July 07, 2013

That's My Jacket


OK, it's not LITERALLY my jacket. John Oliver was hosting The Daily Show this month in the same jacket that I bought last year to go to La Pergola in Italy. It's a nice cool jacket because it's 'half-constructed'... it doesn't have a lining past the shoulders.

Posted by JAY at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2013

Great deal: All-Clad 12" D5 Frypan

20130629Allclad.jpg
I got a random great deal today as I was browsing a cookware store! This pan ordinarily costs about $185. I got it for just $83! It was on sale for $114, then there was a 20% off sale, and then they only had the floor model so they gave me an extra 10% off.

Posted by JAY at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2013

PTK Recovery

Recovery is more uncomfortable than I remember it being. The bandage contact lens itches and it'll be days before it can be removed. I have to go to the optometrist every day until it's healed.

Reading screens is the worst so I've been typing these entries without proof reading. (But I can look at the keyboard).

Yesterday night I went and visited Jen, who had a baby boy (Christopher Matthew) on Saturday. He's pretty much just eating and sleeping - which is what I'm doing right now!

Posted by JAY at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2013

PTK

Yesterday I went back to the eye surgeon for PTK, which hopefully will fix the recurrent corneal erosions that I've been having since having PRK almost a year ago. It's been somewhat of a saga for my right eye.

First I did Lasik, but it was undercorrected and healed with a slight haze. Then I had PRK to correct that after about 6 months. The vision was really good, but every couple of weeks I'd wake up with intense eye pain as I opened my eye and piece fo the surface would rip. Depending on where the tear was, it could affect my vision for days. Muro 128 ointment was the only thing that would prevent that, but I didn't want to use it for the rest of my life.

So on Monday, I went in for PTK (basically, PRK without the correction), which is supposed to fix it. The surgeon also seemed to do some stromal puncture with a needle to roughen the surface of my eye to make it more likely my regrown eye surface would adhere. It was pretty uncomfortable, but not painful.

I slept most of the day after returning home (with some drugs).

Posted by JAY at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2012

Poker Snacks


These snacks for poker night were a bit sweet (the pecan bars - a lot sweet) for the guys' liking. Ah well - I cleaned up at poker, probably coming in second overall. What I really wanna win is the lottery!

Posted by JAY at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2012

Restaurant: Robuchon Vegas


One of the things that I really wanted to do was try the only restaurant in Vegas to have earned 3 Michelin stars. The atmosphere of Robuchon was compelling. I was tucked away in a smaller, more intimate room with a living wall of greenery and flowers and sky. Through the window I could see the restaurant proper. Given the added privacy, I could take photographs and linger without feeling out of place. I had my doubts about how much I would enjoy it, especially solo. But in the end, I enjoyed it immensely - ESPECIALLY solo... because I lingered for almost 4 hours with me, my food and my Kindle :)

I did the 6 course prix fixe and it almost defeated me... actually, it kinda did defeat me. Do the 4 course if you're not a big eater (I am!)... though the mains seem to vary in how substantial they are. When you add the amuse bouche, bread and dessert cart... well, it's quite the feat. But I needed to do the 6 course to increase my chances of getting some 'best-ever's'

After a fun and dramatic amuse bouche of gelled sangria (yum!) which was covered with a tangerine foam that was tart, sweet, refreshingly cool, I got a bit concerned because the soup and appetizer were very good but not quite to my taste. The foie gras was served cubed and cold (not my preference) in a creamy cool soup. It was savory and well balanced both texturally and taste-wise. The artichoke soup was very similar, though hot, and I wish the server would've mentioned that (but service was otherwise impeccable). At this point, I was starting to wonder if Robuchon wasn't quite living up to the hype.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first main, though - La Langoustine - spiny lobster in a herb sauce. Strangely, there was a tiny stuffed squid component that went unmentioned in the description that I enjoyed all out of proportion with it's size. I asked for some lean crusty bread to mop up the remains of my herb sauce and to eat with my next dish.

My second course, Le Canard, finally gave me a 'best ever' experience. Rich seared foie and slices of duck were perfectly balanced with tart-but-sweet fruit and crispy rings of shallot. It was also served with the famous Robuchon mashed potatoes - a tad rich for my tastes, but delicious nevertheless and an experience... it's about half butter by weight but perfectly emulsified. It made this dish much more substantial than the previous main.

At this point I was, frankly, full. I warned the attentive server that I'd likely linger over the cheese course (which really, I only ordered to get the 2 mains) and let him select a variety of cheeses for me. I ended up reading and nibbling for a good while and LOVED the cheeses. I was unable to finish them, though, and I asked them to wrap my two favorites for me to take with me (I have no pride and I enjoyed them over the next 2 days). The comté, in particular, I'll be looking for.

Ellen Ost, on Chowhound, suggested requesting Le Sucre for dessert instead of the options listed. It was amazing, possibly the best dessert I've ever had - and definitely the most beautiful. I think the filling varies from what I've read - mine contained the mascarpone lemon cream, but it had a smooth mango ice (nitro? there were no crystals, it was perfectly smooth) studded with spherified passion fruit liquid that burst into tart sweetness. Oh, and pop rocks. I was UTTERLY full to the point where probably things weren't tasting as good, but this actually had me laughing like a maniac (and trying to hide it in a napkin). I licked up every last bit. When I look online, there are many rave reviews of this dessert, but with different fillings. Mine was better. I just can't help but think this, because nothing could be better. I'm actually slightly depressed because I won't get to have this as often as I would like to have it.

At this point, I was sad when the sweets cart came around, because there was no way I could do it justice. I selected an almond tuille (sweet nicely balanced with lemon), a ginger jelly (too firm) and a vanilla macaron (too sweet)... but being stuffed probably jaundiced my tastes - I didn't finish the last two.

Upon leaving, I regretted not selecting some of the chocolates and was delighted/grateful to be presented with a chocolate bar in a gift bag. I savored that chocolate (maybe not as good as Chuao or Porcelana but perfectly and beautifully tempered) for days.

Service was flawless - formal yet friendly, attentive but unobtrusive. When I refilled my own water (a bit pricy charge for Evian, but actually the Vegas tap water is not great, so I appreciated it), the server realized that I prefer not to empty my glass before having it refilled. I wouldn't have minded refilling it myself, but appreciated the attention to detail.

Pricey? Oh yeah. The meal came to about $400. Worth it? Definitely. I'd actually recommend consulting with the server extensively to ensure you get the right choices for you... light vs substantial, cool vs hot.

Joel Robuchon, Las Vegas
MGM Grand

PS. shout out to William, the HILARIOUS trust fund brat at the next table, for entertaining me with Obama bashing, knowing "everything" about restaurants and wines, and calling other people arrogant. I'm sorry for laughing. But it's totally your friends' fault for calling you out on every bit of your schtick!

Posted by JAY at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

January 08, 2012

PRK Tomorrow

About 6 months ago, I got Lasik. However, my right eye has been slightly (but annoyingly) blurry ever since, throughout its entire field of vision (even close up).

Tomorrow I'm going for a corrective procedure that will be PRK. Unfortunately, it's more painful than Lasik and has a longer recovery... but if it fixes the eye, it'll be worth it.

Before getting Lasik I made sure to get a good night's rest but I woke up with some post-operative pain. This time, I'm making sure I'm more tired so that hopefully I can sleep through any discomfort.

Posted by JAY at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2012

New Year's Dinner at Sean/Jax's

Went to Sean's for New Year's Eve. Jax and her fam were busy in the kitchen all evening turning out delectable morsels. Highlights included bacon wrapped scallops and water chestnuts and a molten chocolate cake that was insanely good. Constant eating throughout the evening. Mmm.

Posted by JAY at 01:02 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2011

Jen's Bread


Jen invited me over for lunch and fed me this artisan bread that she's making almost daily. It's REALLY good - the crust is shatteringly crisp.

Posted by JAY at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2011

Mom's Birthday

We celebrated Mom's birthday today and for a quick but super-over-the-top 3-course celebration.

1st course: Roasted mini-potatoes, brocolli and striip loin steaks
2nd course: Steamed lobster (mom has a huge steamer that can fit 2 lobsters per level)
3rd course: Apple pie, chocolate cake

Stuffed!!

Posted by JAY at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2011

Bake Sale

Bake sale at the office today supporting United Way.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't pig out quite so bad but Lesia's apple cake is really good. I haven't had it in such a long time because my sister has the Bundt pan and my oven is broken.

Posted by JAY at 03:06 PM | Comments (1)

October 18, 2011

Po(r)ker Night

Had poker night with the guys - was great fun but probably the last for a while as one of our crew is going off to live in France. Sean was the big winner, making up for a lot of times where he lost a bit - heh. I did pretty ok.

But OMG the FOOOOOOOD.

Rick made some delicious pizza for lunch. His wife Val really liked the apple pie that I brought... but really? a bit sub-par... it needed a bit more acidity and the crust wasn't as flaky as I've managed in the past. It was ok

Dinner OMG dinner was some HUGE bbqed rib steaks that Aaron brought and cooked to perfection. I actually cut off a piece of mine because it was so big. And Jax sent Sean with marinated shrimp skewered on rosemary that was just fantastic after being grilled on the bbq.

After a short break we had lemon meringue pie (that was much better than the apple, actually... I really like the recipe) and tiramisu that Rick/Val made. I went back for seconds of the tiramisu because I love that kind of dessert and it was really really good. I ate it with a double shot of sweet espresso.

I was actually uncomfortably full on the drive back home. BUT IT WAS WORTH IT.

Posted by JAY at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinners

I had two thanksgiving dinners this weekend, the first with my parents and the second with my neighbours. There was a lot of eating to be had. On the other hand, I didn't eat much else, so maybe it'll balance out? And I have a ton of leftovers so maybe that will keep me out of the restaurants for another week.

Posted by JAY at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2011

Fat Spider

This monster spider lives just outside my house... apparently it's been eating well too!

Posted by JAY at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2010

Car Troubles

About 2 months ago, my 2003 Rav4 started making 'old car' noises. My problem is that I didn't have a mechanic that I could really trust. (I have trust issues.)

Anyway, long story short, I took a trip out with Sean to see his and Renato's mechanic friend. Remo was awesome - he showed me everything that was wrong and gave me a quote to fix it, and a loaner car (an old Pontiac minivan that Sean and I picked up from the auction lot) while he did the work. Total bill was just north of a thousand bucks, but the car is working AWESOME now - noticeably better and no noise.

Brake pads, rotors, water pump, belts, filters, fluids, rustproofing, etc.

Posted by JAY at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2010

Poker

Dom was the big winner, winning over a hundred bucks! It was definitely his turn ;) Sean, on the other hand, couldn't win a hand all night.

I started out really well, but ended up about $7 down. That's me - average! No complaints, though, I've previously had some very good nights.

Posted by JAY at 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2010

Naomi's Birthday

Naomi had her birthday party today. I went to look for some gaudy high heel shoes for her to dress up in, but apparently they don't make them in her size. Jen maintains they do, but I looked in several shoe retailers. Naomi will definitely be a shoe girl. I ended up picking up some art supplies for her instead, which she seemed to like too.

I brought a lemon layer cake with a swiss meringue frosting (or italian? I can't remember which one doesn't have the butter), using an America's Test Kitchen recipe... it was ok, and people seemed to like it ok, but I didn't particularly care for it. Also, the layers were a pain, they didn't bake up evenly, so I've ordered some baking strips that insulate the sides of the pans that are supposed to aid even baking.

What WAS a hit was the chimichurri sauce that we made to go with the beef tenderloin roast that we made for dinner. Jen's father particularly loved it and thickly slathered it over the slices of beef. I was kinda worried that people wouldn't like it because it's so strong - parsley, raw garlic, vinegar, olive oil.

The roast itself was tasty and tender, but the recipe promised a nice dark crust which did not materialize. No one seemed to notice, but I was a bit disappointed. It was roasted at 425F. I think next time, I'd prefer my usual method of searing on the stove top and then roasting at a low slow temperature.

Posted by JAY at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2010

Zip Lining with Jen


Went zip-lining with Jen at Tree Top Trekking in Horseshoe Valley Resort. Actually, it was more like going through obstacle courses up in the trees, with zip-lining thrown in. The zip lines were a lot of fun, and there was a huge long one at the end. Unfortunately, if you don't grab the ropes on the opposite side of the zip line, you end up hanging in the middle and have to hand-over-hand to the end - which is quite the workout. I only let that happen the first time :)

Of course, before any climbing could take place, there were waivers to sign. But actually, it felt really safe, between the harnesses and the carabiners connecting us to the steel cables. There were quite a few trails, with different obstacles and difficulty levels. We went on all the hardest ones... by the end of the 3 hour session, our arms and legs were like jello and we were soaked through with sweat.


It was a really good time, though. Afterward, we went swimming with Naomi and Jen's mom in the resort's salt water pool and finished up with dinner. Jen's room had a full kitchen, so I cooked up some strip loins which we ate with roasted potatoes and some pineapple/mango fruit salad for dessert.

Posted by JAY at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2010

Refusal To Listen

My father absolutely, positively refuses to listen. I've told him this... but he refuses to listen.

He won't listen when

  • he's asked a question - like how to get from MY HOUSE to the nearest major street.
  • he angrily wants to tell someone, at length, how to buy a car - taking fits when anyone tries to interrupt with the simple information that they don't want a car
  • he's lost going to a restaurant, but will not take directions from someone in the car who's looked up a map
  • I phone him, to tell him the results of the legwork (appointment scheduling) I've done for the parents because they don't like being on the phone. For some reason, he thinks he's still better informed.

In all cases (and these are by no means exhaustive... 3/4 of these examples took place in the last 3 days), I have to wait till he's finished, says/does something that doesn't make sense, and then correct him. It's petty to complain about it online... but it's even more pointless to bring it up in person.

Posted by JAY at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2010

Financial Retrospective

I've been tracking my finances rigorously since about 2005. I thought it would be fun to take a look at some expense comparisons for my financial 'eras'. Of course, the big capital expenditures are not included in the figures, they're only described. My gross expenditures have more than doubled over the last 6 years! Meanwhile, I haven't really been spending that much more - the extra money is really going into housing costs.


2005 - $1300/month
Apartment living at its finest! No taxes, no utilities, no car. Rent was $750/month leaving only $550 to live on, so I was cutting it pretty close to the bone and saving up a downpayment for a house.


2006 - $2500/month
I bought my house. All of a sudden, there are utilities, taxes and insurance. After the mortgage was paid, I was left with about $900 to live on. Utilities, taxes and insurance totalled close to $500, leaving $400 to compare to my $550 when I was living in my apartment. This isn't to say I didn't have the occasional month when I splurged on something.

2007 - $2700/month
Adding car expenses... this year, I bought my parents' 2003 Rav4. Adding Insurance and minor gas expenses brought the total up. This held steady through 2008, 2009 and most of 2010...

2010 - $3000/month
What can I say... this is lifestyle inflation. After noticing that I was perennially going over my budget for several months, I gave in to reality and increased my 'living' budget by about $250 (groceries and fun) and inflation on various items like insurance (which previously had been going down as I got older, offsetting inflation) and utilities took care of the rest. I do feel much more relaxed with the increased headroom on the budget. It'll take a bit to see if I'm actually sticking to it.


Posted by JAY at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2010

Flying to Halifax: Air Canada sucks!

This is the story of how we got to the airport an hour early and missed our domestic flight (for which they recommend arriving 1 hour early).

I tried to print my boarding pass before Sean, but it wouldn't print and directed me to the service counter. Sean's ticket printed with no probs whatsoever, so he waited for me. I was the second person in line at a countertop with a dozen service desks and only one attendant. It took half an hour to get served and was told that I 'arrived too late' and had missed my flight. This was half an hour before flight time. I objected that we'd arrived half an hour ago and that Sean had printed his boarding pass AFTER mine refused.

Unfortunately, because he waited for me, they wouldn't let Sean board either! They also took his boarding pass so we couldn't prove when we'd arrived (actually, later, the parking receipt at least printed the entry time). We were pissed. And stressed because we had just expressed job dissatisfaction and our boss would probably think we were pulling this on purpose.

They told us the next flights 3 and 5 hours later were both full. Their complaints desk doesn't have a phone number, only takes written complaints and only after the travel is complete. We called our travel agency, who were great, they told us if we needed to, we could check back out and they'd credit the flight to a Westjet flight that had seats. But AC told us that our bags would need to be x-rayed if we checked out and it would take 2 and a half hours!

Then, they told us that even though the flights were 'full', their 'overbooking system' allows people to show up for basically any flight. So apparently a lot of people miss their flight and then are given seats (OUR seats!) on the next flight. I'm betting that's why I couldn't get a boarding pass over 45 mnutes before the flight time - they'd given my seat away but not Sean's.

So we waited at the wrong gate, because they changed it without announcing anything, before realizing that something was wrong and inquiring to find out about the change. All the standby people were called EXCEPT ME - they ended up with Sean. Argh. They told us they would have to page the person who wasn't there. They did that twice with no result, so I ended up taking the poor guy's seat and was on my way - FINALLY - to Halifax.

Posted by JAY at 08:34 PM | Comments (2)

November 06, 2009

Computer Problems = Money Problems

I upgraded to Windows 7 on the weekend. It went really well, considering. Just some minor-but-very-irritating issues with connecting to an old Samba share. Also? for some reason the Home Premium edition doesn't include the security policy editor. Fail.

Anyway, my data hard drive, which has been threatening to die for a while, finally did. I was able to get most of the data off, thankfully, but it took forever. Of course, a new hard drive, a dock to transfer files easily, another new hard drive for backups... all add up. Then I went and bought an Acer Home Server that I really didn't need because it was a great price. But I didn't have anywhere to put it and I didn't really need it (I only have 1 computer so I can really just keep everything on it). So I returned that.

Posted by JAY at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2009

Naomi's 4th Birthday


Naomi's 4 years old now - time is really flying fast. She seems to have a thing for tradition, though, same green pistachio cake, same chocolate cupcakes. (Same ladybug costume for halloween too! That was yesterday.) She seemed to have a good time, though she got a bit touchy toward the middle of the party.

Last year, she was all about my chocolate cupcakes, but this year she TOTALLY went for Grandpa's pistachio cake. I'm not sure what's with the BONFIRE of candles (each letter of "happy birthday") but she did a good job blowing them all out.

In unrelated news, Jen's brother is pretty good at table tennis - but unless he let me win, he's not quite as good as I am ;) I can't play easy against him, though, or he wins.

Posted by JAY at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2009

Gaming and Google Earth

Dan, Jen and I went to Chris and Eva's place in Toronto to play board games. We played a variety of games, including Goldene Stadt (which I suck at) and Settlers of Cataan (which I'm OK at). There were other games, but I can't remember them anymore :)

Chris' condo is awesome, spacious and in the heart of the city on College and Yonge - steps from the universities, hospitals and biggest downtown shopping centre. And it was surprisingly inexpensive, making me entertain fantasies of living in the city...

In related news, Google Street View is making its way north - here's Chris' condo building Street View is pretty cool, but it's just a bit creepy. Sean's wife was parked in the street in front of his house and you can 'drive' right past it and look in the windows. Yeesh.

Posted by JAY at 09:33 PM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2009

Apple Picking

We went apple picking at Pine Farms Orchard in King City. The trees were laden with many, many different kinds of apples and it was fun sampling them all (pesticides be damned!). It was a drizzly day, but we still had a good time. My favorite for eating were the Honey Crisp, but they were a bit more expensive than the others, which were only 89c/lb - not a bad price. Naomi had a good time but got tired pretty quickly.

Posted by JAY at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2009

Sienna's Birthday

Sienna is up and walking now and her baptism and birthday were both celebrated today (well, allowing for my backdating of posts). Rucell made her usual overflowing buffet of delicious. My contribution was mini chocolate cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. They were yummy and the icing was very tasty (I don't usually like icing, but this stuff is good).

All the usual cast were there and everyone seemed to have a really good time. Riley likes watching people play Wii, which I suck at, but I was getting pretty good at Mariokart after a while. He also liked watching the "waiting" splash screen on the Wii Shopping channel, as the little circle graphic cycled. We replayed that for about 20 minutes, following the graphic with our fingers.

The cupcakes took enough time that I didn't get a chance to buy Sienna a birthday gift! Upon consultation with Trev and Sean, Leapfrog DVDs look like a good choice.

Posted by JAY at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2009

Incidentally Environmentally


I logged into my utility company's website for the first time and they had a feature that allowed me to compare my usage with that of others on my street. Statistics are always fun.

Apparently, I use just over 1/2 the electricity of my neighbours. And I use just over 1/4 of the electricity. That's pretty good, I think.

Only 7% of customers used less electricity. Less than 1% used less water! (And yes, I shower ;) )

I don't particularly try to save energy. In fact, my computer is on 27/7. However, I don't have air conditioning and unless I leave the lights off unless I need them for a particular task.

Posted by JAY at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2009

Table Tennis

Dan and Melanie dropped by earlier this month and we played table tennis in the basement. They're both beginners, but they're picking it up pretty fast. They had fun learning and Dan left determined to buy a ping pong table.

I didn't realize what a good deal Sean and I got on my ping pong table at just $200 + tax. It's not like we shopped around or anything, it was pretty much an impulse purchase.

The best deal Dan could find was online, which was $350 but included shipping. Which is a pretty good price with shipping included, but unfortunately the table isn't quite as nice and required more assembly (at least, I think so, Sean did most of mine).

That being said, because of that, it was much, much lighter and easier to carry into the basement! And really, for playing it works just as well.

Posted by JAY at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2009

Sick... and working.

Ok, I'm back-dating posts... otherwise August will be a Month-Without-Posts!

I'm not sure where I got it, but I picked up a NASTY cold. The associated fever and chills happened to coincide with the hottest days of the summer, compounding my suffering. Unfortunately, with Sean on vacation in Vegas (again!), there was some work at the office that HAD to be done on Monday, so I dragged myself into the office.

Four boxes of tissues and one night of absolute misery later, the worst of it had passed.

Posted by JAY at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2009

Emilia's Birthday

Today was Emilia's birthday. So the neighbors had a birthday party outside with a bunch of friends and relatives. Emilia is a really 'girly girl', so I got her a princess 'paperdoll' made out of wood and magnetic outfits from Melissa and Doug.

She seemed to really like it - except that she seemed to want to savor opening the plastic shrink wrap, rather than tear into it and start playing with it. So when her well-meaning older brother tried to assist her by ripping into the clear plastic, she got really upset. Her mom ended up patching up the cellophane with some scotch tape.

I met Marek's wife Barbara and their son Christopher, who is my age. Christopher and Marek are electricians, and Christopher recently bought a Suzuki sport motorcycle. Tatiana and her MS sales-husband Savash were there with their daughter Allison. Allison wasn't used to cousin Aaron's brattiness (he's quite adorable, but SUCH a brat) so there were a lot of tears. Elena, his sister, was pretty awesome at climbing the slide, even though she's only two.

I spent a lot of time playing with the kids - rescuing them from the jumping gym and assisting in climbs on the play set. Very tired now, though!

Posted by JAY at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2009

Riley's Birthday Cake

This wasn't an official birthday cake - the official birthday cake was a filipino purple-fleshed ube cake. This was a supplemental cake - a good thing since the official cake was several hours late.

Anyway, this was a sheet cake that I gussied up with icing and berries and glaze. The recipe came from The Pioneer Woman (even though it looks nothing like it!) - it's a pretty standard chocolate cake made with cocoa, melted butter and baking soda. The icing is super easy too - melted butter blended with cocoa, then icing sugar to the desired consistency. One of the nice things about this recipe is that it uses salted butter - cheaper and easier to have on hand. Baking it in a half sheet pan is easy, but makes getting the layers even a bit touchy - I used greased parchment.

Anyway, it was a great success - it was pretty much devoured :)

Posted by JAY at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2009

Sitting Naomi

Jen drafted Eric to build her brick patio. My role was playing with Naomi at my place so that she wouldn't be underfoot! Hey, that works for me - it's a lot easier than lifting patio stones!

We had a great time. We played outside in my neighbor's swing set and picked chive flowers from my garden. My other neighbor's little girl, Gabriella, also came out and played, so I didn't have much to do other than pushing swings.

When Gabriella went in for dinner, we went for a snack. Naomi looooooved the alphonse mango that I gave her. They're a lot less fibrous than regular mangoes and more consistently sweet. After eating the chopped pieces, she asked for the pit to chew on. We took the other to show Jen so she'd know what to buy. Predictably, the sliced apple went ignored after the mango came out.

We played for a bit inside on the beanbag and the piano - that's her pretending to sleep in the beanbag. Just as Jen called for Naomi to be brought home, Gabriella tapped on the back door wanting to play again. So we played for another 10 minutes before heading back to her house.

Posted by JAY at 06:59 PM | Comments (1)

June 04, 2009

Ontario Food Terminal


Sean's father-in-law owns a nearby farm on the Holland Marsh. Sean and I offered to accompany him to the Ontario Food Terminal (fall harvest pics), where he and other wholesalers go to sell their product.


At this time of year, Mr. Wong sells flowering annuals and seedlings. We left REALLY early - about 4am from the farm. The most popular thing seemed to be Chinese melon seedlings which were selling briskly all day for about $8/flat. Other stalls were selling produce and plants. The place is huge, and most vendors here have motorized skid lifts which they scoot around on. Sean and I delivered a bunch of stuff for the vendor in the neighboring stall, but all we had was a non-powered lift.

Trucks line a huge covered pathway with cold storage for the importers. Everything's wholesale quantity,so I didn't actually buy anything, though I did score a couple pots of basil in return for making deliveries. Most of the deliveries that we made were to various trucks and some are a fair hike! Everything's cash-based here, it seems. (Most interesting produce: Sean saw a couple of people haggling over the price of some marijuana.)

As we were repacking the truck to leave, the lift on the back of the truck stopped working! Mr. Wong is pretty handy, so after a whole bunch of fiddling it finally kicked back in and we were on our way home - with me falling asleep in my seat.

Posted by JAY at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2009

2 Moves

16 hours of moving crap has left my arms like limp noodles.

On Thursday, Trev took ownership of his new Mattamy house. It's really awesome and Mattamy did a lot of nice finishing touches - keyless electronic entry on the door from the garage, counterbalanced fiberglass garage doors, CFL light bulbs, ledgeback sink in the kitchen with a sprayer attachment, granite lintel on the front door, drawers lining all the counter tops in the kitchen and much more. It's really nice.

His dad and a few friends helped move all the boxes and small items from his old place to the garage of his new house, filling it about 1/2 way (though we took the beds in). What a lot of STUFF Trev has! Not so much furniture, but a lot of random stuff. It took numerous trips back and forth in their vehicles and was a bit complicated by duct cleaners and appliance deliveries. Also? It was raining a LOT and dealing with mud and puddles was a pain.

On Friday, I helped Melanie move from her house in my neighborhood to a basement apartment. For the rental price, it's a LOT nicer than my previous basement apartment! It has a great kitchen, 2 bedrooms (as opposed to my 1 bedroom without a window!) and laundry facilities. The bathroom is a lot nicer too.

Melanie rented a full sized U-Haul moving truck, which was awesome because it fit just about everything in one trip (Trev, for the price of about 50 bucks, it would've made things much easier - could've moved the furniture and everything on Thursday in 1 trip!). Melanie didn't have quite as much random crud as Trev's family, but her furniture was CRAZY heavy in comparison and there was more of it, bunches of it were on the top floor and only me and her ex were there to help load the truck. Despite the low ceiling going down into the apartment (and a king size bed!), unloading went a bit easier. There was no rain, but we were sweating buckets.

Anyway, glad that's over! After Thursday I was a little sore, but after Friday I was really sore! Should be working out, I guess! Both Trev and Melanie still have a lot of unpacking to do...

Posted by JAY at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2009

Ikea Akita

Jen, Naomi and I had a quasi-international day out today. First we headed to Ikea where Jen picked out a whack of stuff and I mostly drooled over kitchens. Naomi was happy to spend time in the Ikea play park (Smaland) while we browsed.

After that, we went to Akita, a new sushi buffet in Bradford. A full review will come later, but suffice it to say that we gorged ourselves. Naomi mostly ate tempura shrimp. She was in a bit of a mood all day, whining and crying for no reason at all ("I don't want to wait for the shrimp to cool!") but her mood improved after the third, very lengthy trip to the bathroom in Akita. So maybe stomach troubles were making her irritable.

Posted by JAY at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2009

Trev's House Almost Done

Trev's new house is almost done! The last time I posted about it here, it was just a hole in the ground. Now it's almost done and the move in date is the end of May!



The most striking feature of the house is the upgraded maple staircase. It looks great! I would've liked a hardwood staircase, but they were too expensive (and plus, living alone, I stand a better chance of surviving a fall down the stairs if they're soft).

Posted by JAY at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2009

Homemade Perogies


These are authentic perogies, cooked by a genuine Polish grandmother. They're very, very precious to me, since my only source is my neighbors, who generously share. The dough is ultra tender, but still resilient. I added some parsley and lemon zest. Soooo delicious. I'm dying to learn how to make them, but Grandma doesn't live with them and doesn't speak English... so I'm not sure how that's going to happen. It's one of those recipes that shouldn't die with Grandma!

Posted by JAY at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2009

Dinner at Jen's

Went to Jen's place for dinner and to play with Naomi. Dan's been using a meal planning site and he got the ingredients for her to cook. It was all really good, though portions seem a bit small - knowing that, Jen actually made two menus. So we had a yummy salad with apples and grapes, pork tenderloin topped with a blue cheese stuffing and spinach pasta with pine nuts.

For dessert, I brought over ingredients for a lemon meringue pie. I had enough crust for a small 7-inch pan, so I blind baked it before I left. I used an "America's Test Kitchen" recipe for the filling and it turned out really well, slice-able, but still loose. I used the extra meringue to make a couple of cookies that Naomi really enjoyed, so I thought that she'd like the meringue topping on the pie. But no, she preferred the tart lemon filling.

Still, I liked the recipe enough that I made a bigger one and brought it over for Dan and Melanie to share. (Jen and I finished the first one that day.) I used the extra lemon filling to top egg bread toast, which leaves it tasting like a pastry. Yum! The meringue used a trick that I didn't know about - beating some cooked cornstarch paste into the stiff egg whites to prevent weeping.

Posted by JAY at 10:47 PM | Comments (5)

March 27, 2009

Airport Art Fail


People Falling Out of the Sky*


  • Jonathan Borofsky (American, b. Boston, Massachusetts 1942)
  • Lexan, aluminum plate, stainless steel cables
  • Five figures
    Red, yellow, orange figures: 5.27 x 5.21 x .04 metres
    Blue, green figures: 2.24 x 5.44 x .04 metres
  • Fabricated at La Paloma, Sun Valley, California
  • Collection of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Seriously? Is this appropriate for an airport art installation?

*Actual title: I Dreamed I Could Fly 2003

Just got back from Ottawa on a work trip. Yay, meetings. Actually, there are a few new people on our team and meeting them was great. One of them is quite the joker and enjoyed making jokes at the new director's expense, mocking his leadership, sense of direction and French counting skills in the first hour after meeting him.

Poor Sean was away from his familly 2 weeks out of the month this month - in Vegas and Ottawa. His wife Jax probably hates me now ;-)

Posted by JAY at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2009

Lunch at Trev and Rucell's


Rucell and Trev invited me over for a yummy lunch and to play with Riley and Sienna. Sienna's growing FAST! And Riley was happy to see me - he's so cheerful! Of course, judging by the way he was insisting that I use the TV remote to turn on Guitar Hero, he may have just wanted someone else to ask to play the game. (Something's wrong with that sentence, but I'm tired!)

We also had some yummy egg tarts that I'm trying to find the bakery from. The custard was really nice and silky.

