July 02, 2004

Restaurant: Boston Pizza

Ate lunch yesterday at Boston Pizza, with whom I have a love-hate relationship.

BP definitely has the best pizza out there right now. On the other hand, so many people seem to have bad experiences with it.

The Bad: Service tends to be slow - really slow. A while back, one of my friends found a dead fly in her salad. Not that this kind of thing doesn't happen once in a while, but it was very off putting! Also, the prices for pizza are a bit insane. $24 + tax and tip is pretty expensive for a large pizza. The personal pizzas are too small, though, and still cost $7 per piece. Pizza sizes are inconvenient, too. A large is too much for 2 people, but not enough for 3 hearty eaters.

The Good: The pizza is fantastic. The top is nicely browned and the meat is crispy. The toppings are first class as well. We got the meat-lovers pizza. It's all real meat, no kibble. It had slices of ham and thick slices of hot sausage. Interestingly, it had large quantities of minced beef in the sauce, which was delicious and a nice variation.

Boston Pizza
18195 Yonge Steet, Newmarket ON
L3Y 4V8
Phone: 905-953-0229
Fax: 905-953-4146

Posted by JAY at 07:12 AM

July 03, 2004

Movie: Fahrenheit 911

Tried to see this on Thursday, but we ended up walking out and getting a refund. Not because of the movie or anything, but because the sound cut out for about 10 minutes.

So a group of us (Eric, Rucell, Trev) went to see it today.

It was a deeply affecting movie, but I'm a bit unsatisfied with some of the inconclusive evidence that Moore uses to tie together his theory that Bush ignored Saudi links to terrorism to concentrate on oil in Iraq, partially because the Saudi's had provided Bush friends and family with billions of dollars.

It's not that I disbelieve his theory - more that I don't feel that he adequately proves it. I'm not a fan of the rhetorical questions, either. It seems that when people don't have enough evidence to prevent a charge of slander, they instead ask an insinuating question.

(An example of this: The Conservatives in the last election released a poster saying "[Liberal leader] Paul Martin Soft on Child Porn?" -- I mentioned to a friend that the Liberals should release a poster saying "[Conservative Leader] Stephen Harper: Dog Fucker? -- we're just asking!")

Moore does this several times, and it always draws attention to conclusions that aren't on solid enough ground to make a direct accusation. And there are the usual Moore antics (though not as many as Bowling for Columbine) where he chases after Congress members, trying to convince them to encourage their children to enlist in the army. More effectively, he follows two army recruiters as they try to enlist poor black men into the army.

At its funniest, candid footage of Bush quite scathingly shows him as an idiot with high connections. Bush's own speeches are damning - at a fundraiser he greets "important people", the "haves and the have-mores" ... "some people call you the elite -- I call you my base." The have-lesses would do well to consider who he represents when it is time to vote.

Emotional depictions of a mother's grief over the death of her enlisted son are moving, though anecdotal. Footage of soldiers' abuses in Iraq are troubling, but without evidence (or even claims) that the administration condoned such behaviour, they are irrelevant to Bush's motivations. (The argument used is that "immorality begets immorality", which is weak.)

Moore's depictions of a biased American media are persuasive. They include footage of the wounded and maimed that are usually ignored by the media in favor of fatalities. Linking the media, though plausible, to the Bush clan via family relations is a bit weak and done indirectly through rhetorical questions.

I do think that this documentary is an important bit of propaganda - it raises questions and issues that should be investigated. As always, it's the responsibility of the other side to provide an opposing viewpoint - something that they have not adequately done. It's also effectively filmed, mixing deep emotion with comedic moments. There's more to it than I discuss here. People should definitely see this one.

Posted by JAY at 11:36 AM

July 04, 2004

Dinner at Eric's

After the movie yesterday, I suggested that we get takeout and head back to Eric's house. My motives were pretty self-serving - I wanted to see Catherine and their new baby, Gabrielle. Trev suggested Cynthia's [review], so that's what we got. (More on the food in a different post.) We were joined by DaveB, since he had already seen the movie.

Enjoyed the company - discussed a wide range of topics, none of them serious. Dave and Eric kindly offered their assistance with my move next week, which I will likely gratefully take them up on. I thought I could do it myself, but a truck/trailer will make things much easier. Also watched Monsters Inc - I don't think Rucell was impressed. I sympathized (I'm iffy when it comes to CG movies) but did enjoy it. Fun times!

