Bloor West Village: Where Old-Fashioned Gets a New Twist

7 Feb

aPicture 036

Welcome to a stretch  along Bloor Street West, where an old school layout means small shops and businesses line the main street in the heart of an ever evolving metropolis: Toronto.

aPicture 040

Bloor West Village blends modern with Historical in a charming way, attracting both local residents in the neighborhood as well as many non-local visitors on a daily basis.

aPicture 003

With the opening of a stretch of the Bloor-Danforth subway line that passed through Bloor West Village in the 60s, the local municipal government gave this section of Bloor Street a face lift, in order to attract local residents who now had the convenience of shopping elsewhere with the new subway at their doorsteps. Not only did this  help local businesses keep their customers, but also brought in many new customers from other parts of the city — not to mention new businesses.

IMG_7933IMGPicture 031

A passerby can’t help but get the feeling they’ve traveled back to a simpler time where the definition of urban life was exactly what one sees at Bloor West Village, despite it being 2014.

aPicture 012aPicture 017

Independent businesses line the street, from pubs to cafes, to a handful of fresh bakeries and butcher shops.

aPicture 064aPicture 053aPicture 009

Despite the heavy independent business scene, many big businesses have found a home in the heart of Bloor West as well. The Chapters at the corner of Bloor and Runnymede (2223 Bloor Street West) is located in the historical Runnymede Theater, built in 1927 — officially declared a historic building under the Ontario Heritage Act. The historical theater has been preserved and restored, and incorporated into the interior design of this Chapters location, making it the most unique Chapters you’ll ever walk into all across the Greater Toronto Area.

The daily hustle and bustle starts from the early morning hours, as bakers and coffee shops fire up their ovens and espresso machines.

aPicture 044aPicture 001

The liveliness of the village doesn’t compromise the peace of the residence however, as quiet side streets along the village make for cosy and family friendly neighborhoods, with parks and schools. Not to mention, residents of this neighborhood are a five minute walk from High Park.

aPicture 068

Make sure to check out Bloor West Village if you still haven’t, you won’t regret it!

In the Beginning…

12 Dec

We live in a very weird and complicated place known as the universe. We’ve been told that it all started when something really small blew up, causing matter to scatter all over the place to form stars and galaxies that form our universe. We were also told that this event is called the “Big Bang”. The problem is that what we’re told about how the universe “started” is not entirely true.

There was never an explosion, even though the term “Big Bang” suggests that. Just a very rapid expansion and cooling down of everything that exists in the universe, including space and time itself. So if we rewind this expansion, we can find out where everything came from, right? Not entirely, but we can get pretty close by tracing everything back to right after a point known as a singularity.

The universe was extremely dense, hot and small. From that point on, it kept expanding and cooling down so much that after approximately 324,000 years, things were cool enough for the first electrons to bond with nuclei (protons and neutrons) to form the very first atoms. About 60,000 years later, the decreasing density of the universe allowed for light to shine through it. The process continued and gravity forced gases to collapse onto themselves to form stars, and eventually galaxies.

Here we are today, about 13 billion years later, and the universe is still expanding at an increasing rate. We might not be able to observe other galaxies in the future (if we’re around for that long), since the universe expands faster than the light from other galaxies can reach us. But that is the future. How about the beginning? We managed to go as far back as a point right after everything was a singularity. What happened before that? Science as we know it cannot offer much of a solution when dealing with a singularity. It’s a point of infinite mass and gravity with zero volume. There is no up, down, here, there, before, now and after. We cannot imagine a place with such characteristics, neither can science explain much about it. Interestingly enough, a singularity can be found in a black hole that sucks everything into an infinite point of gravity and mass. So the idea of everything coming out of “nothing” is kind of like a reverse black hole.

The unsettling part is that there might be a lot more going on than we know — or will ever know! Whether our universe came from the “other side” of a black hole in another universe, or extra dimensions are at play, or whatever the case may be, it’s far beyond our experience to fully understand what’s going on. What we can understand though, is that the Big Bang was not an explosion, and definitely not the beginning of everything. It is simply an expansion of everything (including energy, time and space) that took place from fractions of a second after the singularity. That very expansion carries on today, and into the future. Essentially, the Big Bang theory doesn’t explain the beginning of the universe, but we’re getting closer and closer to whatever that beginning may be!

My Favorite Website!

5 Dec

It’s not about cars. Neither is it about sports. Not even music. In fact, it probably sounds like the most boring website in the world — or perhaps the universe, if you’re convinced of extraterrestrial life. It’s called “Ask a Mathematician/Ask a Physicist”,  and you can find it at: www.askamathematician.com

So how could such a boring website be my favorite? For starters, the website is geared towards those who have an interest in math/physics to begin with, which I do. The writers make posts (much like a blog) based on questions emailed to them, and there’s a comments section for each post. What makes this website interesting is how the writers go about the topics. Rather than using scientific terms and talking about complicated formulas, they explain concepts using simple language and images/animations to get the point across to the average Joe.

