Please Help Save the Toronto Railway Museum! Yes... this has to do with books too!

    Posted by Word Taster, 3 years ago

    I don't normally go begging, but this is for an important cause; to save The Toronto Railway Museum, a mandated Canadian Heritage Site, at risk of disappearing. This isn't just a City of Toronto or a Canadian Heritage cause, but rather, a request to help save a Canadian Heritage Site that is already of interest to visitors from all over the world.

    It's not a completely inappropriate place to post this because the group responsible for building the museum, the Toronto Rail Historical Association's own historian, Derek Boles, has written a book, "Toronto's Railway Heritage", which is available on C-I. Derek, a retired teacher, is a walking, talking rail encyclopedia, and gives monthly rail focused tours for Toronto's Doors Open, a look behind the scenes of places in Toronto that people wouldn't normally get to see. I also know the 50 or so core volunteers who make up the TRHA, because my Dad is the president. I've watched the museum being built, and many of the displays that will eventually grace the Museum's indoor space, the Machine Shop, have been donated from the private collections of these devoted volunteers, including a number of world class rail libraries.

    The Museum itself not only has no other place to be in Toronto, but belongs on no other site. The Roundhouse and working rail turntable, and the Roundhouse Park site itself are in the heart of Toronto's entertainment district, across from the site of the new aquarium, by the CN tower, Skydome Rogers Centre, and Steam Whistle Brewery, which is already a tenant of the Roundhouse. There is simply no other place for it, and the Machines Shop, where the indoor displays will eventually go, is attached to the Roundhouse.

    This is the story of the museum:
    For the past 10 years a dedicated group of volunteers, the Toronto Railway Historical Association, has devoted over 50,000 volunteer hours and $22 million dollars has been raised through private partnerships to create Roundhouse Park, a large urban park on the site of the John Street Roundhouse and to establish a Toronto Railway Historical Museum and Centre devoted to the rail history of Toronto and Canada. Historical railway buildings have been moved to the site and restored. The turntable, used to turn massive steam locomotives has been refurbished and is in working order, as has the the Roundhouse itself. Historical railway locomotives and cars have been moved to the site and restored. A miniature railway has been built to enhance the experience of children (both young and old) who visit. The site has become an important tourist attraction.

    The museum is now in jeopardy! The last phase in the development of the Centre was to utilize the machine shop that is an integral part of the roundhouse to create the heart and soul of the museum. It has been planned that the machine shop would house an interactive learning centre, scholarly library, the vast array of historical artifacts that have been carefully collected from far and wide, as well as a gift shop.

    Some years ago the City of Toronto gave Toronto Hydro an option to build a hydro sub station on the site of the machine shop. TRHA had an understanding with Toronto Hydro that the sub-station would be built underground and that the museum would have full use of the machine shop, a heritage building. Toronto Hydro is now denying the museum use of the machine shop. Without the space in the machine shop, the museum is not possible. Most importantly, there is no reason for this to happen. TRHA includes many able and creative architects and engineers who have working solutions that would accommodate both the Museum and Toronto Hydro's needs. All that is required is the will for both parties to work together!

    PLEASE sign this petition to help save the museum and with it, our heritage. We must encourage Toronto Hydro and the City to work with THRA to develop a workable solution that meets everyone's needs to improve power delivery to the growing downtown area. Workable solutions are possible.

    The petition is hosted on one of the premier web-sites for organizational and social action petitions, Care2. They have kindly donated their services. Your information is secure from unauthorized use and spammers. You have the option of signing the petition but remaining anonymous on-line.

    The full petition can be found at:

    The Toronto Railway Historical Association site:

    Save the Museum site:

    Also, to hear a podcast of Dale Goldhawk discussing the story with the TRHA's president, go to:

    To hear a podcast of Dale Goldhawk's visit to the museum site and discussion with TRHA historian and author, Derek Boles, and TRHA President, Orin Krivel, go to:

    Many thanks for your time!