Gabrielle was the cutest thing, all impish smiles and tiny toes - and really well-behaved. Catherine assured us that she could wail when she wanted to. She mostely ate and slept, but took the time to try eating my hair (it was clean, I just washed it) and kicking Trevor. I offered to babysit shen she gets a bit older (read: toilet trained).

Posted by JAY at 01:15 AM

Restaurant: Cynthia's

Got take-out from Cynthia's Chinese Restaurant, the "higher end" chinese food restaurant in Newmarket. I'm not certain that their food qualifies them as high-end, though their service is. Prices are reasonable, though.

Service is exquisite and ambience is muted oriental when you dine-in at Cynthia's (we didn't today). It goes a long way to giving a high-class feel to an otherwise unspectacular, though pleasant, meal.

The "dim sum" ($2.75 x 2 for 6 pieces) appetizer (rather ungainly pork meatballs in a bean curd wrapper - inelegant shiu mai) was ordinary. The spring rolls (same price) were the same and crispness suffered somewhat from the moisture of transportation in a cardboard box.

Shrimp fried/special fried rice ($7 x 2 orders) was competent and tasty, though nothing special. It could have used more shrimp. Chicken satay ($11) and black pepper beef ($11) were good. Interestingly, you get bigger portions with the takeout than you do dining in.

Dai Dop Voi (Beef-Chicken-Shrimp-Scallops-Veggies, $10) was scant on the advertised seafood and had imitation crab in it (not conducive to high-class dining).

Finally, General Tso's Chicken ($11) was greasy and overly sweet - I couldn't really detect any chicken flavor under the sticky sauce and batter. Rucell liked it, though, and it's Dave's favorite dish.

Overall, though, it was reasonably priced at $75 (incl tax, no tip for takeout) for 6 people with a bit of leftovers. (Hmm, doing the math now, I realize that we all owe Eric/Catherine a couple bucks more... I'll have to buy them lunch some time.) However, as far as food quality goes, I'm not sure that Canaan Chinese Restaurant (a buffet, 404 - 1111 Davis Dr, Newmarket) isn't better value for about the same price (albeit zero atmosphere).

Cynthia's Chinese Restaurant
16715 Yonge St/Mulock
Newmarket
905-836-8113

Posted by JAY at 01:44 AM

July 06, 2004

Moving

Took the week off to move into my apartment.

I know, it shouldn't take that long, but I'm a bit picky... I've been painting and scrubbing the floors. The bedroom, in particular was what my sister referred to as a "beige cage". Everything was painted an awful orange-beige - the door, the trim, the baseboards, the closet door... and it doesn't have a window, so it was pretty dire.

We made it a refreshing light grey-blue, with bright white trim.

The main living area just got a slight adjustment to a nicer tan color. I was going to ask the landlord for the paint money, but then I realized that he might not like the fact that I replaced the scrubbable semi-gloss with beautiful, but easy to mar flat colors.

Posted by JAY at 09:46 PM

Hired Help

My sister has been great with helping me to move in/paint, etc. I'm "paying" her in food - she rarely eats in restaurants, so we've been going to some of them in town (Swiss Chalet, Golden Bell, Canaan).

Today we went to Canaan, a Chinese buffet. I proceeded to eat myself sick - I'm still dealing with the after-effects! I ended up eating 3 plates of food and 1 plate of desserts!

Posted by JAY at 09:50 PM

GMail

Sean has managed to procure a GMail account for me!

I'm so happy to be in on this beta (thanks Sean!), and plan on using it exclusively when I change ISPs. Hopefully, it'll be as robust and reliable as Google and GoogleGroups, the other tools that I use.

Preliminary looks show 2 immediate differences - the use of labels rather than folders being the most interesting. You can assign multiple user-defined labels to an email and view all messages with that label by clicking it in the sidebar. This seems to be more functional than folders - it's like being able to put mail in multiple folders.

The second difference is that there is a "thread"/conversation view as the default. Like newsgroups, where articles are grouped by thread, replies are stored in a tree-like view from the root email. Outlook has something like this (Click here to see related messages option), but it's not as convenient.