To give you an idea of why this website is super awesome, I’ll use a metaphor. Think about the strenuous process that goes into making coffee. There’s a plant that takes forever to grow, then someone has to collect the beans, store them, grind them, and eventually brew what’s left to make a cup of coffee. A process that takes many, many months. A coffee addict like yours truly, only cares about the cup of coffee, which takes a few minutes to drink. The same idea is true with “Ask a Mathematician”, as it gives you the final and most practical results of years of science experiments carried out in laboratories. And it’s not boring. For example, in a post like “Could Kurt Voneget’s ‘Ice-9 catastrophe’ happen?”  , the writers respond to a sci-fi phenomenon based on actual physics, without all the math and physics that will bore every single one of us. I seriously doubt even Einstein looked forward to solving equations.

I stumbled across this website when I was curious about how atoms work. I was curious as to how a particle (atom) that’s over 99% empty space, could make up something solid. Shouldn’t you and I both be 99% empty space? Well, we are, as explained in this post. I found answers to many more similar questions on this website, and I find it pretty awesome that I can get answers without doing all the math and experiments which I have no knowledge of.  This is much like how I find it awesome that I can get a cup of coffee handed to me in my car without having to plant a plant, process its beans, and brew it! The only difference, I don’t have to pay a buck or two every time I come across an intriguing post. So even if you have absolutely zero interest in science, but an idea or concept from a sci-fi movie tickled your fancy, then you most certainly should pay www.askthemathematician.com a visit!

My Favorite Podcast

28 Nov

I was writing the first would-be sentence of this blog post when I realized something rather intriguing: a squiggly line doesn’t appear under the term “podcast”, suggesting a spelling error. Curiosity got the better of me and I looked “podcast” up in the Oxford Dictionaries Online. Sure enough, there is a definition. While the word is only 8 years old, it’s used to the point where it has made legitimate dictionaries! That’s certainly a reflection on how popular podcasts have become.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about my favorite podcasts. It’s hard to list a few favorite podcasts, since there’s so many of them covering countless topics. But there are some that stand out to me at least. I suffer from sever fanaticism that could be considered borderline lunacy when it comes to soccer, so the podcast I follow most is called the Bundesliga Fanatic. It’s all about Germany’s top domestic soccer league. Following every match-day, there is a podcast analyzing the games and the league overall. It’s by far the most comprehensive and in-depth podcast about the German league in English. It makes life a lot easier for me, since my German has become rusty over the years.

Another podcast that tickles my fancy is called “Mike Filey’s Toronto Podcast”. It hasn’t been around for long, but offers great content. It’s about Toronto’s history and the many things that have happened in this city over the years, long before I was born. It covers anything from a hurricane that hit Toronto decades ago to how stores were closed on Sundays back in the day. While this podcast has been around for a few months only, it became one of my favorites almost instantly.

I also really like the Ted Talk Podcast. Ted Talks is pretty famous for covering a variety of topics, with speakers from all over the world chiming in on pretty much everything. Whether it’s global warming, a brand new gadget, or a high intensity particle accelerator, there’s always something new to learn. What I like most about this podcast, is that it covers a very diverse range of topics by experts. Every new podcast by Ted Talks gives me something interesting to think about, and adds to my general knowledge. It makes me know of things I would never have bothered to look up on my own. And that’s pretty much why I love podcasts. I hope after reading this, you’re convinced to check out at least one of the podcasts I’ve mentioned in this post!

The World’s Most Popular Sport

21 Nov

My first memory of soccer goes back to 1994. I chose a pretty good “first match” to ever watch in my life: The 94′ World Cup final between Italy and Brazil. Even as child I was blown away by the immensity of the game, as Brazil claimed the World Cup. Everything from the game itself, the fans and their impact on the game to the vibe around the whole world regarding a game of soccer really got the better of me. I was suddenly interested in soccer, even though most of my friends were involved with hockey, baseball, or American football.

Soon after the 1994 World Cup, my family moved back to Düsseldorf, Germany. This was perfect timing considering my curiosity in soccer, as it is the most popular sport in all corners of the country. Düsseldorf was my birthplace, and soccer was my new pastime. This automatically turned me into a die-hard fan of Fortuna Düsseldorf, the main soccer club of the city. I spent most of my leisure time playing soccer with friends and following Fortuna’s progress in the German league, even though they weren’t a top-notch team. However, the team is renowned for its fans, some of the loudest and most supportive in the whole country.

