Author Archives: ChrisNolan.ca

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I am Chris Nolan.ca

What is your issue re: wearing shoes?

A facebook thread discussing this quotation “Shoes do no more for the foot than a hat does for the brain.” (which I read here) prompted this earnest question: “What is your issue re: wearing shoes?”  Here is my reply.

Hi Jen, thanks for the inquiry.  I had prepared a new reply to use: “why don’t you wear a corset”, but I’ll go easy on you 😉

Most importantly, it feels right.  Shoes have never felt right.  Have you ever experienced that pleasure of being barefoot — be it in the grass, or after a long day on your feet and you’re stretching out your toes, or having a foot rub?  Why is it people continually make themselves uncomfortable?

I have a philosophy called the escalation of convenience: if you do something because it’s convenient, you’ll soon do something else and then something else and then something else and after a while you won’t know where or why you did it in the first place.  My explorations with shoes have fallen into this model.  Most people in our culture never question the fashion that tells them to be shod, and as a result they suffer for it (see my succinct comment about corsets above).  Greatly.  Ever had sore knees, or a bad back?  A foot infection, or an ingrown toe nail, twisted an ankle?  Why?

Like bottled water, shoes have a ‘manufactured demand‘ — the producers of them want you to wear them, and wear them out.  In general, they are a fashion accessory that is unhealthy for you.

I find the information presented by Dr. Daniel Howell helpful to those curious about it  (start on that page, and other pages on his ‘resources’ tab).  Check out his The Barefoot Book if you’re keen.

As you might have noticed in the past though, whenever the topic comes up on here there is a lot of unfounded, strongly held opinions against such a simple expression of non-conformity so I can’t say it is something for everyone to try in public, for now.  Give it another few years and some of the ignorance and resistance might lessen.

It is hard for those of us in our culture to go against something we learned so young.  Your mother told you you had to wear shoes from the time you could walk.  Who am I to question that?

Town of High River is failing

The Town of High River Alberta was hit with a disaster last week when the rains of southern Alberta initiated massive flooding throughout the area.  Ever since the state of emergency was declared, they have been failing to handle the situation.

Instead of working together with the community, instead of fostering goodwill towards each other, they are abusing their new found fiefdom and threatening others who challenge their dominion.   The town is rotting away, both physically and emotionally.  Over 10,000 people are displaced from their homes for more than a week now, while their homes are invaded and their possessions robbed by the very people claiming to have their ‘best interests in mind’, the very people who are ‘keeping them safe’.

Rulers of High River, please see through your concerns for liability, your concerns for job descriptions, your concerns about making mistakes and let the people of the town join together and restore their neighbourhoods, restore their community and restore their sense of security.

Mitchell Field Outdoor Swimming Pool Modified Schedule Week of June 24-28

The outdoor swimming pools in Toronto are open!  It is that time of year, when many of the outdoor swimming pools in Toronto are opening for the summer.  It is also that confusing week when it is hard to know when the pools are actually open, since they operate under a ‘modified schedule‘.  Why’s that?  Well, most of the staff for the pools come from students who aren’t yet available for a regular work schedule and/or their expected clientele are otherwise occupied in-doors in said schools.

That said, I thought I’d share the schedule for Mitchell Field Community Centre pool since the website listing is incorrect (has it has been the last two years), and the city has not been helpful in the past to post the correct one online.

Monday June 24, Tuesday June 25, Wed June 26, Thursday June 27, and Friday June 28 the pool will be open daily for 4pm to 6:55pm.  That’s right folks, no break from 4:30 to 5 which is our fav time to swim!

After this week, so starting on the 29th of June, the pool will run on its regular schedule — which I believe to be 12-4:25pm and 5pm-6:55pm on weekdays.  The website is saying it is from 11am, and not 12, and on weekends it is staying it doesn’t open until 1pm but we’ll have to wait until next week to actually get that confirmed I think.

If you are unfamiliar with Mitchell Field’s pool here in Willowdale, North York (address 89 Church St – enter through the CC, not the Arena), it is a small pool, with a very gradual incline and a maximum depth of 1.2meters (4ft 6″) or so, this makes it a great choice for the smaller kids as many of the older kids in the neighbourhood will make the trek up to Goulding Park, or if they want to pay the couple bucks and be super crowded they’ll do the afternoon swim at Douglas Snow (of note: this week it is closed and will re-open after Canada Day I believe).  Be warned, later in the season the 5-7 swim can get a tad chilly as the pool itself is in the shade that time of day.

Remembering Mr. George Duckett

Today marks the one year ‘death day’ of my friend Mr. George Duckett (1930-2012).  I’d like to share with you a letter I wrote to his kind widow this past winter after I had learned of his passing.

Dear Mrs. Duckett,

My name is Chris Nolan.  You don’t know me, but I knew your husband from the Douglas Snow swimming pool.  I was very sorry to learn of his passing, and wanted to tell you I’ll miss him.

For the past six years I’ve been taking my children to the pre-school swim Wednesday mornings, which is the same time as the senior swim.  Mr. Duckett’s regular locker was across the aisle from ours, and we would chat as we were getting changed (the kids take a long time to get ready, and he was no speed demon himself).  I used to look forward to his stories he’d tell: of his youth near the coast, of his time working on boats, his travels around Australia, his siblings back home, your trip to Hawaii when your kids were small, your grand kids both near and far, and many more.   The elf and Santa craft he made for the kids one Christmas still sit on a shelf in their bedroom keeping watch over them.