Posted by JAY at 10:25 PM

July 07, 2004

Emily

Remember when I said that relationships suck and I'm never going to have one?

Well, Emily's site has been taken down by her soon-to-be-ex-husband. While he's not obligated to host her website, taking it down with no notice is pretty sleazy. And he controls her email domain too, so we've no way of reaching her.

Update: Jason has put Emily's site is back up, but it will be moving.

A quick editorial note: Emily's ex has admitted to several bouts of cheating on different occasions. If she claims someone is "not a boyfriend", there's no reason to doubt her without evidence to the contrary.

If anyone knows where she's web-located, please leave it in the comments.

Posted by JAY at 08:29 PM

July 08, 2004

Happy Birthday

It's my sister's birthday today.

We don't really do a lot of present stuff - we mostly just eat. I made a roast beef dinner with the usual trimmings (the yorkshire puddings actually turned out well this time). My mother made a delicious berry-granola cheesecake.

The parents went strawberry picking to get the strawberries, and it's a very noticable difference in the quality that you get when you pick it fresh off the plant. They were much tastier raw, and even baked into the cheesecake you could taste the difference.

Posted by JAY at 10:02 PM

WebBrowser: Firefox

Migrated to Firefox yesterday.

So far, I like it a lot. It's slightly slower to load than IE, but has some nice functionality like tabbed browsing (which I used to use Opera for) and blocking popups.

However, it's killer feature for me is its ability to resize all text, especially CSS'd text, which is used extensively on MoveableType pages. IE ignores that totally. I run at 1600x1200 and sit pretty far back from the monitor. When websites use tiny text, I need it displayed larger so that I don't have to lean forward.

For some reason (ActiveX scripting?) some of my MoveableType editing features don't show up in Firefox, so I'll continue to use IE for entries.

Posted by JAY at 10:09 PM | Comments (1)

July 10, 2004

Still Moving

Still moving... Dave was on hand today to help me move my furniture in a U-Haul van. So now most of my furniture is at the new place. Then we took the van to Ikea to shop for some shelving. I ended up buying about $650 worth of shelves - the credit card bill is not going to be pleasant this month!

Incidentally, the U-Haul people have got to go out of business. They charge a per-hour and per-km rate for the van and yet my charge only came to $60 total. Strange. But I wasn't about to correct them, because when I asked if I could return the van early and get some money back (I reserved it for way too long) they said no. So I would have ended up paying for 7 hours when I only used it for 3. I feel slightly guilty, but not guilty enough to pay an extra hundred bucks.

Posted by JAY at 08:26 PM

Restaurant: Mexicanos

After Dave helped me move, we went to wander around Barrie's beaches (Lake Simcoe). We ended up getting dinner at a newly opened Mexican restaurant called Mexicanos. The experience felt very authentic, though I don't really know what constitutes Mexican cooking.

The new venture seems to be an arrangement of friends, who were hanging around in the dining room. The place is decorated in mexican style, with lots of vivid color and mexican tiles. They're not yet serving alcohol and couldn't accept anything but cash. We got a sampler combo for 2 ($23), and while there didn't seem to be much food, it did fill us up. Maybe the spiciness (though fairly mild) had something to do with that.

Quesadillas were fairly ordinary - melted cheese in a flour tortilla. Flautas, a deep fried small corn tortilla rolled around a filling of chicken were tasty and crunchy. Sopecitos, little corn tortillas with salsa, beans and cheese were also good. My favorite were the Enchiladas Verdes - large soft corn tortillas in green salsa with chicken and cheese.

Portions were a tad on the small side, though they seemed to be more satisfying than their size suggests. I was pretty hungry, too, having just moved all my furniture to the new apartment.

Worth checking out if you like Mexican food.

Mexicanos
53 Dunlop Street East
Barrie, ON
905-737-1053

Posted by JAY at 08:41 PM

July 11, 2004

First Night

Stayed in my new apartment this night for the first time. It's a bit of a sty right now because there are boxes all over the place. I don't have Internet access yet, so this is all going in a text file. The good side of a basement apartment is that though it's hot outside, it is quite cool in my apartment.

Posted by JAY at 08:04 PM

July 12, 2004

Pizza!

