Cancer – good for your stats

Cancer is a horrible, horrible disease but it seems that one recent cancer-related news story has driven a considerable amount of extra traffic here.

It was announced on Tuesday that Jade Goody has cervical cancer. This is a sad state of affairs even if I do think that Jade makes a pretty worthless “celebrity”. It’s unfortunate that she’s had this diagnosis and I honestly hope that she’s able to beat it.

So, why has this story suddenly driven extra visitors here? Well, I happened to mention a certain Ms Goody in a post around the time she was in Big Brother. I also used such intellectual words as “naked” and “tits” in posts around the same time, and so I started to get hits from people looking for images of a certain (very) minor celebrity displaying her nether-regions and other such rude things. I then made the matter worse by creating a post called “Jade Goody Free Naked Pics” where I complained about this unfortunate happenstance.

Since then Google has been serving my site with visitors interested in seeing Jade Goody sans clothing. It’s by largest key phrase for search engine hits and highly inaccurate. I don’t have any naked pictures of the young lady and I really don’t want any.

The upstick of this whole search débâcle is that I ended up with nearly twice my normal number of visitors yesterday – 159 up from 89 the previous day. I’m not saying that these are “quality” visitors, in that they’re really not going to see Jade’s kebab or anything, but its always nice to see that peak in the stats graph.

There are a couple of things that I find a little disturbing about this. Firstly, the new breaks that Jade has cancer and the first thing that goes through some people’s minds is to seek out naked pictures of her. How messed up is that? I’m also a little distressed, but not surprised, to see that The Sun newspaper seemed to think that Jade’s diagnosis is the most important news of the day, inserting “Jade Has Cancer” in huge letters across its front page. It’s sad news, especially for her and her family, but it’s certainly not the most important thing happening in the world at the moment.

Anyway, I hope she recovers. I hope that anyone with cancer is able to beat the disease.


I miss Toronto

We built this city

Originally uploaded by rutty.

Now that I’m really starting to get into photography I’m finding that I’m thinking back over all places that I’ve been that I’d love to go back and photograph. Right at the top of this list is Toronto.

I’ve got other more compelling reasons to visit – my sister does live there after all – but I really, really want to head back there with my 400D. My old Kodak was OK, but it really didn’t do some of the architecture there any justice at all.

Toronto is one of those new cities. It’s got hardly any ancient history. It has one castle, and that’s really just a large, posh house that’s not even 100 years old. And yet it’s these new buidings, these huge, skyscrapers and condominiums that I want to go back and see.

I love big, bold statements. Don’t get me wrong, subtlety is great and I love that too, but it’s the variety and beauty and sheer size of some of Toronto’s newer buildings that appeals to me. I bloody love them!

I was looking through my old photos and found this one of some rather splendid buildings in Toronto. As I’ve been using the GIMP a lot recently I decided to have a go at converting this one into black and white.

It turns out that my old Kodak Z740 really doesn’t like having the contrast upped on it’s pictures. As soon as I moved the slider I could see loads of noise creeping in. No problem at all though, I just kept on sliding until I got this surreal image. It looks like some sort of space ship!

It looks like I won’t get the chance to go back this year, but I’ll do my level best to get over there in 2008. I’d better make sure that I’ve got a couple of spare memory cards when I do go then…

Strippers at last (kind of)

Ooooh la la

Originally uploaded by rutty.

It’s sad, but I’m back in the UK. Not that it’s bad to be back here but I’ve really enjoyed my time in Toronto. I’ll miss everyone, not least my sister and nieces, but I’m sure that I’ll be back (hopefully with some saucy company!) in the not too distant future.

At least I got to see some pole-dancers before I left, as can be seen by the racy photo on the right over there. OK, so they’re not real but that’s the best I could do – Jilly’s was off limits, and let’s face it I’ve no need for such things at the moment anyway (sorry to disappoint you HJ).

The exotic dancers in question are actually part of the Henry Moore exhibit in the Art Gallery of Ontario. It’s a bit strange but they’re pasted all over the walls in the gallery where Moore’s sculpures are displayed. I’m not sure if this is temporary while the AGO undergoes it’s transformation but it seems a strange juxtaposition.

The AGO is short of displays at the moment but the new building looks like it’s going to be amazing and it’s still worth a visit even now.

Anyway, farewell for now Toronto and I’ll be seeing you again soon.

Niagara Falls

Water, water

Originally uploaded by rutty.

How bloody impressive are the Niagara Falls eh?

This was my second visit there but the Falls still took my breath away. The first time I went was in January a few years ago and as the river was frozen over the Maid of the Mist wasn’t running. This time we boarded the famous Falls tourist attraction that takes you right up to the base of the larger, Canadian waterfall.

