Friday Morning Ritual

Biking Downtown

View from the eastbound bike lane at University Avenue and College street, with two cyclists ahead

With Accordion City’s rapid transit being quite prone to delay and the distance from my home in High Park to downtown being just over 7 km (about 4.5 miles), biking downtown is often just as quick as taking the subway. Biking has the added benefit of “free” exercise in addition to getting me from point A to point B, hence my tendency to get to the core via two wheels whenever possible and practical.

College Street is a good east/west thoroughfare for bikes. It’s mostly level, many parts of it have a dedicated bike lane, there’s lots to see and some good places to stop by if you have the time, and during the day, it doesn’t get as congested as some of the east/west streets further south.

I shot the photo above at the corner of College and University. The eastbound bike lane on this part of College at the time I took it – around 8:30 a.m. on a Friday – is usually quite full. I was at the head of a pack of bikes, with these two cyclists ahead of me and another half dozen or so clumped behind me. Most of the cyclists appeared to be students or people who worked in places with casual dress codes, although I saw a couple of guys in suits with their right pant legs strapped (so as not to get caught in the gears) and with executive-type leather laptop bags slung over their shoulders.

Greg Wilson’s Nerd Breakfast

A long booth at Fran's diner, with assorted Toronto nerds drinking coffee and conversing

The reason I was biking downtown was to attend Greg Wilson’s weekly nerd breakfast. I first met Greg via email when he was doing some editorial work for Dr. Dobb’s Journal (back when it was still available in dead-tree form) and asked me to write a couple of book reviews, then in person through DemoCamp and various activities he organized when he was one of University of Toronto’s best-loved computer science profs.

He’s since left academia and is working on his own, and that’s why he holds these weekly breakfasts. Escaping the Land of Cubicles and working on your own has many perquisites, but one of the big downsides is the isolation. Greg holds a Friday morning breakfast gathering at Fran’s near Yonge and College as a way of staying in touch with his peers, and it’s become a Friday morning ritual for local nerds both student and professional, indie and corporate.

If you’re a techie local to Accordion City and want to catch one of these breakfasts or become a regular, I’m sure Greg wouldn’t mind if you simply dropped by. We’re usually at the back of Fran’s on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15-ish.

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me

Slice of Life: Playing Accordion at HoHOTo


Heather Leson, with whom I used to work at Tucows, snapped this photo of me breaking out the squeezebox at Tuesday’s HoHOTo charity event.

HoHOTo is the second edition of the HoHoTO (pronounced “Ho Ho Tee Oh”) party, which was a charity event that took place close to Christmas (hence the “Ho Ho”) and was very quickly organized after a few people had a little discussion on Twitter. No giant planning committees, no long meetings in windowless boardrooms over bad coffee and stale donuts, no big media marketing campaigns – just a group of dedicated volunteers and community leaders, a modicum of social media savvy, some fast-moving sponsors (including my employer, Microsoft Canada) and a club willing to let use their space on short notice.

Although it’s nowhere near Christmas, the event’s name has a lot of goodwill and the website already exists, so why not simply change the capitalization and pronunciation? And thus HoHOTo (pronounced “Ho HOT Oh”) came into being.

One again, it was organized largely by that chunk of the local creative class comprising both techies and marketing types. The event was a double success in raising over CAD$10,000 for the Daily Bread Food Bank and being a great evening out as well.

I saw camera flashes galore at HoHOTo, and a number of those flashes ended up as pictures on Flickr.