    • A wonderful book for anyone interested in Toronto's Railway Heritage or Rail History in general. Written by the Toronto Railway Historical Association's Historian, and full of amazing historical photographs and insightful commentary.

  • I hate it when an almost finished post 'disappears'

    Posted by Word Taster, 4 years ago

    This is a really short one (gasp)... Why the heck, if you accidentally click on the "Preview Your Post" window, does your post disappear?... sometimes I hate the posting process. I had a really good post almost finished and against habit, I didn't copy and paste it into a text document on my own computer as I went... more the fool I... and so we begin again, and just for that, I'm gonna make it a multi-parter... take that!

    Rest In Peace, Anne McCaffrey

    Posted by Word Taster, 4 years ago

    It is with incredible sadness that I learned today of the passing of a great dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Anne McCaffrey. She passed away yesterday, November 21st, 2011, at her home, Dragonhold–Underhill, in Ireland, of a stroke.

    She was one of the first science fiction writers whose work I discovered independently, having been raised on classic SF by my Dad. However, her Pern books were not something that were part of his 'canon' which tended toward more "hardcore" science fiction, and Annie's books, particularly her early Pern and "Talents" books (which began with the collection of short stories, "Get Off the Unicorn" - misnamed by a junior editor who mistook the word "of" for "off", a mistake she decided not to correct) were more appealing to a girl of 11, than to her dad. Throughout her life, she published close to 100 books, and co-authored over 30, with authors such as S. M. Stirling, Misty Lackie, Jody Lynn Nye, Margaret Ball, Elizabeth Moon, and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and her own son, Todd McCaffrey.

    Many of these women were also favourite authors of mine, and about 10 years ago, I was surprised to make the acquaintance of Annie Scarborough through her work as a fellow bead artist. Shortly after, by a strange coincidence, I became good friends with two of Annie McCaffrey's long-time first readers, and through an even stranger series of events, became acquainted with Annie McCaffrey herself. She was a most incredible woman; surprisingly warm and accessible, a dry wit and great intellect, and a lovely person. Though she did not suffer fools gladly, she could be both patient and giving, and was incredibly loyal. It was these qualities, as well as her wonderful writing, that helped draw so many of her fans to the conventions she so often participated in as her health permitted, particularly Atlanta's DragonCon, which she tried to get to as often as possible (her Pern books made her a favourite for obvious reasons), and she often sat as a judge for science fiction awards.

    She, herself, was the first woman to win a Hugo, and then a Nebula award, and with her book "The White Dragon" she became the first with a science fiction title on the New York Times Bestseller List. In 2005, the Science Fiction Writers of America named her their 22nd Grand Master, and she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006.

    I can't imagine what the too-often sterile, frustrating and sometimes painful years I spent during my teens in Regina would have been like without her writing, and the writing of other authors her generous praise introduced me to. I can't count the times I've reread her books, and they are to me, what she herself called, "comfort books" - those we go to when we need an old friend to relax and renew ourselves with. Whether her Pern books, the books in the Talents/Tower & Hive/Barque Cat series', the Ship and City (Brain and Brawn) books, Petaybee, the Crystal universe books, or her other series, the worlds of her books encompass something for almost everyone.

    She was 85 years old.

    In response to a comment on my review of City of Fallen Angels

    Posted by Word Taster, 5 years ago

    'kay... here I am again, saying to myself, "Huh?" Does nobody edit or spell check what they post? I always thought it was a mark of respect for one's readers, whether writing for an audience, or writing a review or comment.

    First, I AM a YA reader; that is to say, I read YA lit, not that I am a Young Adult. One must be careful b/c if a YA (under 18) were to lash out without carefully reading what had been written - what they are responding to - they might discover the rule that says members must be 18. So it's all well & good for *people* (lets leave age out of this) to get excited about a book coming out, but if they take offense to things that aren't offensive, it's simply a further indication of immaturity & another reason for the site owners to worry about underage members being mature enough to participate.