No, I didn't buy it. The parents dropped off some pizza last night. I had already eaten and cooked my lunch for the next day, so I wrapped the pizza and took it for lunch. I'll have the pizza tomorrow for lunch and the chicken that I cooked in a cream sauce for dinner instead.

The chicken was pretty bare - because I didn't have any spices at all!

It was basically chicken dredged in flour and fried in olive oil. Cream was added to make the sauce. Flavor was provided by an italian sausage that was fried with the chicken.

Posted by JAY at 11:05 PM

July 13, 2004

Spices and Supplies

It was a bit of a rush to buy the spices and veggies today, because I only left the apartment at 8:20pm and the mall closes at 9pm. The spices, from the Bulk Barn, were nice and cheap: $3 for curry, chili, cayenne, black pepper, oregano, thyme, bay leaves and rosemary.

Then it was a run to the Dollar Store where I bought a hammer to put my shelf together, a strainer and a pepper grinder (a really cheap plastic one). Then Zellers, where I bought a plastic cutting board. Finally, it was to Sears where I blew the budget: $100 for a beautiful Henckles chef knife.

Then I RAN to Loblaws across the intersection, where I bought some spinach and broccoli in the minutes before it closed. Whew!

Posted by JAY at 09:08 PM

First Meal: Curry


ith the supplies I bought I made enough curry to last for 3 days - the supplies cost a total of about $8. Yay! I've budgeted about $8 per day for food (not including eating out) so hopefully I'll be able to continue this trend.

It's a bit strange cooking on an electric stove - you can't really tell how hot the burner is until the food starts reacting to it. I originally started it out too hot and had to quickly switch burners and add the simmering liquid - canned chicken broth and a tiny bit of cream. It tastes great, though.

Posted by JAY at 11:40 PM

July 14, 2004

Oops

Forgot I was going to Richmond Hill office today, where I usually buy lunch. Oh well. The curry should keep in the fridge.

Posted by JAY at 07:12 AM

Leafy Stuff

PatD kindly gave me some lettuce from her garden and some romaine from a farmer she knows. When I got home I wasn't feeling for a full meal, so rather than eat left-over curry I wilted the lettuce with some olive oil, onions, garlic and chili. Mmm. Very tasty. I think she might have slugs though. I found several as I washed the leaves.

Posted by JAY at 05:15 PM

July 15, 2004

Attempted Murder

My pepper grinder just tried to kill me. As I was eating my lettuce I crunched down on what I thought was a rock (though I washed the leaves pretty carefully). It was a wickedly sharp screw that had came out of my cheap dollar store grinder! Yeeks!

Posted by JAY at 05:18 PM

Eating more

I was probably kidding myself when I thought I could get by on a cup of wilted lettuce! Especially when I'm watching the food network! Having some curry after sweeping and mopping the kitchen and bathroom.

Posted by JAY at 07:20 PM

July 17, 2004

Dave&Buster's Photos

Downloaded some pix from the in-person meeting on June 22 2004. We ate dinner at Dave and Buster's. After dinner we played pool and shuffleboard.

Several more pix follow. I couldn't get everyone in the frame, but here's what I got...

For dinner I had the peppercorn ribeye steak. It was actually really, really good. Cooked to perfection and very tasty. All of the portions were very generous and everyone seemed to enjoy their meals.

We played pool - Judy was my partner. We were both pretty bad - we didn't win any games. In our defence, we hadn't played much before (it was my 2nd time playing).

Sean and Bernie were shooting hoops. Heh, S can get pretty competitive, so there were a bunch of "one more times!" B had the advantage most games though. S didn't have a good night - he couldn't win B and I at shuffleboard either. :P

And here are the spectators. Sharon was given most of the tickets that S/B won to "spend" at the prize store.

Judy and I may not have been much good at pool, but we rocked at shuffleboard (her more than I)! Lots of fun, all round. I think we were playing Dom and John.

Posted by JAY at 12:46 AM

Photos

I'm not sure how I managed it in this tiny apartment, but I lost the cord for my digital camera. Argh!

Posted by JAY at 10:45 PM

Recipe: Pork Medallions


I'm supposed to be eating less than before, not more!! But when I ate lunch, there wasn't enough rice to leave back and I ate out the spinach with the rest of the curry. (The picture is below in the read-more... it's an unholy amount of food.)