I regret not making an effort to keep in touch when he took his break from swimming last year for his hip surgery, and then during the summer the senior swim doesn’t run, and then Douglas Snow was closed for renovations in the fall, only to re-open last month.   Some of the other gentlemen asked after him, and I tried to tell myself he just didn’t know the pool had reopened yet, but I finally braced myself and looked online only to learn of his death this past summer.

I didn’t want to reopen any wounds by sending such belated condolences, but I did want to tell you of our time together, and that I’ll be keeping “Papa Duck”‘s memory alive with my kids too.

If you are the operator of a motor vehicle, please remember it is a powerful machine that requires vigilance.

Six Year Old completes 25km Ride for Heart

Ride For HeartMy wife and six-year-old son today rode in the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Ride for Heart.  My wife’s father passed from a heart attack a long time ago.

Overall the organizing had more than 13,000 riders and raised over $5.5 million today.

Jen raised $235, and my son raised $130.  Thank you to our friends and family who supported them in this adventure (looks like the website is still taking pledges? hint hint)

My son had been looking forward to it for months and he exceeded our expectations in completing the trip in 2 hours 20 minutes (avg Speed 11km/h).  Route mapping done via the MotionX-GPS app.

Update for 2014: Here is their fundraising link for this year’s ride.

Hyper Realistic Sculpture

Today I was introduced to the realm of ‘Hyper Realistic Sculpture’.  Demilked recently shared a new sculpture by Ron Mueck, which led me to look at a bunch of his previous works.  Doing that led me to the human-animal hybrids of Patricia Piccinini, which reminded me of some of the characters in Jeff Lemire‘s Sweet Tooth.  I’ve since looked at a bunch of other works by artists such as Evan Penny, Carole A. Feuerman and more.  If you have some time, browse around some of this work, and if you are lucky enough find some on exhibit near you.

What is still sticking with me about the Ron Mueck work, is the different scales.  He has very large ones, and very small ones too.  Wow.  To see more of the way he works, check out the site of photographer Gautier Deblonde who works with the artist in documenting his process and his installations.

Scale of the Universe and Powers of 10 resources

The concept of the scale of the universe has come up multiple times with my kids, and our friends, so I thought I’d put together a few links and resources we’ve used.

There is the ‘classic’ video (film-strip style) from the Eames Office, Powers of Ten and now with its accompanying website.

There is the superb flash animation: Scale of the Universe 2 by Cary Huang and Michael Huang (the (at the time) 14-year-old htwins).  [Hmmm… embedding it doesn’t work, sorry]

There is The Known Universe by American Museum of Natural History, which you can interact with via their Digital Universe 3D Atlas software (powered by Partiview) and presented by one of the makers at TED (Carter Emmart).

If you want to just think about really big numbers too, check out Numberphile‘s video of Googols and Googolplexs.

Minority Report style UI getting closer with greenhouse

This morning I watched John Underkoffler‘s Pointing to the Future of UI Ted Talk where he discusses some of the design he did for Steven Speilberg’s Minority Report via the MIT Media Lab and where they’ve taken it since.  The talk was two years old and he said in 5 years it would be pervasive so I wanted to check quickly where things might be.
I saw he is now Chief Scientist with oblong industries inc where they have a few products available being used by Big Business.  More interesting for the pervasive factor is their greenhouse api they have available.  It is set up to use multiple displays (be it large tvs, desktop monitors, laptops or tablets etc), a spatial interface using motion style devices like the Kinect, WII remotes, iPhones or the upcoming Leap Motion device, and your imagination (combined with some coding talent) to turn any room into a large digital play space.
Will be interesting to see where it leads.

Peregrine Falcon chased a Canadian Goose

Wanted to share a sighting of the peregrines at Mel Lastman Square today.  One of them was chasing a canadian goose through the air down the middle of the square!  It was wild.  He chased him east, then down south around to North York Blvd between the Transamerica building and the board of education building.  The bird appeared a minute or two later again so I suspect they didn’t capture it, but it was fancy to see.

My kids and I watched for 30 minutes or so, and one bird perched on the lights on the north side of the transamerica building (third pillar over, and on the right), and was joined by the other after 10 minutes or so, 5 pot lights away.  Another 10 minutes or so passed and the first bird climbed along the ledge, and then squeezed behind a light and I never saw it come out from that spot.  Made me wonder if a nest might be back there?

400 Documentaries Hand-Picked to Change the World

Get your Docs Fix

Looking for some great documentary films or series?  Films for Change as released their Wall of Films, 400 Documentaries Hand-Picked to Change the World.  Recently I also came across TopDocumentaryFilms which categories a lot of the available content out there.  If you are looking for more lecture style video, stop over at The Great Courses by the Teaching Company.

What are your favourites?  Over a decade ago I saw Spellbound, which really captivated me.  And back in highschool Mr. Cox showed us Sir Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation.  These days we’ve been watching a lot of David Attenbourgh’s BBC Bristol Nature series.