Posted by JAY at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2009

Vegas Wrap-up

Whew! Fun trip, but I'm glad to be back. We arrived back on Friday morning, after leaving at midnight. I dropped Sean off around 7am and then headed to T&T groceries to wait for them to bring out the roasted pig. While I waited, I snacked on some steamed buns and took a nap in the car.

We had some high hopes of winning a bunch of money early in the week - we were up about 600 bucks playing blackjack tables. But by the end of the week we had lost it all and ended the week in a statistical dead heat (the odds for blackjack are ever so slightly in the casino's favor - about 52% or so). Still, because we didn't lose the money that we had budgeted for gambling, the trip as a whole was a lot cheaper than the $5,000 we had planned on. The total cost ended up being about $2,300 (including costs to get a passport etc). So no complaints!

The best parts of the trip were definitely the ATV tour, the Stratosphere rides and eating at Picasso (mmm). If I ever return, I'll spend a bit more time in the pool and definitely try another acclaimed restaurant (or 2!). THEhotel was awesome too.

The only major downside (other than not winning piles of money and turning a profit) is the ubiquitous smoking in the casinos. The older casinos, with lower limits at the tables, were the worst for not having ventilation that could keep up with the stink - we didn't spend much time there! If they banned smoking, I'd be back in a heartbeat!

The weather was perfect - cool enough that we did enough walking on the strip to not gain weight while there (which was quite the surprise!).

I might do a few random posts on Vegas in the coming posts, as I organize various pics.

Posted by JAY at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2009

The Pools


THEhotel/Mandalay Bay is known for having the best pools in Vegas. We thought it was a bit cool for the pool at first. But while we were exploring the hotel complex we saw all the non-Mandalay tourists, on their way to the Shark Reef exhibit, plastered to the windows and just DYING to try out the very attractive pools which are surrounded by sandy beaches, deck chairs, cabanas and palm trees. So we HAD to try them.


We should've spent more time in the pools than gambling! The pools were really well heated, so being in the water was really warm. The huge golden Mandalay Bay hotel acted as a massive reflector, reflecting the sun back over the pool complex. There are about 8 pools, the largest of which is a massive wave pool that laps up against a sand beach. The rhythmic pressure of waves makes me a bit seasick, though. I'm not a water lounger, I prefer swimming.




Our favorite pool was the lazy river. It actually had a pretty swift current going through it (fast enough that if you swam backwards, it was pretty hard to make any headway. It was fun doing endless laps around it, under chilly waterfalls and around tight curves. Between the swimming and walking around the Strip, I actually returned from Vegas lighter than I left!

I'm thinking that the cool weather is actually a good thing - I imagine in the full heat of summer the pools are really too crowded to do much actual swimming in. With the weather the way it was, we were easily able to find beach chairs, too.


The pools are a bit far from THEhotel, about a 5 minute walk. They're much closer to Mandalay Bay. But they're definitely one of the reasons that if I ever return to Vegas, I'll return to THEhotel/Mandalay Bay.

Posted by JAY at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2009

Restaurant: Picasso


Picasso is (also) a two michelin star french restaurant at base of the Bellagio. It's a perfect place for a french restaurant - it overlooks the famous musical fountains which put on an impressive musical display every half hour. And across the street is the Paris casino with a huge replica of the Eiffel Tower. It makes for quite an impressive view from the tables. The tables are set at an angle to provide an optimum view to both diners. The diners are seated on adjacent sides of the table instead of across from each other, giving a good view to both and also making conversation a lot easier and quieter.


A number of actual Picasso paintings hang on the walls. And since this isn't a museum, they don't mind if you take pictures, since they're not selling prints. I didn't use flash though, since I didn't want to make a spectacle of myself.

Between the paintings and the vaulted brick ceiling, the atmosphere is perfection. So is the service, who managed to be both ever-present and unobtrusive. A couple times, I didn't actually notice them until they did something. When I returned from the bathroom, someone was repositioning my chair while I was sitting back down - but not moving it enough that I was uncomfortably surprised when I didn't notice them. And I didn't realize that they had replaced my napkin until Sean went to the bathroom and they replaced his. Likewise with cutlery replacement.

We had reservations at 7pm but actually showed up at 6 without realizing it. They weren't fazed by it at all, in fact, they didn't say that we were an hour early, so when we left after seeing the fountains 6 times, we were concerned about seeing the show we had booked. We probably did them a favor, and let them get an extra seating at our table. It wasn't busy when we got there (they open at 6) but it was getting full as we left. But I'm glad we got there early - with no one in the restaurant I could wander and look at the Picassos over the tables and we got to see the fountains in daylight and night.

And the food...



Menu Degustation


Amuse Bouche
Corn Chowder, spear of quail egg, caviar, salmon-wrapped mascarpone cheese

Was this EVER good. It doesn't look like much, but the corn chowder was ultra rich and ultra smooth. And SO tasty. The tiny amount was perfect because it was so very rich - but it did leave me wishing that I had more. Sean's eyes totally lit up when he was drinking it and he sheepishly admitted that possibly pricey restaurants COULD be worth the price. The fish and eggs was also very tasty. Mmm.



Maine Lobster Salad
Apple-Champagne Vinaigrette

This lobster salad was even BETTER. It was my second favorite dish of the night. Huge, juicy pieces of lobster with a very light, slightly sweet, not-too-acidic dressing. Even the garnishes were delicious. Sean agreed and really enjoyed the wine that was paired with this dish - he did the wine pairings for an extra $68. I don't really appreciate good wine from bad - so I splurged on something else...


Pan Seared Sea Scallop
Potato Mousseline and Jus de Veau, potato chip

Sean's verdict on this was "I could eat another ten of these!" I'm not sure how special it was, but it WAS a perfectly seared scallop in a delicious reduction of veal juices. And the "potato mousseline" was pretty much a potato puree but it had lovely texture. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but it wasn't memorable to me.


Sauteed "A" Steak of Foie Gras
Honey Muscat Poached Pears with Creme Fraiche Gastrique, Brioche and Crushed Almonds

I forgot to turn my flash off for this picture. Oops! By this time, it was getting dark, so that's why my subsequent pictures really suck. I had never had foie before - but this was really good. It was like a rich, fatty gel that reminded me of bone marrow, if bone marrow could be seared. I really enjoyed this, though partially for the novelty factor. The dish could've used more bread, though. The 'brioche' was really just a thin square underneath the foie. A bit more carbs to go with the fat would have been perfect. Sean wasn't sold on the texture but enjoyed the flavor.




Japanese Kobe Beef Filet (me)
Jus, Potato Mousseline, Vegetables

OH MY GOD. This cost an extra hundred bucks, but it was TOTALLY WORTH IT. This beef was like butter. It was softer than the trumpet mushrooms that accompanied it. It was also full of flavor - probably due to the invisible but tasty fat content that is ordinarily absent in this, the leanest part of the cow. I gave Sean a chunk to try and he was similarly impressed. Ordinarily, I'd have a hard time spending $100 on a piece of meat - but I have to say, I'd have a hard time resisting getting this again.

Sauteed Filet of Halibut (Sean)
Ragout of Corona Beans, Serrano Ham, Vegetables and Mushrooms

Sean's fish, on the other hand, was simply ordinary tasting and really the only disappointment in this meal. I actually preferred the drunken noodle sea bass that we got at a Vegas Thai restaurant to this. The other option was lamb, and Sean wasn't sure that he liked lamb... but in retrospect, he should've had the lamb. In fact, we should've sent this back and asked if he could've had a kobe filet instead!



Dessert
Chocolate Fondant molten cake, Peanut Butter ice cream (Sean)
Poached Quince, wine sorbet, creme caramel (me)

Sean really enjoyed his dessert of chocolate molten cake and peanut butter ice cream. I had a taste, and it was wonderful, but I wanted to chose something that I hadn't tried before. The poached quinces were certainly interesting, sort of a apple/pear/citrus hybrid, but very dense. Sean didn't like them at all. The wine sorbet was very refreshing tasting and the creme caramel was super rich and just barely solid. I was wishing for more creme caramel, it was pretty tiny and very good.

Sean was full after our meal, so I got to eat all of the little tray of delicacies that followed the meal, an assortment of cookies (including a meringue), chocolates (truffles), tiny pieces of cake (carrot cake) and bars. They were very tasty, but I was pretty full by that point too.

The main triumph of the night was that Sean, who went into the restaurant whining that it was crazy to spend this much on food (total bill: $500 incl tax and tip) admitted that it was worth it - and that he would definitely come back (and even order the kobe). Without the wine pairing and the kobe, the price is only $123/person plus tax and tip.

Definitely a highlight of the trip and recommended.

Posted by JAY at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2009

ATV Tour - El Dorado Canyon

Last night, we called and booked an all-terrain vehicle tour of the El Dorado Canyon with Action Tours. We had a great time. Apparently some tours had you riding double, which Sean and I didn't want to do, but this one had everyone on their own ATV.

Of course, that may have ended up being a bad thing - on the first turn I almost took a header into a cactus filled ravine!





Terri, our driver and tour guide, picked us up in the Mandalay hotel lobby. From there, it was only a short trip to the tour site. We started the day with a tour of some old mines. Streaks of gold flecked quartz ran through the tunnels of the mine, which were conveniently lit with electric torches. Our guide told stories about the various hardships the miners used to face as they tried to extract gold with only a candle lighting their way.

From there, it was onto the ATVs for a trip around the surrounding area. It took me a bit to get the hang of driving an ATV through the sharp and steep turns of the trail. The first turn almost had me taking a tumble! After a bit, though, it got easier. The views were fantastic and the weather was perfect - cool, sunny and not too much wind to stir up the dust.

For lunch, we were kind of expecting sandwiches, but it turns out that they've set up a little campground with cook facilities up in the hills. So we got corn on the cob, baked beans and BBQ chicken, which was a pleasant surprise. It all tasted pretty good too.



From there, we took a trip up a steep outcropping to take some pictures, and then a fast ride back to the tour site. We had a lot of fun on this trip - definitely worth the $200 ticket price. Our clothes were pretty dusty by the time we got back, but a quick dunk in the bath tub fixed that.

Posted by JAY at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2009

THEhotel with the dumb name

THEhotel is Mandalay Bay's "upper crust" suite hotel tower. The rooms are really nice and big, with 2 bathrooms, a wet bar and floor to ceiling windows. A nice touch was that at the bottom of the windows there were vents that could be opened to let in fresh air. Here's a link to a virtual tour where you can walk through the suite (uses Flash).

Of course, the main problem with THEhotel is the name. Which requires that you explain exactly where you're staying at length. And every person I heard on their cell phone was explaining it as well.

For more images, click Continue...


There were actually 3 tvs in the room - a flat panel in the living room, a tv in the bedroom and a small LCD in the bathroom suite. The bathroom had a lot of stone - wall facings, a glass shower stall and huge tub. The nice thing is that the suite had one and a half bathrooms. The main bath was HUGE, with double sinks, huge shower, huge tub and a separate water closet for the toilet. The powder room (aka the "night poop bathroom") was next to the suite entrance hall, far from the bedroom.

The view wasn't in the direction of the strip, but it was a nice view of the mountains. The hotel in general was really ostentatiously posh - a lot of gleaming marble, soaring ceilings and dim lighting. Even the PUBLIC bathrooms were sheathed in marble with a floor to ceiling fountain.

Posted by JAY at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2009

Vacation Preparation

So I've got a passport and I'm packing for Vegas! Tickets are booked, reservations at hotel, show and restaurant as well.

Sadly, all is not going smoothly for Sean's leaving. Sara's toothing and Brandon's throwing up :( Poor Jax is going to be managing by herself next week. We'll be keeping in touch via webcam and phone, but there's not much we'll be able to do to help.

I'll be going to Sean's house tomorrow afternoon with a pastry offering for Jax (apple pie, hopefully still warm by the time I arrive). We'll be going (maybe... if B's not still sick) to a birthday dinner for her brother and then leaving REALLY early in the morning to catch our flight.

Posted by JAY at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2009

Car Expenses

Whew, the car's been costing a lot this year. No major damage or anything -knock wood-, just upkeep.

New tires - 800 bucks
Wheel alignment - 100 bucks (Parents bought it for me! Thanks!)
Oil change - 25 bucks (Dad did it!)
Headlamp bulb replacement - 40 bucks, which I just did today. Those bulbs are expensive! I tried just doing one, but the other bulb was noticeably dimmer, so I replaced the other one too. It's STILL dimmer, but not by as much.

Posted by JAY at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2009

Frugality

Today I boiled 3 chicken carcasses (backs, breast bones, rib cages etc. left over from roasting chicken parts) down into chicken stock. Then I picked off the boiled scraps of meat from the bones and combined them with diced jarred roasted peppers, sweet pickles and seasoning to make a chicken salad for sandwich stuffing. Since I don't care for the jarred peppers and rarely eat pickles, that's two things made almost entirely out of 'waste' food.

Not that it saved me a LOT of money, but it made me feel very frugal.

Posted by JAY at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2009

Sitting

I entertained Naomi for Jen and Dan for Valentine's day while they did dinner and a movie. We had fun playing with stuffed animals and watching ASL signing DVDs. Later, we went to my place where Naomi saw the neighbor's swing set from the back window. We went out for a bit, but it was pretty cold. Then we made cookies, played around on the piano while they were baking and finally went to build a tent out of bedsheets and large packs of toilet paper. I don't think she was quite ready to leave when Jen came to pick her up.

Posted by JAY at 07:31 PM | Comments (2)

January 31, 2009

Ping Pong Table

Continuing the money bleed...

A crappy, four piece ping pong table costs about $99 bucks on sale. This model from Costco.ca, is priced at about $600 bucks. Luckily, you can pick it up for just $200 bucks in store. Unfortunately, the straps to attach it to the car were another $25 bucks.

Interestingly, we were able to attach this to my small SUV but not Sean's bigger one, since the hooks for the straps fit around my roof rack, but not Sean's. Sean did most (ok, all) of the setup. Damn, that box was HEAVY.

Anyway, current score: 2 wins each.


Posted by JAY at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2009

Budget 2009 R.I.P.

How many ways has my budget died so early in the year? Let me count the ways:

1) New tires, $800

The car really needed some new tires as they were getting a bit threadbare. Michelin LX MS tires were highly recommended by Sean. They weren't cheap. This pretty much means that I'll be doubling my yearly automobile budget in 2009.

2) Vacation reservation, $800

All told, this vacation will likely cost about $5k. Which is more than double the amount that I spent on all fun stuff last year. Ouch. But I haven't gone on vacation since I started working about 11 years ago and it should be a good time. Should be fun! And hey, it's Vegas - maybe I'll win enough to cover the trip!

3) New bed, $300 (corrected from $400)

I wasn't going to buy this, but Canadian Tire had a memory foam mattress on sale for less than 1/4 of what a more expensive foam mattress would cost. New sheets for the queen sized bed were another $50 on sale (3 sets) at Zellers. The bed is a bit firm, but I topped it with my old memory foam topper and it's pretty nice. Not sure yet how well I'm sleeping on it - I think I'm sleeping more soundly (not waking up during the night) but not sleeping as long - usually on the weekends I can wake up and go back to sleep for another few hours. It could just be that I'm getting more restful sleep at night.

Edit: I'm so -duh-. I didn't realize it, but I actually paid only 200 bucks for the mattress, not 300 like I thought.

4) Assorted sales, $100

Of COURSE on a month where I'm spending too much, there are a lot of sales that I MUST take advantage of. Scharffen Berger chocolate bars, regularly $4-5, were on sale at Dollarama for a buck. Foldy tables that I've kind of wanted for a long time (but were a total rip off at $30) are on sale for $10. And some random purchases for family added a tiny bit to the total too.

Posted by JAY at 01:36 PM | Comments (2)

January 22, 2009

World of Warcraft... the Boardgame

Dan picked up the World of Warcraft boardgame recently. It's an impressive translation of the online game's mechanics. However, it also takes a good 3 hours. So if you want to play WoW without a computer, it's pretty fun!

I made some cookies to take with me to Martin and Fiona's house when we went to play. All went well until we went to leave. Jen's kid, Naomi, was OUTRAGED at being woken up and taken into the cold (despite refusing a jacket and preheating the car and a hot water bottle). The ferocity of her anger was really startling - she usually loves me but almost bit my hand off when I tried to comfort her.

By the time we reached home though, she had remembered that I had made cookies and asked for some to take home with her. Thankfully, I had saved some for just that contingency - because the adults had eaten them all out at M/F's house. Phew! No need for 2 traumas in one night!

Posted by JAY at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2009

Anyone want a Thermopen?

Thermopens are the awesomest food thermometer on the planet. I have one and love it - probably my most used kitchen gadget over the last 3 years. I want another one! Sadly, they're also very expensive. (Everyone bitches about the price but admits there's no viable alternative.)

They're not expensive when you consider that they can take the place of at least 3 thermometers:
high: candy and frying
medium: meats
low: chocolate tempering
very low: food safety applications (ie meat storage)

Add that to the fact that it's ultrafast and super accurate (in fact, it can be calibrated)... it's a clear winner.

You can get a free one if you order six. Dom, Sean and I are in... but would need 3 more to get a minimal discount for the group.

If you're interested, lemme know! (The last time, there weren't any duties... don't know if ordering more might change that.)

Posted by JAY at 11:34 PM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2009

Tracking Credit Reports

Happy New Year!

For the past couple of years, I've been meaning to get my credit report from the two major credit bureaus in Canada. It's such a pain, though... but it's gotten slightly easier. But at least it's free.

Transunion still wants you to mail them a form, along with some supporting documentation. Instructions can be found here. You can also go in-person, but they only have one office per province.

Equifax, however, has a telephone service: 1-800-465-7166 (You should verify with their website before calling, just in case I'm trying to steal your identity.) It's automated and 24-hour, which is nice! The only disadvantage is that you'll have to give them your Social Insurance Number. Their prompts for entering your postal code are a little bit flaky, but work ok.

Posted by JAY at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2008

Exploding Pyrex

Pyrex is potentially not oven-safe.
(Or even heat/microwave safe, judging by Dan's comment below!)

After my sister reported that her 9x13" Pyrex dish exploded while cooling atop her stove (which was off), I started doing some research. It turns out that many people have been reporting the same problem.

Further research shows that Corning/Pyrex now make their kitchen Pyrex out of tempered soda lime glass (cheaper to manufacture because there are less environmental precautions required) instead of the more heat resistant borosilicate glass that they now only use to make lab Pyrex. They also seem to like to sic lawyers and fancy lawyer letters on people who talk about it. Manufacturers in Europe still use borosilicate glass.

Apparently, borosilicate glass expands and contracts much less under heat. However, tempered soda lime glass is more impact resistant. But when they do break, borosilicate snaps into a few large pieces (or cracks) while soda lime shatters into small shards. I expect glass to break when I drop it and can look away - I don't expect it to shatter when it's cooling on the counter. Frankly, I'd rather have the former if I'm going to be putting glassware in the oven.

Which I won't anymore.

Posted by JAY at 11:16 PM | Comments (1)

December 22, 2008

Dinner/Movie

Stephen was in town and took Jen and I for all-you-can-eat sushi at Aji Sai. (Have I really never done a review? Their website is down...) We had a great time catching up and really over-stayed our welcome at the restaurant. (We thought they had free tables, but it turns out they were reserved.) Stephen left a really big tip to compensate them for the trouble.

Jen can really pack in the salmon sashimi - twenty plump pieces! It was very tasty, though. I packed away a lot of nigiri and 'special' rolls. Stephen ate much more moderately, but was impressed with the amount of sushi we ate for the price that we paid. Aji Sai definitely has the best quality sushi for a moderate price. Sushi Itto, in Newmarket, doesn't compare well (though it's been a long time and the review I wrote is better than I remember). And Wasabi is horrible by comparison.

After dinner we returned for an early viewing of "Yes Man". I'm not really a fan of Jim Carrey or movies in general (ever since Trev and Dave found other people to go with, I don't think I've been to see one!) but the movie was surprisingly entertaining. Just a TAD cloying and more than a bit of creative license with the storytelling, but hey.

Overall a fun night!

Posted by JAY at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2008

Wintering at Sean's

My tires are getting a bit bare (almost to the wear indicator) and there was a big storm scheduled for Friday. But we were going to have our Holiday work lunch and I didn't really want to miss it. So I left early before the storm and packed an overnight bag.

Oy, did it ever snow. It started coming down mid-morning and didn't stop until the night. So I ended up staying in one of Sean's spare rooms. It was a good time, too - I played with Brandon, Jax cooked a yummy Vietnamese meal, we worked a bit and played Rock Band 2.

Sara, however, hasn't gotten over the hair cut yet. Pre-haircut, we were playing peek-a-boo in the car, she was leading me to the snack cupboard, we were playing with a bubble machine. After the hair cut, she won't even LOOK at me! That evening, she would toddle to the opposite side of the house as me. She REALLY wanted a lollipop unwrapped for her, but when Sean insisted that she give it to me to unwrap for her, she held it out realllllly far and dropped it as soon as I touched it. And then wouldn't look at me when she came to get it back.

She will, however, say my name over and over again. Towards bedtime, I had Brandon leading me in one direction and Sara calling me from another room. And I woke up to screams of "Where's Jason?" But she still won't look at me or take anything from me!

I should probably just be more forward in playing with her. But I dislike invading kids' personal space - they should really insist on taking their time to be comfortable... it's a good instinct!

Posted by JAY at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2008

Naomi Enjoying a Truffle!


SO CUTE!

From her first taste of bitter chocolate a year ago (laced with coffee, though we didn't figure that out till later), Naomi has been a fiend for chocolate. (And apparently, pudding is only "kind of like chocolate".) This truffle (recipe) reportedly lasted her a good long time! Jen almost forgot to send me the video!

Posted by JAY at 07:31 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2008

Gamblin' Man

aka - My First Gambling Trip

I've been to casinos before, but I've never actually gambled in one. My first employer gave me $20 once to play slots and I just couldn't do it. I ended up giving it back.

However, when Sean got a free room Sunday night so we headed down to Fallsview Casino, I took $400 and figured I'd go see if I could play the odds. Sean and I cleared $1200 in profits! More below...

I started with a bit of poker - a variant called "Let it Ride". The odds aren't good with poker, but I came in about even there, so not bad. But we didn't stay there long.

Then we went to blackjack (in theory, about 50/50) - but the limits were really high: $25 per bet! So Sean and I pooled about $100 bucks each and he started coaching me. I was pretty darned lucky and we cleared about $400 bucks I think? From then on, we were playing with winnings.

Blackjack is interesting, because there really is a definite right way to play to maximize your odds. But that being said, people at the table nonsensically get angry if you don't play correctly - they feel that it lowers THEIR odds. Each card being dealt has pretty much an equal chance of being any card, so taking or leaving a card can have no NET effect on the next card's probability - so that doesn't make sense at all. The next card is as likely to be a 10 as the card after that, if you don't know what the first card is! I persuaded Sean of this before we left... but he was slipping back into it as others near the end of the table were 'messing up'. Heh, the one time I really did the wrong thing, I prevented the dealer from getting 21.

I tried Casino War (basically, high card wins) which should be 50/50 - but my luck was disastrous and after losing $25 bucks I was like, "Next!" Sean HATED that game (but stay tuned for later...)

We went back to blackjack and Sean and I alternated playing. I think we won about $300. The dealers were all really nice and between Sean, the dealer and the lady next to me, they kept me from making disadvantageous plays.

We got dinner at the buffet with Sean's mother-in-law and Liz (Liz insisted on paying despite all protests). The buffet was just ok, but the desert section was pretty nice. We stuffed ourselves, regardless. Unfortunately, by this time, I realized I was starting to come down with a cold that would last the rest of the week.

We headed back to the blackjack tables where we managed to go through $200 in record time - it was HORRIBLE. With our last two $25 chips, I suggested we each put them on the roulette wheel. I chose red (almost 50/50) and Sean chose 19 (1/38). As it went, I mentioned that this bet reflected our personalities, me playing it safe and Sean going for the big payout.

Well, Sean won! So it was a $875 payout! We were disbelieving for a bit and then totally cracked up. Sean tipped the table $50 bucks and we tried 2 more spins on numbers (just in case - but we lost).

We hit the sack around 3AM and unfortunately, my congestion was getting pretty bad by that point. It made for a not very comfortable night, especially trying to blow my nose without Sean waking up. And apparently when I -did- get to sleep, I was snoring and Sean had to put pillows over his ears to sleep. I blamed the snores on the congestion. And hey, Sean snored too. Unfortunately, any time I had to blow my nose, his snoring stopped and I wasn't sure if he was waking up (he said later he wasn't).

Sadly, the next day our gambling didn't meet with much luck either. But we still had a good take, thanks to the roulette wheel and cards the previous day! It's a bit scary how little money a 24 buck chip seems like - I can see how people lose track of how much they're betting.

Anyway, fun AND profit, what more can I ask for?

Posted by JAY at 07:13 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2008

Naomi's Birthday

[somehow I forgot to post this one]
Naomi had her third birthday party this weekend. There were a slew of kids there along with Jen's family and we had fun with pizza and cake. I brought the same chocolate cupcakes that I took to Riley's birthday party. Most of the kids just ate the icing on the cupcakes, but Naomi has a thing for chocolate and devoured hers. I forgot to post the recipe then, so it's posted below.

She got a bunch of neat toys and the kids all had fun playing with them. A painted wooden birthday set, an elaborate doll house were hits, as was one of the 2 games I brought called "Don't Break the Ice" - the other one, "Ants in the Pants" required a bit too much dexterity. (But Jen, Sean suggests using another ant instead of your finger to flip the other ant into the pants.)

Chocolate Cupcakes (yields 24)

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz hot water

Preheat oven to 350°.
Whisk together the hot water and the cocoa, set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, canola oil, and vanilla together.
Stir in sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
Whisk in the cocoa mixture
Alternate stirring in flour and milk.

Pour into cupcake papers and bake for 20 min or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs on it.

Icing (not really a recipe)
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat it all together, add coloring as desired.
I need to work on this - I've been making it a bit too stiff and then it's hard to pipe. So this is just all general proportions... I tend to just add as more sugar till it stiffens.

Posted by JAY at 11:57 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2008

Trev's New House


It's more like a new foundation - Trev's house is the firebreak, so it won't be done until months after the other houses around his are done. So there are houses down the street that are the same model that are almost done.

It's a really nice layout, with 4 big bedrooms upstairs and a second floor laundry room. The basement is nice and clear too. It'll be nice to see once it's done! Below the jump is a shot of the same model further on down the road.


Posted by JAY at 07:22 PM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2008

The Credit Collapse

In layman's language, in less than a page.

I don't provide anything in way of backup here. But this is a precis of this really great NPR program, which is much longer (about 20 pages). Highly recommended.
--------------

The Credit Collapse

There's a global pool of money available for investment. This money is everything that everyone is saving - pension funds, central banks, insurance funds. This pool was 36 trillion in 2000. It was 70 trillion in 2006 - due to developing countries coming online. That's more than all the money spent and earned by every entity on earth in one year.

So in 2006, we had an army of investors looking for good, safe investments with a return of a few percent/year. There just aren't enough of them! Alan Greenspan, head of the US treasury, then says "US T-bills are only going to pay 1%". In other words, one of the major safe ways that the global pool can invest is now gone. Where can they find some new investments?

Well, residential mortgages are returning between 5 and 10 percent! Sure, they're higher risk, but if a broker buys them, bundles them up and then divides them into "mortgage securities", the risk of defaults is spread out and the global pool can make money for the life of the mortgage!

So 2 factors:
Demand for mortgage backed securities became crazy intense.
Banks and mortgage companies were no longer KEEPING the mortgages for more than a few months.

The drive to generate mortgages led to riskier and riskier mortgages being given. First there were mortgages based on "assets and POTENTIAL earnings". Then there were NINA mortgages - No Income, No Assets. And because these mortgages were for 'resale' and commission, there was no incentive to ensure that the mortgagaes were actually reasonable. So people were getting mortgages who should never have gotten mortgages in the first place.

And for a while, it worked!

Because it was easy to get a mortgage, demand for house prices soared. The possiblity of major real estate return led more people to get crazy mortgages and buy houses that they couldn't afford. When they couldn't afford to pay their mortgage, these people then took out ANOTHER mortgage to pay their bills - which they could do because the supposed 'value' of their house had gone up.

Finally, they started to default on their mortgages. And because of foreclosures, house prices began to fall. The cycle that spiralled up was now spiralling down.

The global pool of investors started to say: "We're not buying these kind of securities anymore. They're starting to go down! Who said these were risk free, triple-A investments anyway? We're not buying anything but NO RISK investments, even if they only pay 1%."

So the mortgage companies and banks that were holding billions of dollars of mortgages, ready to bundle and sell up the chain, had no place to sell them. These companies had BORROWED these billions to provide in mortgages, and now no one wanted to buy them. They go bankrupt.

And here we are. Financial firms going bankrupt. House prices in a downward spiral. People unable to pay their mortgages. Investors with investments that are bleeding money and are not lending money to ANYONE - which spreads the financial problems in the mortgage and real estate area to all other sectors of the economy. This "credit crunch" prevents new businesses from being started, which prevents jobs from being created.

Poor People: 0, Rich people: 0

Posted by JAY at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2008

Visiting Sienna

Went to Trev and Rucell's to drop off a whack of food. Hopefully it'll ease some workload over the next few days while they acclimate to having a 4 person family! Sienna's is tiny and has a surprisingly full head of hair. Mostly, though, she eats and sleeps. Riley trusts me now, enough that he conked out with me holding him and I put him to bed.

Posted by JAY at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2008

Congrats!

Official announcement from Trev
Just writing to tell everyone that on Sept 18th at 8:32am Sienna Vanderwal was born. She's 8 pounds 3 ounces and 50cm tall. Mother and baby are both doing well and will likely be back home on saturday or sunday.

Posted by JAY at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2008

Recipe: Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

My sister found these cookies on RecipeZaar. I like them a lot because they have great texture - no less than 3 textural elements - coconut and oats add a resilient chew while rice crispies give a light crunchiness.

This recipe uses shortening instead of butter - so make sure that you buy a 'reformulated' brand that doesn't use partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans-fats). The new ones use fully hydrogenated oils (which are much like saturated fats - not good for you, but not killer like trans-fats) and soften them by blending with liquid oils. If you read the nutrition label, there should be well under 1g of trans-fats per serving. The older shortening will usually have 4+ grams of trans-fats Crisco seems fine, but most store brands are still partially hydrogenated.

1 cup shortening (get the new, non-trans-fat shortening - check the label)
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups rolled oats, uncooked
1 cup flaked coconut
2 cups crisp rice cereal (Rice Krispies)

mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F (330F with convection)

Beat the shortening with both sugars till fluffy, then add the eggs and the extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, soda and salt. Then add it to the stuff above and mix more.

Lower the speed to a stir and mix in the oats, coconut and puffed rice cereal.

Stir in a 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips by hand if you like.

Roll into 1" balls and flatten slightly on a parchment lined sheet pan.

Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Posted by JAY at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2008

Simple Simon

Lately I've been the pie man... I've been making lotsa pies and taking them places. Which I guess is good, because if I was eating them all, I'd be so much fatter. As it is, the pie I'm sharing is still affecting my waistline.

Blueberry pie 1: Melanie, Jen, Dan
Blueberry pie 2: Lisa
Blueberry pie 2: Trevor, Dave

Only the last pie was really good. The first pies were done in with convection on and the filling didn't get hot enough to melt all the sugar.

Peach pie 1: Mom and Dad
Peach pie 2: Dan, Fiona, Martin, Fiona's mom

These were pretty good. Fiona and my father both really enjoyed them. I didn't crimp the edge well enough, though and they boiled up and messed up the bottom of my oven. I'd bake them on a tray, but the metal deflects the heat from the bottom, which makes for a soggy bottom crust.