For dinner, I made pork medallions and wilted lettuce. I also tried cooking the rice differently, but I didn't like it as well as my usual method. It's a lot of food, but I ended up putting half the pork (well, almost 1/2, I started to nibble) back in the fridge with more lettuce for another meal.

Pork Medallions
Rub both sides of

  • 3/4 inch pork medallions
with
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crushed garlic
  • dried thyme
Sprinkle both sides with a bit of
  • flour (optional)
Coat a skillet with
  • vegetable/safflower/canola oil
and heat to medium high.

Put the pork into the pan and cook for about 4 minutes per side.
Flip only once and don't move it around in the pan. It'll stick at first - that's what you want, browning. Eventually, it's own juices will loosen it for you to turn.

Posted by JAY at 11:20 PM

July 18, 2004

Shelves

Had a quiet day yesterday, cleaning and building shelving. Thanks to Linda for lending me a stud finder to secure these shelves up. These are the $265 shelves from Ikea. I wanted door so that they would hide the mess and keep out dust. The frosted glass isn't quite as transparent as they look in the photo.

Posted by JAY at 12:34 AM | Comments (2)

Taste of Thailand


Went to a Thai cultural festival in Nathans Phillips Square. It was actually pretty small, so we didn't spend too much time there. One of the really cool things were the impressive fruit and vegetable carvings.

I also got a sample of some spring rolls, odd chicken balls in tapioca and shrimp balls wrapped around sugar cane. The chicken satays were pretty ordinary tasting.

Posted by JAY at 04:25 PM

July 19, 2004

Recipe: Chilli

This doesn't look like it's a big portion, but that's a bowl, not a plate. It's a quick chilli, it only takes about 45 minutes to an hour to cook. The secret to a really good chilli is to use real beef (as opposed to ground) with cross-cut bones (exposed marrow) to flavor the sauce. Here, I've used beef short ribs.

The only thing with the beef short ribs is that the actual bone pieces have a bit of tough wrapper right around the bone. These would benefit from a couple of hours in a medium oven. The meat around the bones, however, is as tender as can be. So save the bones for leftovers while eating the meat.

Quick Chilli
(makes about 2 litres)
*optional
+optional, used here

Chop the meat from around a large pack of
  • beef short ribs
into about pinky finger sized pieces and season with
  • 2 sliced onions
  • fresh black pepper
  • 1 tbs of ground (not powdered) chili
  • +generous dried thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, oregano
  • *chopped fresh chilli peppers
  • *a few chipotle peppers
Coat the bottom of a heavy large pot (cast iron is ideal) with
  • vegetable oil
and heat until very hot. Add the seasoned meat to the hot pan and stir to brown it. Stir in
  • 1 medium can red beans (drained, not rinsed)
  • a couple of handfuls of chopped mushrooms
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • *1/2 a red pepper, chopped
  • *finely chopped carrots
  • *1 stalk of celery, chopped
Finally, add
  • 1 can of plum tomatoes (reserve liquid)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (1/2 can)
Salt to taste and add chilli pepper until it's hot enough for you.
Lower heat and stir occasionally until cooked (about 1/2 hour).
If it's getting too dry, add some of the reserved tomato liquid.
At this point, you can serve the non-bone parts over rice and leave the bone pieces cooking for another couple of hours on really low heat or in the oven at 300 degrees F.
Posted by JAY at 05:29 PM

July 20, 2004

Kicked by Karma

So I went for a walk at lunch today and there were these 3 women on the path walking in the opposite direction. They were walking beside each other using the entire width of the path and seemed to expect me to go on the street. I was having none of that (yeah, feeling bitchy), so I just continued striding forward along the edge. The woman on my side dodged out of the way at the last moment.

I was carrying an umbrella and it was pretty overcast, so I made a sound sacrifice to the water goddess requesting a downpour to soak them. (My crackhead theory goes that they used to demand elaborate sacrifices and worship, but they can't be too choosy these days and they'll take what they can get.)

Imagine my glee when it started pouring right away. I got my umbrella out and jaunted on, quite pleased. And it started raining and blustering ever harder, until it was fucking bouncing off the ground and soaking my shoes and pant legs. It got so bad that the power went out both at home and the office. I had to abort my walk and take a quick detour home to change my pants and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the office in my socks, because my shoes were squelching.