    As for being "into writing this review", I don't lose myself in what I write. I think carefully about every word I post. And nowhere in what I wrote did I say anything about "[making] Y/A readers seem stupid, completly [sic] immature, [or] giving the hint that [I] wanted to say " Oh there [sic] just mere children, and lets [sic] send them back to the Indigo Kids Section.".." That's an inference (and I'm pretty sure that "just mere" is a tautology). If you reread what I wrote carefully, you'll see that I identify myself as someone who enjoys YA & Clare's writing in particular. My point was, again, that the hysteria inherent in writing a review of a book that no one has read, months in advance of its release date, is the very thing that drives those who might enjoy YA lit away because the apparent hysteria keeps them from taking it seriously, thereby doing its authors no favours. Nowhere do I say anything about sending YA members off to the kids' section for a timeout. As for wanting to send anyone back to the Indigo Kids Section, dear Lord, NO! I've always believed that the best way to help someone become more literate is for them to read as much and as wide a range of material as possible, and clearly, this is a good example of why no one should be sent back to the kids' section... please... read read read, and read some more (if my theory holds). Sometimes people do my work for me.

    Last but not least, there is a nifty function when you post, that underlines misspelled words in red & allows you to correct them. It helps to reread what you've written, even edit it, before you post, & in that fashion, one may catch spelling mistakes one has made. More importantly, it allows one to see if they've written a sentence that is missing words or which is nonsensical because of mistakes, thereby indicating respect for one's readers by writing something that is sensible, & not so addled with mistakes that readers must work to decipher what has been posted. To reread what one has written, correct it for mistakes, & take the time to do so, whether that time is recognized or not, is a mark of respect for one's fellow community members. It also helps one not to be 'right into it' so that they don't simply run wild with an opinion, but rather, take time to think carefully about their position. Please don't assume that "When [I] start writing & [I am] right into it, well there is really no turning back, is there?" One can always turn back if one chooses to, particularly if they think clearly about what they are writing & take the time to consider their words (& their spelling) carefully. It is a mark of a good writer that one revisits what one has written, correcting & improving. Some call this a "draft', I'm told.

    I read what I write, carefully, before I post it. I also read what I'm responding to, carefully, before I comment on it. It helps me to not jump to conclusions about the writer's intent or meaning. I do it out of respect for those who I'm responding to, just as I think carefully about the reviews I write, out of respect for the author's work. I revere books. I've revered them since I was a child & before I could even read because those around me did & I understood that they must be something special. When I learned to read I also learned why these things... these books, were revered by those around me. I've had the honour of working in bookstores since I was 13; had the honour of handling books so rare that only 1 copy remains in existence. And I've revered them, not just as material to read, but as objects that needed tending, whose covers needed dressing; whose velum pages & spines needed repairing. Book are living things, or at least, to some of us they are, & they contain words & ideas that ought be revered. Too many take them for granted, not understanding that even 200 yrs ago, they might never own a book, save for a family bible if they were lucky; 300 yrs ago, probably wouldn't even have learned to read. Which is why I believe we should do everything possible not to drive others from any book through our actions, or diminish an author's work unthinkingly.

  • Call me prosaic, give me Prozac, but who defines "excessive information"?

    Posted by Word Taster, 5 years ago

    From the Community Focus Post concerning the amazing disappearing paragraphs:

    Merlin wrote: why the changes? ... The first and most important was that we heard from customers over and over that they didn't like the site as it was. The header was too dark, the pages too long and cluttered with excessive information. I should point out a lot of that criticism came from the community members when we launched it last November. See? We do listen.

    WT Responds: First... Clearly, you were listening to the wrong community members. ;-)

    Excessive Information? On 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & even 4th viewing of the Taleb book on the C-I MBA 2011 reading list, which has an added section in the 2nd edition even though I already own the 1st. I had to go to THAT OTHER ONLINE BOOKSELLER to find out how long that section was which, along w/ showing me the actual inside of the book, told me how long it was & so I knew that it was substantial & important.

