Friday, June 17, 2016

Long day - and what makes a million

I suppose many of my days are long, even at the new gig which usually lets me go home at a usual hour.  In any case, I had a meeting Thurs. morning at 9 sharp, so I made my way to the bus stop a bit early.  (I had originally been told it would rain Thurs., but the rain actually came earlier on Wed. (just as I was crossing the river on my bike incidentally).)  The transit app said the bus would be there in 3 minutes, which wasn't too bad, but I think they must have cancelled a bus, since it clearly ended up being 12-13 minutes.  I am getting really annoyed at the unpredictability of the Pape bus, even though I know it is still better service than the Jones bus, for example.  I ended up being 2 minutes late to the meeting, but there was a delayed start, so I didn't miss anything of any importance, and for once I didn't totally lose my cool over the transit snafus.  It might have helped that it really was a pleasant morning, weather-wise.  (Today looks about the same, and I think I will bike to work, even though I have another late night out, and will have to risk biking home after dark.  I will take a couple of tokens in case I end up leaving the bike at work.)

The meeting went fairly well, though this is a case where I was glad I wasn't the consultant, as the feedback we provided will change their results considerably.  Just in general, I have been appreciating no longer being a consultant, though it is also because I see the bigger picture as I am reviewing a wide variety of work done by a number of consultants.

I didn't have a lot of time between this meeting and then one over on Spadina.  I left a bit early, since I wanted to go to a bagel place I used to occasionally frequent.  I have to say it was a bit of a disappointment.  They've reconfigured the place to give more priority to food couriers and the cashier's line was a mess.  Also, they messed up my order, and the sandwich included onions.  Not a lot, but certainly more than zero, which was what I had requested.  In a sense, this makes it easier to move on, since I am a lot less likely to want to eat there again (or the Manchu Wok in Metro Hall, which has failed its health inspection a couple of times now -- yikes!).  I even had some issues with dinner at Freshii, where they have changed the flavour of one of their burrito/wraps, and I like it much less now.  I am really hoping that Union Station opens up its food court again, since the options nearby feel extremely limited.  Though I just need to buckle down and start bringing my lunch more often.

I had a little time left before the meeting, so I wandered over to Prefix Institute on 401 Richmond to see their Rodney Graham exhibit.  I have to admit, it was a let down.  There were only three of his oversized photos on display.  Not worth the trip on its own, though the 401 Richmond Building has quite a few other art galleries and art just hung in various places.  There were quite a few large scale photos by the activist-art duo Condé + Beveridge (see their site here).  They have several photos that focus on the ills of global warming and nuclear power.  I think of all the photos, this was my favourite:

Condé + Beveridge, The Plague, 2009

It appears the various installations will be up though June 25, so it is worth running over if you have a chance.

I also ran into a small gallery called The Red Head Gallery, which was featuring art by Ian Mackay.  I particularly liked this piece, though several others were nice.  In person, I picked up some echoes or hints of Philip Guston, in part the pinks (though he usually combined pinks, darker pinks and reds) but also the soft forms.  Looking at it on-line, the color palette seems just a bit closer to Kandinsky, but the painting is far more static and sedate than a Kandinsky abstract.

(This exhibit closes Saturday, so only a very short time left to see the paintings.)

Ian Mackay, Short Squeeze, 2016

Then I ran over to my 3+ hour meeting.  It was a struggle but I spent the time listening and not interjecting, since I really was supposed to be an observer.

I still had some time to kill before the concert, so I went back to work (grabbing the disappointing burrito along the way).  I didn't really manage to get a lot done, but it was (perhaps) better than just hanging out outside Roy Thompson Hall.  One public group has pointed out how few places there are to just sit outside in Toronto, and that felt very real to me today.

I was bored by the first piece on the program -- a modern piece supposedly reflecting the musicscape of the city.  It was better than an Unsuk Chin piece, but that's not saying much.  The Beethoven Piano Concerto #3 was played very well by Yefim Bronfman, but I just don't think as highly of this as #4 or of course #5.  I don't know quite why I am so cranky about it, but I am starting to think that Peter Oundjian is an incurable ham that just milks the applause.

Anyway, somewhat incredibly, the family next to me didn't come back after the intermission, so I could stretch my legs a bit, which was nice.  I thought they did a very nice job on Beethoven's 3rd Symphony.  I suppose it is shallow of me, but I really only go out of my way to hear Beethoven's 3rd, 5th and 7th Symphonies.  I find the 9th too exhausting to attend more than once every 5 years.  I probably am due to see the 7th soon.  (It looks like the TSO will be doing it March 2017.  I'll have to see if I already ordered tickets.)

During the interminable applause, I started asking myself if I had seen a million faces of strangers.  Given that I take a lot of public transport and in New York and Toronto I was near transit hubs, where I easily would see 100-200 faces a day (and just as many in Vancouver/Burnaby), though maybe more like 75 in Chicago, I assume I have gotten to that number.  Now this is not the same as seeing a million unique people, though given that I have switched cities so many times in my life, it is more plausible for me than for others who are more rooted.  The rough calculations look like 80 people per workday (and Saturday since I usually am out and about) equals 24,000 people per year, and 30 years or so of working life makes 720,000.  In fact, I think I am grossly underestimating the number of people I have seen, but it is true I saw fewer people in Cambridge for instance, and in general I see fewer people when I bike to work.  If I haven't actually seen a million strange faces (and again there may be considerable duplication of people on transit, though I do leave at different times), I am probably well on my way.

Then I was wondering if I had read a million words (almost certainly) or a million pages, which is less certain.  Over my life (say starting from 16), I've probably averaged 75 books per year (again a somewhat conservative estimate), which is 2250 books.  It is so hard to say what the average might be, but probably around 250 pages.  That would make 562,500 pages, though I do think it is a conservative estimate.  (That's well over 100 million words!  And not counting internet browsing!)  If I keep up the pace, I would hit 1 million pages by 75 (and something on the order of 1 million minutes spent reading), though I would certainly expect to be reading almost twice as much as I do now when I enter into retirement or a phased retirement.  (I'm sure some people have watched a million minutes worth of movies or certainly of television, though I am probably not in either group.)  So like everything, it all adds up.  Unfortunately, I am a bit late, and it is now time for me to go back to accruing my minutes at work.

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