Pie x: I've got one more pie crust in the fridge. Possibly I'll freeze it.

Update: Nope - mom bought some really tart apples. So I made apple pie with them - they were really flavorful under all that tartness and the pie was really good.

Posted by JAY at 09:12 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2008

Poker Night

Aaron, Anthony, Dom, Sean and I met at Rick's house for poker and pizza. It was so nice outside that we started playing outside until it got dark. Then we moved it into the kitchen. It's hard to tell, but I think Aaron and I were the night's winners - though nothing as dramatic as my first session! I think I'm probably even overall...

A good time was had by all. We do need to find some new variants, though.

The variants that we play are:
-kings and little ones
-queens and followers
-hi/low chicago

Other games that we play are
-7/27 (which I'm pretty lucky at, but it's a lot of addition, which stresses me)
-chase the ace (which I really like - it's fun, the pot is large, the risk is low... but I never win)

Posted by JAY at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2008

Fun in Ottawa


So we didn't spend ALL our time working... once it got dark, we partied! Here we are at the Cornerstone Bar. It appears that they hire totally based on looks, as the servers are all very attractive. The guys were ogling away. Sean had already had a whole bunch of beer BEFORE he joined us for shots and dinner. As you can tell from the pic, he's a happy drunk. We called John and his wife to join us to ogle the servers. (The red dress is apparently 25 bucks at American Outitters.) We did assorted shots and snacked on various appetizers. After that we hit the pubs and danced a bit (if you could actually call it dancing...).

Another night, we stayed in for pizza and played drinking games. Nick and Sean started playing 'caps', a drinking game where you try to knock bottle caps off the other person's beer bottle. Sean's waaaay too good at that kind of game, though (probably too much practice) and I took over from Nick. I don't like beer, though, so I was drinking rum. Sadly, I didn't fare any better than Nick did and my rum was gone pretty fast.

On the last day, we took a walk through the Market. We grabbed food at an enclosed patio restaurant (undercooked pasta, not so great) and then got dessert at a cake shop called Oh So Good. The cake was really, really expensive ($7/slice!) - but also very very good. I ordered a lemon cake that was deliciously tart and moist. I tried Sean's chocolate cake and it was actually better than homemade chocolate cake. The crumb was dense and smooth, yet also light. The cheesecakes were pretty ordinary - cheesecake is pretty much the same wherever you go.

Posted by JAY at 07:47 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2008

Buildings in Ottawa

200808Parliament-thumb.jpg
Click here to view large image

Here's a panoramic view of the Parliament Building in Ottawa. I took this on the last day as we were walking through Ottawa - this building was between the hotel and the office. We were lucky to get some pretty good weather for the entire duration. There are a couple more shots below.


Also to the left is a shot of the Supreme Court of Canada. It's not nearly as big as Parliament. Finally, here's one more shot of the Parliament buildings (this one not stitched together, just a regular shot).

I'll post more shots later, along with some party shots with what we did at night!

Posted by JAY at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2008

Ottawa Hotel: Albert At Bay

I've mentioned this hotel in passing before, but this time I had my camera! This is the base room at the Albert, and it's awesome. The upgraded rooms, only about 10 bucks more per night, have dedicated dinning rooms and king sized beds. The one time I got upgraded to an 'executive' room, it wasn't much different, other than it had a Neptune air jet tub.

This is the main room, pretty standard, except that every suite in this hotel has the bed in an actual bedroom, not in the main area with the rest of the stuff. It makes entertaining in your room a lot easier.

Anyway... on with the tour below!

A small study is off the main room - some rooms instead have a dining room. I didn't really use this room at all. There are 3 phones scattered around the suite, including a cordless.

This, for me, is the big selling point - a fully equipped kitchen! Out of frame are a normal sized fridge (useful for water and booze!) and microwave. The cupboards are stocked with dishes. Great for snacks... They usually stock a basket with dish towels and usually leave a couple packs of cookies. The deal is that I get the Oreos and Sean gets the Fudgeos. They leave a flyer for an internet grocery as well. I've never gotten the chance to actually cook, though.


Here's the bedroom. It's pretty standard, though in a separate room. There's an additional TV in here, a closet, the usual. It's nice, but not opulent. It does, however, have a master bedroom bathroom! This is a really nice feature, because it means that if you have guests, they can use the main bath. Also, the master bath has a nice big glass shower stall. I tend to brush my teeth in the bath that i'm not showering in to avoid wet feet! Also, it's nice because if you don't have your room cleaned while you stay (I tend to hang the Do Not Disturb marker out) then you have 2 clean baths to use.


Lastly, here's the main bathroom. The bathrooms are nicely appointed, with granite countertops. This bathroom has a bath tub instead of a shower stall.

Posted by JAY at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2008

Dinner at Sean's

I worked at Sean's house today and went to lunch at Swiss Chalet with Renato and Dom. We used to get 20% off, but now we just get free drinks... Not as good for me, since I usually just get water. I like iced tea, but I slug it back, which probably isn't too good for my waistline.

Jax and Sean invited me for dinner. I bbq'ed some rib steaks that Jax had marinating and Jax made corn (really nice and sweet!). Everything was really good. Their son Brandon (almost 4) is a bit of a picky eater, so he mostly ate noodles and broth. Sarah (15 months) is demanding when it comes to food - and she likes to feed herself.

We player outside for a bit, then headed off to a couple stores with Brandon to find the remote control version of Wall-E the robot. I was impressed by Brandon's reading skills - he can actually sound out words - a bit of trouble with "Indiana" (Jones) but no trouble with "lotto centre". Just like daddy - all about the gambling!

Sarah liked Wall-E too. She would booty-dance along with it when it was playing music and waving its arms. Too much Girlicious on the iMac! She likes me too, now, and will come and ask to be picked up when she's in the mood. She has a toy that makes bubbles which she really likes (she lead me across the house to fetch it from the foyer) and can say "bubble" and "pop!".

Sean and I also played a bit of head-to-head Tetris on the Nintendo DS. Long story short: he sucks!

Posted by JAY at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2008

A Day In The Life... Mary Brown's

I finally got the chance to work (well, volunteer) in Scott's Mary Brown's Fried Chicken restaurant! Throughout highschool, I had always wanted to work there, but it was the last place Scott wanted to be. Heh, I think he regrets it now, though, since he had to admit that I picked things up faster than their average new employee.

I got to do all sorts of stuff - preparing potatoes was the worst, cuz I'm slow. I breaded and fried chicken and taters, which was fun. I unpacked raw chicken for Scott to cut on a huge circular saw (I didn't try the saw). And I packed orders (which is actually harder than it sounds, because the taters, sandwiches and chicken fingers are fried to order, and that's part of packing).

It was pretty hard work - mostly the part about being on your feet all day. My feet were hurting by the end of the day.

After we closed the shop, we went to Scott's place and set off some fireworks in the backyard. The first firecracker wasn't buried properly and fell over - shooting balls of fire over the fence into the neighbour's yard! After that, we got a bigger pot and things went more sedately.

By the end of the evening, Scott was trying to convince me of young-earth creationism again, which is fun, because all the 'science' is soooo flawed or deceptively presented. The moon dust argument was the one he was talking about. I think he was starting to get upset when I was challenging everything though, near the end. Oops!

Posted by JAY at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2008

Trev and Rucell's Birthday


This is the main cake that I made for Trev and Rucell's birthday. The chocolate writing is just a cup of chocolate chips melted with a couple tablespoons of canola oil. I also did a version of Sean's no-bake strawberry cheesecake - but i baked the crust in a decorative tart ring. Unfortunately, there wasn't a proper knife at the party, so people were having trouble cutting it.

Rucell and Trev's usual friends were there (Chris, Neil, Bambi, Glenchie, Dave, Erich, Catherine, Rona... and I'm sure others that I'm missing...) We had a good time chatting outside.

This party wasn't as crowded as Riley's, but it was still fun. And of course, there was a ton of food there. I got to take home some yummy filled canollis and pizza for snacking on later. (In fact, it lasted for a couple days!) I stayed a bit late until Riley went to sleep, chatting and watching movies.

Posted by JAY at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2008

Dom Visits for Breakfast

I took today off to make some birthday cakes for Trev and Rucell. Dom brought his car into town to get his windows tinted and the clear plastic car hood protector applied. So I picked him up and made a big pancake breakfast (any excuse to eat). We did a pretty good job at getting through the pancakes. I didn't have any maple syrup, so I substituted a simple sugar syrup with some strawberry jam to make a strawberry sauce

Here's an older pic and the recipe. I used 2 eggs and didn't measure anything. And I think I substituted veg oil for some of the melted butter. Really, it's hard to mess up this recipe! I cooked the eggs in a lot of melted butter this time, so they were beautifully easy-over with no hard bits.

We chatted and wandered around the mall until his car was ready around noon.

Posted by JAY at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2008

Blowing the Budget

Sigh. It's not my FAULT! There were just too many good opportunities presenting themselves.

Victorinox Forschner chef knife: $30
These knives won America's Test Kitchen's approval, being both really sharp, ergonomic and inexpensive. It's a stamped knife, rather than forged - but it compares identically to my Henckles knife in terms of sharpness, and that cost around $90. Renato found it (new) on eBay and bought it for me - I haven't really seen them up here, and the Canadian webstores are a bit expensive.

Nintendo DS: $114
I played with Sean's and it was a lot of fun. Dell had them once for $99 and I waited for the Days of Deals, but they didn't go on sale. But THEN! I was in Superstore buying supplies for Father's Day dinner and they had a "Don't Pay the Tax" event. So... not $99, but $129 with all taxes included.

Dell 1320c Color Laser Printer: $150
Ok, those aforementioned Days of Deals? They had a color laser printer for sale for less than the cost of the toners inside it. The toner is a bit pricey, but I don't print a lot, it's cheaper than an ink just and toner doesn't dry out. Photo print quality is really good for a laser.

Oy. Individually, nothing too expensive... all together though, it adds up.

Posted by JAY at 05:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2008

Father's Day Dinner

Mom and Dad came here for Father's Day. I cooked up some steaks on the neighbours' barbecue and made a herb pesto to dress some pasta with some herbs from the garden. I made a side salad with raspberry dressing that tasted remarkably like Swiss Chalet's raspberry vinaigrette.

Aside to Dom: A couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a tablepoon of sugar, a small squirt of mustard (1/2 tsp), pinch of salt, black pepper, and seedless raspberry jam until it's the desired thickness/sweetness.

Dessert was bourbon caramel custards. Because I was using cream plus milk, I reduced the recipe by about 1/3 to make smaller custards... it's really rich when using a higher ratio of cream!

Posted by JAY at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2008

Dinner w. Jen and Naomi

Jen and Naomi came over for dinner today. Naomi was a bit shy at first - she probably needs to see me more often. I think I'm fixed in her mind as having long hair. Anyway, after she loosened up we had fun playing in my neighbour's jungle gym, on the piano and on the beanbag.

For dinner I bbq'ed a tiny 6 bone rack of ribs and made some simple pasta with garlic and shrimp and parmesan. Naomi, who kind of shares her father's vegetarian tendencies, surprised us by not only eating a fair portion of pasta but REALLY enjoying a couple of ribs and even trying a shrimp! She refused to actually handle the ribs, but actually started crying when Jen stopped holding it up for her to chomp on. Heh, it must help that Dan's not around oozing revulsion.

PS. Jen, here's the recipe.

Posted by JAY at 07:40 PM | Comments (1)

June 08, 2008

Ottawa - Upgrades and Drunkards

Went to Ottawa again for a meeting. To chair a meeting, actually, even though my manager was there in the room and knows waaay more than I do about the process. Anyway... to the non-work details!

Sean and I flew in on Thursday evening and went out for dinner with Sylvie, Sandy and Lise. Um, I don't remember where we went exactly, other than the portions were huge. I tried a mojito (rum, lime, club soda and mint) and was a bit disappointed that I didn't like it, since the neighbor has an abundance of mint in the backyard. We also tried a variety of shooters, including Sean's favorite, the Florida Tracksuit (Red Bull, Red Sourpuss, orange vodka) and a Jager Bomb.

Anyway, Amy and Angela joined us later for a couple drinks - I tried a Smirnoff Ice - didn't like that either. It was WAY too sweet - it tasted like I was drinking sugar. Around midnight, we headed back to the hotel, but Sandy and Sean stayed out for more drinking.

My hotel room got a free upgrade - which wasn't really fair since Sean booked the room for me. I was all excited, except when we got to the room it was pretty much the same as all the other rooms. The only difference was that it had a Neptune whirlpool bath. I tried it when I got back to the hotel - there were many little jets and they were very powerful. It was kinda like sitting in a choppy ocean. They're adjustable, but I didn't find it very relaxing. It was fun to try, though.

Because of that, I was still up when Sean came mischievously banging on the door when he returned to the hotel, thinking that he'd wake me up! He was pretty sloshed, but at least he's a happy drunk! He didn't have a hangover in the morning, though.

Posted by JAY at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2008

Gardening

Spent a bunch of time (and money!) in the garden today.

There were a couple of caterpillar nests in the field behind my house. I hopped the fence and cut them down with some shears. I put them in a plastic bag that's currently in my recycling bin.

Bo says she's seen rabbits around, so I took a quick trip to the local dollar store to get some cheap plastic fencing to go around the garden. It's not very high, though... we'll see if it works.

I also bought some cages for my tomato plants. The tomato and lettuce plants seem to be growing really well. Sage, thyme and tarragon came back from last year. I've re-planted parsley and rosemary. I'm not sure if I'll bother with basil this year - it didn't do well last year.

Posted by JAY at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2008

Riley's Birthday

Today was Riley's 1st birthday party! Rucell really went all-out on the arrangements. There was a TON of food, 2 clowns (good thing, cuz one was really late), a Cars (Disney movie) themed cake and 3 pavillions. I got there early with 60 cupcakes to ice (recipe later for the chocolate ones). Almost all of them were eaten, too. I also fried about 200 spring rolls and cooked about 3 packs of spaghetti.

Riley seemed to really enjoy himself. I got to play with him a lot. He really, really liked the cupcakes - though his dad only let him eat about 1/2 of one. He stayed up really late - I wonder what time he'll be waking up tomorrow! Heh, we never did get around to opening the presents. Among the guests were Nervada, Karen (pregnant and due in September!), Stephanie and Nathan. Also Neil, Bambi and Glenchie. Erich, Katherine, Gaby and Matt showed up really late. Trev's mom, dad, grandmother, brother and Aunt Tish were there as well. Their old neighbor Nermal...And lots of others... I'm missing tons.

We stayed late and watched Ultimate Fighting on Pay Per View. By the time that ended it was really, really late.

Posted by JAY at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2008

Visiting Scott

Just got back from Scott's house.

Sounds like he's in for some exciting times, though it's not public knowledge yet so I can't post it here.

Anyway, we caught up on old times, grilled asparagus, mushrooms and sausages. We also made our way through three quarters of a bottle of tequila and three quarters of a mickey of rum (mixed with slushy - even Heather, his wife, liked that!). Heh, Scott was pretty wasted when I left (ugh... Heather might be miffed with me tomorrow!). But here I am, fine as usual after drinking... I think something in me resists drinking past a certain point.

As far as tequila goes, it just tastes like slightly adulterated rum to me. It's surprisingly palatable with the salt and lemon, but... well, not that interesting.

Scott had picked me up earlier at my place, so I took a cab back home. Haha, Scott was so toasted that he gave the wrong address to the cab company - when I checked it outside, I had to go back in and call them with the corrected address. Hopefully he's ok by tomorrow!

Posted by JAY at 01:34 AM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2008

Ottawa Again!

Went to Ottawa again on work. Of course, I couldn't find my camera... Eventually, I'll get pictures of Ottawa up.

Anyway, went there for a meeting and stayed at Albert On Bay. The room, as usual, was awesome. Only one bathroom this time, but a full dining room seating 8 and a separate bedroom with a nice king bed. Sean, Sylvie and I went to the pub after work, where a singularly awful band was playing fiddle and guitar. Half the patrons left, but we stuck it out.

Sean found a new favorite shooter, a Florida Tracksuit. It's made with a shot glass of red Sourpuss and orange vodka, dropped into a half glass of Red Bull. I thought it was pretty vile, personally. We also tried a Jack Frost (Jack Daniels and peppermint schnapps, tasted like mouthwash), Apple Pie (some sort of apple liquor/brandy and butterscotch schapps) and a Viva Puff (red sourpuss and creme de cacao - tastes like those chocolate covered marshmallow/raspberry jam cookies).

When I got back to the hotel, I was so bloated that I looked pregnant! Yeesh. But I wasn't drunk or anything... Sean was ok this time too, despite having the same shots as me along with several beers. No hangovers or anything, either. So I still haven't experienced a hangover (not that I want to).

Posted by JAY at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2008

Ottawa Trip

Unlike the last trip, this one was only 2 days, for an all-staff meeting. Sadly, I was slightly sick for a bunch of it, and now I'm -really- sick... I've basically lost my voice completely.

Anyway, the meeting was productive. There was also a 'recognition' portion where I got a thank you note and gift for work that I did with some of our tools. Which was very nice (especially the note!) but did make me the target of jokes for the rest of the evening, since I just recently joined the team...

We also went out for a night on the town after work on Wednesday and had fun - though the last club that we went to was very odd. Bunches of young kids (well, you know, from my aged perspective) a few older people, a couple of solitary people just hanging around..

Posted by JAY at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2008

Best Hotel Ever!

Went to Ottawa for an overnight meeting (more on that later) and stayed at the best hotel ever: the Albert at Bay. For the same price as my one-room, pay-per-day Internet, noisy Ottawa Marriott, I got a suite that was bigger than my friend's condo! Apparently the rooms are converted condo/apartments.

TWO bathroom! The master bedroom ensuite had a glass enclosed shower stall, the other had traditional tub. The bedroom is in a separate room with a huge closet and safe. Full kitchen with fridge, stove, dishwasher. It was fully stocked with cutlery, dishes and quite nice pans (Lagostina aluminium bottoms). There was also a separate office that I didn't really use at all - likely it was a second bedroom before being converted. The main room was big enough to have a kitchen table along with a sitting area and TV. The balcony was nice too. Internet was free - though I didn't have my laptop there since it was only one night.

And at $140/night, it's cheaper than the other hotels that I've stayed at, too.

Posted by JAY at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2008

Week of Kids


Naomi still gives me a suspicious look every now and again, but she's quite happy to play with me and only once mentioned that I had cut off all my hair. We had a good time - she's grown into a destructive streak where everything has to be knocked over or torn down! No sooner had Dan gone to take a shower than Naomi exclaimed in a surprised voice: "Oh! I pooped!" Me: "Daaaaan!" But he was already in the shower.

I went to help out the neighbors with some computer stuff and played with Daniel and Amelia. Amelia is FINALLY used to the short hair now, so that's good. She's not at the point yet where she's demanding to be picked up all the time, though (or maybe she's outgrown it) - she mostly likes playing with dolls and strollers.

So it looks like I'm good again with all the kids.

Posted by JAY at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2008

Dinner at Trev's x2

Hmm, this post disappeared on me.

Earlier this week Rucell invited me to dinner. She bbq'ed some salmon and sausages. It was really really good. I don't have a bbq, so it's always a treat. I brought some cupcakes to test drive for Riley's birthday next month. He seemed to like them. Riley's very co-ordinated for a 10 month old. He enjoys rolling things around on the floor and chasing after them and can walk unassisted (though he prefers to crawl most of the time).

Yesterday, I took Trev some split pea soup (apparently one of his favorites) and some oil biscuits to dunk in it. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, but unfortunately the chicken that I had bbq'ed last minute was just a bit underdone. Oops. I'm so helpless without my meat thermometer!

Riley's totally used to me now (finally!). He waves and demands to be carried around. His favorite play is slapping down spinning round things on the hard laminate floor.

Posted by JAY at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2008

Exercise - Swimming

So my trampoline broke and I've been gaining weight (have you noticed that I haven't updated the weigh-ins for a while?... it's too depressing!) I haven't gained enough weight back to have to give back any rewards, though.

Since I cut my hair and have prescription swim goggles, I bit the bullet and bought a yearly swim pass. The intent is to swim 3 times a week - so this involves getting up really early in the morning. Blech. I went twice this week and enjoyed it quite a bit - the swimming, not the getting up early. I better see some results soon!

Posted by JAY at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2008

Work

A few weeks ago, I started working at a new position in my department. So far, it's only temporary, but there's a lot of pluses and minuses.

Pluses:
I work with people I really like, and in general, it's a strong group.
The manager is really good at motivating.
The work is really interesting and challenging.

Minuses:
There's a LOT of work, and it's more stressful, while the pay is about the same.
Given the nature of the job, people don't automatically "like" me as much.

Interesting:
I've gotten to travel a lot - so far, to Halifax and Ottawa.
It's sort of high profile, which has both good and bad points. I'm dealing a lot more with my manager and even our executives, which I rarely did in my usual position.
I've heard rumors that my old job might be moved to a farther location, which would cost me more in gas than it's worth. So staying in my new job for as long as I can is probably the best thing right now.

Posted by JAY at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2008

Ottawa

I spent this past week in Ottawa for work. Of COURSE I didn't bring my camera, and I would've liked to get some pictures of the legislature buildings and other places. Oh well, maybe next time. More below...

The train trip there and back on Via One were great. Meals and drinks were served and, unlike last time, the food was pretty good! On the way there, the appetizer was a lobster and feta salad (the lobster bits were seen, but not really tasted). The main was "Thai Curry Shrimp". The shrimp were plump and tasty but the curry wasn't really a curry - more like a pale white ginger sauce. It was still pretty good, though. Dessert was a mousse that was ok. On the way back the food was better - smoked salmon appetizer, sole and shrimp in cream sauce with spinach and rice, and a wedge of caramel cheesecake. Of course, I was downing white wine with the meal, so maybe that had something to do with it. Apparently, I become flushed when drinking wine, as opposed to other spirits. I also enjoyed a couple of rum and cokes (the rum was Lamb's white... and tasted pretty good, so I might have to get some.)

The hotel, by contrast, sucked. I'm not staying at the Ottawa Marriott anymore! The internet was a gouging ten bucks a DAY, so I didn't get it. The fan, when on, intermittently made a noise that I was mistaking for a helicopter outside the building! I could also hear water noises from the other rooms. Bah. Next time, I'll take Sean's advice and stay at the Albert on Bay (I think) which has complimentary internet and an in-room kitchen! Heh, maybe I'll pack food in my luggage! The only good thing about the Marriott was that we didn't have to go outside to get to the building where the meetings were taking place.

The meetings were a bit on the boring side. Funnily enough, less fuss was made about my haircut than at my previous meeting where the people had never seen me before anyway. So that was good!

After work, we went to a pub where Deb lost her wallet (shades of Sean!) but then found it in her coat lining. One manager was ribbed incessantly about being the only one to fail a training test recently (poor guy! He was laughing along with us but there was a slightly plaintive quality to it).. but really he seemed more thrown when Dom pointed out that he looks exactly like a young Donny Osmond, which cracked me right up. Apparently his wife has made the same observation. Someone needs to show his kids some Donny Osmond musical performances and tell them it's Daddy! (Uh, I'm a bit unsure about who Donny Osmond is, exactly...) My fish 'n chips were just OK, though it was a huge portion and the whiskey and mushroom gravy was really nice.

When we returned to the hotel we commandeered a projector and an empty conference room and played video games on a Nintendo Wii for a bit. My tennis practice stood me in good stead, but my lack of bowling was very evident.

Another night we went to a casino buffet to celebrate a co-worker's retirement. Again, the food was just OK, though everyone else seemed to enjoy it. No one really gambled, though, just some slots. We wound up leaving early, which was good, since I was pretty tired.

I'm really glad to be home, though, after 2 weeks of being mostly away. Traveling is fun, but I miss good home cooked food.

Posted by JAY at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2008

The Kids Are Afraid!

Unlike the adults, the kids don't care for the new haircut.

Naomi, the first to see it, came running and shouting "Jason!", as usual. Then she saw me and screeched to a halt, backed away and started mumbling under her breath. After some explanation and a few suspicious looks, we were playing as usual - with the odd sidelong glance.

The next door kids had different reactions. Daniel, the older one, flatly told me: "You're not Jason." But showing him my old ponytail convinced him that it was me. Little Emilia, on the other hand, was too shy in the little time I had to convince that I was trustworthy. So she'll have to get used to me all over again!

My godson, Riley, took one look and then clung to daddy. Since we were at my place, I didn't have the plastic rings that we had so much fun spinning on the floor last time. He slowly became used to me after about 10 minutes or so and then was ok - though he was still looking to Trev for occasional reassurance. He was pretty tired, though, after a long day out.

Posted by JAY at 09:36 PM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2008

Halifax

I started a new job (still with the same employer) last Monday, and we kicked off with a team meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, I suck, and didn't take any pictures. We had a pretty good time, though, and the team as a whole seems really strong, so here's hoping I can keep up. (Ugh, already ended up working most of this weekend to deliver a spreadsheet template.)

Despite being pretty ignorant of the group's functions, I still took part in the debates and discussions. Heh, hopefully I didn't make TOO much of an ass of myself. (Sean would tell me though, I hope. And Sandy bought me a drink after I incoherently, but correctly, questioned a project manager's prioritization of his project.)

Anyway, work stuff is just... work stuff, so here's what we did after hours!

Just a warning, though, apparently websites in Halifax have a LOT of useless Flash. Yeesh. So my links will be past front pages and may stop working in the future.

On Monday we got dinner at an Irish pub called The Old Triangle. I had an OK Irish Stew that was more root veggies than lamb. (Mental note: Eric may be unsound when it comes to food recommendations.) After, we went to The Lower Deck for beer and saw Signal Hill. Their music was much better than their website, a lot of 80s covers and maritime songs, so it was a good time.

Tuesday evening, I went with Sean and John to Casino Nova Scotia (I think). I don't really gamble, but I learned enough about Black Jack from Sean to be almost tempted to play. But not quite! The odds are actually much more even than I thought they were, for Black Jack at least.

Wednesday was party night. All of us went to the Pogue, where we left after being told that they wouldn't run a tab because they were too busy (they weren't) and substituting Eric's beer with something that was apparently vile. So Sandy ended up having to practically chug his pitcher of beer - the early start of a huge hangover for him! Our manager, who's local to the area, ended up tearing a strip off of the poor server/barman/whatever it was. Wet snow as falling, so there were a lot of snowballs being thrown.

Anyway, we headed back The Old Triangle. By this time, I was starving, so I was feeling the shots and beer that were ordered before the food came. (I should've gotten their mix for the Killer Koolaid - It was awesome and not nearly as good elsewhere.) This time, I ordered a Dublin Pastie. It had been sold out the previous visit and I found out why - it was great! Chicken and ham in bechamel sauce, wrapped in thick puff pastry. Mmmmm.

Repeating Monday, we then went back to The Lower Deck, where Signal Hill was performing again. Many pitchers of beer were consumed (but not by me, I was taking a break). After that, we went to Cheers, a club with a live band (nothing near as good as Signal Hill), dance floor and a crowd that looked about 10 years younger than me... and I'm the youngest of our group! That didn't stop the ladies in our group from being hit on, though! We passed through the Liquor Dome, but the crowd there was even younger.

More shots ensured that some of our group would have a banging hangover the next morning. (I'm told there was some puking going on...) I just had 3, though, so I was fine. I would gladly blame my dancing on the drinks, but unfortunately I did the dancing before the drinking... whatever. Sambuca and some chocolate thing was better than expected, but the Killer Koolaid here wasn't nearly as good as at the Triangle. Francina and I spent the earlier portion of our visit being bemused by the kids (heh, I'm so old!) and she was getting hit on by a truly creepy older gent.

Unfortunately, the evening ended on a low note - Sean's jacket got stolen! And it had all his ID in it as well! So we had to call Jax, back in Ontario, at 4am to cancel his cards. She was not impressed.

The next day was a bit of a drag - a bunch of people had hangovers and those of us who didn't were damn tired. The worst part was waiting at the airport for the flight to arrive - we were delayed and ended up waiting for a few hours. It was fun to fly - I haven't been on a plane since I was really young.

Posted by JAY at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2008

Chop

So I got my hair cut today - more than 2 feet of it, and there was still enough on the floor to make a large cat out of.

My co-workers are tickled pink. Initial first impression: I'm gonna get a cold - it's FREEZING without hair covering my head and neck. It looked flat, but there was evidently a lot of insulative value there. Also, the gunk that the hairdresser used is a bit smelly - I'm anti-scent in general.

Overall, though, it looks pretty ok. Better than what I had, anyway. There's only so much you can do with a fat face!

Posted by JAY at 05:24 PM | Comments (2)

March 02, 2008

Fish at Jen's

Yesterday I went to Jen's to cook dinner. In general, I cook whatever is on sale, and this wasn't any different. On sale: cod, potatoes, romaine lettuce, strawberries. So since we're supposed to be watching what we're eating, that was pretty good.

I breaded the cod with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese (bad!) and we baked the potatoes (good!). The romaine and strawberries, with some balsamic vinaigrette. I wasn't too happy with the cod and won't be making it again, but Jen (and surprisingly, Naomi) enjoyed it. I did like the tartar sauce though! (Bad! Jen didn't have ANY!)

Posted by JAY at 05:54 PM | Comments (2)

February 28, 2008

Sh!tstorm

I use solitaire games on the computer like a magic 8 ball... yesterday, I 'asked' how productive my day would be today. The answer? The most unequivocal NO I've ever gotten. (Stop making fun of me, it's just a harmless little ritual that I don't take seriously!)

Shortly after I was seated at my desk this morning, I heard cataracts of water crashing down around me. Then, a bit of a sprinkle on my head. I grabbed my laptop and flung my chair backwards, breaking some dishes that were on the desk that were brushed aside by laptop cabling. I was just in time to avoid several liters of water crashing down right where my chair had been and over my desk. Argh.

Apparently, a toilet overhead had overflowed. EW! I stuck around to make sure that my entire area was hosed down with bleach by the cleaners, who also tossed everything I had on the upper shelves (forced tidying!). That took about an hour and a half.

Then I headed home to take a leisurely long shower and toss my clothes into the washing machine. (They weren't wet or anything, but I'm sure some droplets hit them.) When I got back to work, I spent the rest of the afternoon re-arranging my office furniture to another corner of the room to avoid future problems.

So yeah. I got absolutely nothing done.

Posted by JAY at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2008

Friday VIsits

I went to the parents' house for dinner after and cooked some nice strip loin steaks that my dad picked up and a whole bunch of roasted veggies - mushrooms, cauliflower, eggplant, garlic, broccoli, onions, sweet potato. It was good!

Then I passed by Trev and Rucell's place to play with Riley. He's crawling all over now and can stand unassisted (when he wants to) We had fun chasing each other around and spinning toys on the laminate flooring in the kitchen. He's very physical. He's firmly in the "likes Jason" camp now - heh, he's been one of the slowest kids to get used to me... it took 3 visits! Granted the first time he was only a few months old.

Anyway, T/R are buying a Mattamy house near my house. The 'Mattamy experience' is very different from mine! They have so many upgrade choices and it's all laid out with pricing and diagrams in a thick book! The different cabinetry configurations for the kitchen alone are dizzying. Everything seems fairly reasonably priced too! It looks like a lot of fun. Too bad I can't afford to get one! It would be a lot of fun to choose the various finishes and configurations.

It would be waaaay too easy to spend twenty thousand plus on the various upgrades. 9' ceilings, glass shower, maple staircase, a couple of cabinet tweaks, some upgraded carpet (doable by room!), a quartz countertop, potlights... all stuff I'd like but very expensive when put all together! T/R are getting most of them ;-)

I can't wait to see it!

