Tag Archives: canada

Help for the Philippines

It’s already been about a month since Haiyan devastated the Philippines, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. All of them need all of our help.

If you’re in Canada, you can donate to the Red Cross by clicking here. Anything helps. Let’s make this holiday season a better one for our fellow beings.


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Signs vs. symbols

It’s elementary semiotics: signs are universally acknowledged whereas symbols are more personal, societal. Feel free to use any adjective denoting subjectivity.

Graphic design is the practice of perpetually crafting symbols to represent a business, company, association or product. The eventuality that the symbol becomes a universal sign is circumstance, luck and above all, good design. It is the combination of all three that comprises the recipe for graphic design immortality and one example comes to mind: Milton Glaser.

Milton Glaser is the graphic designer behind the I Heart NY graphic that can be found at all the tourist shops in New York City. The simplicity of the graphic has made it a sign that has inspired many copycats to, well, copy and reinterpret Glaser’s work with the American Typewriter typeface, my personal favourite.

The red heart on Glaser’s graphic has been adapted to a maple leaf, in the case for Toronto, the Apple sign for the Apple Store in (irony!) New York City, a clover for Ireland and the list goes on. I think collecting all of the ‘tributes’ to Milton Glaser’s clean and simple work would make for a great book, if there is not one already in print. Taschen, I called this one.

It still boggles my mind how low of a priority graphic design is for organizations, yet we admire branding that has become an everyday presence among us. (Apple, anyone? or Nike’s swoosh?) Graphic designers are the unsung heroes of commerce and individuals working in business should realize that there is more to graphic design than font size and typefaces; creativity and vision are also very important.

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A weekend taste of architecture: on Mies Van Der Rohe


Just in time for the Toronto Open Doors event this weekend, Mies Van Der Rohe’s contribution to the city’s architecture and landscape should be pointed out. His design for the TD Centre in the financial district goes beyond the obvious external structure of majestic edifice.

Complimentary to the simplicity and clarity Van Der Rohe’s’ work on the exterior, and much to the delight of graphic designers and typography geeks all around, signage used in the TD Centre’s concourse has the font that the German-born American architect designed. The signage consists of white backlit letters encased in black aluminum panels and was mandatory for all the businesses until 2007.

The TD Centre is one architectural gem that Toronto has and I bet that there will not be three-hour lineups for it, like the Don Jail. It is a public space for everyone to enjoy all-year round. No reservations necessary.

For now, please enjoy the documentary above. Parts 2-7 are up on YouTube for your perusal.

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Think gold. Please and thank you.

With all due respect, gentlemen, there is no traffic in Toronto and you have to deliver. Please and thank you. People have dropped whatever they need to do for this week.  The children are wearing the colours of our flag.  To Mr. Crosby and team, we will be watching and cheering for the maple leaf from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Great Lakes to the Arctic.  Go, Canada, go! Please and thank you.

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Found: Digital Camera at Christie Pits

In the spirit of the season and also becauseI am an honest person, I am posting to find out how effective the internet is.

I found a camera on the ground at Christie Pits.  It was a cold day full of walking around in the cold, hungry and then there was this black holster that I thought would be empty.  Now, I have lost a camera before in Berlin.  I am pretty analog regarding, camera-wise, and my camera had a whole roll of my brief stay in Hamburg and Berlin until the time of said camera loss.

If you know anyone who is in town, on an American-Canadian tour, of Asian descent (as seen in the photos in camera’s memory), please let me know.

If you recognize the dog above and name a couple of cities that you visited and recorded digitally, please let me know.

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Yet another lamentation about TTC

I live in a bedroom community 20 minutes outside of the Toronto city centre.  ‘Minutes’ as a term has a lot of conditions like, if the Route 81 bus is coordinated with the eastbound train’s arrival, and if the train is on time, assuming that there are no delays, and if it is a weekday.  In short, it is a pocket of people whose connection to their livelihoods and their jobs and what we call ‘city life’ is through public transportation.

Public transportation is supposed to be a mobility device for people with destinations without the stress of driving and finding a parking space nor the stress of trying to avoid honking drivers as you bike on Bloor during rush hour.  When did buses become mobile theatres of humiliation and anguish from both the passenger’s and the driver’s sides?

As I board the bus from Pape station, the expected looks of exhaustion fatigue are dime a dozen.  People who should already be asleep at this hour (10 p.m.) are forced to stand up in the aisles because there are no more seats available.  This tells me two things: these passengers are not the 9 to 5ers who probably have office jobs where they sit in front of a computer all day or they are 9 to 5ers who need to do overtime.  The TTC should have an idea about their clients, or commuters, right? Why are there about 40 people waiting for the same bus? Why do the buses come only every 12 minutes, and this is if they actually are on schedule?

The bus driver announces from behind the glass cage to which she has subjected herself, that the bus is not moving until the last boarding passengers get behind the thick white line.  Imagine your kindergarten teacher asking you very nicely to follow her instruction.  Ok.  Now imagine your kindergarten teacher asking you to do her bidding, in that tone, with you as an adult.  My reaction was disgust.

I think that part of training to work for the Toronto Transit Commission is interpersonal communication.  I realize that drivers probably go for a day without having genuine human contact.  This, however, should not be an excuse to have no sense of what is respectful and not condescending.

TTC employees should realize that they are not transporting people but services.  Everyone on that bus contributes their time to a portion of city life.  Such contributions might be so small that we do not know about them but nonetheless, they deserve respect.

On a lighter note, it is Remembrance Day in Canada.  I want to thank the Veterans who made this country as free as it is today.   This underappreciated freedom to vent is a privilege.  My sincerest gratitude.

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