    Perhaps if the DETAILS tab stood out, along with the other tabs that allow visitors to change the information they're looking at, & actually looked like a tab, it might help. It's all-this-white thing again. After the "Eligible for FREE Shipping on orders over $25. + Details"... wait a sec... $25.00! What in the holy hells! Free Shipping on order over $25!.. Why isn't THAT in BIG BOLD FLASHING GREEN LETTERS!?! awhewawhewawhewah... hang on... awhewwhew... reaching for my puffer... a-whew... coughcough... whoowhoohoohoo..... deeeeep breaths... okay okay.. So.. after the... umm... when did that happen? whhoooowhhhooowhhhoooo (inhaaaaale... exhaaaaale)...

    Okay... sooo after the "Eligible for FREE Shipping on orders over $25. + Details" that doesn't stand out but just caused me to have an asthma attack, there are these 4 brackish coloured words... C-u-s--t-o-m-e-.... -m-e-r.... Oh! Customer Review Details. Huh? Customer Review Details? Then there's a really thin line I can barely see. I think it's the glare &... oh wait! it's FOUR sections: Customer Reviews, & then Details, From Community, From the Critics... & these are Tabs?... tabs we can click on?... but which are barely noticeable, unless we happen to accidentally mouse over them but aren't distracted by the big pop-up menus for all the sub-sections that come up *Every* *Single* *Time* *We* *Accidentally* *Mouse* *Over* *THEM* *Which* *Is* *Every* *Single* *Time* *We* *Move* *Our* *Mouse* *Anywhere* *Near* *The* *Top* *Of* *The* *Page* *Because* *Everything* *In* *The* *Menu* *Of* *Departments* *That* *Is* *In* *A* *Line* *At* *The* *Top* *Of* *The* *Page* *Under* *The* *Banner* (Oh Good Lord... there's actually 2 lines that do that - one above & one below the line across the top of the page. So everything at the top of the page that you mouse over brings up a floating pop-up. I'm sorry for all the asterisks, BTW, it's just that there's no way to italicize text & that's the closest thing I could come up with as an equivalent to just how annoying & distracting the floating pop-ups are.)

    But back back to this "cluttered with excessive information" thing... If those floating pop-ups aren't cluttered with too much information, I don't know what is...

    ... So... we mouse over almost any word anywhere near the top of the site & we get a different floating pop-up that invariably covers up the information we were looking for up there, but when we get down to details on the books, we find four murky, barely-noticeable-as-links-until-you-mouse-over-them-and-they-turn-from-moss-coloured--to-orange links... & this is where we find any information on the books, & not only that, the Details tab isn't the first one... isn't the default... the tab with all the information on the book, like number of pages, ISNB's, Format, Publisher, &tc. is not the first & default tab, but it's Customer Reviews, beside which is the reviewers'/community member's avatar (beside which are six book covers for books which were "Often Bought With" the book we're trying to look at)..... all of which is very cluttered & visually distracting... & which makes it that much more confusing when you're trying to discern where to find the details of the book...

    Perhaps if those four tabs... Customer Reviews, Details, From Community, & From the Critics, actually looked like tabs... call me prosaic... give me Prozac... call me gobsmacked that Prozac is in the Dashboard dictionary on my computer but prosaic isn't!... just don't call me late for dinner cause I couldn't find the Details tab for a book on the C-I site!... Of ALL the tabs for a book, of the four that are available but so easily missed, should the Details tab not be the first?... &... at the risk of seeming prosaic, could they not actually look like tabs, just for those of use with little imagination & a need for the concrete & obvious? I don't think that would be too excessive or cluttered.

    Wishlists and Electronic Facilitation of Purchasing - On Good Corporate Responsibilty and Citizenship...

    Posted by Word Taster, 5 years ago

    Once again, nobody's taking me seriously... Let's try this again in point form....