Posted by JAY at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2008

Wii (more!)

Melanie and I went to Jen and Dan's to play games on the Wii (and also Ivanhoe, but Melanie's kid woke up and she had to go...). We played tennis - I had fun, but was really starting to lose focus at the end and was really sucking. But everyone got to play with everyone, which was nice. We also played a couple of games of this trivia thing which was pretty cool and I barely managed to eke out a win in one game.

Jen told us a really funny story - apparently her girl Naomi will spontaneously break into a song where the only lyrics are "Holy fuck!" All I can say is, they haven't REALLY heard it until I've rehearsed it with her for a couple hours! Heh.

I brought over some cake, but people didn't like it as much this time (or maybe too many people concerned about their weight)? Same thing at work - each time I went there were tiny slivers gone off the pieces of cake. So I just polished off two of the four leftover slices. Rules? What rules?

Posted by JAY at 11:22 PM | Comments (2)

February 14, 2008

Daniel and Amelia

My neighbour's kids love me. *slightly smug look*

Now, whenever I'm visiting with them, Daniel starts asking "Jason sleep in my house/bed/couch?" Heh, I've gotten away without having to sleep over, though. Which, really, I'm right next door! Daniel has an obsession with monsters - he likes to run from them and chase them and pretend to be knocked down by them. My imagination has a really hard time keeping up (especially when there are adults around - it's kinda embarassing).

Amelia (it might be Emilia), his younger sister, is a very very shy little girl - her mom warned me that she doesn't like visitors. But with me, she'll toddle over and raise her arms to be held. Yesterday, her mom kept trying to read a book with her, but she kept yanking the book away and closing it, then handing it to me to open for her, saying "Do! Do!" Her mom was pretty incredulous.

I was like "infant mind control... it's one of my talents!"

Posted by JAY at 09:49 PM | Comments (2)

February 08, 2008

Helping Out

Still sick. I took Thursday and Friday off of work to rest. Mom and Dad passed by with very welcome food (roasted pork and steamed buns - yum!) and Dad shoveled the mountain of snow off my driveway. My neighbor was going to do it, but apparently he strained his back. Thanks!! I was going to leave it till Sunday, when hopefully I'd be feeling better.

Feeling achy and congested doesn't seem to have affected my appetite at all, sadly! All it's done is prevent me from exercising (or an excuse not to?).

Posted by JAY at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2008

Superbug

I think I'm culturing the superbug.

Had dinner with my sick parents, then spent most of the weekend with sick friends, and I just got back from kidsitting my neighbor's sick kid while she took her other sick kid to the clinic! And I'm sick too - I warned her, but she really didn't want to drag both kids to the clinic. I suppose with me, he just got exposed to 2 sets of germs and the clinic would've been more.

On top of that, a foot of snow fell outside - I think I'm going to take tomorrow off. My neighbor cavalierly offered to have her husband shovel tomorrow. I don't feel too bad, cuz I'm sick and I got the last big snowfall. (Plus, payback for babysitting!) I seem to be running out of toilet paper (tissues ran out a loooong time ago).

Posted by JAY at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2008

Wii at Jen's

Went to Jen's to play with Naomi and make dinner... since Jen's watching what she eats (and me too, supposedly), I tried cooking with an eye toward a low calorie dinner:

-roasted veg with very little oil
-fat free bread (well, it's always fat free...)
-prosciutto wrapped stuffed chicken breasts (will post the recipe)
-fresh pineapple for dessert

After Naomi went to bed, Jen and I played various games on the Nintendo Wii. She totally killed me at everything... but tennis ;-)

Posted by JAY at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2008

Games!

Tonight Melanie and I went to Jen and Dan's house to play games. I narrowly lost the first game due to some crappy mistake (darn!). Then I badly lost a couple of games of my new favorite game, a card game called Ivanhoe. Sigh. I won when I first tried it earlier this week - beginner's luck I guess.

I was only slightly redeemed by totally owning at Wii Tennis (hee, that's a challenge, Dan!). But I swear there's a way to move the net player and baseline player independently in doubles but I couldn't figure it out. Melanie and Dan insist there isn't . Sean? Am I hallucinating?

Posted by JAY at 01:18 AM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2008

Dinner at the Parents'

Had dinner with Mom and Dad tonight - I arrived at their place to find that Mom had done a full rib roast dinner with all the trimmings! The small prime rib was perfectly cooked to a medium rare, the veg had been roasted with leeks that got nice and sweet and her yorkshire puddings puffed perfectly - as good as I've ever gotten them!

Afterward we baked an apple cake. Mom really liked it, but it wasn't as moist as the one that I baked earlier this week. I'm not sure exactly why.

The only thing I forgot was to get some leftovers to take home with me! Also, weigh-in day is tomorrow, and I'm thinking it'll be baaaaad news!

Posted by JAY at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2008

Recipe: Tilapia in Ten Minutes


This was really, really good - and super fast! Tilapia fillets are on sale this week, so they were a yummy dinner. Baby spinach was also on sale, and I must say that having it there and prewashed is very, very convenient. The dressing is a simple one of brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. It's important to season the fish here, instead of seasoning the dredging flours... that way, you have control over how much seasoning the fish get.

Pan Fried Tilapia

Start a heavy (preferably cast iron) skillet preheating on the stove over medium high heat.

Season the filets with salt and pepper on both sides, being fairly generous.

Whisk together roughly equal parts of flour and corn starch - a few tablespoons of each should do.

Dredge the fish in the flour.

Pour enough oil in the pan to liberally coat the bottom after swirling. The oil should be shimmering slightly and the oil should move easily, but if there's any smoke wisps it's too hot - let it cool off a bit.

Shake any excess flour off the fish and put it into the pan. It should give a nice sizzle. Cook for about 3 minutes and then flip carefully with a spatula and cook for another 3 minutes or so till golden.

Posted by JAY at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2008

Mattamy - Buying a house!

So I visited the Mattamy trailer twice today, the first time with Jen and then later with Trev, Rucell and Riley. They've got a subdivision starting in Newmarket and it's close to where I live now.

So yeah, Trev and Rucell bought a house while I played with Riley :) Then Riley got really tired and cranky and conked out instantly in his dad's arms (mental note: baby crying = bored, tired, hungry, needs changing... eliminate each one!)

It's really nice. There was one that I liked too, but they're a bit out of my price range and I don't have a deposit. Anyway, I'm glad they'll be close by - almost neighbors! Well, when it closes next year, anyway.

Posted by JAY at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2008

Sushi Feast

Jen and I had a feast right before the end of the holidays. Jen got a whole bunch of sushi delivered and I picked up a couple of lobsters on the way back from work. Everything was delicious and we finished almost everything! Naomi looked interested in the lobster but chickened out whenever we offered her any - Daddy's little girl, everything here would've totally grossed Dan out! Man, was it ever good!

I read Naomi a few stories before bedtime and tucked her in. She asked for Tyrone, a Backyardigan. I went to look for him and found a stuffed Pablo and Tasha (correction from Jen: NOT Uniqua), but no Tyrone. Jen told me later that they don't have Tyrone! Sigh! Naomi waited quietly while I was looking all over the house, but once we said goodnight she was a bit fussy.

Posted by JAY at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2007

Riley Standing

Trev, Rucell and Riley dropped by for dinner over the holidays (nothing special, just some roasted chicken and spaghetti, if I remember correctly - it was kinda last minute). Anyway, Riley can do an assisted stand now, hanging onto the coffee table. His favorite activity is to be tossed into the air, which is pretty tiring. Peekaboo is less tiring and received with less enthusiasm, though he still likes it. We confused him with my digital piano's vocal samples, he kept looking over to Rucell, who was sleeping on my couch.

Posted by JAY at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2007

Celebratory Summarization

So it was a fun holiday - I'm pretty sure I spent most of it eating. Christmas was spent with the family and surrounding days were spent with friends. Along with the aforementioned work lunches at the Keg and Swiss Chalet, I went to Montana's with friends (met Erich and Catherine's baby son Matthew for the first time) and just got back from the next door neighbors' house. (I'm so glad they decided not to move to Ottawa - they're so nice and their kids are adorable!) Also met Martin and Fiona's latest addition Oliver and played a bunch more games that I liked but of course can't remember the names of.

I walked to the mall this morning for Boxing Day. I went looking at a burr coffee grinder and Kitchenaid food processor, but they weren't that good deals, and the reviews on the grinder were mediocre. Instead, I came away with a clearance Kitchenaid cake pan to match the last one I got on clearance (lucky! Having a single round layer pan is kinda useless). I also got a mini-trampoline for 25% off - making it $45, which is about the same price as the online stores in the States. Carrying it back to the house was a bit of a pain though. More on the trampoline in a separate post, though.

Posted by JAY at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2007

Car Flakiness

Bleah, I think the car is allergic to Richmond Hill - whenever I go there it acts funny.

Last week, as I was leaving, the gas tank was reading empty and the gas light was on. I was pretty sure that I had left it with about a quarter tank of gas, so I was a bit concerned that there was a leak in the tank or something. Anyway, I pulled in to the nearest gas station (a no-name, old pump, full service station) and got 20 bucks of gas. When I turned back on the car, it was reading half full. 20 bucks wouldn't get me to half full, so I figure there was indeed gas in the tank.

Then, a week later, it feels like the power steering isn't as strong. But I'm not totally sure about that. I mean, it seemed really noticeable, but now I'm wondering if I was just imagining things - maybe it was seemed stiffer compared to steering on slushy roads...

Posted by JAY at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2007

Sympatico Bandwidth Throttling

Jen alerted me that Sympatico has started throttling bandwidth to a ridiculous trickle. Goodbye, Sympatico, nice knowing ya.

Posted by JAY at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2007

Sunday Outing

Went to play shuffleboard with Dave. Cheap fun - only cost about $13 for a couple hours. Dave called ahead to make sure the shuffleboard tables weren't being used as ersatz buffet tables. Heh, I did well with the shuffleboard: 8:1, I think.

We went to a nearby Thai restaurant, Our Thai, for dinner. I didn't order anything since I'd eaten just before leaving. Besides, the place wasn't very busy and the menu didn't look very appealing. Dave's food didn't look that appealing either, though he said it tasted fine. I mean, it didn't look bad, per se, but just not very creative.

I passed by IKEA, but unfortunately they close early on Sundays. On the way back I missed my turn into the subdivision, so I passed through Dominion and picked up some sale items that made a nice... uh... snack - if 12 yorkshires stuffed with roast beef and tomato could be called a snack.

Posted by JAY at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

Mom's Birthday Food

Last Saturday we celebrated my mom's birthday. I did the cooking - sadly with mixed results.

The good: the rib roast was perfect and very very tender. I suppose that's the most important thing, food wise. The veg and potatoes also turned out well. Tilapia that my sister brought back from Barrie was tasty fried up for lunch - she got a great deal on it. Carrots cooked in a saucepan with a tiny bit of butter and no extra water from (Heston Blumenthal) were good too.

The bad: The pound cake was a bit heavy, though it didn't matter too much going into a trifle - which was a bit on the boozy side. The yorkshire puddings were tragic: they were inedible hard pellets of disappointment (but they were eaten anyway). I think I inadvertently put in too much flour - I made them again tonight and they turned out beautifully (though they make a mess of oil in the oven).

Posted by JAY at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2007

Dinner at Riley's

... And Rucell and Trev's, of course! I dropped off some oatmeal cookies and stayed for a yummy dinner and playing with Riley until he got grumpy and went to sleep. Rucell has a neat trick (which apparently Trev can't duplicate) of patting his bum that sends him instantly to sleep. Riley's really flexible - he can suck his toe! Unfortunately, when he saw the camera, he wouldn't do it, so this is as close as I got to getting it. He's getting used to me though, and doesn't fuss when I play with him. (First visit: wailing, second visit: tolerance, third visit: smiles)

Posted by JAY at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

A B C D... N A O M I


Jen and Dan's daughter, Naomi, is just barely 2 years old and she knows her ABC's! She can also use chopsticks! (warning, QuickTime).

Dan got a MacBook and put up a gallery with it.

Posted by JAY at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2007

$1.10 USD

Wow, the USD is just getting pwned by foreign currency, including the Canadian loonie! Time for a vacation to the States!

It may be over-valued right now, but considering that there were some who doubted the Canadian dollar would hit $1.05 USD, this is quite an over-acheiving currency!

Posted by JAY at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2007

Meeting at Mandarin

Went to a union meeting at The Mandarin (a Chinese buffet) with Sean and Dom. I totally pigged out on ribs, shrimp, roasted duck, prime rib, spring rolls and egg rolls. For dessert, I had a waffle with ice cream and blueberry sauce, a lemon meringue tart (surprisingly reasonable tasting), and a creme brulee (gross, didn't finish it).

The meeting half of the evening is always the downer - I'm usually bored out of my mind and sometimes end up misbehaving. We always contemplate leaving after the food, but guilt (particularly Dom's!) gets us to stay. In this case, it was a good thing - because I ended up winning the last door prize of the night! It was a fleece vest, appropriately sized XL.

Posted by JAY at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2007

Poker

Invited the poker gang over to my place for dinner and a game. As usual, it was a lot of fun - heh, even though I lost about $50! Oh well. Dinner went well too - except for some undercooked chicken wings (I blame my sister's house in Barrie, where I left my meat thermometer...) Dom came early, Aaron won big, Rick brought a yummy pizza, Ken's just retired, Sean came out about even (I think). A good time was had by all, though we need to research more poker variants. My kitchen table isn't ideal, either - it's glass surface reflects the cards as they are dealt. We covered it with a flannel sheet, but cards didn't slide as well.

On the menu was a whole bunch of roasted stuff (I just stuck everything in the oven), salad with homemade dressing (too sweet for Rick, just sweet enough for Sean), sausages, caramel corn and brownies. Everyone did a number on the brownies, but the caramel corn was hardly touched... strange, with Jen/Martin/Fiona/Dan, it's exactly the opposite.

Posted by JAY at 05:10 PM | Comments (3)

October 07, 2007

Thanksgiving Birthday

My birthday falls on the Thanksgiving weekend, so we do a LOT of eating. We made a turkey with stuffing, gravy, assorted veg, cheese sauce, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and chocolate cake. It was a pleasant, uneventful day with a bit of uncomfortable stomach from overeating. Leftovers will last a few days at least!

Posted by JAY at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2007

Recapping

Yes, lazy.

Been doing bunches of stuff, most of which I've probably forgotten. Dinner with Trev, Rucell and Riley... Nuit Blanche with Dave in the distillery district, Ken's retirement party at Sempre in Etobicoke, playdate and lunch with Naomi, playdate with Riley and a few dinners with the parents. I think that covers all the high points.

I am descending into sickness with a quickness. This afternoon I thought I had an allergy in my sinus cavity. It's since descended into a sore throat and nasal congestion. Drat. Looking for the Tylenol Flue right now.

Posted by JAY at 09:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2007

Week In Review

All in all it was a pretty good week. I took 2 days off work because my driveway was being paved with its topcoat and I was stuck in the garage (I have a lot of vacation days, because I haven't taken any for a loooong time).

Jen and I split some chocolate ordered online - batches of 5g squares of 70% dark chocolate flavored with coffee from different countries and some Valrhona 40% milk chocolate squares.

I went to see Brandon, Sara and Sean's new Macs (iMac... pretty!). Brandon and I played on his Mac Mini, a cool Whack-a-Mole game that seems to encourage violence, and bowling with plastic pins on the hardwood floor.

Played cards with friends and won about 60 bucks (yay!) and got lost on the way home because they had moved the community mailboxes that I use as a landmark. And that's a good thing, because my mailbox was moved to a more convenient location just a tiny bit down the street from my house - which will be way easier to get to than 3 blocks away.

Posted by JAY at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2007

Riley's Baptism

Today I participated in Riley's baptism ceremony and celebration. It was an honor - heh, and I'm likely spiritually unworthy, as I'm not a devout Catholic! The ceremony was very short and ended with water from the fount being poured 3 times over Riley's head and blessings being passed along and a candle being lit in commemoration. Riley was really well behaved throughout the whole thing. We went to lunch after and ate far too much. Later in the day, we went to Trev and Rucell's (the proud parents) house where Rucell and her friends had prepared a LOT of food and spent the rest of the evening getting to know everyone. Bonus points if you figure out the pic.

Posted by JAY at 09:24 PM | Comments (4)

September 03, 2007

Busy Long Weekend

It was a VERY busy long weekend - not a single day all to myself! I had guests over twice for meals and went out twice. I'm very tired :-)

Details below...

Saturday: I had invited my neighbors, Mike and Bo, over for lunch with their kids. Unfortunately, Mike got called away unexpectedly at the last minute. I think Bo might've wanted to reschedule, but everything was already cooked. We had shrimp pasta, tomato salad, steamed mussels and fresh bread. I think that she enjoyed it and she asked about how the sauce was made. Bo brought over a bottle of Frangelico, and I used some the next day in a dessert.

Her kids, Daniel (4) and Emilia (13 months), had a lot of fun, too - I think to Bo's surprise! When they first came in, Daniel wanted to go straight home, but he loved the Sumo beanbag. He would take running leaps into it and jump off the stairs into it. He also really liked playing on the piano. (Hmm, I meant to write about both of those, but never really did.) Emilia loved the peeled and seeded cucumber spears - she'd never had them before - and ate about half a cucumber! At first, Daniel wouldn't eat anything, but later he got hungry and enjoyed some macaroni and cheese and carrot sticks. Bo was rolling her eyes and said that if she cooks the stuff at home, Daniel doesn't eat it.

Saturday evening: I went with Dan to Fiona and Martin's house to play games. It was a lot of fun. Fiona's expecting a baby and it's due in 2 months!

Sunday: I went to help Dave K move into the apartment he'll be staying in while doing a Master's degree at McMaster University. It was really, really tough. He's on the third floor of a building where the stairs are an exterior wooden structure at the back. But the passage to the stairs, between the buildings, was only just wider than shoulder width! So we weren't able to take in the sofa or kitchen table (frankly, though, I don't think either would really fit). Anyway, there was a lot of lifting and even more climbing. I'm surprised my legs aren't killing me.

Dave D (too many Daves!) bussed into Hamilton to help as well, but they had given him the wrong house number - yeeks. He wasn't upset about it, though, from what I could tell. By the end of the day he was sprawled on the floor of Dave's apartment sleeping, exhausted.

Monday: Dave B (more Daves!), Trev and Erich came over to do some RPGing. I made chicken pasta, more tomato salad (Erich brought over some lovely heirloom tomatoes and paid for the ingredients), garlic bread and peaches with hazelnut liqueur, oat crumble topping and pound cake. Erich brought a white wine that was very acidic - I didn't care for it, but I don't drink wine in general so it didn't matter (I just like tasting). Trev and Dave aren't fans of tomatoes in general (hey, Erich requested it!) but Dave B seemed to enjoy the dessert.

Whew! I'm going to have to sleep at work tomorrow!

Posted by JAY at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2007

Testing, Testing

So I joined a competion at work for a promotion that I'm not sure I want. Basically everyone lies about their credentials to qualify to write a test to see if you get the position. Even our CFO has agreed that it's a really dumb process (he refers to it as a "beauty pageant").

Anyway, I'm pretty good at tests, but not so much at the lying about the credentials. I mean, really, some of the stuff that they want you to put on the application is pure memorization stuff about silly processes (like the 'software release process') that are all listed online. So sometimes I don't get to take the tests because I don't put it on the application.

This particular test was pretty focussed - just on programming. I think I did ok, but all my answers were sub-optimal. I could've used regular expressions on the first question but didn't know I'd need to know it, so I did it the long way. Stuff like that. I'm a bit worried about the last question, because I think the writer of the question didn't use order of operations in forming his answer (ie. the answer was 2007, I think, if you DIDN'T use order of ops, which didn't even occur to me to do, since it's just incorrect).

So we'll see, I guess.

Posted by JAY at 11:27 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2007

Poor Finger

Sigh. Not paying attention and rushing with the chopping - not a good combination. I took off a good bit of fingernail. (Good thing I have fingernails! They really do protect your finger!) Do NOT click on the continue link if you're squeamish... it's not that bad, but if you're squeamish it might be disturbing.

Annyway. Blood went everywhere: the walls, floor and sink in the kitchen and bathroom. Apparently fingertips bleed like crazy. I wrapped a clean sock around it and applied a lot of pressure. Unfortunately, I held it too long and I bled and clotted around the sock fabric. I soaked it in water (cold water, warm water, salt water) for hours trying to get the freaking sock off. I cut away everything except the bit that was stuck to the sock.

Everyone I was talking to was bugging me to go to the hospital (Renato, Brian and the pharmacist working the late shift at the drugstore that I eventually went to buy bandages at) but damned if I was going to go to the hospital with sock stuck to my finger. I slowly peeled it back - that was painful... I could see little tendrils of flesh coming up with the fabric.

Of course, that started it streaming blood again. This time I clamped paper towel over it instead and headed to the hospital. $12 in parking, 5 hours, some nice gauze fingerbandaging and a tetanus shot later, and I was free. It's been healing nicely since and now I can type on it.


Posted by JAY at 06:36 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2007

ow

owowowowwww! :(

Posted by JAY at 05:38 PM | Comments (1)

July 07, 2007

Kitchenaid Clad Pans

Yeah, okay. Budget? What budget? Again, more deals! These will take the place of the All-Clad pans in my Big Ticket Items wishlist. These were an awesome deal in the clearance warehouse sale at Sears - just $300CAN (regular price, $500USD from the Kitchenaid online store), so approximately half price. So technically, they're saving me money, right?

They're Kitchenaid's top-of-line pans, as they're clad metal - which means the aluminum interior extends to the top of the sides of the pans, sandwiched between stainless steel. I don't know if they're as good as the All-Clad, though. These pans make 2 of my Paderno sauce pans (aluminium base) obsolete since they don't do as well on my gas burners as they did on my electric apartment stove.

Posted by JAY at 12:54 AM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2007

Aluminium Easel

My budget this month is not kind - I'm already in the hole because of a whole lot of bills coming in all at the same time (taxes, car insurance, house insurance). So of COURSE fate is sending me deals to spend money on! A mysterious flyer appeared in the passenger seat of my car (I don't get papers and my mom says she didn't put it there). It was for Michaels and included a couple of coupons for 40% off a single item. Forty percent! So of course I went browsing. I found this easel which was $99, so I got it for $60. I'd been searching for my parents' easel but couldn't find all of it in their basement. This one is much nicer, though. I don't know if I'm actually going to be painting yet... we'll see. Till then, it makes a good display stand for some art in my living room.

Posted by JAY at 10:42 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2007

Dinner with Stephen and Jen

Stephen, Jen and I went to Moxie's for dinner tonight. It's the first time I've seen Stephen in about 4 years! We started with crab cakes and bruschetta. Stephen got some chicken pasta. Jen and I ordered steak and lobster. It was all very yummy (except the chef didn't take the strings off the string beans - minor really). Stephen treated us - Thanks Stephen!

Earlier, I showed Stephen around my house (he hadn't seen it yet) and later we went to Jen's place, met up with Dan and played Ra, my newly favorite game, I think, taking over from St. Petersburg. (Won one, lost one...) Also took a ride in Stephen's Porsche Carrera convertible (uh, not that year model... an older one that he's fixing up).

So yeah, lotsa fun!

Posted by JAY at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2007

Dinner at My Place

The guys came over to RPG and have dinner. The menu:

Maple Balsamic Salad
Rum glazed beef ribs
Macaroni and Cheese
Lemon Bars

Posted by JAY at 11:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2007

A "New" Car

I got one of my parents' cars a Toyota SUV. (It was either that or the minivan!) They made me an offer I couldn't refuse and so... Anyway, insurance is all set up now and now I just need to switch over my house insurance so that I can get a small discount. Also, had to rework my monthly budget and it'll take me a year or two more on the mortgage. I'll also have to resist the urge to shop and eat out now that I've got transportation!

Posted by JAY at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2007

Neighbors...

My well meaning but misguided next door neighbor thought it would be a good idea to seal the seam between the asphalt drive way and garage with... expensive synthetic... motor oil. Sigh.

Not a good thing

Sigh. I spent the evening scrubbing it away with detergent on my side and washing it down with the hose (that said kind neighbor actually gave me a week or so ago!). Ah well, hopefully the second lift will stick down and eliminate any remaining residue.

Posted by JAY at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2007

Ooey gooey... not good

Sigh. I think I may make a separate category for my feet!

Yesterday it was raining. My shoes aren't waterproof, indeed they're breathable foam, so I wore a slightly uncomfortable pair of boots and just didn't lace them up properly. But they must have been rubbing (or slightly too small?) because when I got home, my entire big toe was covered with watery blisters. It's not especially painful, just kind of gross. Won't be wearing those boots again!

Posted by JAY at 06:57 AM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2007

Budget-Fu!

I'm a compulsive budget keeper. Every month, with the aid of spreadsheets and money programs, I calculate what categories I spent every dime on vs. what I had allocated on them. It's kinda fun, actually, and doesn't take too long. My earnings are pretty easy to predict and steady (though lately they were good with the acting manager position). Spending, less predictable.

But not this month! This month, I spent within 20 dollars of my expected expenses! If I lump the garden money into the Fun budget, then I did not miss any category by over $20! (Food/Utilities slightly under, Fun slightly over) Woot!

Posted by JAY at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2007

Gardening

On the weekend I planted a herb garden. It was waaay too much work and took about a day to dig up the sod and dirt, and then mix in 5 bags of soil into the hole. The soil cost about $9 and the plants cost about $20. So I'd better get over $30 of herbs back out of this!! Some of the herbs (excluding the basil, I think) are perennials, so we'll see what comes up next year.

Below is a list of what was planted.

A. Basil (Italian?)
B. Different kind of Basil (lettuce?)
C. Garlic Chives
D. Sage
E. Uh, ok... double letter on the basil
F. Flat leaf Italian Parsley
G. Tarragon
H. 2 kinds of Thyme

Posted by JAY at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2007

Conference

Ok, totally not keeping up with the journaling. Once I fall behind, it's hard to start up again until I've totally forgotten anything interesting (well, as interesting as things get around here...)

I went to a conference in Cornwall held at Nav Canada in Cornwall. The facilities were really nice, if a bit old. The actual conference was informative, if boring at times. Took the train for the first time. And I gained 5lbs in 4 days. Sigh. More details below.

The train ride on Via1 was pretty cool. It took about 4 hours each way. It was really comfortable - we reserved a table for 4 and played cards. Oh, and my fellow travellers spent a lot of time ogling a cute girl on the way back (2 Seans, Dom and Sandy).

The train food was mediocre. On the way there the appetizer was a yummy wine-poached pear with brie cheese. The main course was a HORRIBLE "General Tao's Chicken" - stringy and overly brined. The dessert was a profiterole bar with cream and chocolate. On the way back, pate and jelly on melba toast was the app. A dry pork chop in lots of gravy and pureed turnip was the main (ew) and the dessert was an awesome custard-caramel-flan.

NavCan was pretty neat. Apparently pilots spend months there training. There were a lot of facilities for fun, which was good because I didn't bring a laptop (they said not all rooms had internet - but of course mine ended up having internet). Sean and I were about equal at table tennis (embarassing, but I blame the crappy rackets with no rubber!) We swam in a pretty big pool - spring board and water slide. Sean somehow managed to put on my bathing trunks so I used his. Senile! And pool tables, which I totally suck at. There was also a really nice trail along the lake and the weather was wonderful. Late nights were spent playing poker and euchre.

I ate for 4 days straight. Snacked on the way to the train. Ate on the train. Got to Cornwall and had a prime rib buffet (mm) at NavCan. NavCan catered the rest of the meals - meaning there was lots of food, but it was mediocre. To be sure of getting something to eat, I'd take the main course and 3 slices of pizza in case the meal sucked. Usually I'd end up eating both. And of course every meal had dessert (cake and cookies). In between meals, the conference halls were stocked with snacks, so we'd eat those too! I can't imagine staying there for months - the food was fine for a bit, but nothing like good restaurant food or home cooking.

On the charter bus back to the train station, the transmission gave out and we almost missed our train ride back to Toronto. The picture is us waiting at a city bus stop! The charter company called Via Rail and got them to slow down so that we could catch the train.

All in all, fun but exhausting! Glad to be back.

Posted by JAY at 01:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2007

Lazy

Yeah, haven't been posting lately... sigh. Lotsa food stuff going on, went to Martin/Fiona's house to play games ... uh... yeah. Think I have some photos to post. Just lazy.

Posted by JAY at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2007

Training Jaunt

Just ended a training jaunt. The first 3 days were, of all things, on Windows XP. That was pretty boring. The last day was on SMS (Systems Management Server, not the messaging stuff) which was actually kind of neat. Too bad they couldn't have reversed the time spent on each.

Anyway, the training took place in downtown Toronto, just next to the Eaton Centre. The Marriot, where I stayed, had an awesome LG LCD widescreen, so that was really nice. I also ogled some All-Clad pans ($1600 for the set I wanted!) and bought and expensive electric knife sharpener at Williams Sonoma. Heh, I used most of my food expenses for it, leaving me very little to eat over that week!

Aaron and I walked down to the St Lawrence market. Lotsa cool foodstuffs there - fairly large, bacon wrapped pieces of filet mignon can be had for just $5! But I couldn't really buy anything as I didn't have a place to keep it refridgerated.

Overall, a fun week! Well, except for the hours spent hauling my luggage on the subway/bus on the way there and back.

Posted by JAY at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2007

Dave's New Car

Dave's new car is a BMW 328i (I think! Silly BMW all Flash page, so this link is to a review). He just picked it up today and it's really nice. Integrated iPod connector, auto dimming mirrors, individual heating controls - even little gadgets that extend the seatbelts toward you when you start the car.

Speaking of starting the car - you insert your keychain into a slot and press a button to start the car, which is pretty neat. Dave let me drive it for a bit and it handles really well and the engine is really quiet - I'm a bit out of practice driving a standard, though. We went to Toronto and got a great deal on a meal.

Posted by JAY at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2007

Opportunities Overload

Ugh. Lately, there seem to be a lot of internal job competitions happening in my department and they're stressing me out a bit. I've submitted applications and/or written tests for 3 other job competitions, but this last one is more than I can bear right now.

I'm currently doing a developmental assignment as a technical Team Leader and it's rewarding, but very hectic. Meanwhile, I'm trying to provide as much support as I can to my home office, because they're currently without support. Capping it all off, I'm sick and miserable, and I can't call in sick because there's too much going on at work. If I weren't doing this assignment, I'd definitely be sick in bed.

So yes, I'm whining.

Posted by JAY at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2007

Deathly Ill

Groan. I've picked up a flu bug. I think from my sister who was really the only person visiting me.

I figured if I worked at home, I could still work - but I started aching in all my joints and couldn't concentrate. So I called in sick after a teleconference which I had to chair and was totally out of breath. Then I tried to sleep, but phlegm keeps building up in my throat and then I can't breathe. Finally, I made an emergency call to the parents who brought over some cold medicine. I'm now waiting for it to kick in and drinking a too-strong garlic chicken soup to try to recover by tomorrow, when I'm supposed to visit an office for a meeting.

Posted by JAY at 04:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2007

Cars

Lately, I've been doing a fair amount of travelling in rental cars. My company will only pay for standard cars, but I've gotten a different car each time. This isn't going to be really detailed - I'm not a car person.

The first car I got was a PT Cruiser. It was really comfortable, seemed powerful enough and had a lot of luxury features. The interior space seemed really big. The power steering and automatic transmission were very smooth.

By contrast, the Kia Spectra felt like a toy. There was a lot of plastic in the interior and the steering wheel felt cheap. The power steering was underpowered and the engine felt weak.