We were drenched, but standing on the deck of the boat at the base of the falls is absolutely spectacular. The sheer force of the water becomes all too apparent when you’re right underneath it. If you ever go to Niagara Falls the you really have to do this.

The American side is a little boring in comparison but still impressive. The yanks must be a little upset that the bigger, and most spectacular, waterfall is in Canada.

We weren’t too lucky with the weather. We’ve been here nearly two weeks now and this has been the only day where the sun didn’t come out. Even more galling was the fact that the sun peeked out while we were on the coach heading back to Toronto, so none of my Niagara photos show much blue sky at all.

I fly back tomorrow too so Flickr can start breathing more easily after the strain I’ve placed on their servers with my increased uploading. I’ve taken over 600 photos so far and uploaded about 170 or so of those. Hurrah for digital cameras!

Special Russian Sauce

The food here in Toronto is pretty good. Well, as good as you’d expect in a big city. There are plenty of decent places to eat and we’ve tried a few while we’ve been here.

One place we found by accident was What A Bagel on Yonge. We decided to have breakfast here one day and it was delicious, so as we were in the same area yesterday we revisited.

I had one of the specials – a 6oz steak with potatoes, two eggs, some other bits and pieces and what was described as “Our Special Russian Sauce”. The sauce looked interesting in it’s little pot on the side of the plate – a nice dark brown colour – so I dipped a piece of steak in it (which was really delicious) and tasted it.

I said to my girlfriend that I thought it tasted just like HP Sauce and she replied that I was correct – she’d watched the chef squirt it into the pot from behind the counter. I turned round, and there it was – a large bottle of not Russian at all HP Sauce, complete with it’s image of the Houses of Parliament on the label.

Never mind, it kind of suited my breakfast.

The Islands

Centre Island

Originally uploaded by rutty.

Yesterday was a family day, so we were still lacking a visit to one of those dodgy bars with pictures of racy ladies outside. Maybe tomorrow.

Instead of a strip joint we took the kids to The Centre Island, one of the 14 islands that stretch out into Lake Ontario. It’s a short ferry ride to the dock of the island during which we get some spectacular views back towards the city. It was a little hazy so the pictures I took didn’t look so great, but I already have some of that view from last year. No biggie.

The islands are great for kids. There’s loads of park space and a couple of playgrounds plus stretches of sandy beaches too. My nieces had a great time while we had a picnic before pushing other kids off their favourite part of the climbing frame in the playground.

My girlfriend and I disappeared off on a tour around the island for 45 minutes where we were driven past the “clothing optional” beach. I was tempted to stop but I didn’t want the other guys there to feel too inadequate. Sadly several grassy banks prevented us from viewing the tanning lovelies but I did get to see some fat bloke wearing a skimpy white thong. Which was nice.

Tour finished, we headed off for a walk around the boardwalk and an over-prices ice-cream before catching the ferry home. We all really enjoyed it.

Today was spent walking around down-town drinking the occasion beer and watching the football (Spain were lucky, though looked pretty decent in stretches).

Tomorrow is party time at the Duke of Gloucester where we have tickets to watch the England game with other rowdy footy fans.

More culture (no strippers – sorry)

CN Tower

Originally uploaded by rutty.

Yesterday saw us avoiding houses of ill-repute and visiting places of Canadian Culture – the CN Tower and Hard Rock Cafe (twice).

No visit to Toronto could ever be complete without a tour of the CN Tower. It’s my favourite building anywhere and it’s a truly fantastic place to visit. The view from the top is absolutely breath-taking.

Below the CN Tower is the Rogers Centre. This used to be called the Skydome until Rogers took it over a couple of years ago. The Toronto Blue Jays baseball team play here and we saw some of them practising while we ate in the Hard Rock Cafe there at lunchtime. It’s a big stadium and it was a shame that the roof was shut – it’s rather impressive when it’s open.

Oddly enough we went out with my sister and her husband in the evening and ended up in the other Hard Rock Cafe – the one on Yonge. There were quantities of alcohol consumed, but not as much as today.

Obviously England were playing today and we had tickets to a local bar to watch the game with fellow supporters. It was a good laugh and CityTV were there filming for some news segment or something – there’s a slight chance that my ugly mug may have been shown on local TV!

The game was incredibly frustrating. England had so much possession and yet failed to do anything significant with it until the last ten minutes. The introduction of Aaron Lennon seemed to have the biggest impact – Rooney had a big cheer but I think that Lennon did the most damage. England will need to play better than that if they want to win the world cup.

We have tickets for the Sweden game too, irrelevant as it is to qualification to the next round. I don’t care if we play Germany or Equador. we’re already through and we’ll have to beat some better teams to take home the trophy.