    (From Community Focus after a discussion of the revision of the site design turned to the issue of wishlists on which I wanted to make a comment that was just too long... what else it new? see: )

    1. I've decided, upon reflection, that it is not a bad thing to have a cap of 99 on the wishlist, per se (although 250 books as Merlin intimated might be possible, would be better), since I keep my wishlist private. But now that there is the potential for multiple private lists, I would...

    2. Use the Private lists to keep segregated/organized lists of books in different areas for myself, the way I use the wishlist now, so that people wouldn't potentially purchase things like texts or certain other books for me as gifts and....

    3. Would then use the main wishlist for books and whatnot that I wouldn't mind receiving as gifts (and therefore make it public), though I hope we could add things such as gift cards to the main wishlist (I have no idea if that's possible and I realize that it's slightly crass insofar as it's akin to saying, to quote that Spinal Tap song, "Gimme Some Money.")... Nevertheless, I wouldn't mind being able to remind people that it's a possibility... another good reason to make the main wishlist larger...

    4. That said, all this facilitation & enabling of our (yes... 'our') bookaholic behaviour screams out for some sort of mea culpa... an ownership of responsibility or, I dunno... at least a nod to the fact that like electronic slots and addictive gambling, C-I's facilitation of the purchase of goods by clearly addictive personalities via ease of list-making and even the inclusion of the use of debit for the purchase of the substance of our addiction, means that C-I has some responsibility as a good corporate citizen, to look after one of its larger stakeholders by not only facilitating our purchase of the subject of our addiction but by also mitigating that addiction so that we can continue to be good purchasers in the future, and to do so by setting up some type of regular meetings of something like Book-Buyers Anonymous or Bookaholics Anonymous, at least at larger locations, and possibly online for those in the community who cannot get to a store that easily.

    (It strikes me that some community-members who play in "the sandbox" with me more often than others, might recall a previous manifesto of mine, the substance of which was very different, yet still also called for responsible corporate citizenship on C-I's part.)

    All these points laid out, I guess you can take me seriously or not. However you choose to view this post, and I'm not even sure how I'll feel about it after I've actually had some sleep...

    I do: not like some things about the new site design (mostly visual); like that we can have multiple private lists that allow use to segregate different types of books/stuff by subject to help us keep them organized; like that these private lists then allow us to make our main wishlist public (though again, it could be larger and I'd like to see if we can add gift cards to it however crass that might be): like that by having private lists we can make our main wishlist pubic and not have to worry that someone will get me, "Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life" for my birthday, even though it sounds like it might a Dr. Seuss book until you get to the colon... the punctuation, not the body part... and even though I'd really like to read it for the 2011 Indigo MBA group...

    And speaking of the MBA group, perhaps this shows that the book list is screaming out for some books on good corporate citizenship, ethical marketing (which might be an oxymoron... I actually have an MBA and I'm still unsure, though on most days you ask me I'd say it is) and that despite the time value of money, no matter what the economy is like right now, it might be better to sell all your customers $25 worth of books today instead of $250 if it means they're still solvent to keep buying books in the future... a future that's a bit less unsure and when they feel comfortable buying $250 worth of books in a day, and often... something C-I will have helped them do, by not only mitigating their book addictions by intervening when necessary, but by making them smarter business-people by helping them learn stuff they might otherwise have to pay, as an example, the Rotman School of Management (and not where I got my MBA) $75,000+ to learn... though they won't get any letters at the end of their names. Personally, I've found that letters at the end of my name are highly overrated, and I often just make up strange strings of plausible sounding combinations to append to mine, just to see if anyone notices. Try it some time. It's fun!

    Word Taster BFA (Hon. FP), MBA, PhD (BSA), Psy.D. (CL, HHT), PhD (FGTC-ROG)

    Re: Emerson's Post - To A Wild Rose by Todd Boss...