Most recently, I got the Kia Magentis. The most interesting thing about it is the 'shiftronic' sports-style automatic transmission that lets you select your gears. That was kind of fun, and actually useful for easy passing on the highway. The trim level was much more luxurious and the engine was a bit stronger than the Spectra.

I think I liked driving the PT Cruiser best, even though it's a bit ugly.

Posted by JAY at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2007

No updates, really...

Blah. Been busy. No updates.

Work:
Been doing an acting managerial gig. Lotsa administrative stuff, very little tech stuff. I enjoy it as a change from my regular job, but I'm not certain if I'd like to do it permanently if it were offered to me. There's also a lot of after-hours unpaid overtime involved, which I don't mind, but it does cut into relaxation time. I also wrote a test for another position, but it's just for a pool of potential hires, so who knows if anything will come of it. Totally over-studied.

Fun:
Well, not a lot, as I was really concentrating on studying. Last weekend was the first weekend after writing the competition. I visited with the next door neighbors, who are really nice. I made some really nice cinnamon buns and my neighbor made a very yummy light cheesecake topped with peaches. I got to take some home with me and ate it over the next few days.

I also attended a family birthday party. It's been a while since I've seen them, and of COURSE they all mentioned how much weight I've gained. Heh, brutal but honest, I guess. I made an elaborate, 4 layer chocolate cake, layered with raspberry whipped cream, surrounded by chocolate buttercream and topped with glossy ganache. Unfortunately, the cake was a bit dry :-(

People still seemed to like it, but if it weren't for the brutal honesty (see above) I'd think they were just being polite. Of the cakes there, mine was the most eaten - but given that the other 2 cakes were storebought/no-flour cakes, that's not saying much. I threw 1/2 of my piece of cake out rather than eating it.

Posted by JAY at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2007

Neighbours

The family that share my semi-detached home are really nice. The husband, Mike, has been shovelling the shared driveway so I'm feeling a bit bad (though a couple of times I've managed to get the snowplow stuff thrown up at the bottom of the driveway). It's even worse, because they park in the driveway, so there's not a lot to shovel. Meanwhile, my driveway is empty so the whole thing is covered with snow.

However, with my foot the way it is, I'm very grateful not to have had to shovel the load of snow that fell yesterday.

Posted by JAY at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2007

My Stupid Foot

Argh! The gout has flared up again. It's definitely triggered by impact and this one was definitely Anthony's fault!! (Heh, Anthony, if you're reading this...) I was doing an acting assignment at work as Team Leader (a quasi management role) and Anthony phoned me as I was climbing stairs. I tried to answer the phone while continuing up the stairs, tripped, went flying and banged my toe. So yeah, I blame Anthony! Heh.

Needless to say, it's been getting worse - on Wednesday, Dom kindly drove me home as I couldn't walk, I took Thursday off. I went in on Friday but now it's hurting really bad and I can't get my shoe on. My right foot is visibly higher than my left foot with swelling.

Sucks, I say!

Posted by JAY at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2006

Christmas Dining

Whew. Hardly ate at all today, because I ate tons last night.

Had a Christmas lunch with my co-workers at the Keg. I had calamari, a Keg-sized slice of prime rib and a creme brulee. All of it was very good - the prime rib was nicely medium rare and the custard was very wide and shallow, so it had a nice large crunchy top. So it was a fun time with Dom, Renato and Sean.

For dinner, I went out with friends (Catherine, Dave, Erich, Rucell and Trevor) and ordered MORE food. It was fun and tasted good too. More about the restaurant we went to in the next post.

So yeah. Lotsa eating.

Posted by JAY at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2006

Naomi's Walking! Fast!

Wow... this is apparently 2 days after she took her first steps on her own! Lookithergo! She kinda has this clap-reach-jab routing happening. Jen posted the vid to youtube, so I shamelessly embedded it here.

Posted by JAY at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)

Win Some, Lose Some

Played poker with the guys again. Unlike last time, I got off to a disastrous start, just bleeding money really fast! I stabilized after a bit (heh, was able to return the $20 I borrowed off of Sean after running out of cash!) but couldn't really recover. All in all, lost about $80 or maybe a bit less. It was still a lot of fun.

We met at Rick's house after work and he made some awesome pizzas. I ate myself silly, but hey, they seemed to turn my luck around a bit (well, back to neutral, anyway). I think the big winner for the night was Dom - which was good, cuz apparently he lost a lot last time.

Posted by JAY at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2006

Delicious Chicken Wings

Went to Trev and Rucell's house (yesterday? can't remember...) and we had her super-secret fried chicken wings. They were really really delicious and I ate a lot more than I should've! My contribution was some lasagna. They also gave me a bag of apples that they had picked at a local (?) farm. We watched TV and I tried Beryl on Trev's new laptop. It's a funky 3D accelerated GUI for linux. Not sure that it's quite worth the system resources, but it's fun to play with.

Posted by JAY at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2006

Paging some guy.

"Hey man, it's Kristin calling. I'm just home for a few days. i wanted to check in to see how you were going (sic). I hope all is going well and I hope to see you when I come home at Christmas. Bye, love you."

Odd message on my answering machine.... ?

Posted by JAY at 01:48 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2006

Lunch with Jen & Dan (Recipe: Top Sirloin with Pan Sauce)


Jen, Dan and little Naomi came over for lunch today. It tasted really good - I roasted potatoes, onions, garlic and spicy sausage in olive oil. Dan (cuz he's a picky meat eater!) had a very 'sanitized' cube of grilled chicken breast. Jen and I shared a large-ish steak. I liked the pan gravy, so I'm just going to jot down some notes on the recipe below.

The steak was also good, and it was a reasonably inexpensive cut - top sirloin. The thing with top sirloin is that it can be a bit chewy if it's not cooked to at least medium-rare. I prefer rare, but with this steak medium-rare to medium is where you want to be. (The pic of the steak came later, with another meal.)

Naomi had strawberries for the first time and seemed to really, really like them. She kept demanding more! She also found the beanbag chair and upholstered ottoman interesting. She also tried the piano. They also brought me some foaming hand soap that's really neat - I've been washing my hands more than strictly necessary to play with the pump.

Recipe follows..

Sirloin Steak with Pan Gravy

1 top sirloin steak, 1 1/4 inches thick, at room temperature
1 TBS butter
1 TBS mustard
1 shallot (can substitute 1/2 onion and a clove of garlic)
2 TBS wine (white or red, dry)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt, pepper

Heat oil in a pan until it's smoking hot.
Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper.
Fry the steak on high for about 3-4 minutes, depending on thickness.
Don't move the steak around or lift it until you're ready to flip.
Flip the steak with tongs.
Lower the heat to medium.
Cook until the inside of the steak reads about 125-135 degrees F.

Put the steak on a warm plate, cover with aluminium foil.

Add the butter and the shallots to the pan (if using onion and garlic, don't add the garlic until just before the wine)
Saute the shallots and scrape up the brown bits in the pan.
Add the mustard.
Add the wine and scape up the brown bits with the liquid.
Add 1/2 the chicken broth and any juices that leaked out of the steak into the plate.
Reduce to evaporate water until the sauce is syrupy. Add chicken stock as needed.
Add cream.
Adjust salt and pepper.

Pour over the sliced steak.

Posted by JAY at 04:22 PM | Comments (2)

November 10, 2006

Dumb Luck

So I just got back from my first real (ie. gambling for money instead of say, candy) poker game. I was invited to play with Aaron, Anthony, Rick, Rob, Steve and Sean. We met at Steve's house (really nice place!) and he cooked dinner for us. I brought some snacks and Rick made some pizza. All yummy.

The poker was a bit rocky at first, but I wasn't the only one whose skills were rusty. I didn't know a lot of the house rules and variants.

However, my luck from this week carried on and I came out waaay ahead, which was kind of embarassing. It was mostly pure luck, too... while I'm pretty good at probabilities (and horrible at arithmetic) my hands were way impossible - statistically too many full houses, 4 of a kind and triples. Once I was even dealt a straight, flat out!

I felt a bit guilty, being the new guy and all. I don't think anyone lost a TON of money. I came prepared to lose about a hundred bucks, but by the end of the night I was up well over $100. Yikes! Heh, we'll see if I get invited back to any poker games. I'll have to put the money away somewhere for them to win back. Beginners' luck, I guess!

Posted by JAY at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Good Luck

I've been having a freakishly good week, due to circumstances mostly out of my control. The Dems took both House and Senate down in the States... so yay! As a Canadian, it doesn't really affect me but it's slightly encouraging nonetheless.

Retail has been kind to me - got some curtains from IKEA for about 70% off retail... $10/pair. I was only able to get it because a last minute assignment in Markham took me close to the store on Wednesday. I got a huge chunk of parmagianno reggiano for like $10... it must've been an error, but I didn't notice until later. I also got a large amount of really discounted meat... though I've run out of freezer space, so that's a bit of a problem too.

I also got the awesomest email ever written, though I'm not really at liberty to discuss it here.

With everything going this way, I even bought my first EVER lottery ticket... we'll see if the luck holds till the draw next week! :-)

And then... there was the poker game. See next post up...

Posted by JAY at 11:54 PM | Comments (2)

November 07, 2006

Seasoning Cast Iron

Cast iron is one of the best surfaces to sear things on. I was doing without cast iron, but then I stole a pan from my parents and made the best steak ever. Then Superstore had cast iron pans on sale for just $7. However, cast iron needs seasoning before it can be used, to seal the surface with a tough, stick resistant coating. The longer you use the pan, the more seasoned it gets. Eventually it takes on a smooth black patina.

So here you can see the 3 stages. The ancient pan in the back is a perfectly age seasoned cast iron 10" pan that my parents got in a garage sale a long time ago. At the bottom right is a new, unseasoned pan that has a rough grey surface. To the right is the pan that I've seasoned in the oven. It's not as good as the old pan, but it suffices. For seasoning instructions, read below.


Seasoning instructions:

1) Wash down the pan with hot water, soap and a stiff brush. Then bake the pan in a 400 degree F oven for at least 1/2 an hour to make sure all moisture has been eliminated. This step is to remove any manufacturing chemicals that may still be on the pan.

2) Wipe a very thin layer of vegetable oil over the entire interior surface of the pan.
Bake the pan in a 400 degree F oven for at least an hour. The oil will darken and turn deep brown.

3) Repeat step 2 over and over... the more you do it, the better the seasoning. You can also season the exterior of the pan to inhibit rust.

Maintenance: Don't wash the pan with soap. Just use hot water and a scrubbing brush if there's stuff stuck to it. Heat it over the stove to evaporate any moisture and rub with a thin layer of oil to prevent rust.

Posted by JAY at 08:30 PM | Comments (1)

November 04, 2006

Suzanne's Basement

Went with the guys to help SuzanneB with her basement. We were just doing drywall, but it's amazing how much easier it is with a lot of people to help lift the heavy drywall. We also had some cool tools that helped as well. Rick was the most experienced of us, so he did most of the measuring and cutting. It was sorta fun, but now my legs are sore from standing all day.

Posted by JAY at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2006

Hot/Unbreakable

Quite the shitty morning today.

The programmable thermostat apparently decides what time to turn the heat on based on my SUGGESTED time. In this case, it decided to turn it on at 3am even though I told it 7am. I woke up at 3.30 sweating. By default, it's artificial "intelligence" program tries to have the temperature AT the time specified, so it decides how far in advance it has to start heating the house.

In the morning, I figured out how to turn that off.

So then, breakfast. I prepared a very nice open faced avocado on toast. I was just about to take it to the table when a balsamic vinegar bottle slipped just 2 inches and hit the Corelle plate. It EXPLODED. I could hear stress fractures in the shards popping for several minutes. It scattered throughout the kitchen and even into the hallway! Avocado was EVERYWHERE. Dizzy from lack of sleep and frustration, I left it there and went back to bed. It took me 2 hours later to clean the whole thing up (and I still haven't washed all the dishes that had glass shards in them - they're piled in the sink.)

Not a good day.

Posted by JAY at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2006

Worker Bees

I had friends over today and put them to work! Sean, Renato and Dom were over and set up a whole bunch of stuff for me. We spent the evening running cables, finishing the rough-in cable ends (yay!) and hanging a dart board. We went to Canadian tire to pick up a ping pong table but even though I had called ahead to ensure they had it in stock, they couldn't find it when we got there. Grr.

I served pasta, fresh bread, garlic butter and some small but tender steaks. The pasta sauce was a bit overly thick, but other than that, things were pretty good. Dessert was brownies.

Renato brought his Grado headphones for me to try - they were really awesome. Heh, much nicer than my $15 Sennheisers. One was really, really warm sounding - I liked that one best, it gave the piano sound a nice color. The Sennheisers are more flat reproduction with very little tone addition. We also played darts - Sean and Renato absolutely destroyed Dom and I. It was R's first time playing - beginner's luck, I swear!

Thanks guys! Appreciate all the work!

Posted by JAY at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2006

Recipe: Belgian Fries

These were the best fries ever! They were as good/better than New York Fries or Swiss Chalet fries. The secret is a double frying at different temperatures. The chicken fingers were ok, but nothing special. I didn't have bread crumbs so I just used flour and egg. Deep frying floured stuff really kills your oil with particles, though, so I'll probably do the fries more since the oil can be reused.

Recipe follows..

Belgian Fries

Oil for frying
Potatoes
Coarse salt and pepper

Scrub and cut the potatoes into fries.
Heat the oil to 300 degrees F (I used a wok, a deep fryer would be good)
In batches (to not cool the oil too much) fry the potato for about 5-7 minutes. At this point they'll be pale and pretty soft. This is to get most of the excess moisture out of them and cook them through.
Drain on paper towels... leave for up to a few hours if you want to.

Crank the heat up to about 370 degrees (it'll cool when the fries hit it).
Put the fries back in and cook until crispy and golden brown.
Keep the heat at about 350 degrees F.

Salt and pepper the fries right when they get out of the hot oil, so that the stuff sticks to the fries.

Posted by JAY at 06:43 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2006

Kicking Butt

Had some of the guys on the IRL sidebar over today for a gaming session. It was fun, we kicked butt due to some potions and stuff.

It was my first time entertaining at the new place. I cooked a chicken curry dish and a beef and broccoli stirfry. It could've been a bit tastier - I was misisng oyster sauce and it could've used a bit more pepper. Also, I'm not used to cooking in such quantity - I over filled the wok a bit and didn't get a really sizzling fry going. Next time.

Posted by JAY at 12:30 AM | Comments (0)

Ouch, gout...

Well, I wasn't sure at first, but the gout is back. I really wasn't sure, because it's on the other foot and I've been walking a lot this week to work and back. It's not quite as bad as last time because I have meds now. So it really only kills to walk on it and it's just sore if I'm doing other things.

Bit worried, because I only have a couple days of pills left from last time. Will have to get more BEFORE the next attack, because without them? I wanted to amputate the foot! And I can't really walk when I'm actually having the attack.

Sigh. I may have to alter my diet a bit. Apparently more milk and less meat (esp red meat) is needed.

Posted by JAY at 12:23 AM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2006

Sumo Chair

Bah, keeping to my budget is really, really hard!

I keep finding things that I really want. And if they're for the house, it's easy to say "well, this isn't really from the normal budget, it's from the *new house moving* expenses". Yeah... right. Hopefully I won't be still saying that next year!

Annnnyway, the latest in my must-haves is this chair. It's been pretty favorably reviewed by everyone online (they did a LOT of web promotion, it looks like - everything from PAX to Sundance) More on it when it arrives!

Posted by JAY at 12:21 PM | Comments (2)

August 25, 2006

Signing off...

Well, hopefully the next time I post, this computer will be at the new house.

Sayonara!

Posted by JAY at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2006

Fun Day

Had a great day today (it doesn't take much, but it's always nice)!

Got a retroactive pay cheque, so yay for a bit of spending money.

Saw Jackie and Sean's son Brandon, who is sooo cute and sooo shy. He expresses his shyness by mauling Mom and Dad. And Jackie relayed later that he asked about me. Hee. Brandon wasn't even crawling the last time I saw him and now he's almost two and talking and running.

Ended the day at Dave & Buster's for Cathy's retirement party. We all had a great time playing skeeball, virtua-bowling and super trivia.

Everything I ate today was deep fried. Sean and I split chicken wings and calamari for lunch and I had coconut shrimp and fries for dinner. Any more fun like that will probably kill me.

Posted by JAY at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2006

Meddling of Parents

Soooo... my father today decided that my new sod needed mowing. Right down to the roots in some places. For some reason, though they thought to ask if they could water it (which I gratefully accepted); asking before mowing wasn't necessary. Apparently, raising the lawnmower from the lowest position wasn't necessary either. Sigh.

Anyway... I may be incommunicado for a while, as I arrange transfer of the Internet connection to the new place.

Posted by JAY at 08:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2006

Da Crazy

Hoo boy. Where to start?

Grandma, Father, and an elderly woman who's apparently a nun named Victoria just finished a surreal conversation/argument that covered a wide range of topics from feminism (back to the stone age!), gays (somewhat enlightened and yet totally crazy and somehow tied into the next topic...), reincarnation, religion and psychics (the Church says no, but in the face of overwhelming... uh, anecdotal evidence... sure!). I just stayed very very quiet and kept the soup bowls and cups filled.

Is it comforting or disturbing that the nun is downstairs refusing to sleep and praying instead?

Oh. And they all loved the dumplings. That's even stranger.

Posted by JAY at 01:40 AM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2006

Good Things

Well, the foot's finally starting to shrink.

I start an interesting temporary job assignment on Tuesday,

Tuesday, because Monday is a holiday.

My new Dell flat panel monitor is awesome and has no stuck pixels.

The Slingbox works pretty well too.

Small things, but good things.

Posted by JAY at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2006

Blueberry Muffins!

Last night I got the blueberry muffins that I was whining about earlier, thanks to Jen.
They were gooood.

The boardgame, called St. Petersburg, that we played was fun also. Though it was frustrating because I could only get to 2nd place each time!

Posted by JAY at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2006

Whining

While I'm whining about my foot, I'll also whine about the invitations that I've missed/will be missing this weekend - including one with homemade blueberry muffins!

As I alluded to before, I saw the doctor yesterday, where I got a bunch of pills and creams. Despite hating doctors, by the end of the night I was desperate for one. The pills have done wonders for lessening the pain when walking, anyway. And it was getting a bit tiresome having EVERYONE saying anything that they thought would get me to see a doctor. I got urging, ordering, callousness, reverse psychology, casual mentions, anecdotal reports, sympathy... And even though what it took was excruciating pain, you were all correct, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Posted by JAY at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2006

Rats, no painting

I was intending to paint a room this morning at the house. Unfortunately, with my bum foot, that won't be possible :(

Paint's on sale right now at Sherwin Williams, too...

Edit: Meant paint "this weekend"... which I thought earlier today I might be able to do after all, but it looks like I'm lame for the weekend now. Hurting is gone when not walking, but foot is still too swollen to fit in a shoe. Yay for prescription meds, though.

Posted by JAY at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2006

Pain in the Foot

Owowow. My foot is killing me! I don't know what it is, but it's really hurts!

I shouldn't have gone to work today, should've stayed home and kept off it... it's killing me and i don't want to go to the clinic right now because a) hate doctors and b) hurts to move. Plus, the painkillers are a staircase away and I don't want to worry my parents by yelling for them.

F U C K.

Posted by JAY at 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2006

No money...

Sooo, it's going to be a really bad credit card bill this month.

Dell has their "Days of Deals" promo on and had 2 things that I've been wanting - a 19" LCD for $250 and a Slingbox for $179.

My trusty old CRT is starting to go (red lines across the screen) and the Slingbox will let me watch TV on my laptop anywhere in the new house (or anywhere with an internet connection). So in that respect, it's almost as cheap as a TV and gets rid of the need for a lot of tedious wiring.

I also spend some money at Home Depot for some blinds (more on that later).

My poor poor credit card.

Posted by JAY at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2006

How to Piss Me Off

Here's how to piss me off over the course of a meal.

1) Before you begin, say you're not hungry
2) Take seconds
3) Complain that the food is too salty
4) Take thirds
5) Complain again that it's too salty
6) Argue over a large crispy top piece of lasagna pasta until I have to insist that they share it by cutting it in half.
7) Lastly, take the crispy top layer of pasta off the remaining lasagna. Almost ALL of it.

Posted by JAY at 07:28 PM | Comments (3)

June 21, 2006

Board Games

Thanks to Jen and Dan I've been playing a lot of board games that I haven't tried before. They're a lot of fun - Settlers of Cataan (and the variations, which I don't really like as much), Tigris and Euphrates, Power Grid, Modern Art, Heave Ho and others that escape my memory for now. Unfortunately, a lot of them require a lot of math (Modern Art) and planning (Settlers/Tigris) - not my areas of expertise. So I kinda suck :-) but I have fun anyway.

Posted by JAY at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)

Whups.

Jen told me yesterday that I'd not been publishing comments - apparently some got junked inadvertently (I get a fair amount of spam comments I guess they kinda got lost in the crowd!.)

Posted by JAY at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2006

Gems


The gems are here, finally! They seem a bit smaller than anticipated, but they're very nice looking. The cubic zirconias are dazzling, as you can see in the picture (click for larger view). The large teardrop rubies are my favorite. This lot will be divided by 5 and parcelled out. Yay!

Posted by JAY at 10:27 PM | Comments (1)

May 10, 2006

Phone Jacks

The builder cheaped out and didn't install phone jacks (only roughed in phone wiring was specified in the contract). I needed to test my wires because my deficiency report is due tomorrow. I'm not much of a handyman, but anything is easy with the right tools!

The yellow wire stripper was a cheap one that gave some trouble, but the orange tone generator and induction probe were awesome, letting me easily test wire continuity and follow the single loop of phone wire through to each roughed-in box. $12 of Home Depot supplies and a couple of hours later, and all the phone jacks have been installed. Yay! Bell charges an arm and a leg per jack - even the contractor flyer wanted $10 per jack.

Posted by JAY at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2006

Cough-hack-sneeze

Yeesh. Having trouble shaking this one.

And I'm on vacation starting this week, so yeah, double suck.

On the plus side, made a bolster so that I can do my internet surfing comfortably from bed.

Posted by JAY at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

April 30, 2006

Ugh. Sick.

Gah. Wouldn't go to work tomorrow except that there's an install due. Might just go and get it done and then come home.

Posted by JAY at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2006

Unexpectedly Awesome

I'd just like to thank everyone and the universe in general for an unexpectedly awesome day!

Sean was able to get out of meetings today and join Dom, Renato and myself, for lunch at Swiss Chalet. And even though he whupped me at darts during morning break, I won the afternoon break session. Yay! (Heh, I'm on a bit of a roll, I almost NEVER win at darts!) I'm thinking that he doesn't play well on a stomach full of chicken. Not only that, he generously gave me an old vid card that he sorta kinda wasn't using - an ATi 9600XT that is waaay better than what I'm using now. I'm hoping that Elder Scrolls: Oblivion will run on it. Thanks!

Got home to an invitation from Jen and Dan to visit after dinner and play some games. That gave me enough time to whip up some cinnamon rolls. Despite running out of brown sugar, they turned out nicely and both seemed to enjoy it. We played 2 games that I hadn't played before: uh, an Art Auction game and "Tigris and Euphrates". They're kinda like 2 different aspects of Settlers of Cataan. The art auction game was all about selling and buying art at (hopefully, but not always) a profit. So a lot of monetary negotiation types of things going on. A lot of fun. Tigris and Euphrates is kind of uber-chess. Kind of like Settlers, without trading and without as much luck involved - wwway more strategy and rules.

Oddly, I won both games - just barely. Despite wildly different strategies, the auction game was very very close. And T&E was really hard - I won through a combo of luck and (mostly) getting good help and advice from Jen and Dan. So that win doesn't really count, I guess! Even little Naomi was cooperative - she slept soundly while we were having our fun.

Now I'm just really really tired, but in a good way.

Posted by JAY at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2006

Gem Choosing

I heard back from Dan of Dan's Data and he assures me that Pehnec Gems is a reputable company. So I've sent the following message to everyone who signed up. If you're interested and haven't signed up, just lemme know.

The email's below...

Hi Cathy, Pat, Dom, Dave!

I've bcc'd you on this but some of you know each other anyway. If you're not interested anymore, lemme know (I'll probably just take over the cost for your portion, if it's just one dropout :) )
I got what I was waiting for: confirmation from someone that I trust that has dealt with the company before.

Dan (of Dan's Data - Dansdata.com)says:
>So my question for you is: do you have any personal experience with
>the company?

Yep. I've bought stuff from them; they've apparently been around for
ages and are quite respectable.

So it's gem choosing time!

If you don't care about some aspect of your gem choice (say, cut or type or size) then just email me what you do care about and I'll choose the rest to get a variety.

Here's what each of you need to do:

* Go to http://www.pehnec.com/
* Choose what you want (preferably in a lot divisible by 5) - info below
* Email me with your choice (cut, size, lot, cost)
* I'll total it all up and come back to you with an approx. cost and what you'll be getting
* Cost will be = (Sum of all orders + Shipping&Customs) / 5 in USD

Some tips on choosing your gems:

1. Cut - the shape of the stone http://www.asia-gems.com/diamonds/diamond-cuts.php
http://www.landaujewelry.com/s.nl/sc.7/category.61/.f
2. Size - in mm, use a ruler! In general, larger = more expensive
3. Gem - the sapphires and rubies are real, the rest are lab manufactured
The cubic zirconia is graded - the more A's, the clearer/brighter
4. Lot size - divisible by 5. Larger lot = smaller size
5. Cost - remember that it's in USD and will be divided by 5
We'll try to keep it in the low $30s but if you want something more/less don't worry about it

Posted by JAY at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2006

Trev and Rucell's Wedding


photo credit: Apex Photo Video
Trevor and Rucell had their Catholic wedding ceremony last weekend at St. Elizebeth Seton. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so I didn't get to take pictures. Hopefully they show up on his site some time in the next century. Unfortunately, due to the gargantuan groom's family, I didn't get to see too much of the ceremony, but what I saw was alternately cute and hilarious.

Read on...

The priest was an asian dude with one hell of an accent. He could possibly be forgiven his pronunciation of Rucell's name (Hi, Rooosel!) but he butchered Trayver's as well, somehow. Also, the man did [em]not[/em] like photographers and told the official photographer to take his camera to the bathroom. I sat with Erich's wife, Catherine, and we spent the time trying not to laugh. (Solemn Catholic ceremonies are not my strong point.)

I'll also take credit here for the too-short red carpet(s), which only made it halfway down the aisle, despite me picking up a second carpet at the hall that morning (and thus only got to the church minutes before the ceremony).

The reception later was a lot of fun. It almost felt like a cultural festival! It featured a really good barbershop quartet called Bob's Yer Uncle, some really, uh... interesting karaoke, and some impressive Filipino stick dancing by Folklorico.

Food and drinks were also very good. Highlights were the pasta - a really nice ravioli with rose sauce and the veal tenderloin. (BTW, thanks Trev, for alerting me to the well done prime rib and switching me to the tenderloin! It wasn't even small... It was a good baseball sized chunk of medium-medium-rare meat!) The company was also very good. I sat with Narvada's family, Marcell and Catherine. Phil was propitiously absent, so Marcel got Phil's meal instead of the one he ordered when he was a vegetarian.

I was instructed to take advantage of the open bar and Marcel kept me supplied with drinks so I didn't have to fetch them myself. Rum and coke, ginger and rye, cranberry vodka, orange cranberry and vodka, wine and a bit of champagne - more alcohol than I've had for a long long time. (Made necessary partly by the karaoke.)

Another highlight was a hysterical video projection of Trevor and Rucell making out in slow motion and looking uncomfortable. Rucell trying with some success to determine who her husband was by feeling stomachs alone - she was doing well at first, but then got confused with Erich and Dave. If that doesn't get Trev back in the gym, nothing will!

So yeah, a good time was had by all! Except maybe Trev (hee!)

Posted by JAY at 11:02 PM | Comments (1)

April 20, 2006

More furniture = more money

Got a great deal on some dining room chairs. They're large, stained wood with suede microfiber thick upholstry. Just $30 each! When you consider that these plain Ikea chairs were the ones that I was going to buy, this was a great great deal. (They were 1/2 price!)

I'm not sure if I'll use them in the kitchen or the dining room yet, though, because they're a bit big... and there's a great deal on kitchen chairs too. Hmmm.

The other thing is that since they were such a good deal, I bought 6 of them instead of the 4 that I had intended to buy, so... ended up behind money-wise, anyway.

Posted by JAY at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2006

Rehearsal Dinner at Cynthia's

Trev had his wedding rehearsal dinner tonight at Cynthia's, a local upscale Chinese-Canadian food restaurant. The bachelor party crew was all there (well, mostly) and the food was good. Thanks for the invite, Mr. and Mrs. V!

It's an interesting restaurant - service isvery attentive, the decor is very traditional, but the food is very North American-friendly while still being much nicer than Chinese fast-food takeout. So it's a less intimidating experience for non-natives than some of the Chinatown restaurants. I was stuffed and actually skipped dessert (a pattern, lately - I skipped it at Lola's too.)

My duty is just to take the red carpet to the church and roll it out. But they're not sure it's long enough, so I couldn't take it then. I didn't have to go to the rehearsal, just the after-dinner :-) Nice, huh?

Cynthia's Chinese Restaurant
16715 Yonge Street
Newmarket, Ontario L3X 1X4
905-836-8113

Posted by JAY at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2006

Spending da Dough

... and making some too. The semi-quasi-good news is that I did some overtime (about 9 hours) to facilitate some office renovations. Hopefully, that'll offset some of the money that I've been spending.

As I mentioned earlier, my server drive mirror failed, so Trev was kind enough to pick me up one when he went to replace his laptop HDD. Bye-bye $100.

Today at the Superstore, I found an upholstered coffeetable/ottoman thingy marked down to 1/2 price: $99! I was going to pick one up tomorrow but they only had 5 left. My father suggested we go back immediately. I'm glad we did because in that hour 2 more were gone. We dropped it at the house and unpacked it. First piece of furniture! If only I could get everything else 1/2 price!

Posted by JAY at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2006

Trev's Bachelor Party


Went out for Trev's bachelor party last night, the gang is pictured to the left. Trev's on the right all by himself cuz Narvada and I were taking pix.

We started the evening out at Lola Steak Bistro (more on that in a separate review. We overate of course. I had lobster bisque and filet mignon. Trev had a prime rib steak, shrimp and lobster cocktail, several glasses of wine and several kinds of cake, including maple, chocolate and cheesecake! Sic 'im, Rucell! They also gave us a complimentary vodka/fruit shot that was really sweet and yummy.

From there...

we went to Mystique (recommended by a cook, dissed by the maitre d'). The place was empty except for us. A lovely woman in a red thong danced with real athleticism and flexibility, but it was uncomfortable because it was just us there. We left shortly thereafter to pursue more geeky pursuits.

We took the subway to the Eaton's Centre and went to a small arcade across the street. Played House of the Dead, Tekken (still got my magical button mashing skills!), foosball and air hockey. Heh, Narvada was non-plussed, asking "What is this, a sweet sixteen?" Pascale joined us at the arcade too.

Down the street was Zanzibar (no link? lame!), which was absolutely packed. I had a Corona and only drank 1/2 because I was designated driver... Others, however, had a round of beer, rye and tequila. There was a lot more activity (ahem) at Zanzibar, even though the dancers weren't as dance-y as the one at Mystique. Only -one- of us took a private dance... and it wasn't Trev. He was well behaved despite constant offers to buy him a lap dance. (Not me, Rucell, I swear!)

We went to a pizza place for chicken wings after and pigged out again. I drove home in Erich's car but he felt well enough (it had been hours and meals and water since the drinking) to drive himself home instead of crashing at my place (I did offer, though).

