Saturday, April 18, 2009

an unexpected view.

I'm almost halfway done my month in Toronto (testing people's hearts for all kinds of things), and I'm enjoying it a lot.

I work with good people at a great hospital.
I've been doing a lot of work on my own, which is great. (the upside to working at an understaffed place, I suppose).
Doing the actual testing is very easy - in doing the intepretations I'm finding out where I know it well and where I don't.

I've also got the chance to observe a lot of new things: working in various ICUs and post-ops as well as with outpatients, and there's many more things I'll be starting next week.

So far, so good.

And getting there has been fantastic.

I like the GO train a lot, and I was hoping it would prove consistent and workable.

And it's been great - fast, smooth, reliable and comfortable. It's well-surpassed my expectations.

And there's a bonus.

Every morning, I get to see the sun rise over the bay. The tracks curve around the bay and at the side of the train the ravine drops off, giving an unobstructed perspective on the bay and the water. Towers and factories rise in the distance, and the sun comes up blazing. It's been a while since I've seen the sun so strongly, no buildings or vehicles or anything in the foreground.

There was one day last week where it looked like the clouds were parchment, torn back by a mighty hand just to let the sun through. There was another where the sun hid behind an island, refusing to show itself but illuminating the water brilliantly. When I come back in the evening, I don't see much of the setting sun behind the other buildings, but the water's lit up like diamonds.

Perhaps before the end of the month I'll bring a camera. I'm no photographer, but some of these would be great to capture.

- There's more than one spot you'll find a single chair by a tree, overlooking the tracks.
- Waterfowl flying around the bay and red-winged blackbirds in the trees just outside the train.
- In Burlington, there's always people walking their dog along the manmade hills that serve as sound barriers between the tracks and the suburbs.
- There's a lot of great angles and lights along Hunter in the early morning walking to the station.
- And in Toronto, it's looking much more European in parts as scooter, motorcycle, bike and moped parking takes significant space now at Union and some of the side streets along Yonge. There's one street in particular where there's always a dozen or so lined up. We're not Firenze or Portland yet, but here's hoping ;) Though I still am thrilled that Hamilton's scaled much better than Toronto for that kind of thing and have seen several here as well.

On a somewhat-related note, the Nano (aka the $2000 car) has been in the news for a while now, and I think it's one of the scariest bits of news we've ever seen. 100,000 people have been selected by lottery to get the first shipment of Nanos, the rest will have to wait for theirs.

100,000 Nanos to start, and they're talking about selling 250,000 every year.

Jarod and I had this conversation a few minutes ago:

Me: "What happens when you get a nation of a billion people, most of whom don't drive, into cars?" (Yes, I know it's actually around 1.2 billion and only some can afford this car)
Jarod's: "You say goodbye to Mother Earth."

The reason the Western world can sustain this lifestyle is because it's the Western world - we're small in population, we have enormous amounts of land to sprawl on and forests to mitigate our emissions. But more than that, we make other countries who live nothing like us make a lot of our products and we ship out a lot of our waste out again. In short, we don't see the consequences and most of the world doesn't live like us.

And I'm not setting myself up as great here. I consume/produce just as much as most people.

Sure, I take the train now and I hope to get an electric car when/if we need one again, and we've located strategically for transportation and hope to buy strategically later for transportation. But that's a tiny part of my very-typical North American lifestyle, no matter how much I think I do ;)

But when you get a nation of that size moving into cities (about a third of the population now), gaining skilled jobs and becoming a rising consumer class who wants to live like the Western world, they certainly cannot be faulted for wanting convenience, status, speed. (Though given current gridlock problems I doubt speed will matter much). They're marketing this both to singles who want status and families who want to have cars. And cars are just the beginning. But over the long-term, I don't think we're going to like where this puts us environmentally.

It's paradigm-shiftin' time.

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