Payback's a bitch.
(And yeah, my theology is pretty twisted and neurotically ego-centric - ignore it.)

Posted by JAY at 07:03 PM

July 21, 2004

Dinner at Debbie's

Walked to D's house after work to troubleshoot her Internet connection. (Nothing serious, just spyware...) Met her two children, Andrew and Amanda and stayed for dinner. Debbie made a summer-y dinner of PC Sirloin burgers (yummy), potato salad, corn on the cob and watermelon.

Posted by JAY at 05:56 PM

Food: Sausage & Rice

Cooked for tomorrow, since I already ate at Debbie's and had no lunch for tomorrow. I froze 2 bowls of chilli so that I could have them another time (there's about 2 days worth left). I'll be buying lunch on Friday in Richmond Hill, so I'll cook a shrimp dinner. Still got Pat's romaine to eat out - maybe I'll wilt it tomorrow with my sausage.

Budget-wise tomorrow: $2.50 to $3 (yay!)

Posted by JAY at 10:58 PM

July 24, 2004

Walking is Expensive

Walked all over Newmarket today (well, only the west half of it really) and spent a couple of hours at a couple of instrument stores. It was a beautiful day for a long walk - sunny and cool.

I found the digital piano that I desperately want, though - and it's $3000! I haven't bought it yet... I'm Looking for a better price. Strangely, it's available in the States for $2000USD, which is only $2600CAN. Grr. It's the Yamaha P-250 and it really does sound better than the other ones I tried (most notably the P-120 and the Roland FP-5).

Posted by JAY at 11:00 PM

Cheap Eats

Spent about $4 on food today and was pretty healthy, too.

Breakfast was a delicious apple that Dom gave me on Friday at work. I ate it while walking to the music store. I'm always skeptical about buying fruit because I get pretty bitter if it's not sweet. This apple was great, though - thanks Dom!

I had a coupon for McDonalds for a free Veggie Burger with any drink purchase, so I got a$1.39 chocolate milk (for some calcium) and the VBurger. It was ok, surprisingly meat-like but a bit salty. I would have preferred something that wasn't trying to be meat - more like a falafel or ground chick pea patty.

Dinner was a large plate of pasta with a shrimp cream sauce. It didn't have much shrimp because the meal was really for tomorrow. I made a cheese sauce (for brocolli or pasta) at the same time, since they start out the same. The sauces should be enough for 2 days of food (at about $5/day).

Posted by JAY at 11:25 PM

July 25, 2004

Shrimp Pasta

Well, it tastes good, but not great. I didn't have any butter yesterday for the sauce, so I substituted olive oil. The oil has enough flavor that it doesn't let all the shrimp flavor through. It still tastes good, but not as shrimpy as I'd like.

The brocolli was also past its prime - I let it stay in the fridge for too long and it was just starting to flower. Good thing I made the cheese sauce, because I probably wouldn't have eaten it otherwise. I've got enough cheese sauce and shrimp sauce to last the week.

Posted by JAY at 11:29 PM

July 28, 2004

Bought a House


Well, I just signed a Purchase and Sale agreement for a new semi-detached house. It closes next year, so hopefully I can save a bunch in the meantime for the downpayment.


Unlike the last time, the closing costs were all disclosed. It's more expensive though - the other house was a detached for almost the same price. (Although this one has a walkout basement which cost an extra $9k.)

I feel poor now!

Posted by JAY at 07:29 PM | Comments (2)

July 29, 2004

Mango

Had the awesomest mango. I'm not really a fruit fan, because of the variability involved - and nothing is as variable as a mango. It was perfect - sweet, dripping with juice and wasn't fibrous at all. Mmmm.

Sleepy time now.

Posted by JAY at 01:38 AM

July 31, 2004

Stupid House Builder

Sigh, the house deal may not go through after all.

I added one clause to the Purchase and Sale agreement that basically said "if you don't put in the walkout basement that I paid $9000 for, you have to refund the $9000".

It got added because there was another section where they said alterations made to the plan due to the grade of the land would not result in any refund.

The builder has rejected it; I can't see why he would if he were being above board about the issue. I may put in an offer on a non-walkout lot, or abandon the idea completely.

Posted by JAY at 02:32 PM | Comments (2)