Bathroom breaks were the theme of the night. Narvada desperately needed one before the arcade. I was kinda desperate before the wings - I went to McDonalds and it was closed. There was however, a cleaning sink (not used for food) and I think I probably got caught by the security cameras zipping up my fly. And Trev needed to go badly AFTER the wings.

As for me, I'm dead tired now, so I'm a shower away from bedtime.

PS:

This was the gift that I gave Trev to celebrate his pending (or maybe not-so-pending) conversion to Roman Catholicism.

Posted by JAY at 01:57 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2006

BusyBusy

Everything has been so busy lately. My office is undergoing YET ANOTHER freaking refit. Remember the last one? It wasn't so long ago. Argh. So work has been kinda nuts. Thankfully, I'm not going to be there on Monday, after they tear down a load of stuff and need it set up. Someone else is covering that for me (Thanks, Sharon!). It's going to be a zoo with some very upset people. I'll be busy too, meeting with my lawyer and doing the PDI on my house.

Since I last updated, I've done a bunch of stuff and I'm not sure I remember it all. Most recently, went to Yorkdale with Dave and saw the Apple Store. My fave: the 30" Cinema Display. It's much bigger in person. Yummy. We made some fattening breaded veal and cremini mushroom sandwiches too.

Went to Jen and Dan's place tonight for dinner. We had PC Lasagna (really nice and cheesy!) and some huge homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (very yummy, ate too many of them). Played a couple of games of Settlers of Cataan. Dan won both times (I -almost- won the second time, sorta... oh well!).

Several people expressed an interest in rubies and sapphires, I've just been too busy to deal with it - I'll send out further details via email to everyone. Still not too late if you want in! Just leave a comment/email.

Tired...

Posted by JAY at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2006

Rubies and Sapphires

20060327Sapphire.jpg
I've always had a bit of a magpie complex. While I can't stand wearing jewellery, not even watches, I've always loved shiny, bright objects. Searching for bits of quartz in the playground was a common pasttime. Who can afford rubies and sapphires, though, especially in any kind of size and quantity?

Enter PehnecGems. Does anyone wanna split an order of 50 8mm round rubies for just $24? Sapphires? They're chemically identical to the real thing, they were just created in a lab. Heck, even the cubic zirconias are really, really cheap and look just like diamonds. 100 5mm rounds for just $32! (The trick to CZ is to get the small ones - because no one will believe you having a 10 carat diamond. Visually and hardness-wise, though, they're very very close and will look better than cheap diamonds will.)

See the thing is, I like variety... so we could get all shapes and sizes and share and mix them! It would be AWESOME. For about $40 each we could have a varied collection! Anyone? Leave a comment if you're interested...

Posted by JAY at 12:44 PM | Comments (5)

Durian

Remember that exotic fruit I mentioned a couple of days back? I found a neat article on a website dedicated to the fruit. Sean also mentioned that he smelled one that was really, really bad. Apparently, smell varies depending on ripeness. But in some public places, durian is actually outlawed because of the smell! This New York Times author had a pleasant smelling one and a really rotten smelling one.

Posted by JAY at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2006

Exotic Fruits


Our guests have left and they've left behind an assortment of fruit that I'm not all that familiar with. The one pictured to the right is durian. It has an unfortunate rotten smell that belies a very sweet, creamy vanilla custard texture. The one we bought was frozen so we had to wait for it to thaw. Sapodilla was kind of gross, kinda grainy and very very sweet. The guava wasn't ripe, and pretty bland. I've only had in in jams before. Pomelo is a larger sweet grapefruit without the bitter edge. I still haven't tried the fragrant pear ("fragrant" sounds like a euphemism for "not sweet"). Anyway, I'm not a big fruit person, so this was interesting and fun.

Posted by JAY at 02:24 PM | Comments (1)

March 21, 2006

Wireless Houseguests

So we've had houseguests for a few days. Uncle Chan-Q, Uncle Sing and David are here seeing about some stuff before they visit China. Houseguests can be a trial (I'll have to recount the story of Aunt C and her Demon Childe from Hell one day) but these guys are really considerate and nice.

So nice, in fact, that David waited for me to get back home to install Chinese fonts on the parents' computers instead of just doing it himself without asking (the parents have admin access to their computer). Now there's tact I can appreciate! He bought a whack of toys today to take to China, including a PSP and a good consumer-grade Canon digital camera. He brought over an Acer Turion laptop (the "ferrari red" model) which is overpriced but nice looking.

I was so impressed that I set up a wireless router for him to use his laptop with. I wasn't sure how much work it would be since it only cost $5... $65 with a $60 rebate. It's a Gigafast WF719-CAPR. I'm only using it as a wireless bridge to my network, so it's not routing Internet or doing DHCP. It seems to work well and now I'm writing this entry from the comfort of my bedroom as well. (Bleah, my desk downstairs is more comfortable.)

Posted by JAY at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2006

Horses and Hotels

So I'm back at the Delta Hotel for more meetings and training. This time, for the same price, they put me in a deluxe suite which is much nicer. For one, free internet, which is how I'm doing this entry. Free bottled water (which they placed right next to the $4.50 Evian). And nicer sheets, which are much softer. Unfortunately, this time I'm just here overnight.

On the weekend, went to Georgian Downs to see horse races. It was fun, but there was cigarette smoke in the air - apparently smoking's allowed until June 1st. We had the buffet - they had an interesting pasta bar where pasta was made to your specifications (mine was cream sauce, seafood, mushrooms and garlic) but it looked better than it tasted. The other food was good, though. Most fun of all was the chocolate fountain - I ate an unholy-butt-ton of chocolate covered strawberries.

Posted by JAY at 04:28 PM | Comments (2)

March 16, 2006

Discount Bike

So I found this exercise bike on sale at the Real Canadian Superstore for 1/2 price. It was only $80 and I'm really pleased with it's construction quality - tubular steel frame. It has magnetic resistance which makes it almost totally silent - ideal for watching TV with. It even has a pulse rate monitor and a water bottle holder and little touches like integrated floor levellers. The only frustration came right at the end of putting it together. The seat post wouldn't fit into the frame! I had to scrape a bit of plastic molding lining the metal chassis. Until I figured out where it was catching I was very frustrated, because it's the last thing to be done. Now, though, it's all set up and my parents and sister want one too!

Posted by JAY at 12:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2006

Staying at the Delta

Stayed at the Delta East hotel in Scarborough for a few days on some deathly dull training. The trainers tried their best but they were literally reading out of their notes as they weren't really subject matter experts (by their own definition). There were a lot of exercises, though, which made it more bearable. The hotel we stayed at had a huge pool and waterslide in its foyer. I didn't go, it was a bit exposed and pretty chilly. The hotel was pretty standard, and older than the other ones that I've stayed at. My favorite remains the Novotel in North York - it's close to everything so I can walk and get food/TTC access/whatever.

Posted by JAY at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2006

Making Backups

Nothing can get you down like a hard drive crash. Except for maybe a hard drive crash on your server. Sigh. I went to save something to my personal drive and couldn't find it.

I reboot the server and it didn't come up. Unfortunately, it's also my router, so I had no internet either. Well. I guess it was time to test the backups! Years ago, I put a second HDD in the machine and set it to back up the main HDD every night. Praying, I swapped it with the primary and boot it up. Hallelujah! So now I'm running on borrowed time until I get a second HDD. Yuck - I'm supposed to be saving for my downpayment!

Also, I had a HDD crash on my main computer a while ago and, again, my mirrored drive saved my butt. I've never replaced that mirror, either! In fact, I can't even remember what my HD configuration IS anymore. Borrowed time...

Posted by JAY at 10:28 PM | Comments (1)

February 14, 2006

On Error Resume Next

It's never a good sign when your team lead asks you for comments on his script and every other line reads On Error Resume Next <-- only slighty exaggerated.

It's even worse when you're told that those lines "make it work".

Sigh.

Posted by JAY at 06:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2006

Religious Conversion

... or Conversations?

Over the past while, I've been doing some research on world relgions in general, and Christian denominations specifically. One of the most hilarious (yeah, that's irreverant... don't worry, this isn't going to turn blasphemous) things that I read was this:
"Those who reject the label Baptist prefer to be labeled as Christians who attend Baptist churches. Also, a recent trend is to eliminate the name "Baptist" from the church name, as it is perceived to be a "barrier" to reaching persons of no church background who have negative views of Baptists."

This TOTALLY reminded me of a conversation with a former co-worker... read on!

I was quietly enjoying my lunch one day at work when the new woman, MLW, started preaching at me! I actually don't mind discussing religion with people, so I didn't mind.

Her ideas were fundamentalist and fairly intolerant. She was very definitely trying to convert me.
At this point, I sweetly asked: "What denomination are you?"
MLW: I'm a Christian!
Me: A Baptlst Christian?
MLW: I'm a Christian! I believe in Christ Our Lord!
Me: Do you attend a church?
MLW: Yes.
Me: What denomination is the church?
MLW: Well, Baptist but...

Heh, it continued from there. I didn't know at the time that this was part of a greater phenomenon, I just thought she was hiding her fundamentalist tendencies. In fairness, Protestants in general and Baptists specifically have aspects of religion that I like (congregationalism, for example). But fundamentalism isn't one of them.

Jeez, holy self-loathing, Batman! (Ok, that may be slightly blasphemous.)

Posted by JAY at 11:00 PM | Comments (2)

January 29, 2006

Gaming/Dinner/Food

Went to Dave's for dinner and gaming. It was my turn to provide dinner so I made a big lasagna with veal, spinach and 4 cheeses: cottage, parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella. We didn't get there until pretty late, so the lasagna was reheated in the oven with much griping about waiting for it to heat through. They seemed to enjoy it though, almost all of it was eaten.


I woke up to find my father rather pathetically trying to make pancakes with the roti flour in the pantry. They were pretty foul. He couldn't find the all-purpose flour, even though we've kept it in the same place for years. The pancakes were falling apart, not rising, and he was pressing the pieces together in the pan. I took over, added some more leavening and adjusted the heat. I got pancakes that looked ok, but still tasted pretty gross. I didn't eat any.

I made pizza for their lunch (and left enough that they could have it for dinner if they wanted it). It turned out really really well. I got the crust the exact thinness desired - it was nice and crisp, without being hard. They loved it.

Posted by JAY at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2006

Guess Who's Back

The parents got back from Florida yesterday. They've been demanding but appreciative... They came back to a lot of food: Pizza, lasagna and cinnamon buns that I'd prepared earlier. They got home while I was at work, which was good, because they were probably pretty grumpy. They then tucked into the food. The cinnamon buns, alas, were not at their best, being a couple days old.

Today, they were tired of yesterday's leftovers so I grilled 3 tiny, insanely expensive pieces of beef tenderloin (filet mignon) to rare perfection with some rice, brocolli, mushrooms, onions and cheese sauce. They loved it and also polished off a small T-bone steak that I did to supplement the meat. THEN, father mentioned that he was feeling for bread in the morning for breakfast, so I made the buns pictured. They turned out really well. I basically did the cinnamon bun recipe with less sugar, more flour and no oil. They had one buttered before they went to bed and mom mentioned that they tasted better than hers :-)

My couple months of peace and solitude were restful. It was probably more of a vacation for me than them! I made extra rice for frying tomorrow and chopped some chicken breasts to marinate in curry seasoning.

Posted by JAY at 11:16 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2006

Slippery

There was a lot of freezing rain today, but I was determined to visit the new house because the worse the weather the fewer construction workers on-site. There wasn't really anything exciting, other than some roof tresses on top of the second floor. The sidewalks were coated with a glossy sheet of ice but I was able to get into the house and take some pictures and only suffered a minor fall.

Unfortunately, a girl I often catch the bus with (my former piano teacher's daughter) didn't fare so well and took a nasty spill as we walked in. She hit the back of her head and a lot of crying ensued. I walked her home but she was still crying when we got there.

Posted by JAY at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2006

Devoured

Took some cinnamon buns into work today - I thought I'd have some left but the last of them got plucked from the tray as I was leaving with it. Ah well, I didn't need the calories anyway. I made a really nice roast of pork loin hwne I got home and ate it with squash and brocolli. Very healthy, though I ended up eating too much meat. It was like 1/2 a loin, so I cut one small roast, 3 thick chops, 3 thin cutlets and a whole bunch of chunks for more curry. I ate about 1/2 the small roast!

Posted by JAY at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

Devoured

Took some cinnamon buns into work today - I thought I'd have some left but the last of them got plucked from the tray as I was leaving with it. Ah well, I didn't need the calories anyway. I made a really nice roast of pork loin hwne I got home and ate it with squash and brocolli. Very healthy, though I ended up eating too much meat. It was like 1/2 a loin, so I cut one small roast, 3 thick chops, 3 thin cutlets and a whole bunch of chunks for more curry. I ate about 1/2 the small roast!

Posted by JAY at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2006

Sick, Sorta

Ze stomach, she is not feeling well, so I'm staying home today.

I mean, not that it makes much difference where I... annnyway.

Posted by JAY at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2006

Roti/Curry/Movie

Dave came over on New Year's Eve where we watched the Korean film Oldboy. It was a good movie, inventively told and well shot. It was, at heart, an action flick despite its artistic execution. Dave tells me they're doing an American remake. *eyeroll*

I made chicken curry (recipe) and roti and forgot to add all the ingredients that I wanted to. (ginger, red pepper, spinach) Since there wasn't much meat left in the leftovers I added them all in today with some curry-stirfried pork and made a couple more roti. I've amended the roti recipe slightly.

Posted by JAY at 11:44 PM | Comments (2)

December 27, 2005

Midnight Steak

Mmm, steak makes a wonderful midnight (well, post-midnight) schnackie. I wasn't really hungry, but I felt like relaxing with food and going through some scanned comics. It was perfection. My steak lasted for the 5 volume set of comics that I was reading. Same with my big glass of water... Mmmm...

I've gotten in the bad habit lately of drizzling a little bit of extra virgin olive oil over my steak... It's evil, but it tastes sooo good!

Posted by JAY at 02:04 AM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2005

Reupholstery

While the parents are away, I thought that I'd reupholster the kitchen chairs that have spent the last 10 years in the basement. We've been using white plastic deck chairs since the real chairs got too ripped up to use. The parents had bought some new vinyl/leather to re-cover them, but never got around to it.

I'm not really doing a very professional job - just cutting out shapes and stapling it to the seat. No sewing involved. It looks ok, but not great... definitely better than what it was. Now I just need some screws to attach them back to the frames...

Posted by JAY at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve Dinner

This year is the first year that the parents have been away for Christmas. They're in Florida visiting some family. Of course, that leaves me at home to answer all the family that I don't know who are calling to wish my parents a Merry Christmas... Lisa took advantage of their absence to invite over Michelle, a friend from work. Because we were kinda entertaining while cooking, I forgot to take pictures of the Christmas dinner:

Roast turkey with stuffing
Cranberry sauce
Gravy
Roasted cauliflower with cheese sauce
Green beans and red pepper
Roasted potatoes
Apple Pie
Pecan Pie

Posted by JAY at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2005

Bell Customer Service

Yargh. Got my Bell bill, and the issue I dealt with last month hadn't been fixed. I talked to a customer service rep who told me he was going to remove the extra charges and take me off the plan that they put me on without telling me. He put me on hold for a good 10 minutes while he supposedly "re-billed" the calls. The bill I just got shows that I'm still on the plan and no adjustment to the bill.

Argh. Called Bell and the CSR, Dave, said there wasn't any record of the transaction. He credited me the money and gave me a reference number. He said it would take effect immediately. I'll call tomorrow to make sure it went through.

Posted by JAY at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2005

WTF?

Almost nothing pisses me off more than people not showing up on time for a meal when they're already in the house.

As in: "Do I have 30 minutes to wash the car?"
"No, I'll be ready in 5."
-cut to father washing the car-

However, reaching into the narrow, cluttered pot spoon/spatula drawer beside the stove and cutting myself on a fucking carving knife that shouldn't be there will do it. Idiots.

Posted by JAY at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2005

Naomi Jade

Went to see little Naomi Jade Corban, Jen (and Dan)'s new baby girl. Isn't she cute? You wouldn't know it looking at her but this kid's got a set of lungs on her and can do an awesome siren impersonation for someone only 20 days old. The pic is a bit oddly colored - the best I could do without a flash indoors. For some better pics, try here.

I brought over some lasagna for the proud parents to snack on :)

Posted by JAY at 12:21 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2005

Stupid Bell Canada

I was just looking at my telephone bill and noticed that they're charging me a fee to be on a plan that I never signed up for. When I moved my telephone line from the apartment to the house, they added on a plan fee.

If you're with Bell, they charge you $3 a month to be on a "long distance plan" (ie. they bill you for the privilege of billing you). You can opt out of their stupid plan and not pay their so-called "network charge". Your rate per minute will go up slightly, but you can just use casual calling plans like Caztel or Yak and get even lower rates that way instead. With no network charge.

I had explicitly opted out and they added me back without telling me! They're going to be getting an irate call from me tomorrow.

Posted by JAY at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Pasta Piggy

Had a TON of pasta this weekend

Had spaghetti on Friday/Saturday/Sunday (made a huge batch of slightly spicy meatballs - they were very yummy!) A practice lasagna with homemade tomato meat sauce just came out of the oven and I'm sampling it now.

It's good, but not fantastic. I think it could use a bit more cottage cheese but I really like the spinach. I used the dry lasagna noodles that you don't have to pre-boil. They worked nicely and made it a lot less work. Unfortunately, I have a whole bunch of the regular dried kind in the pantry to use out.

Posted by JAY at 01:26 AM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2005

It's a Girl!

Jen delivered a baby girl on November 2nd!

Welcome to planet Earth, Naomi Jade! *vulcan hand gesture*

Posted by JAY at 01:20 AM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2005

Inanity

I had a random bout of OCD and spent about 10-15 minutes brushing/flossing my teeth. It was a bit of a pain but my teeth now feel like shiny cold bits of porcelain in my mouth.

Alas, the pie, she is gone! Though the crust was very flakey out of the oven, it was not as flakey the next morning. Either it lacks the preservative powers of hydrogenated fats (used in commercial cookies for that reason) or it wasn't quite cool when I covered it before bed last night.

Posted by JAY at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2005

Because I'm Psychic

OK, someone explain this to me, please.

My father went to my sister's house. He told my mother that she was going to drive him back. Despite the fact that NO-ONE contacted us further, my father and sister somehow expected me to pick him up from her house.

I kid you not. Read on.

At 7:30am, my sister sent me an email saying I might have to pick Dad up in the evening.

At 7:30pm, I replied saying that I hadn't heard anything yet. Mom tells me that sister was driving Dad back.

At 9:30pm, Mom receives a call asking where I am. Apparently, according to my sister and father, I was supposed to mystically divine that Dad wanted to be picked up from her house and I am at fault for not doing so.

The kicker? My sister actually RECEIVED my email at 7:30pm. Apparently, her fucked up email client doesn't display the first line of text until she hits reply. So she thought she received a blank, SIGNED email (I signed the second line) and somehow interpreted this email to be saying "Jason's spontaneously on his way to pick you up even though no one asked him to come!"

According to my father, this happened because:

A) I assume too much (whuh? I "assumed" that if someone wanted a ride they'd, you know, INFORM ME? Maybe even a subtle hint?)

B) I don't communicate well (Am I supposed to spontaneously call every hour to ask if they want a ride?)

C) I don't care enough (Because that would TOTALLY boost my psychic abilities!)

Posted by JAY at 10:29 PM | Comments (3)

September 26, 2005

Bad Omens

First the dreams (see this morning's post).

Next, my clock must be 1 hour fast. The alarm went off at 6.30 (I usually wake an hour later) and the clock read 7.30. I was thinking, "Damn, it's really dark. Must be the rain!" But when I came downstairs all the clocks read 6.30.

My wireless keyboard batteries died in the middle of the last post. They've been operational for over a year (keyboard batteries last FOREVER).

I think I should just stay home today.

Posted by JAY at 06:05 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2005

This Little Piggy

Argh! My eating is totally out of control. Part of it is living at home with my parents. There's always unhealthy snacks around and I've been baking more because there are more people around to enjoy it.

Not that it was all their fault. Today I had a donut, Swiss Chalet (with fries, natch), a huge ice cream bar dipped in chocolate and rolled in crushed almonds (mmm, only $1.77 at Sam's Club!). So really, it's also the fault of the people in the office. (Damn you to heck!!)

Personal responsibility? What's that?

Posted by JAY at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2005

Charitable?

So yeah. I've mixed feelings about donating to the flood victims in the States, sorta - not because they don't deserve help, but because I disagree with their administration so completely. I mean, appointing the head of disaster relief to your college roommate is patronage taken to a ridiculous extent and that the US government should really have the resources to deal with this crisis.

However. Other than voting for an evil dictator, they didn't do anything wrong... When feeling guilty and judgemental, apply money liberally.

Except. When donating via their website, can I really choose "Hurricane Katrina" over "Africa: Sahel Food Crisis"? How about "War Affected Children"? Bleah. When feeling conflicted, apply more money and choose "Where Help is Needed Most".

Canadian Red Cross

Posted by JAY at 07:53 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2005

Lunch with Jen

Went to Jen's for lunch... she's due for a baby near the end of next month. It looks like a small baby, she's not that big! But I dunno, maybe they grow a lot in the last couple of months. I have seen other people who were absolutely hyoooge!

Had a good time shooting the breeze etc. Need to do it more often, because it always seems that we never get all the conversation done by the time I have to leave!

I can't wait until I have my own house so I can invite people over for dinner :) It might be a while before I can afford furniture, though.

PS: don't forget to LJ friend me Jen, it makes me feel loved! Hee.

Posted by JAY at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2005

Step Counting

I got a free pedometer in the mail courtesy of Chatelaine (which we don't have a subscription to, but anyway). I strapped it on today and at last count I've taken about 9500 steps today. My goal was 10,000 steps. So I'm almost there. Theoretically, that should be 500 calories burned off.

The trick is doing it every day!

I probably undid it with food, though. I made shrimp and scallop fried rice today and just finished off a sweet coffee and cream with several drops of almond extract (it was really good).

Posted by JAY at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2005

Life is boring/fattening

Yeah. So. Nothing happening at all... nice long weekend is about halfway done. I was feeling snacky, so made a quick batch of peanut butter cookies. They're ok, but not one of my favorites. Speed was paramount.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Mix together in order: 1C peanut butter, 1/2C sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 tbs flour, 1/2 tsp vanilla

Bake at 325F for 16 minutes. Cookies will be soft out of the oven, but will harden, so don't overbake.

From start to finish: 30 min, 1 bowl, no mixer.

Posted by JAY at 02:06 PM | Comments (2)

August 24, 2005

I'm In the Money!

Ok, it's not a lot of money, but hey...

Got back my last month's rent from the landlord. I had left early because of extensive flooding. I wasn't really sure I'd ever get the last month's rent back, it's been a while. Apparently he was on vacation. The apartment? Still not fixed up yet. I don't envy him all the arguing with the insurance companies.

Posted by JAY at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2005

Office Flood

There was a major storm today. Water started pouring in through the ceiling and t was bad enough that we had to stay late in the office turning off circuit breakers and computers. We also had to drape plastic in the LAN room. Bunches of the ceiling tiles collapsed due to the weight of the water over them. It was kinda fun actually.

Posted by JAY at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2005

Happy Returns

Remember the Magic Bullet that I bought? I took it back to the store after making a smoothy.

It worked passably well, but no better than an ordinary blender. You had to shake the thing to get all the ice crushed at the bottom. I don't often blend drinks like that anyway and I already have a hand blender (from Sean) to do the other stuff. So yeah, I just wanted my money back! Hopefully the credit goes back onto the same month's bill.

Posted by JAY at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2005

Driving

Spent today driving my sister pointlessly around Alliston. Passed by the Cookstown Outlet Mall and picked up some stuff - oven racks, garlic presses... that sorta thing.

Posted by JAY at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2005

Boating

We went out again this year on the Bondy boat. Trev and Rucell couldn't make it this year, but Erich and Catherine brought they're adorable 1 year old Gaby, who seemed to enjoy the rocking motion.

Mrs. Bondy made a delicious chicken meal with the on-board BBQ. We docked at Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay. Dave and I went out in their new dinghy (fast!) and I explored the campground a bit (snakes and poison ivy).

I brought some brownies, which everyone seemed to enjoy, but I had screwed up the recipe by measuring the flour incorrectly (scoop and level instead of spoon and level). I'll have to try it again, they were a little cakey and crumbly.

Posted by JAY at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2005

Impulse Purchasing

Heh, I think I'm already experiencing buyer's remorse. I just bought a Magic Bullet online. Oy.

It took a confluence of marketing to get me to buy this gimmick: my sister and a coworker started talking about one, a cheesey infomercial was on TV today, Canadian Tire had a free shipping coupon and the price was about the same as in the infomercial.

Actually, the infomercial had 2 for $120, which is a bit cheaper (not once you add the $56 shipping and handling, though). I just wanted to try one, not two. So I guess we'll see.

Why I need one of these is beyond me. I already have a Kitchenaid stand mixer and a cordless hand blender. Sigh.

Read some mixed reviews online - 1/2 the people seem to think it's great, the other half hate it.... oh well, we'll see! There's a 90 day return policy, so...

Posted by JAY at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2005

House Fire!

Ok, this isn't actually my house - it's simlar to ours, just down the street. Not sure what happened, but the whole left-back side of the roof collapsed. Everyone was ok, though - no one was in the house when it was burning.

Posted by JAY at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2005

Sour Lemons


Huh. I must've done something wrong, because the lemon sauce was REALLY bitter! Either I simmered the lemons too long, or next time I need to exclude the pith and just use zest and juice... I thought the sugar would overpower the pith's bitterness.

And of course, the sauce looked so nice that I didn't taste it before saucing the fried chicken. Was I ever disappointed!

ETA: Not your fault, Sue! I must've screwed up somehow!

Posted by JAY at 06:56 PM | Comments (2)

July 12, 2005

Automation?

Group work can really be frustrating. I'm part of an "Automation Team" at work where we attempt to automate installs. Part of this process involves folders being mirrored from the servers to the workstation.

This can be done 2 ways: (A) put all the folders in a single "mirror" folder and mirror that folder with a single command. (B) copy each folder individually as things get added. Needless to say, (B) requires an administrator to add/edit a new copy command every time a folder gets added, and add commands to ensure that folders are deleted from the workstation.

So it seems like (A), where administrators would set up the command line and never have to edit it after that, would be the way to go, right? Surprisingly, there was a lot of vocal resistance from someone on the team.

Debate is fine, but the arguments were, approximately:
"I'm just old-school" Huh?
"They'll forget how to do it if they don't do it every time" (Uh, the Automation Team's mandate is to, well, automate repetitive tasks to avoid pointless work and human error.)
"I don't want to do it that way"
"I think you all suck."

Yay, group work. This team is optional for me, so I'm starting to wonder if it's worth the hassle. Stay tuned for the next debate.

Posted by JAY at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)

Piano Distracted

Since quitting World of Warcraft (it was just taking too much free time, and not quite fun enough for the hours it demanded) I've been playing a lot of piano. Unfortunately, I keep finding more things I want to learn, so I'm progressing very slowly on all of them:

Canon in D, Pachelbel (finished, end is too slow, inaccurate)
5th Symphony, Beethoven (2/8 pages, haltingly)
Claire de Lune, Debussy (3/6 pages)
Thank You, Led Zeppelin (piano arrangement, about 1/2way)
Smells Like Teen Spirit (piano arrangement, just started)
Moonlight Sonata (just downloaded, think I'll only do the easy part)
The Homecoming, Hagwood Hardy (ironing out bumps)

Sigh. That list eclipses the number of songs that I can actually play.

Posted by JAY at 11:37 AM | Comments (1)

July 09, 2005

Down My Street

Well, there's some progress on the new house, which has been delayed until February now. They've got the roads paved and it looks like they're putting in the sewer drains now. This is what the view down my street will look like. My house would be on the left.

Posted by JAY at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2005

Recipe: Balsamic Vinaigrette

Even my father, who's decidedly anti-salad, liked it with this dressing. Proportions are very very approximate.

1 egg yolk
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 TBS sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced really fine (or pressed)
black pepper, salt (a few healthy pinches)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp mustard

Whisk together everything but the oil together, starting with the yolks.

Continue whisking vigorously and start adding the oil, drop by drop. As the mixture starts to thicken, you can continue adding the oil in a thin stream. The goal is to emulsify the oil into the vinegar (the yolk and the mustard help with this).

You can add as much oil as you want - as you add more, the consistency should get thicker and approach that of mayo (which is usually past what you want for a salad). Taste and add sugar, vinegar or oil as needed.

Posted by JAY at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2005

Overtime

(backdating)
Our office got a new reception renovation and it was a pain to set up. Still, it looks pretty funky. The huge pressboard kiosks were replace with quads equipped with LCD flat panels on articulated mounts.

Setting it up needed to be done after hours (mostly). By the time the furniture and the wiring was done it was after midnight. By the time all the screens were mounted and computers imaged, it was 4:30 in the morning! I stayed over at Sean's house. We got about 2 hours of sleep and then headed back in. Poor Dom, it was his 24th anniversary! (Congrats, Dom!)

I'll have to find a picture of the new setup.

Posted by JAY at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2005

BBQ At Trevs

Went to Trev and Rucell's today for a BBQ.

There was waaay to much food, and I ate more grilled meat than was healthy :) I brought some pork and shrimp shishkabobs and some honeydew, but I probably shouldn't have - there was too much food as it was.

I manned the BBQ for a while. We also played horseshoes, and some of us (not me!) sang karaoke on Rucell's new karaoke machine. Judging by the crowd around it, it's fairly addictive!

Trev's mom, dad and brother and Aunt Tish were there, as well as several of Rucell's friends (Alan, Bernadette and little Nicole were the only names that I caught). Of our group, Erich and Catherine attended with little Gabby (who's walking now, when she can stand to let her feet touch the grass and has a mono-syllabic vocabulary of "No!"). Dave drove me there and back, even though it's within walking distance.

So yeah, it was a fun evening. Even though I lost twice at horseshoes.

Posted by JAY at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2005

Number Crunching

Blearily eyed, I found this really cool java application for mortgage information: http://www.interestratecalculator.com/mortgage/mortgage.html

So I started crunching some number about my upcoming home purchase and got the following results, which were somewhat reassuring.

I've got a fixed rate mortgage set at 4.5% for 5 years amortized over 25 years. Ok, cool enough, assuming that I can manage to keep my job for that time. (I'm a worry-wort about job security.)

I should even be able to pay down a bit extra, maybe double my payments for those years. My needs are few and I don't have a vehicle to pay off... no drinking problem or drug habit...

So I started plugging worst case numbers after the 5 years and came up with the following. If I have to renew the mortgage for another 25 years (worst case), I should be able to survive any ONE of the following (or a combination of less serious events):

-having to work for minimum wage (job loss)
-interest rates shooting as high as 17%
-absolutely needing a vehicle and having to make payments

Of course, if everything goes ideally (I keep my job, no new expenses, no promotions...) that would be best. If I can manage that for another 5 years, I should be able to pay off my mortgage. After that, I should be able to survive on minimum wage. :)

Welcome to my paranoid world! (You should see my spreadsheets...)
Although, I don't really allow for retirement savings or inflation, I'll worry about those when they happen.

Posted by JAY at 12:02 AM | Comments (2)

June 12, 2005

Garlic Press

Went to the Cookstown Outlet Mall and found a garlic press that I've been keeping an eye out for in the Corelle shop.

I've had a couple of garlic presses that didn't really work, but the Zyliss Susi literally sprays a fine mist of garlic. You don't even have to peel it! Nothing gets left behind in the hopper except for the skin. It's awesome... really awesome - and will save bunches of time from now on!