    Posted by Word Taster, 5 years ago

    I started to reply and as usual, my comment got long & I just figured I'd stick it here... The post & discussion is in the Poems & Publishers' Posts 2010 Group & can be found here:

    The poem in question, which can be found in Em's post, evoked very specific memories for me, of growing up in Alberta & Saskatchewan, and of my experiences there. In particular, the wild rose has a lot of memories attached to it for me, and when I raised the issue of it being, just as a matter of interest, the official flower of Alberta, Emerson thought this was too literal a point of view. But what I was trying to say and probably didn't convey very well is that it probably IS the official flower of the province because it is so ubiquitous in the experiences of so many people on the prairies.

    I think I only remembered that it was because of a report on the prairie provinces I had to do in grade four - I still remember the artwork I put on the cover - the wheat sheaves from the flag for Saskatchewan, wild roses, and some other very prairie things. For some reason, I remember that the Dogwood is BC's official flower and the Trillium is Ontario's, which is hard to forget because half the provincial government programmes including the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care's general drug insurance programme is called Trillum Insurance, from whence all my wondrous and ridiculously expensive arthritis, MS, Crohn's, Sjögren's and other meds come from, and without which, face it... I'd be screwed. So there's something to be said for knowing your province's official flower, I suppose. I seem to remember that Saskatchewan's is the wild lily. But, back to poetry...

    Emerson, the reason I asked Cindy and Jenn for their input is that they've spent time on the prairies and range lands in AB and SK, like I did growing up. It's not that I looked at the poem & said - hmmm... wild rose, official flower of AB, like in my grade 4 report. It's that it is SUCH a ubiquitous flower on the prairies and is so much a part of everyday life, as I mentioned. It is emblematic.

    I grew up being given rose hip tea from wild roses when I was a kid, and my great grandmother, grandmother, Mom and I, made rose hip jelly together out of wild rose hips, just like we made jam and jelly out of crab apples and Saskatoon berries we collected that grew wild. It may have been a throwback to the depression, but people did that stuff when I grew up in Edmonton and Regina, and even when I didn't live there, I visited Regina throughout my life because my grandparents were always there, and visited relatives in small towns in SK and AB because I was visiting family spread out all over the place - some farmers, some ranchers.

    So like Cindy maybe, I look at that poem and I see craggy parts of range in AB and the man who is out driving cattle and thinking of his home and his wife as he takes his horse through tanglewood and along crooked paths. There is something wildly beautiful about rural AB and SK, and their wilderness as well. I grew up bush camping in it; seeing no one else for weeks. So when I read those words, what I think of is a man making his way through that wildness and recognizing that elements of it are both delicate; the wild rose by itself, easily trampled, but also the hardy; the rose that survives so well it is everywhere and used for everything from breaking a fever to adding sweetness to life.

    The landscape of the prairies and range is a study in contrasts. The prairie goes on forever and can be brutally dry, baking in summer and freezing in winter but with snow so dry that to eat it will dehydrate you; with a sky so vast, some people feel crushed by the weight of it, and it can seem as empty as a desert, but it is full of life and life-giving things. So too the range, with its lichen-covered rocks that can actually provide sustenance, despite seeming barren and windswept - checkered with tanglewood and crooked paths; with fields of grass and Xthe most unexpected fields of almost endless wildflowers that are each so delicate, but together, unconquerable and infinite-seeming.

    So, when I read that poem, I see someone making their way through a landscape that can appear daunting and lonely and empty, but when paid close attention to, has a wild beauty that only waits for someone to see it. It is profoundly evocative. And it can be lonely, but contain things that remind one of goodness and sweetness, that can be trampled or navigated with care.

    It sometimes pays to look at a poet's biography because in my experience, although many would debate the point heatedly, often, the best poetry comes out of a poet's personal experiences - what they know and metaphores derives fromXthat experiences... Todd Boss grew up on an 80 acre cattle farm in Wisconsin, so perhaps the imagery his poetry evokes for me is not so far from his intent.



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