Hands Free

thumbsupI started a new experiment: a real-time story that will chronicle my attempt to reduce my daily keystrokes.

I’m doing it because on my doctor’s advice I’m supposed to give up typing for a while. My wrists and hands have a nasty case of RSI that has made it painful to keep up with my writing habit. Problem is, words are my business, my passion, and reducing their production isn’t exactly an option.

But it started me thinking: how much typing could I eliminate from my daily routine? How can I edit, publish and share my words without a keyboard? Everything I learn, I’ll share over at this liveblog. I encourage you to send me tips, tricks and sage advice as I figure this pain thing out.

Welcome to Hands Free.

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A Canadian in Mexico

Photos, video and liveblogging from my trip to Mexico City to train journalists to cover news in real time.

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Bikes and burritos in San Fran

This story was originally published by Dandyhorse, a Toronto bike mag I help edit.

When my boss told me I could tack a few vacation days onto the tail end of a work trip to California, the first thing I thought about were those infamously steep San Francisco hills. My calves whimpered in protest. But, oh yes, I would conquer them.

San Francisco is a pretty small city, stretching only 11 km from coast to coast and 11 km from the northern tip to the southern city limits. I was able to cross a bunch of landmarks off my list during one afternoon ride. I rented a bike ($30/day) at the Fisherman’s Wharf farmers’ market, scooted over to Chinatown (one of the largest in the world) and cruised over the Golden Gate Bridge and back. Biking the bridge was a bit nerve-wracking, considering you’re sharing a narrow strip of pavement with other cyclists and wandering pedestrians, but once in a while you catch a tourist-free patch and you’re sailing.

This city has more to offer cyclists than tourist traps, of course. I asked a few commuter types how they tackle those insane hills, and most told me that they are able to plan routes that skip the worst parts. And when they can’t avoid them, bike lanes, dedicated merge markings and generally wider streets make it easy for cyclists to trundle uphill without worrying about traffic running over the slower folk.

A state culture that values sustainability creates lots of opportunities for cyclists. I spent some time in Berkeley, where the massive student population is served by a wide network of lanes, sharrows and lights specifically for cyclists. I especially liked that free 24-hour indoor parking is available to residents and students.

Further south in Mountain View, Google’s massive headquarters has plenty of bike racks for employees, but it’s also littered with primary-coloured mini bikes for employees to travel from lot to lot.

Back in San Fran, one of the most drool-worthy cyclist features I found is one you can’t see at all. City planners have implemented a “green wave” into a popular stretch of San Fran along Valencia Street. Picture 10 carefully timed lights that allow riders to maintain a reasonable clip without stopping. The wave cuts through the city’s Mission District, home to some of the world’s best burritos (I spotted a few bike stickers that measured fuel in burritos per mile). Valencia St. is home to an up-and-coming neighbourhood with plenty of hip shops and bike stores, and some business owners I spoke with praise the wave for bringing extra traffic to their strip. Almost as impressive, cars are parked in the middle of the road so cyclists can avoid the painful door prize that accompanies a carelessly opened car door.

Infrastructure is key to creating a harmonious relationship between modes of transportation. California state law requires motorists to yield to pedestrians. And that attitude extends toward cyclists as well; I had a few drivers yield me their right-of-way rather than force me to stop on steep hills. Are you taking notes, Toronto?

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Bring it On: The Musical

You either fall or you’re flying.

Those wise words were belted out by the head cheerleader in Bring it On: The Musical, which opened this week at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre. It could be a metaphor expect she means it literally. This show has plenty of flying.

Read the rest of my review over at Mooney On Theatre 

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Icycle 2012

story and photos by Dana Lacey Originally posted by Dandyhorse.

Ice bike racing is part of Toronto’s rich cycling history. Going on something like 18 years now, the ice bike race – now known as Icycle – is the most anticipated cycling event of the season. It all started on the Toronto Islands (naturally, a car-free paradise of cycling savvy citizens) when a group of people decided to build a track on a frozen lagoon near Algonquin Island. Here’s a great photo of that original ice wall at one end of the track from Jet Fuel‘s Flickr stream. Legend has it that someone fell through the ice and parks officials put an end to the ice bike races on the lagoon.

So nowadays the ice bike race happens on the much safer Dufferin Grove skating rink. And on the night of February 18,  a large crowd of cyclists, having stuck hundreds of little screws into their tires, spent several hours racing in circles and falling on their asses. Welcome to Icycle. Continue reading

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Know Love book launch


Just in times for V-day, Toronto artist Elicser Elliott (the man behind the badass typewriter painting on top of my blog) launched an illustrated book called Know Love, a look at love as kids see it. Here’s a few flicks I took at the launch last Friday.

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The Play’s The Thing


Famous playwright Sandor Turai has just overheard his nephew’s fiancée cavorting with another man. So has his nephew. This isn’t good for business, since Turai’s nephew composes the sugar-coated melodies that accompany his words on stage. In other words, the playwright has a vested interest in keeping his composer happy.

So, as any reasonably vain man would do, he concocts a plan to save his nephew’s upcoming nuptials with his playwrightfulness. The task: incorporate the cheating pair’s pillow talk to help float a story that the affair was merely rehearsal for an ancient French play that nobody had heard of that would be performed that very night. And so truth becomes a lie and lies become truth. Still with me?
Continue reading

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