It's been on a number of shows, including one that I used to really like - America's Test Kitchen - where it was the top ranked press.

Along with my Magnum pepper mill, it's one of my favorite single-purpose kitchen gadgets!

Posted by JAY at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2005

Toronto Tripping

We started out in Kensington Market yesterday, which wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be. It was really just one big meat market - and we couldn't really buy anything perishable. There were some interesting cheese shops, but that was about it.

After that, we went to the Hairy Tarantula, a very... alternative themed... comic shop/hole-in-the-wall that only became weirder when I googled their homepage. Okaaay...

Afterward, we went back to Dave's condo and watched the uncensored puppet sex scene from Team America (featuring piss and scat! Ewww...) and the special features - which were actually more interesting than the movie itself. Also saw The Rock on TV - quite the traditional action type flick, but entertaining nevertheless.

Posted by JAY at 12:32 PM | Comments (1)

June 01, 2005

Shopping With Trev

Went computer shopping with Trev today. He was looking for a new monitor and we found the Sony SDM-HS95P at a good price at Future Shop. We shopped the big box store because Trev's really picky about pixels, so the 30 day no-questions-asked refund was necessary. It was a pretty good price too $650CAN.

Sure enough, there was an always on green pixel near the center of the screen. So he's taking it to exchange tomorrow. Some speakers were also a very good price (I want...) down from $140 to $89, but they were out of stock.

If only I didn't have this stupid downpayment to save for...

Posted by JAY at 11:34 PM | Comments (1)

May 28, 2005

Random Fun

I woke up at noon today and Dave called.

We went to play shuffleboard first. It was kinda wierd, the table was really fast, though, and the rocks seemed to be sloping away from the center. It made playing kinda difficult. I won, though, 2 out of 3 ;-)

Afterward, we went to Vaughn Mills mall to try the crepes. They were ok (despite the dude getting my order wrong) but kinda expensive and a pain to eat. We were also trying to find the new Apple Store, but since that's in Yorkdale and not Vaughn Mills, we didn't have much luck...

Finally we went back to Dave's condo and cooked some oven-fried chicken and watched the first Firefly episode. I liked it, so Dave loaned me the set.

Posted by JAY at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2005

Yamaha Keyboard Back

A while ago, I bought a top-of-the-line Yamaha digital stage piano, a P-250. However, there were some inconsistencies in the keybed - a couple of notes were making thunks on the way down or back up. They were really subtle, but they were irritating because you'd start to expect them when playing the notes.

Anyway, I took it in for service and Cosmo Music sent it to Yamaha. Yamaha returned it saying that the noise was normal. I went and demonstrated the problem to the Cosmo technician and he gave me the contact info for the technician and service manager at Yamaha.

I called the tech and he referred me to the service manager, who instantly agreed to replace the keybed. I finally got it back today and it works perfectly - yay! Dealing with Yamaha was a positive experience - they returned my calls within a couple of hours. It took a couple of months to get the keyboard back, what with all the travelling back and forth, which kinda sucked. But all's well that ends well.

Posted by JAY at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2005

Settling In

I'm back at the parents' house now, settling in. It's a bit inconvenient, because it's a short drive from where I work, but I don't have a car. Mostly, I get a ride from them to/from work, and occasionally I ride my bike or take the bus.

Finally got my Internet and phone moved here too. It's much harder to bring lunch, as there are seldom leftovers (and while I was at the apartment I would go home and cook if necessary).

Still, no rent and no sewer smell - can't beat that!

Posted by JAY at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2005

Universal Signs

Ok, there have been too many signs telling me to move back to my parents' home, from the trivial to the biblical. I can't fight the universe!

Mom's been wanting me to move back with them and says that instead of rent, I could save for the new house.

The new house has been delayed (again!) until February and could be longer.

The apartment flooded, so I'm halfway packed and will leave most of the furniture behind.

It's exactly 2 months (for notice) until my lease is up. Actually, it looks like I'll get out of the lease without any notice at all, so that's good... wondering if I can get my last month's rent back too.

The office just received a huge shipment of moving boxes for me to use (aka. photocopier paper).

There comes a point when I feel like I'm just being stupidly stubborn, y'know? Fr'instance... when the apartment flooded, I stubbornly refused to take several friends' offers to stay with them until it was too late in the night to bug them.

So I'm going to call Dad tomorrow and see if he's amenable like Mom.

Posted by JAY at 02:36 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2005

Crap.

Literally. Wednesday morning I woke up and the shower stall had some water in it. I decided to stay home to keep an eye on it and, to my relief, it went down.

An hour later, it was gushing from the drains. Within minutes the bathroom and bedroom were filled with a grey, slightly smelly liquid. I called the landlord and he was already on his way...

The place was pretty much inhabitable. The landlord's insurance agent said they'd have to rip up all the drywall and the entrance stairs. The process would take 5 weeks or more - so I didn't have a place to live anymore!

I'd lost basically any furniture that was touched by the sewage. Unfortunately, the table and side tables that Vince gave me were casualties, as was my bed frame, dresser and bookshelves. Thankfully, my computer desk was untouched, along with my possessions (which were mostly on top of the furniture.

So basically, I've got no furniture anymore!

Also, by the time I'd partially dealt with stuff, it was too late to arrange lodging anywhere, so I ended up staying at the office that night (becoming intimately familiar with the alarm system in the process). Thanks to everyone who offered, tho!

It seemed like the universe was trying to send me a message...

Posted by JAY at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

Preggers!

No, not me!

Akemi's having a baby! Great news! I wonder if this means her site is going to become a 'baby blog'...

Posted by JAY at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2005

Eating Before Bed

Ack, it's so hard to stop!

Was feeling hungry and was trying not to eat before bed. I figured I could eat some strawberries that were spoiling in the fridge. 6 minutes later, I had a simple syrup (sugar and water melted to 220 degrees F) to glaze them with. Erk.

I did take a 1 hour walk today, though...

Posted by JAY at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2005

Kaboom!

"Please do not smoke within 9 meters of the entrance." This afternoon, a truck bumped into one of the pillars of our canopied front entrance and both the pillar and the huge canopy came crashing down. We had to close the office to the public for the rest of the day. Most of the staff went home, but I actually had to work late to get something done ahead of deadline. More pictures follow.


Thankfully, no one was standing under it when it fell. It made a huge sound that alerted everyone in the office that something had happened. Hilariously, the truck parked outside had a bunch of bricks on its roof.
I briefly considered photoshopping an arm sticking out for April Fool's Day, but I'm too lazy. By the time I went home (around 7pm) a crane had arrived to haul the canopy away. They also knocked down the second pillar.

Posted by JAY at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2005

IT Meeting Scarborough

Attended an IT meeting in Scarborough that spanned 2 days. Stayed in the new Scarborough Best Western hotel, which was really nice. The rooms had a microwave and an empty open fridge. We spent most of the night in Gavin's room playing caps.

Unlike some others (heh), I didn't get totally wasted drinking or anything - probably because they took pity on me since they know I don't drink. Had a lot of fun, but only felt mildly intoxicated.

Spent the night before that at Sean's place so that I could get a ride with him in the morning to Scarborough. Jackie cooked a prime rib dinner (with some very yummy asparagus) and we turned in fairly early - they have a cute 7 month old baby boy, Brandon. They claim he fusses a lot, but he slept well that night!

Posted by JAY at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2005

Easter Feaster

Spent most of the Easter holiday weekend with my parents. We did the usual eating thing. Turkey and stuffing dinner on Sunday/prime rib on Monday... mostly just eating and eating.

Mom and Dad both had lots of stories to tell about their time in Trinidad and Tobago. It sounds like they enjoyed themselves but conditions sounded very primitive

Posted by JAY at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2005

Parents Back

I just came back from the airport where I picked up the parents. Hopefully I didn't get a ticket in the process - I was stopped in a no-stopping zone and a police vehicle pulled up behind me!

They were delayed by customs for about an hour, so I had to find SOMEWHERE to wait.

I cooked them enough food to last for a couple of days so that they don't have to cook right away.

Posted by JAY at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2005

Shuffleboard

Dave and I went to play shuffleboard today. I totally wiped him :) - 4 games to 1. It wasn't so much my skill as his screwups. After that we went to his place, where we ate the prime rib that we stuck in the oven before we left. It was nice and succulent!

We also watched Shaun of the Dead, which was really hilarious.

Posted by JAY at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2005

Shark Vacuum

Went to Sean's place on Friday for a short while to help with some drywall. He and Jackie gave me a Shark handheld vaccum that they weren't using anymore. It looks really neat. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten a chance to use it as I just vacuumed a couple of days ago. BUt it gives me something to look forward to. (And also, my sister has borrowed the vac I got from Dom for a week, so I'll probably need it!)

Thanks guys!

Posted by JAY at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

Meat Thermometer

Well, the package turned out to be a meat thermometer from Thermoworks that I didn't think I'd ordered from the States. I had went to their website a while ago and tried to purchase one, but when I hit Send the order didn't go through - or that's what it said.

I'd since decided to avoid the expense. However, apparently the order did go through (I didn't get any confirmation email or anything!) So that was the mystery package that got delivered Thursday.

I'm not terribly upset, because I DID really want this Thermometer after seeing it being used on America's Test Kitchen - it looks like it'll replace my meat and candy thermometer with it's huge range. I'll update later once I've used it.

I just hope I don't get 2! Using the 800-number might be better if you're thinking of ordering one.

Posted by JAY at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2005

Starving

Sheesh, went to the parents house at 9.30 pm after swimming, intending to cook there. The kitchen was a total mess and all the pots were dirty and piled on the stove, so I couldn't really cook there and I was really hungry/tired - I hadn't really had time for dinner before swimming. Lisa's been there most of the week (March Break) and apparently hasn't had time to wash any dishes.

She was busy internet chatting, so I'm probably better off here anyway - there's NOTHING to do at the parent's house. I ate a bunch of chips there that I shouldn't have (I almost never eat potato chips) before realizing that I'd be better off cooking at home.

Posted by JAY at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2005

Anticipation?

Hmm, came home today to a post office not on the door saying that I have a package to pick up. It says to pick it up tomorrow but I'm curious as to what it is... wonder if they have it yet.

OTOH, it says amt. due = $25! so maybe I don't wanna know.

Posted by JAY at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2005

Curry at Daves

Went kitchen stuff shopping with Dave B. Got him a proper knife and a microplane grater among other things. I escaped relatively unscathed, spending wise.

We then went grocery shopping and picked up the stuff to make a delicious lamb curry. While shopping, I started juggling some lemons. Yeesh, you'd think I had knocked over merchandise given the shade of red he turned! I didn't even drop any! I distinctly heard him muttering "I can't take you anywhere" behind me.

Posted by JAY at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2005

Training

Ran a training session in VB Scripting for the techs in 2 other geographic teams. Maybe the curriculum was a bit too ambitious - I doubled it over last times and gave it over the same period of time (2 hours). With the last group, as an experiment, I let them do the exercise entirely on their own - and the level of comprehension was not what I hoped.

Still, they did very well considering the subjects covered: basic syntax, objects, subroutines and design - all in 2 hours!

I gave the same session 3 times and had to wake up REALLY early to get down there on time. I would've gone the night before, but the hotels were all booked.

Posted by JAY at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2005

$&#@ing Slippery

Owww... I scrubbed a well-travelled section of flooring and now it's really, really slippery. Took one header (where I landed on my elbow and my head ended up bouncing on the wall) and have almost slipped another few times.

It would be hilarious to treat the entire floor this way. Hilarious, but painful.

Posted by JAY at 06:43 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2005

Jen's New House

I forgot to take my camera, darnit!

Jen moved at the end of January and invited me over for dinner. We made shrimp and garlic pasta and apple cake. I brought another apple cake for dessert. This one turned out better, I lowered the heat to 350 degrees and used Gala apples.

Jen's house was really neat and of course she's dealing with stuff (builder, etc) that I'll have to deal with shortly. Wish I'd had my camera with me!

Posted by JAY at 06:38 PM | Comments (0)

Lost

Had to go to Scarborough today for work and got hopelessly lost. I missed the 401 (eastern) highway somehow and ended up circling downtown Toronto for an hour. Then on my way back I managed to miss the north-bound 404 (I guess there's not an exit from the express lanes.

Despite my lack of any sense of direction, I only got there about 10 minutes late - so I did give myself plenty of time.

Posted by JAY at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2005

Going Swimmingly

Well, I didn't really make any new year's resolutions this year, but I've been doing really well with the swimming so far. I've been swimming 3 times a week since January and have only missed one week (the pool was closed one weekend).

So yeah, pretty good. Now if only I could get my eating under control, I'd be all healthy and stuff...

Posted by JAY at 12:35 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2005

Office Fire

I was kinda curious when Pat busted into my office asking if I had a fire extinguisher. I brought it and followed her into the lunch room, where the toaster had a merry little flame going inside.

After a bit of laughter, I quenched it with a quick short blast of the extinguisher from a measured distance. Now I'm a bit regretful that I didn't really let loose with extinguisher - I mean, who knows when I'll get my next chance?

I shoulda totally unloaded it!

Posted by JAY at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2005

Dinner at Dave's

Well, got more exercise than expected today.

Went to Dave's condo after work and swam in the pool there. It was kind of small and overly warm, but still got a fair amount of swimming in. The hot tub was nice and hot, unlike the one at the local rec center.

We then went to Dominion to pick up some food... got back, cooked it (pasta with olive oil and garlic, with sausage) and then played pool for a bit in the rec room.

We sucked. Big time. I don't think I'm going to bother learning how to play pool anymore! They also had this neat arcade thing where you could play sports games by throwing/putting etc. things at a large projection screen. It was pretty fun.

I got back later than expected, though - after the last local bus left, so I had to walk the last leg of the trip home. It's only a half hour walk, though, and I could use the exercise. Thankfully, it was nice and warm out.

Posted by JAY at 01:01 AM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2005

Without Heat

The heating in the apartment appears to be broken - no one's radiators are working. I think I heard some odd water noise last night, so maybe that had something to do with it.

So there are now several alternate sources of heat in my apartment, which is quite toasty... space heater, oven, candle, lava lamp, monitor... yeah, I'm a one man electricity-burning machine!

Posted by JAY at 12:33 AM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2005

Moving Plans

Hmm, tried today to lay out my furniture in the floor plan of the new house. It looks like everything I have will fit into the master bedroom. Ah well, it'll be a while before I have money for furniture anyway.

In other news, here's the the stove that I want: This Kitchenaid gas range. This one might be a good alternative, though, and it's a bunch cheaper. Oy.

Posted by JAY at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2005

Combo Locks

Argh. Why can't I keep track of my combination locks? I've lost several now and as I left for the pool this evening I realized that I couldn't find it :(

Update: Left it in my father's car... Whew! Plus, I don't have to swim today!

Posted by JAY at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2005

Cooking for Parents

Was invited to the parent's house for dinner today... and cooked dinner there. They had good stuff to cook, so it was pretty fun. I made pork back ribs with homemade honey-garlic-basamic sauce and a fried rice with lots of veggies.

Very yummy. Totally pigged out on the ribs, but that's OK because I've been doing my swimming since the new year started (3x per week) and only had soup for lunch.

Posted by JAY at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2005

New Peppermill

This is my new peppermill, courtesy of Tom David, Inc., the Magnum Plus. I read about it in Taunton's Fine Cooking, which rated it the highest among many mills. I totally agree - it's by far the best peppermill I've owned. It's large grinder rains pepper down with the slightest movement at any grind setting. Being made of ABS plastic instead of wood, it has a much larger cavity that can hold over a cup of peppercorns. Check out the rave reviews that it's gotten!

In addition, service from the company was excellent. Some questions I had regarding billing were quickly resolved by a service representative who answered the phone on the second ring. Overall, an exceptional purchasing experience.

Posted by JAY at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2005

Pandoro

Dom gave me a pandoro, a towering sweetbread. I was dubious - the best before date is October 2005! - but it tastes really good. I've been experimenting with what to put on it... so far mainly with powdered sugar and blueberry-orange sauce. But I just reclaimed my mascarpone cheese (forgot it at the parents' house) so I'll probably whip some up as a sauce.

I also scored some dried herbs (thyme and rosemary) from Dom's garden! The fragrance and color are just SO much better than the stuff you can buy in the stores. I'll have to start a herb garden when I move. I used a few spoons of the thyme in a split pea soup and it tastes fantastic - I also got a really good ham hock with lots of meat and not too much bone.

Posted by JAY at 05:53 PM | Comments (2)

January 05, 2005

Resolutions 2005

I'm not really going to do it this year - too much going on! I'll try to keep up with the exercise that I've been doing and not eating out too much. This year is the year of the house, and I anticipate being plenty busy with that.

With that in mind, my resolution this year is to hold down my discretionary spending! I really don't need anything else (having just ordered my peppermill...) No more kitchenware, no more computer stuff, no more furniture.

I'll also try to lose some weight, or at the very least maintain my current weight.

Posted by JAY at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

2004 Resolved

Last year, my resolutions were kind of derailed by moving and the associated chaos and I kinda forgot to keep track (especially since I don't have a bathroom scale anymore).

I only made about half of my swimming/walking weeks. The swim schedule changed, which makes it a bit less spread out through the week (Fri-Mon). Made the strength training, mostly (in front of the TV).

I certainly reduced the eating out - total success there. Except for Fridays when I'm in Richmond Hill, I only ate out once or twice.

Karate - didn't make, and probably won't for a while. The move/lack of a car makes that difficult, and I'll be moving again this year.

However, it looks like the end result was achieved in the end: I currently weigh 155lbs. So in the last 2 years, I've lost a grand total of about 25 lbs. Truthfully, I've been 155 for a while, and even got down to 152, so I've been backsliding a bit over the holidays.

Posted by JAY at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2005

Hit Me!

Some weblog stats from last year along with a linky retrospective!

Total Hits: 3147
Search Hit Maker: slow/roasted/prime/rib
Esoteric Search Term: wasabi coated cashews
Proudest Search Term: funnel cake + toronto
(I bet I made someone's life happier with that one!)
Theme of the Year: Moving onward

January: 173 hits
54% Internet Explorer
31% Opera
21% Netscape

December: 361 hits
78% Netscape
20% Internet Explorer

Happy New Year! Blog-wise, I resolve to be a bit more self-referential, and link back when I do something that's pictured or recipe-d in previous pages!

Posted by JAY at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2005

Holiday Ick

I seem to be sick. Not sick enough to not go to work tomorrow, but sick enough that I've been sleeping most of the time and still feel tired.

This was an interesting holiday. Lotsa family drama, which didn't really involve me as a primary participant, so I can't really comment on it. However, it resulted in the Christmas dinner being postponed to Boxing Day.

I ended up cooking both Christmas and New Year's dinner. Nothing too fancy this time, pretty much traditional. New Year's was a prime rib roast with the trimmings and Christmas was a stuffed turkey with trimmings. Both were quite yummy.

Posted by JAY at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

December 31, 2004

Tsunami Relief Fund

Please donate if you can.

Posted by JAY at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2004

Stupid Oven

Argh! The oven fuse blew, and now my scalloped potatoes aren't cooked! Wah! Strangely, unscrewing the fuse and putting it back in seems to have fixed it partially. I'm getting power to the top element now.

Sigh. Hopefully it fixes it.

Posted by JAY at 01:12 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2004

Boxing Day Buys

Well, it's a day late but I went to the Cookstown Outlet Mall and spent more money - money that I should be saving for my down payment! Oh well. These were really good deals.

The best deal was a Paderno 4L saucepan. Regular $135, this one was only $64. It's a "second" - there are some cosmetic defects in the aluminium disc on the bottom and it was further marked down for Boxing Day. Actually, they had forgotten to take down the sale sign, so it was supposed to be more expensive.

I also picked up some mini tart pans for half price (inspired by Jackie's mini pecan tartlets, I guess!). Finally, I also picked up a set or Pyrex glassware with covers for $13 (regularly $31).

Now I'm really tired...

Posted by JAY at 09:43 PM | Comments (0)

Jax Snax

Mmm, Jackie gave me a plateful of Christmas cookies! Of course, they were all gone in one night. There were lemon-raspberry squares, french chocolates, hazelnut shortbread, strawberry thumbprints, pecan tartlets, peanut butter cookies and, my favorites, Neiman Marcus cookies. Yay!

Posted by JAY at 09:30 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2004

Snow Dump

Jeez, there's a lot of snow coming down. Between the time I left home and went back to work, there was another 3/4 foot of snow on the ground. It makes for pretty miserable walking. Although I'm sure that it's even worse for driving, so I should count my blessings.

Posted by JAY at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2004

Emergency Room

Well, I just spent 2.5 hours in the emergency room. It was pretty surreal.

My food has been fighting back lately. Yesterday I got sliced up by some cans that I was trying to open with a broken can opener. Today I was eating a salmon filet (filet, mind you!) and a bone got lodged in my throat.

6 hours later, even after eating fried chicken and potatoes (yes, a second dinner) it was still there and getting sore. I tried to get it out myself - I could feel it with my fingers! - and nearly threw up. Three times. Argh.

So I check the Internet for what to do and the first three sites I visit tell me to go to the hospital because it can pierce the esophagus and you can die. I'm like "wha? FINE, then!"

Feeling like an idiot, I throw on a pair of sweat pants and start walking to the hospital. As I leave, it occurs to me that brushing my teeth would be a good idea if someone's going to be staring down my throat. So I do.

Strangely, the triage nurse gets me signed in faster than my mom did when she was having a mini-stroke-like-thingy. I get led to a curtained room and told to strip and put on a gown. I'm thinking "I don't have any underwear under my sweat pants... and what the hell? It's my throat!" Before I can voice my objections, though, the nurse amends it to just my shirt. OK.

I waited for an hour before another nurse (also named Jason, strangely enough) comes in with an IV bag! He tells me that the doctor might want to use some anesthetic so it'll save time if I'm already on an IV. I'm thinking: "It's just a bloody fishbone!" What I say is: "Um, I was just expecting someone to shine a flashlight down my throat and rip it out with tweezers."

A bit of negotiation follows:
"I'll be gentle."
"I think I'd like to wimp out."
"That's OK, we'll leave it for now, then"
"Thanks."
"No problem, it's your veins."
Whew! And ew, it sounds like we're negotiating something else (change the last word). Ok, now stop laughing before I kick your ass.

Finally, another hour later (I'm probably last on the list, and I don't blame them!) the doctor comes in to take a look. He sticks a light and popsicle stick down my throat and sees the bone. I sheepishly explain to him and the 4 nurses/orderlies/students following him that it's not a big deal but the Internet told me to come in. He nods and mentions that piercing the esophagus can be dangerous.

He ends up going for a some tweezer thingies but still can't get it out. So he goes to find a "headlight", a cool fiber optic spotlight that he can wear on his head. He tells me to pant like a dog to prevent gagging and say "Ahhh".

OK. First thing: I'm glad I brushed my teeth before going to the hospital. Second: Panting in and out while saying "ah" is pretty much impossible. Try it. It's pretty much a porno loop. Third thing: Telling him this while he has my tongue painfully gripped in a piece of gauze is also impossible. And oww!

Anyway... I end up almost throwing up in his face. I barely avoid this by throwing myself backwards and covering my mouth with my hands. He looks relieved and comments that he might have gone too far down.

The bad news is that he can't find the bone anymore. The good news is that I don't feel it anymore, either. We conclude that it must've been dislodged by his tweezers and went down my gullet. (Drat, I kinda wanted to take the bone home!)

I'm just glad he SAW the bone the first time and doesn't think that I was making up stories. Yeesh. My throat feels fine now, just a bit swollen, but my stomach is still upset.

Posted by JAY at 02:40 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2004

Still Wiped

I was so tired coming home that I slept fitfully on the bus. I've been known to miss my stop going to work in the morning but this is the first time I've missed the LAST stop at the GO station coming home. I came around a few minutes after the bus pulled out of the station with the "Not in Service" light going.

Who knows where I could've ended up? (The bus depot somewhere, I imagine.)

I totally blame Tad William's excellent book War of the Flowers for keeping me up last night.

Posted by JAY at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2004

Showering

So I took my first shower in the morning before work. I wasn't going to take a total shower because I had showered last night. I was just going to rinse off - then I couldn't resist ducking my head under and shampooing.

After work today I took another long shower because I had been around cigarette smoke and needed to get it off me.

Now I'm wondering if I want to exercise, because I'd have to shower again - and 3x in one day is a bit strange. At least I'm not paying for the utilities!

Posted by JAY at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

Exhausted

I don't know why, but I feel totally exhausted. I'm nodding off sitting here at the computer. I've been getting a fair amount of sleep too, so I'm a bit confused.

Posted by JAY at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2004

Moving Help

Went this afternoon to help DaveB move some of his old furniture and garbage out of his apartment. It's too bad really - most of it was still in fairly good condition, just a bit dated. Someone swiped a side table from where we put it at the front of the building, so that's good, at least.

Posted by JAY at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

Holiday Cooking


Spent most of yesterday baking stuff for tomorrow at the office. We sign up for making treats. On the menu is lemon bars, almond bark and chocolate chip cookies... pictures and recipes later.

Posted by JAY at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2004

Tech/Me/Hate

Technology, money and I have not been gettin along recently. Added to the credit card woes, this morning my work PC hard drive crashed on me. Yesterday, the virus scanner kept insisting that the script I was writing was a virus and deleting it. (And it deleted some others that I subsequently looked for during a conference call and made me look stupid.) Then, I got home today and BAM! the power goes out for a couple of hours. I start looking at the credit card bill and notice that Swiss Chalet double billed me for lunch about a month ago. The telephone bill comes and it looks like they charged me for my credit card being declined.

They didn't, despite the line item for the "Adjustment for credit card payment declined". There's also a line item for "Payment received Nov 16 - Thank You" that apparently is not the line that successfully went through... apparently THAT'S the payment that was declined.

Clear as mud, huh.

Posted by JAY at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

Credit Card Woes

Oh man! In the past month I've had THREE problems with my credit cards! What the hell?

In the middle of November I got a call from my Mastercard company telling me that they had detected fraudulent use of my card. So they credited it back and I got a new one. However, the day after I talked to them, I got a card in the mail. That confused me until I saw that my card had been expiring so this was a new card - but not the NEW card with a different number!

When I got my VISA statement, there was an internet charge there (by some internet billing company). I haven't even used that card for months - in fact, I don't even usually open the statements - I just stack them. Luckily, I opened this one!

And just now, while I was looking over my Mastercard statments to reconcile my books, I found a duplicate transaction from yet ANOTHER restaurant. Argh. What a pain!!

Posted by JAY at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2004

Peppermill Woes

Sigh. My peppermill is broken! This sucks, because I use freshly ground black pepper in almost everything. It looks like the glue between the grinding mechanism and the case has come loose, leaving me unable to open the damned thing.

Luckily, I'd just read a review of this peppermill in one of the cooking magazines (yes, I'm pathetic) that I read. Apparently, it's the king of all peppermills. I'm going to try to find a retail store in Canada that I can buy it at.

Posted by JAY at 12:07 AM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2004

Mixed Virtue

Feeling virtuous because I swam for a whole hour, trying to work off at least one of those helpings of pasta. Feelin' guilty - because I totally cut someone off while swimming. I stopped and apologized, but I don't think the guy was mollified since he left the pool shortly thereafter. Oh well.

Posted by JAY at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)

Too Cold

Bah! I'm not swimming today. It's too cold!

Posted by JAY at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2004

Comment Spam

Over the last couple of weeks I've gotten a lot of comment spam, which tries to increase Google page-ranking by posting links to their websites. It's not a big deal because I tend to go in an mass-delete them with SQL in the database. However, I thought I'd try a better solution: MT Blacklist. We'll see how it turns out.

Posted by JAY at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2004

Unpacking

Went and helped DaveB unpack/assemble his new condo. He and his parents had spent the day moving all the stuff, so the job was mostly done. After that we got dinner at Moxie's. I had a 3-mushroom sirloin steak that wasn't terrific, but I enjoyed the company and conversation.

Posted by JAY at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2004

Dinner with DaveK

Dave came over for dinner tonight. We took a quick walk for some exercise and then came back and cooked dinner. We made a nice pasta sauce of plum tomatoes, herbs and sausage. For dessert, baked apples with caramel sauce. Then we played X-Men: Legends for a while. It was fun!

Posted by JAY at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2004

View From A Condo


Got into Dave's new condo this evening. He moves in on Friday. This is the view from his balcony on the 27th floor. I stitched it together in Photoshop from several photos. Didn't really have time to take a lot of pictures, though, and didn't spend too much time on it.

Posted by JAY at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2004

New Pastry Method

Jennifer posted a very interesting link about scientifically making food. I agreed with some and disagreed with others, but what was VERY interesting was his way of distributing water in the flour of pastry.

Here's the quote:
Instead of using his fingers to rub globs of fat into flour, then dribbling in ice water, Mr. McGee starts with square chunks of cold butter and a pile of flour on a board. With a rolling pin he presses and rolls the butter into the flour, flattening it into thinner and thinner flakes. Occasionally he scrapes the mixture into a bowl and freezes it for five minutes, to keep the butter from melting. Since the gluten is not activated until the water is added, there is no worry about overworking the dough, even though the process can take some time.

Finally, to add the water Mr. McGee fetched a plant mister. "I always found it was hard to get the water evenly into the dough" he said. "So I measured how many sprays of the mister it takes to get half a cup of water it's 150, by the way and I use that to get uniform droplets." Now working quickly, he lightly squeezed the mister over the dough 50 times, then turned the dough and folded it. After two repetitions the dough just held together. He divided it into two round discs and returned it to the freezer.

Posted by JAY at 12:32 AM | Comments (5)

November 24, 2004

Clams

More cheap seafood (went and used another coupon today)! I've been using the coupons to get things that I don't ordinarily get, like oysters and trout. I don't think that clams are that great, though, because they're expensive and most of their weight is shell - like little rocks. They basically taste like slightly better mussels - but mussels are so much cheaper. The clams came to about $11, so I got them for about half price. I tossed in some fresh herbs that I had frozen and canned tomatos. It tasted good, but a bit pricey. (There's enough food for tomorrow's lunch too, though.)

Posted by JAY at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2004

Seafood, Bowling, Eating

Used another $5 coupon to get free rainbow trout from Loblaws with my sister. Also picked up some deals at Price Chopper (1/2 price tea!). After that, I had a good swim (got all 3 swim days in this week - Mon/Fri/Sat).

Dave picked me up from the pool and we went to the new Vaughn Hills mall where we tried bowling at the Lucky Strike. It was the first time I've done 10 pin bowling and I won :) Both of us were pretty pathetic, though... it was a lucky spare and strike that put me over. I still don't understand the scoring, but the computer takes care of that.

After that we headed to the Mandarin chinese buffet where I totally pigged out on prime rib - it was nicely medium rare for once - ribs and lots of shrimp. 3 large plates and 2 plates of dessert later (mmm, waffles!) I was stuffed! I hadn't eaten all day. There's supposed to be some limit to how much fat the body can absorb in one sitting. I hope that was after the first plate of food!

The oysters I did yesterday bit back - I brushed the muck off them with my fingers and now the tips of my fingers have fine cuts in them. (Made bowling and typing difficult.)

Posted by JAY at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2004

Poor Puppy

Today I took an abbreviated walk around Main Street. I've been pretty good about taking long walks for exercise around Fairy Lake. Today it was dark and raining, though, so I cut it short.

On the way back home, a large black dog ran across the street right in front of a car. It was pretty horrible, the dog went flyiing and then hid under a nearby parked car. It whimpered for a bit and then stopped. I can't imagine that it lived, but I don't think it suffered too much.

The owner was not far behind. Ordinarily, I'd be angry with him for not leashing his pet, but he was very upset and already feeling bad enough.