Fortuna was in a miserable state in the late 90s, as they slipped all the way to 5th division regional league from Germany’s top league. Despite that, I followed many other leagues from across the world as well as international tournaments with a lot of interest. Even as a neutral spectator, I have learned to enjoy the game for its awesomeness.

As a Fortuna fan, the disappointing days came to end — finally! It only took 17 years and a few near heart-attacks for this to happen. While I was visiting Düsseldorf last spring, only a playoff game stood between them and the country’s first division. By beating Hertha Berlin, we were back in the top league after 17 dreaded years. The celebrations were massive, and the beer was amazing! And I got to be a part of it. It felt great, especially after waiting for a day like this since my childhood. Although the ups and downs of soccer can be really frustrating, and each game is like a 90 minute session of mini heart attacks, I love this sport to death. With that said, I can’t wait till World Cup 2014!

Tweets to Success

14 Nov

This story involves coolness — and Twitter! Unfortunately, it doesn’t involve me. It revolves around my other half, the apple of my blogpost: my GF, Arina. She’s been far more active in the Twittersphere than I, and since I’m apparently considered a “Tweep“, this post will be about one of her epic tweet-speriences… ummm, experiences.

It was only this past summer, when she was finishing a long work week at Canada’s very own factory of desire, Harlequin, that she checked her tweets. On her way to the bus, she came across something rather unusual. She had received a tweet from @CollegesOntario asking her to contact them about her writing. The excitement turned Arina’s usually strenuous commute home into a guessing game of what they could possibly want from her.

When she finally got home and called the Colleges Ontario office, they were closed for the weekend. On Monday morning, she received a phone call from a representative at Colleges Ontario who was putting together a higher education summit in Toronto to discuss the issues affecting young people’s education. The lady in charge wanted to know if Arina could be a part of their panel on youth unemployment. Colleges Ontario had found out about Arina by following her on Twitter. She had just published an article about the shortage of students going into skilled trades, which she obviously tweeted about. After calling me and freaking out for a bit, I had the chance to Google this whole conference, and I was delighted to find out it was quite a prestigious event. Famous economist and author of The World is Flat, Thomas Freedman, is the keynote speaker, along with the presidents of colleges across the GTA leading other discussions throughout the two days. I had actually read The World is Flat and was probably as excited as she was!

The moral of the story is that it all happened thanks to Twitter. Maybe this is a sign from the god(s) of the Twitterverse that I should convert, and embrace this spectacle of social media.

Why Radio?

7 Nov

“Why radio?!” It’s a question I’m often asked by my friends, relatives, peers, broadcast teachers – heck, even myself! It’s a question that begs an elaborate answer. My deep interest in news and what goes on around me is the main reason I chose broadcast. I’m interested in current events that affect us humans, whether it’s happening in my backyard or halfway across the world. From new bike lanes on my street, to the Euro-zone crisis, it’s something I find conversation-worthy. Why radio specifically? Because I love communicating the ideas I’m passionate about, with many people, through talk. I can talk to multiple people one-on-one all at the same time, through radio. I can potentially engage each listener individually, as if I’m telling a friend what’s going on in the world. My dream job in radio is to one day host a talk-show on a news station. Yet even as a newscaster, I could still see myself making an impact on my listener. Not only through telling them the news, but delivering it in a manner that impacts them and makes them realize why it should matter to them.

I think the main culprit for my interest in news is having lived in very different parts of the world. I find that we have so much to learn about each other as humans, and from what goes on around us on this earth. When I live in a country, I always strived to talk about what goes on in the other countries I’ve lived in. I ran for my life from armed vigilantes on the streets of Tehran, after mass election fraud. I felt betrayed; I wanted the world to know that my vote didn’t count. I took one of the eight subway lines in Düsseldorf to school every weekday at 8:13am for a few years. Every morning, at exactly the same time! Never a delay except for the one occasion there was a strike. Efficiency and order to such a degree is a phenomenon I’ve only experienced in my birthplace: Germany. I learned deeply about more cultures than I can count with my fingers and toes combined in Canada. I heard a dozen languages in one day on the streets of Toronto. I became a Canadian. And the list goes on. Whatever I experienced in these three countries, all fueled my passion for sharing stories of what goes on around the world. How trains arriving on time somewhere, can be a lesson elsewhere. How oppression somewhere, means not taking your freedoms for granted somewhere else. How living in a country with so many people from other races/ethnicities and getting along is a possibility. And this list can go on forever too!  

Back to the topic: radio. The main challenge I’ve faced in Radio so far is that “good enough” is not good enough. That I’m always reminding myself to try my hardest, even in courses that are not my main area of interest. At least with all the effort comes reward. One thing I’m really glad about is that I’m a pretty punctual person, and it has proven to save my rear-end from losing 5% on days when I faced unexpected delays!