reducing technology to permit acceptable sound levels for fast flying over many countries. The Economist magazine reports that Aerion has already received deposits from 20 customers. Last year, sales of business jets outside the United States for the first time outstripped domestic sales.

On the other side of the spectrum, take a look at this unique design (click on the photo for a close-up look). British low-cost airline easyJet is planning to introduce this environment-friendly “Ecojet” turborprop for short-haul flights by 2015. The plane will emit 75% less nitrous oxide and 50% less carbon dioxide than jet airplanes in use today. It’s unique engine position and propeller design should also make it one of the quietest airplanes of its size in the world.

To learn more, click here

Thanks to Aeiron Corporation for its illustration and easyJet Airline Company Limited for its promotional photograph.

Picture of the day

Now that we've passed the winter solstice, and as the days slowly become longer in the northern hemisphere, the city mind, sometimes trapped in the frustrations of street traffic and entanglements of work schedules, gently drifts into reveries like this one.

This is Passo San Pellegrino, in the Trentino area of Italy. I hope to be one of those skiers some day.

Thanks to Elisabetta Grondona, a graphic designer, for making her photograph available on the stock.xchng.

Grazie, Elisabetta!

Hockey night

We spend a lot of evenings in hockey arenas. Last night we were in Tomken Arena in Mississauga, Ontario, to watch our son play.

I tried a quick sketch or two while waiting for his game to begin.

It wasn't a particularly good night for the guys, but this time of year there's always another game coming up.

The American presidential election -- a complex machine, running since 1789 (...without an oil change).

The winds of change are beginning to sweep across the American political landscape. For those of us living outside the United States, the 2008 election is an interesting opportunity to observe the American electoral system and compare it to that of other democracies (like the French republican or the British parliamentary system, for example).

All of the attention being given to state caucuses or primaries was never something I clearly understood until I realized the importance of what Americans call "electors." At first I didn't comprehend the difference between "electors" and typical "voters". In Canada, we tend to use the term interchangeably. However, the difference in the U.S. is crucial. That's because the president and the vice-president are the only elected federal officials that are not elected by direct popular vote. Instead, they are put into office by the Electoral College, which is made up of citizens and party representatives -- "electors" -- chosen state-by-state during the long and arduous campaign., in remembrance of the first American presidential election that brought George Washington to power, today posted a good summary (Jan. 7) of how the system works.

At the end of the campaign "marathon," after the big national election day in November and the results of the popular vote have been recorded, then the official electors meet in each state and cast their votes in representation of the voting public in their state. writes,"Although electors aren't constitutionally mandated to vote for the winner of the popular vote in their state, it is demanded by tradition and required by law in 26 states and the District of Columbia (in some states, violating this rule is punishable by a $1,000 fine). Historically, over 99 per cent of all electors have cast their ballots in line with the voters."

The American system has been followed faithfully since 1789, as set out in the U.S. Constitution. Many debate the merits or weaknesses of this system. Is it antiquated? Is it fair? You can decide for yourself. As for me, I find it interesting to follow.

The Boston Globe
recently published a handy guide to the caucuses and primaries, including comments on what is happening in each state and a draft schedule. Did you know that Republicans in Hawaii hold neither a primary nor a caucus? The Globe's special section is available here.

My thanks to Steve Woods in the U.K. for his photograph of the voting boxes with pencil and to Mike Thorn in the U.S. for his photograph of the White House.

Related political post....
Would you vote for a World President?

Airline seat troubles

If you’ve travelled in economy class on a commercial airliner, you will no doubt be familiar with the challenge of staying comfortable in the tight seats. If you’d like to laugh (or cry) about the experience, don’t miss the latest post on the New York Times’ blog devoted to flying ("Jet Lagged"). The story by Wayne Curtis is entitled “A User’s Manual to Seat 21C” and any traveler will identify with some of the observations. Here’s an excerpt:

Directly ahead of you is the TRAY TABLE, which may be lowered for“snack service.” The circular depression in the upper right corner is for your plastic cup, an item you may find oddly wide-mouthed for something conveying sticky beverages in an environment subject to sudden and dramatic up-and-down and to-and-fro motions. Also, note the cup is designed such that empty mylar pretzel pellet bags stuffed in them to facilitate trash collection will not remain there, but will repeatedly and mesmerizingly creep back out and onto the tray table.

To read the full article, click here.

The blog’s contributors include a pilot, a flight attendant and several seasoned travel writers. The blog also lists as writers Clark Kent Ervin, the first Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, and essayist Pico Iyer.

Another well-known publication, National Geographic, has an interesting travel blog, called “Intelligent Travel.” It recently posted a story about the first carbon-neutral airline in the world. It's called NatureAir. Read how the Costa Rican company achieved this distinction here.
Thanks to Ana Schaeffer for her photograph of the airline seat tray. She made it available at the stock.xchng.
Related posts:

Looking out the back window

It's a quiet Saturday morning. Taking some inspiration from Gabi Campanario in Seattle, I thought I'd try a sketch. This is looking out from the kitchen table in the back of our home. We have rabbits in the neighbourhood that seem to survive the winter by foraging in backyards.

I haven't picked up a pencil to do something like this since elementary school. Obviously this is rudimentary, but I enjoyed trying my hand at something different.

Off the beaten path

Reuters reports that baby boomers are increasingly choosing adventure and educational holidays instead of more traditional or sedentary trips. In a survey of more than 100 travel experts conducted by a branch of the Canadian Automobile Association, demand for "experience-travel" increased last year in Canada, in the UK and in Australia. People are interested in trips that offer culinary seminars, educational opportunities, health or spa activities and exploration in offbeat destinations. The growth in this type of travel is coming from people who are over the age of 50, want to stay active and can afford these types of vacations.

You can read all about it on the Reuters site here.

And speaking of adventure travel, a group of scientists decided recently to discreetly observe the most feared of all sharks, the Great White. A marine biologist chose to paddle in a kayak in the ocean off the coast of Africa. In an article entitled, "It's behind you: Great White stalks ocean canoeist," the UK's Daily Mail newspaper tells the story of an experience of a lifetime with an exceptional photograph. You can see it here.

If you have other links about adventure travel, let me know. Or better yet, why don't you post a link in the "comments" section in the gray area below?

A big thank you to Marcelo Terraza for his photograph of a bridge to trees in the Ecological Reserve Vaga Fogo, Pirenópolis, Goiás (Brazil). Obrigado.

Related posts:

Global view: travel blogs for everyone

Hemingway lives on in Cuba

A reflection

The first day of the year began in Southern Ontario with an abundant snowfall, followed by dropping temperatures promising a frigid first week of January.

This was a great day for reviewing plans and setting out goals for the next twelve months.

The New Year's Day church service focused on the idea of peace, and I noted the intersection point between all the major religions: peace is rooted in acceptance and living in the present; not re-living the problems of the past and not worrying about the future. If we focus on the present and fully absorb its essence, not allowing the mind to run wild, we might find peace.

Something to try this year.

Related posts:

The present is the only thing...

Dalai Lama's words of wisdom...

Oxygen, a simple prescription...