HUMMING BIRDS ARE NOT EASY TO HAVE A PHOTO TAKEN – BUT BRYAN BLENKIN MANAGED TO DO IT

I’ve tried many times to take photos of HummingBirds, but failed always. They came close, but in a split second they were flying away. One attempt was in Arizona and another in Mexico City, but I missed them both. These little birds with long, slender bills are native to the Americas.  With about 360 species they occur from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, but the vast majority of the species are found in the tropics. Many have brightly coloured, glittery feathers. Often the males are more colorful than the females. They’re named for the humming sound made by the  rapid beating of their wings. < From Wikipedia.>

JOHN TORY, TORONTO’S MAYOR, IS PLANNING ON A THIRD TERM AT CITY HALL – NOT SURPRISING!

Within Toronto’s history this 67-year-old will no doubt become the city’s longest serving mayor. Mr. Tory’s goal is to continue his current policies. Barbara Hackett, his wife, has already given her approval for a third term. Administering an increasingly expensive metropolis is a challenge, but he’s been facing no serious opposition – even from City Council. Among John’s present achievements – transit construction, housing affordability, street improvements, a recovering economy, and setting up partnerships. There’ve been no protests so far when the mayor announced he would run again. Polls have shown already that he’ll be a formidable candidate in the October 24th municipal election. Others are doubtless waiting to decide if they have the nerve, finances and ability to compete. We’ll wait and see who will be directing Canada’s largest city.

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE WITH A MULTI-YEAR REFIT OF THE ROBARTS COMMONS IN TORONTO

The Robarts Commons are named after John Robarts, the 17th Premier of Ontario from 1961. He served there until 1971. The libraries contain more than 4.5 million book items, 4.1 million microform items, 740,000 other ones which kept on growing. He was an advocate of freedoms, and promoted rights of the provinces against initiatives of the federal government. Mr. Robarts is remembered for improving education, being Chancellor of York University, the Ontario Science Centre and Ontario Place – plus the GO Transit railway system, and he introducing nuclear power to Ontario’s electricity grid. Unfortunately his son, Timothy, died of suicide in 1977. John also died of suicide on October 18, 1982. He is buried in Toronto’s St. James Cemetery. Universities and research centres carrying Mr. Robart’s name are impressive. York University, was founded in 1963. Mr. Robarts was Chancellor from 1977-1982. The Robarts Research Institute at the University of Western Ontario opened  in 1986 in London.  There are also Robarts School for the Deaf and the John P. Robarts Research Library at the University of Toronto.
Now we come to the magnificent John P. Robarts Research Library, commonly referred to as ‘Fort Book’ at 130 St. George Street, a branch of the University of Toronto Libraries. The new Robarts Commons, a five storey glassed-in addition to the U.of T’s Robarts Library isn’t completely finished, but with the pandemic restrictions it will soon happen. The project is part of a multi year refit to prepare for the future as most libraries are progressing technologically. The University of Toronto’s collections are spread over 42 heavily-used libraries, popular with students. About 20,000 people pass through on a busy day, and some students work at their desks late into the night. The original plans for the Robarts Library, drawn up in the 1960s, called for a pavilion on the west side. Now, almost 50 years since the library was built, the western pavilion is finally being realized. Gary McCluskie of Architects’ Diamond Schmitt says on their website: “When the new Robarts Common opens in the 2021-2022 academic year, the library’s 18,000 daily users will quickly see and feel that the million square feet of the entire library complex are more social, collaborative and human,”

Flâneur is a French noun meaning “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer” or “loafer” – Wikipedia

A new book, “The Art of Wandering the Streets of Paris” by Federico Castigliano trails my own Paris wanderings in the 1980’s as a student at The Eurocentre de Paris. The courses focused on the French language, and we spoke and read as much as we could every day. We dealt with daily newspapers, music, expeditions, haircuts, cinemas, theatres, city bus routes, searching for antique photographs, visiting museums, Metro transit, exchanging ideas, spelling en français etc. Most important for me was exploring the City of Paris, and the book is perfect. Federico Castigliano followed the same routes I followed in person almost every day. Indeed I became a Flâneur myself and best of all I got to live in the Hotel Parisiana for three months, near the Gare de l’Est with hot water running (rare for many students) and the Eurocentre was within walking distance, not far from Pont Neuf. A few months later I returned to Paris and was living with a friend of a friend in a small room. Not quite the same but a fine neighbourhood – Montparnasse – and I exchanged ideas with the German lady who rented the room and gave me some instructions on what to see in the city. She handed me a detailed city bus book. Some of those routes revealed Paris’ outstanding features without any cost. <Below – the cover of ‘Flaneur’, which I can tell you now is well-worth reading.  I read it every day until it was finished.  You only have to find it.>

I’VE THOUGHT ABOUT KYIV, CAPITAL OF UKRAINE, & NOW ‘THE NEW YORK TIMES’ GIVES US SOME DETAILS

Both KYIV (legally mandated by the Ukrainian government in 1995,) and KIEV (this new name only started a few years ago when the Ukrainian government mounted secure international approval for its capital). Either name appears to be for a fine city. Unfortunately either one may also be headquarters for the biggest urban battle in over 80 years. KYIV covers 325 square miles and is divided by a broad river. It has about 500,000 structures – factories, ornate churches and high-rise apartments – many on narrow, winding streets. Roughly 2-million people remain after extensive evacuations of women and children. KYIV is backed by columns of tanks, armored vehicles and artillery. It remains the biggest prize of all for the Russian military. Negotiations over a cease-fire are continuing, and a long, heated battle is not inevitable. The fight for KIEV looms as a long, fierce conflict.  <By Andrew E. Kramer, New York Sunday Times.>