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We Remember

The Tiananmen Square Massacre happened twenty-five years ago.

Even today, the Communist Party of China forbids discussion of the event and censors information about it. They’ve succeeded to the extent that younger Chinese have no idea what really happened.

As tragic as that is, we will remember all the students who put themselves into harm’s way to make things better. Someday the dreams of the students will come to pass and China will again know what happened.

In the meantime, we will remember for them.

Post office

This is one of my favourite buildings in Niagara Falls:

4M6C2259.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 24–105mm 1:4L @ 28mm, 1/200, f/8, 100 ISO

4M6C2259.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 24 – 105mm 1:4L @ 28mm, 1/200, f/8, 100 ISO

It’s certainly seen better days and I can’t imagine that it’s salvageable. Even if it could be repaired, I can’t imagine anyone is willing to pay for the required work.

Construction of the building began in 1883 and it opened in 1885 to serve as a post office and customs building. Located on the north-east corner of Clifton (now Zimmerman) Avenue and Park Street, it’s ideally located to serve both purposes as it was two blocks from the Canadian end of the Suspension Bridge at the Whirlpool Rapids (in the same location as the current Whirlpool Rapids Bridge), and in the centre of what was the downtown business district at the time. To put this timeframe into perspective, 1885 was also the year the city replaced the oil street lamps with electric lights.

In 1927 a fire in the building led to the customs headquarters moving elsewhere. When the post office moved to its current location on Queen Street in 1931, this building was renovated to again house the customs headquarters. After the customs headquarters moved in 1952, the structure was vacant for a time until the City of Niagara Falls bought it and used it as the city police headquarters until 1978. In that same year, it was added to the Canadian Register of Historic Places. I have no idea what use was then made of the building though I do know it’s been unused for at least two decades.

It’s certainly possible that after being designated as a historic building, it was abandoned, which seems to me a very sad thing.

Information from:

Niagara Falls Canada: A History, William J. Holt, Ed., 1967

The Canadian Register of Historic Places, via Jeff…thanks!

Do, Re, Mi…

Have you ever wondered where the names for the notes come from? I mean the do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti labels. They don’t even seem to mean anything! Well, I stumbled upon the answer in the last book I read, Stuart Isacoff’s, Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization.

Isacoff writes:

The impulse to explore greater musical horizons demanded advances in technology. In the eleventh century, Guido of Arezzo, a monk, of Pomposa, introduced an important one. He gave names to the notes of the musical scale — by taking the first syllables of each half-line of a hymn to John the Baptist — and created a musical staff on which to notate them. (The lines “Ut queant laxis resonare floris” yielded ut [today we use do] and re; “Mira gestorum famuli tuorum” gave us mi and fa; “Solve pollufi labli reatum” resulted in sol and la.) A new literacy illuminated the musical landscape. Portraying music visually made its structures easier to grasp and to vary; it enabled choirboys to learn in a few days what had taken weeks, and gave singers and composers newfound freedom to experiment. Musicians could more easily pose the question: What if …?

You’ll note that the last note, ti, is missing. Wikipedia explains:

The seventh note was not part of the medieval hexachord and does not occur in this melody, and it was originally called si from “Sancte Ioannes”. In the nineteenth century, Sarah Glover, an English music teacher, renamed si to ti so that every syllable might begin with a different letter. But this proposition had had no impact on the usage of si in the countries where si was already in use (in Romance languages, there is no confusion between the sound si and the sound sol).

This answers the question, but for one thing. I’ve never known the fifth note as sol. It’s always been so. I didn’t mishear it because the Do-Re-Mi song defines so as “a needle pulling thread” and not the latin translation of “sun.”

It turns out that the song as not nearly as old as I thought. Rather than a centuries-old tune, it’s barely older than I am. Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers wrote the music and lyrics for their 1959 stage show, The Sound of Music. The Wikipedia entry for Do-Re-Mi notes,

So is an often-used alternate for the actual corresponding syllable in the solfège system, Sol.

And there, the trail ends. I’m still not sure why we often use so for sol, but that’s a small matter compared to all I’ve learned.

Oh, and the proper name for this note naming system is solfège. It comes from the Italian, via French, and is based on two of the notes, sol and fa. In fact, solfège is sometimes called the sol-fa system.


At one point, he clambered on to the rubble of what is now a mass grave and, with one arm around a fireman’s shoulders, addressed the crowd of rescue workers through a loud hailer.

He said: “I want you all to know that America today is on bended knee in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, and for the workers who work here, for the families who mourn.”

One fireman shouted from the back of the crowd: “We can’t hear you”. The President replied: “Well, I can hear you.”

As the laughter subsided, Mr Bush added: “I hear you, the rest of the world hears you and the people who knocked these building down will hear all of us soon.”

By Philip Delves Broughton
The Telegraph, “The Rest of the World Hears You
September 15, 2001

From the family of Neil Armstrong

Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong in the Lunar Module on the surface of the moon, July 20, 1969.

Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong in the Lunar Module on the surface of the moon, July 20, 1969.

We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.

He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.

As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.

Photo by Buzz Aldrin, courtesy NASA.

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