Depressing.

Posted by JAY at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2004

NFS Support

See, this is why I like Nearly Free Speech. This is an example of their moderated forum support. Problem submitted and resolved within a 5 minutes.

Yay!

Posted by JAY at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2004

Convenience

Remember this?

Yeah, well, since then my father hasn't spoken with me, except to relay orders via an intermediary. That's exactly what he complains that his mother does to him - which isn't surprising, I suppose. We're all more like our parents than we'd like to admit.

So today, my mother calls me at work to tell me that he wants the phone and internet service to their house cancelled today. They're fully authorized to do it themselves, they just don't want to.

The cable modem needs to be returned to Rogers by Saturday, and since they don't know what the cable modem is, they wanted to get me to come get it. However, they wouldn't give me a date or time, both of them started yelling at me over the phone (which is now cancelled). Father accused me of wanting everything on my schedule at which point I told my father that he was being an asshole. Rude, but he was - I wasn't demanding he meet my schedule, I was demanding that he give me his. He hung up on me. Again.

Whatever. I'm utterly sick of dealing with them.

Posted by JAY at 01:14 PM | Comments (2)

November 09, 2004

Beeeef!

Roast beef is such a dangerous thing for me to have in the fridge... I just went snacking and only managed to leave a TINY piece there for tomorrow's lunch.

I'm planning on getting some more, though :) It's expensive, comparatively speaking, but a $10 roast lasted me 4 meals, so that's not too bad. I might get a bigger one this time!

Posted by JAY at 01:26 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2004

Dessert Consideration

I am considering creating a dessert.

I have 1 banana, brown sugar, butter and blueberry-orange sauce.
I also have cinnamon and nutmeg.
I'll boil the brown sugar, add the butter and simmer the bananas in it.
Then I'll pour the sauce over it in a pattern.

The only problem is that I've been eating a lot of chocolate today... but when has that ever stopped me? Maybe I'll try holding off until tomorrow.

Posted by JAY at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

Meeting at the Pool

Saw Terry at the pool. She says her husband Chris and daughter Melissa are doing well, and they're living not far from me on Magnolia off Davis. She's about 5 months pregnant (what IS it with everyone having babies now?). She offered me rides to the pool, but I go a bit earlier than she does. It was nice of her to offer, though.

Posted by JAY at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

Stupid iPod Tricks

So now that I have my iPod back, I've been teaching it some new tricks! After flashing the ROM, I uploaded all my contacts. Then I formatted the bus schedules that I use most often. It already came in handy today when I stayed a bit late at the pool.

Finally, I made some playlists. A list of "singles" is probably a good representation of the albums on my iPod.

See it by clicking below


Bliss
Tori Amos
In the End
Linkin Park
Favorite Worst Enemy
Treble Charger
Clocks
Coldplay
Friday I'm In Love
Cure
She Sells Sanctuary
The Cult
Mr. Jones
Counting Crows
Lovers in a Dangerous Time Album
Barenaked Ladies
Winter
Tori Amos
Lovesong
Cure
Yellow
Coldplay
Omaha
Counting Crows
Everyday Is Like Sunday
Morrissey
Lifehouse_01_Spin
Lifehouse
High and Dry
Radiohead
Why Does It Always Rain on Me?
Travis
Take Me Away
Lifehouse
Favorite Worst Enemy
Treble Charger
01_Harder_To_Breathe
Maroon5
100 Years
Five for Fighting
Not the Same
Ben Folds
Somebody Told Me
Killers
Fall To Pieces
Velvet Revolver
Brand New Low
Treble Charger
30 Seconds to Mars - 02 - Edge of the earth
30 Seconds to Mars
19-2000
Gorillaz
Push
Matchbox Twenty
Unwell
Matchbox Twenty
We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful
Morrissey
April Fools
Rufus Wainwright
Caught a Lite Sneeze
Tori Amos
Certain People I Know
Morrissey
A Sorta Fairytale
Tori Amos
World On Fire
Sarah McLachlan
Love Will Come Through
Travis
Song for a Winter's Night
Sarah McLachlan
1,000 Oceans
Tori Amos
Happy To Hang Around
Travis
Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Sarah McLachlan

Posted by JAY at 09:43 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2004

Mmm... Roast Beef

This is definitely the best roast beef that I've made! It actually tastes as good as the prime rib that you can buy from The Keg! Slow roasting is definitely the way to go.

Posted by JAY at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2004

Swimming and Shopping

I wasn't going to go swimming, but it was a really nice day today.

My leg is a bit sore, but it didn't cramp up.

After swimming I went and checked out the house lot - nothing happening there except mud. My shoes are a mess! Went to the mall and got some spices and brown sugar and finally the convenience store for some milk. Too bad I don't have any apples to bake.

I'm about to start my prime rib dinner!

Posted by JAY at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)

Stupid Loblaws

Went to Loblaws because they were having a shrimp special that was really good. It's the first day of the sale and they're already sold out!

Oh well, it wasn't a total loss because I picked up some cheap veggies that'll last me the week for $2 and some change for my laundry. Plus, I've got a couple of bags of shrimp in the freezer already - but these were fresh!

Posted by JAY at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

Ow, Cramps

Just woke up. When I tossed myself at my alarm clock, though, my right calf spasmed right into a totally debilitating cramp. I was curled over whimpering.

It didn't last for long - I sort of wrung it out by twisting at my heel and knee - but it was SO painful! I was thinking that I shouldn't swim today but I didn't swim yesterday. So I guess I'll try. That's what lifeguards are for, right?

Posted by JAY at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2004

Games/Theft/Jaguar

Whoosh. It was an eventful night.

Went to play shuffleboard with Dave - beat him again, but not nearly so dramatically... 4 games vs 3 games. So that was fun.

But then when we got out of Dave and Buster's we found his rear car door window smashed and his laptop stolen :( Kind of a major deal, because he does a lot of his business on the laptop. So that sucked.

We drove to his parents' house and borrowed their car - a really nice Jaguar. It had this neat windshield that diffracted the light so that oncoming headlights couldn't blind you. The glare was instead diffused gently in a fine grid pattern. Really cool.

After looking at some laptops we got dinner at ... uh... I don't remember. Al Gonquin's? Something like that. Can't remember - the food was fine, but unmemorable. I had some ribs, veggies and a baked potato. I treated, since it had been such a rotten night for him.

Posted by JAY at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2004

Bitterness

Ok. One short rant to get it out of my system and that's it.

There's a palpable layer of bitterness under the humor on the Daily Show. To paraphrase: "Iraq, the economy - all of it paled before the fear of two dudes kissing."

Well, I really hope that women realize that they've likely voted to overturn Roe. vs. Wade. Because with the inevitability of Supreme Court appointments in the near future, it's gone.

I'm irritated that for all the American's touted individualism, they seek to force others to conform to their views. Don't like gay sex? Don't have it. Disagree with abortion? Don't have one! Is it really that hard?

Seriously, America just voted for ignorance, deception and intolerance. Enjoy it.

Posted by JAY at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

iPod Thoughts

Phew! I was so lost without my iPod. I missed it constantly because I use the bus and walk a lot (don't have a car) and listen to it whenever I'm waiting/walking.

I can't really afford to replace it either, as I'm going to have to buy appliances for the new house. There's no way I can spend more than a clothes dryer on a music player.

I was considering a flash based MP3 player, but hadn't quite gotten over the loss of the iPod and the ability to spontaneously decide what I wanted to listen to. Is it petty of me to be so relieved that my iPod is working that I don't feel as depressed about the results of the American election?

Posted by JAY at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

Fixed My iPod!! YAY!

I'm sooooo happy!

I *think* I fixed my iPod!!

I put it into Firewire HDD mode, and it seemed ok. Mapped it with WinXP to I: and then reformatted it. Now iTunes is reporting the correct size and my manual upload of one song seemed to work perfectly!

Fingers crossed! I'm wondering if I should update the firmware or just leave well enough alone.

In other news - all this looking at the monitor is worsening a headache that I've had since this morning. Ugh. Ugh, but yay!

Posted by JAY at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2004

Election Day

Bleah, I can't watch. I'm going to bed.

Posted by JAY at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

Freezer Burned

This is why I have to call a grocery moratorium. In no particular order: Sausage, chicken thighs, scallops, bacon, beef short ribs, t-bone steak, blade steak, salmon filets, turkey thigh, leeks, cauliflower, bread crumbs, seafood curry, split pea soup, french bread, egg bread, celery, carrots.

And that doesn't count the door, which has: unsalted butter, more scallops, shrimp, pancetta, whole salmon, ginger, cheese, salmon bits, coconut milk, herbs.

I'm sure I missed some stuff, too.

Posted by JAY at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2004

Getting Fit?

If only I can control my appetite!

I've done more swimming lately - Friday to today, I've swam every day! Of course, I've been eating more too. Oh well. I've got to stick to my "no snacks in the house rule - that's been going by the wayside lately.

Posted by JAY at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2004

iPod Problems

My iPod seems broken :(

Even though it syncs perfectly with iTunes, the songs don't actually show up from the iPod browser. Argh! I use the iPod a lot, too.... sniffle.

Posted by JAY at 06:21 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2004

Good Sales

There were some good sales at Loblaws today. I picked up 2 big cartons of Tropicana orange juice for $2 each. I almost didn't buy the Atlantic salmon filet pictured, but it was SUCH a good price! That's not a small cutting board, either. The salmon was $10 - it was discounted more than $11/kg. I chopped it into serving sized pieces and froze most of them. Some more went into the fridge. I am hereby resolving to not buy any more food!! I've got enough in the freezer to last more than a month!

Posted by JAY at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)

The Right Lot

We had odd weather today - I went swimming and it was pouring rain. The sun came out strongly when I came out and so I went to take some pictures of my house lot. Having just rained, my shoes are a total mess. This picture is where my house will be, facing the backyard.

I also met someone else who was checking out their house.

The older gent, Alan, was looking for his lot. I helped him find it, but he insisted that it wasn't the right lot. He was certain that his house was a Southern exposure. We agreed to disagree - but I just checked my lot plan, and his lot is facing West. I hope he's not disappointed!

There really weren't any houses with a southern exposure on our street anyway. (Mine faces North - which is fine, because the majority of windows are in the back.

Posted by JAY at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2004

Dave's Game

Went to Dave's game after my Friday swim. It was a good game, and he was nice enough to order pizza for us. Yummy! I was trying not to eat too much (because my eating is undoing all my exercise!) but alas, I wasn't able to resist.

Afterward, Erich and I went to Tim's where we talked about our respective jobs for a while. Erich's got a lot more ambition than I - but then, he has a family (and new baby Gaby) to worry about!

Posted by JAY at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2004

Changing Plans

I'm irritated right now, because more than 4 times in the last month or so, my parents have kept me waiting for them and then changed plans either at the last minute or without telling me. The end result is usually me waiting around doing nothing, waiting for them to show up.

When it's a dinner engagement, I usually end up getting hungry after a couple of hours and eating - usually they interrupt my meal and I inform them that I've already eaten.

Today is a typical example: Father wanted to come over to borrow my vacuum cleaner to clean my sister's new house. He was to call me before lunch so that I could get it for him on my lunch break (he wanted it before the end of the day). While I waited for him to call, lunch-time came and went.

Finally, hungry for my lunch, I phoned him and asked when he'd be coming. He'd changed plans without bothering to tell me and wasn't going to come until after I got home from work.

Well, I'm about to leave work and he just called and said that he lost his keys, so he'll come "when he finds them".

I asked him to call me before he comes to ensure that I'm there. He insisted that I should call him before I leave "and if I don't get an answer, he's on his way."

That doesn't do fuck-all for me, because I've waited hours for him to show up before with him unreachable. I repeated that he should call before he leaves, or I might not be there. He hung up on me while yelling on the phone sarcastically that it "must be too much trouble for me to call him".

Well, no, it just seems more logical for him to make sure I'll be there before he leaves - especially when he's changing plans all the time without telling me.

Posted by JAY at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2004

Shopping

Went to Dominion today and picked up lots of cheap meat, most of which went into the freezer. Bought a pork roast (you've already seen some of that - I put half of it into the freezer), several packs of lamb chops, a pack of beef short ribs and the special that I went for - bacon that was 1/2 price.

I also picked up spinach, mushrooms, garlic and squash for the veggie complement.

I bought some coconut milk to mix in with some frozen, slightly-too-spicy seafood curry and thai noodles to make a thai curried noodle thing. I didn't buy any fish sauce though, so it won't be too authentic.

Finally, a Brita filter, as I haven't had a good source of water for the last couple of days!

All in all, it came to almost $40 bucks, which isn't bad when the food should last me for between 2 and 3 weeks - under $3 per day!

Posted by JAY at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2004

SwimSwimSwim

So I'm trying to swim as much as I can to keep up with my eating. So far, made Friday and Saturday (today).... planning on swimming tomorrow and Monday too.

Feeling a bit sore today, though.

Posted by JAY at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2004

Biscuit Thoughts

Hmm, the biscuits were only ok with the soup, but they're great with strawberry jam. So this might be a good dessert with whipped cream added!

Posted by JAY at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

Swim-Soup-Biscuits

I swam today rather than playing shuffleboard as I would have preferred - I'm getting fat, so the swimming is mandatory. I was committed to just have soup for dinner, so I made some butter baking powder biscuits to go with.

Yummy, but not killer yummy, so don't know if I'll bother with them next time.

Posted by JAY at 09:08 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2004

Snack Day

Today I ate smallish meals throughout the day. It was actually very satisfying.

For breakfast I had leftover apple pie.

On my morning break I had a small bun with turkey and tomato.

For lunch I had some split pea soup.

After work I had a tiny bit of rice with some chicken cream sauce (the sauce was leftover, it got added to some fresh chicken fried with mushrooms, onion and garlic.

And when I got home after a movie (more on that later) I had the leftover sauce with some spaghettini - it was really good. Actually, the spaghettini was a bit more than a little bit. But it tasted really good!

Posted by JAY at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2004

Dinner with Parents

Went home for dinner today. Mom cooked a nice meal of steak and chicken. I made an apple pie for dessert. The pastry was much better this time - nice and flakey. Could've been more tender, though.

I brought a bit home to snack on later.

Posted by JAY at 10:25 PM | Comments (0)

Worshipping

Jon Stewart is my hero.

That's all.

Posted by JAY at 12:35 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2004

Fatty Weekend!

Well, I swam today for the first Saturday ever (or that I remember, anyway) becasue yesterday I had so much good food!

Of course, today after swimming I had a craving for fried chicken that wouldn't be denied. And I had some extra mushrooms, so I fried those too. And the leftover cream sauce from Thursday's spaghetti squash on rice.

Unngh.

Jackie sent Sean in on Friday with some delicious chocolate chip nut cookies that were SO good (I'll have to get the recipe from her!). I just couldn't stop eating them - I must've had between 1 and 2 dozen! Then of course we went to Swiss Chalet for lunch, where I had fries. Though I was "good" and split my fries for half of Cathy's salad. For dinner I had a slice of cheesecake at Dave and Buster's. So I've a lot of eating to make up for!

Posted by JAY at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

Hair Today

... gone tomorrow.

On Tuesday I went for my first non-family/self administered haircut. So my 1.5 feet of hair is no more. I still haven't paid for a haircut, though - I won this one (to the loud amusement of the other patrons) at a Southlake Cinemania showing.

It's not as short as I wanted it, but it's still much easier to wash/dry. Of course, now when I go to sleep with my hair wet, I wake up with a fright wig!

Posted by JAY at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2004

Victory and Defeat

After work today, Dave and I went to play shuffleboard at Dave and Buster's. I totally destroyed him this time :) Out of all the games we played (between 6 and 8) he only won the first one.

Later Erich and Trev joined us and I was defeated soundly at Settlers of Cataan (twice) and a marathon-like game of Munchkins.

Posted by JAY at 11:34 PM | Comments (2)

October 14, 2004

Youth and Politics

Slashdot has an amazing set of questions and "answers" from the US presidential candidates that were asked by young voters.

The questions were stunning in a good way. The answers were stunning in quite a different way.

Stunning question:

8. EDUCATION (SEX ED):

Having gone to high school in a very conservative area, where parents refused to teach their children proper sex education, I watched 20 of my classmates leave due to teenage pregnancy. Some knew about sex while others had no idea how to get pregnant. What is your opinion on sex education in the classroom and what resources (information, condoms, etc) should be used? Do you believe that teaching abstinence alone is enough to save our children from teen pregnancy and spreading disease?
- John, 25, of KY

Bush's response (snipped to actual policy):We will double Federal funding for abstinence programs, so schools can teach this fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases or pregnancy.


OMG.

Most stunning answer:

11. PERSONAL:

When is it appropriate for a leader to change their opinion? Both sides have been accused of flip-flopping on important issues - President Bush on establishing the Dept. of Homeland Security and steel tariffs, Senator Kerry on the Iraq war. But changing opinion due to thoughtful reconsideration ought not to be derided as flip-flopping. Tell us about a time when you had an honest change of opinion on a topic of national importance.
- Jeremy, 30, of WA

President George Bush Responds:
President Bush declined to answer this question. - Editor

To be fair, Kerry was non-specific and Nader changed his mind about hot dogs.
Sigh. Just keep chanting: Lesser of two evils...

And finally, while the leaders may not offer any reason for optimism, the youth of today promise a bright future:


THIS NEXT QUESTION WAS ASKED AND CHOSEN BY 13-17 YEAR-OLD "FUTURE VOTERS" AS THEIR GREATEST CONCERN THAT HADN'T BEEN FULLY ANSWERED BY THE CANDIDATES:

12. TOLERANCE FOR THOSE WHO ARE DIFFERENT:

The Bush administration has made a big deal of President Bush's Christian faith. Democratic candidate John Kerry is also a Christian. My question for the candidates is how does your faith affect your decision-making for the future of our country? Also, America is based on the separation of church and state. For the candidates, is it conflicting to take a position on issues based on Christianity (such as abortion and gay marriage) when not everyone in America believes in God or Christianity?
- Marcy, 17, of CO

Posted by JAY at 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2004

Heavy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!

Well, it was a hefty holiday weekend for me. I went to my parents' house on Saturday where we started with a prime rib and a large chocolate cake.

On Sunday we went to the Cookstown Outlet Mall where I found a good deal on a digital instant thermometer - $10... Got home and baked the pumpkin pie for Monday. Unfortunately, I over-mixed the pastry and it wasn't as flakey as it should've been.

On Monday I made a turkey with stuffing and gravy. Mom made some sweet potato buns as well. All in all, a very fattening weekend.

Posted by JAY at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2004

Whoopsie, wrong Email

Oy. My email address listed on the page was incorrect... fixed now.

Posted by JAY at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2004

Dave's New Condo etc.

Dave took me to see the model suites of his new condo. They all looked really nice. I liked the bachelor pad... no bedrooms, just one big room. The building has good facilities (no shuffleboard, though!) and an attractive lobby.

We then went to Swatow for lunch - unfortunately, they must have been missing some ingredients - all of the organ meats were missing from the Special Soup! They made up for it by adding extra beef (which was nice) but I kinda missed the clear stick of mystery meat! I noticed this time that the broth has a subtle thickness to it - just barely thicker than water.

Dave and Buster's shuffleboards were being used as buffet tables so we went to the Pacific Mall in Markham where I got several pastries. After that, we headed back to his apartment where Trev joined us for a couple of board games.

Posted by JAY at 11:18 PM | Comments (3)

Calorie Bomb

On Wednesday Cathy joined me for some split pea soup (which is all gone now...). She left behind a tiny jar of huge calories - maple butter! Mmm, maple butter. It's best eaten with a tiny spoon, all by itself! Thanks Cathy!

When my sister and I were really young, we used to try to make maple butter/sugar by putting maple syrup in tiny foil cups hidden at the bottom of the freezer. It wouldn't work - inevitably the cups would spill and that's not how the stuff is made anyway. Actually when we threw out the fridge years later, we found one of the little cups plastered to the bottom of the door!

Posted by JAY at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2004

Presidential Duh-bates

Or rather, Daily Show coverage of it.

High point was the skit about the parties attempts to lower expectations for their debate candidates

"The Bush team would like to remind everyone their man held his own against what they call 'the smartest man in the history of world'! An amazing accomplishment for the man whom, as the Bush team points out, is by some standardized test results technically retarded. Jon, as RNC chairman Ed Gillespie pointed out shortly before we went on air, this was a president who was nearly killed by a pretzel."

Pathetic interviewee point: Rudy Guiliani
Jon Stewart: "He felt Saddam could have been disarmed without us invading. And actually, I guess what I would suggest is, he WAS actually disarmed - because there weren't really the weapons we thought were there"

Rudy Guiliani: But Jon, he himself was a weapon of mass destruction!

JS: *shit eating grin*

It gets better...

Stewart then cannily gets Guiliani to repeat and even go further with his ridiculous statement by deliberately misconstruing Guiliani's remark.

JS: Senator Kerry?

RG: No, Saddam Hussein was a weapon of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein was sitting on top of 2 or 3 billion dollars worth of money to support global terrorism.

Okaaay then... So if you're rich and the US administration doesn't like you, watch out! That makes you a weapon of mass destruction! Never mind that there are NO proven links between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

Posted by JAY at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

September 30, 2004

All... Gone...

Wah - my itty bit of carbonara is all gone! And I want more!

Posted by JAY at 06:43 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2004

Brain Dead

This morning I couldn't find my stupid wallet. I was sure that I had it last night when I used the subway and after searching the apartment I went so far as checking the freezer, fridge and picking through last night's garbage. (Yes, I am that absentminded.)

I mean, my apartment is not THAT big.

Anyway, I just found it. I must've taken it out of my pants pocket, put something in it and then put it back into the pocket - except I got the wrong pocket and since I never use that pocket, I didn't check it for the wallet.

Sigh.

Posted by JAY at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2004

The Eating Meeting

So we got to the meeting nice and early and I totally pigged out on Chinese food - mostly meat. 3 plates of food and 1/2 plate of dessert later and I was almost groaning!

Sean was kind enough to drive me home, so I got home relatively early (yay!).

I'm not quite sure what the meeting was about.

Posted by JAY at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2004

Exercise-Eat...

So I managed to swim today for the first time in a while - I figure I'd better get in some exercise because there's a meeting tomorrow at a buffet dinner. Of course, when I got home from swimming I started eating.

I've been eating a lot these days. Cathy thinks that I must be getting ready to hibernate.

Posted by JAY at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2004

Food Thoughts...

Depressingly (or not) I realized as I was going though the fridge that I still have more pasta, a pot of cheese sauce and all the makings of a carbonara sauce (butter, cream, eggs, bacon - the 4 food groups!).

Must... resist!

Posted by JAY at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2004

Mini-Golf

Dave picked me up from work on Friday to go see his new condo. Unfortunately, the sales office was closed. So we then decided to go hang out at the Pacific Mall in Markham - but hen his office called and needed him to come in.

So we went to his work place, where everything seemed fine and there was nothing to troubleshoot. After we went to Dave and Buster's to play shuffleboard, but the tables were all being used for party buffet tables. So we went and played indoor glow-in-the-dark mini-golf. I enjoyed it (even though I lost) though Dave thought it wasn't so good - he's been to others before though - so he had others to compare it to. Being my first time, I wish I had a camera!

We ate dinner at Lonestar in Richmond Hill. The food was ok, but a bit pricey for what I got (about $20 for a steak sandwich and fries).

Posted by JAY at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2004

Work Presentation

Did a short (morning) presentation for another IT team. Just going through the basics of logging on and VBScript. It went well enough - I was a bit worried that there wouldn't be enough laptops to go around, but they were there. It was pretty short notice - I just got told about it last week.

The heartbreaking part was that the presentation was right across from Dhaba but I wasn't hungry enough for a buffet meal. Wah! The other sucky part was that I had to leave at 6:30am to get there and I was still a couple of minutes late.

Posted by JAY at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2004

Weeee are the Champions

Went and played shuffleboard with Trev and Rucell. I teamed with Rucell and Trev played solo. Rucell and I beat Trev :)

I may have to rethink my strategy of splitting up couples, though. I thought that would be best so that they couldn't blame each other if they lost. However, that led to some interesting tactics on both their parts...

Ah well. It was close, anyway.

Posted by JAY at 10:25 PM | Comments (2)

September 15, 2004

Ugh, Bugs!

I opened my door to put out the garbage and what do I see?

This freaking HUGE spider has built a web spanning the upper corner of my door. I guess that it grew really fat with all the bugs that it gets with the outdoor light.

Ew. I killed it, of course.

Posted by JAY at 09:34 PM | Comments (3)

September 14, 2004

Sick. Bleah.

Bleah, I've got a cough and throat tickle all day.

I'm currently drinking tea that's piping hot and syrupy with sugar.

Trevor, you're dead.

Posted by JAY at 08:12 PM | Comments (2)

September 12, 2004

Lisa's Moving Day

Helped Lisa move into an apartment near her teaching placement. It was quite the family drama filled day, but thankfully I missed most of it thanks to living away from home!

The apartment is pretty nice, though it's on the 3rd floor of a building without any elevators. It was pretty expensive, though... mine's both bigger and cheaper. Hers, though, has a balcony.

Got dinner at Swiss Chalet.

Posted by JAY at 06:43 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2004

Peppercorn Steak Dinner

Strip loin steak with peppercorn sauce and potato tonight, together with the texture impaired leftover brocolli soup.

I got really good browning on the steak, so I made the sauce by deglazing the pan with water and adding a tiny starch slurry. Strangely, the steak itself was not very tasty - it didn't have much beefy flavor. Good thing I made the sauce.

Posted by JAY at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

Baby Brandon

Sean and Jackie had their baby Brandon near the beginning of this month and it looks like the Baby Blog is up now! Congratulations!

Posted by JAY at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2004

GMail Accounts

Anyone want a G-Mail account? They're expanding their beta and I've got some invites... leave your email in the comments if you want one...

Posted by JAY at 09:03 PM | Comments (2)

September 05, 2004

Trev's Wedding Party

Trev and Rucell got married on Saturday!

It was kind of a surprise invite to the after-party, but a lot of people showed up and a good time was had by all. Rucell knocked herself out with the cooking - they'll be eating leftovers for a while.

The food was delicious! My favorite fried dessert made an appearance, fried balls of sweet rice and coconut milk (it's name sounds vaguely like "karaoke"!). Trev and his father had their favorite - a tasty egg soup flavored with crab.

Several people who I hadn't seen for a long time were also there: Narvada and family, Marcel and his iBook, etc. Yay!

Posted by JAY at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2004

Dom's Italian Dinner

After going swimming (perfect week - 3 swims, yay!) I had dinner. Dom brought me a delicious zuccini/pea/meatball sauce and noodles, along with some perfect dunking fennel-seed flavored bread that his mum made.

So that's what I feasted on tonight.

The meatballs were (huge!) all nice and moist and well flavored... mmm!

Posted by JAY at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2004

Which reminds me...

A friend asked me today: are you a classical pianist?
To which I answered: no, i'm a mediocre pianist!

Posted by JAY at 12:34 AM | Comments (0)

Musical Night Owl

Man... I should be asleep.

Instead, I'm on the piano playing Led Zeppelin... (song: Thank You)

Sigh. But I got 1/2 way through learning it and just remembered it when I heard it the other day, so I'm sort of fumbling through it. Hopefully I have the volume down to where it won't affect the people upstairs.

They come in at all hours anyway - I think he works nights. And the guy's gf has dogs that are sometimes there barking (which doesn't disturb me, really) so they've really got no room to complain.

Posted by JAY at 12:25 AM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2004

Bill's Buoys

We went boating today! Dave, Trev, Rucell and I joined Dave's parents, Bill and Jane, on their huge boat.

Read on for some more photos...

Did I mention the boat was huge? 2 bedrooms, bathrooms and a full kitchen below deck! We had a long scenic tour around the bay and then returned for a delicious dinner of hamburgers, several salads and brownies.


We followed that with some spirited conversation that lasted quite late into the night before heading home.

Good times!

Posted by JAY at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2004

Nifty Vacuum

Dom and Clara gave me an awesome vacuum! Yay for keeping my apartment cleaner!! It's really cool. My parents had a Viking vacuum a long time ago before they switched to central vac, but it must've been the cheap model.

This one has a powered head for rugs and a wicked retractable power cord - sooo cool! So I vacuumed the whole place, including the foyer carpeted area that really needed it. I couldn't get it before, because all I had was a broom that was probably dragging dust all over the floor. I also did the rug in my bedroom - which is good, because it was starting to get visibly messy.

Thanks guys!!

Posted by JAY at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)

Wah! Food waste

Some of the jars of food that I put in the freezer cracked! Wah!

They weren't covered tightly, either... Maybe I didn't let them cool enough before putting them in - but they were pretty cool, though not refrigerated. And they weren't covered tightly, either - I thought there was room for expansion.

Maybe my freezer was too cold? I turned it up pretty high because I was afraid of food spoiling.

Anyway - I lost a jar of curry and 2 jars (one big one!) of split pea soup. Sniffle.

Posted by JAY at 06:59 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2004

Health Scares

Mom had a strange health scare yesterday. We ended up in the emergency room of the local hospital. She seems fine now, though.

After tennis and swimming she started getting really disoriented. It may or may not have anything to do with the fact that she didn't eat very much that day before exercising.

By the time she was in the hospital, she couldn't remember much of anything that happened recently - like where I worked. However, later she got all of her memory back, though she can't remember anything that happened while she lost her memory.

I spent today cooking some stuff at the parents' house so that they won't have to cook over the next couple of days. Father seems to think that my moving out caused this episode. While I'm sure it put her under some stress, his tendency to blame me for anything bad happens gets old really fast.

Posted by JAY at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2004

Shuffleboard Sunday

We were going to the AMC theater to see Garden State, but someone got the details wrong and it wasn't playing :)

That's ok, though. We went to Dave and Buster's instead and played shuffleboard, which I enjoyed more than I wanted to see the movie. We played 4 games - I won 2, lost 2.

Got dinner at Asia Buffet. It was just OK. The heaters under the food needed to be turned up, and the selection wasn't all that big. The only thing of interest was the fried wontons, which were filled with an unexpected filling of cream cheese and fake crab.

Posted by JAY at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2004

Cookstown Outlet Mall

Went with my parents to Cookstown Outlet Mall where I picked up a bunch of clothes, shoes, and some really cheap covered pyrex cookware. Ran into Rucell and Trev there, too.

Posted by JAY at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2004

Public Transport

I really like taking the bus... there are so many people to watch and today was a standout day for that!

There was this elderly lady named Sheila who was all conservatively dressed for work. She managed to bust through with her individuality by wearing bright blue nail polish and silver rings. Go grandma!

A regal looking black girl who had the best facial bones ever. She was overweight but still looked awesome in her silver hoop earrings, denim and Lawrence Hill band camp tshirt. (And this one time? At band camp?... she didn't look like that.)

On the freaky funny side, a girlish looking boy was intimidated away by some crazy guy who was verbalizing his thoughts very loudly. "Is that a girl or a boy? Doesn't matter... just don't ask me for money! Don't ask me for money!" I cracked up right there (probably scaring the guy even more). The kid didn't look like a street kid and didn't look like he WAS going to ask for money. It was all the more hilarious because usually I'm the one whose gender is in question. Not this time, though.

On the bus back everyone was sleeping and the bus was almost empty. Then there was this guy who came in chatting with the bus driver really loudly and swearing up a storm with his tall tales.

Finally there was this young man also on the bus who was really hot and tried to get the bus driver to open the roof vent. I'm not sure what he was on, because it was a cool day and the air conditioning was on in the bus - it was CHILLY. Then when he went grumbling back to his seat, he put his jacket back on. Strange.

Posted by JAY at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2004

Herb Bounty

Linda K just gave me a whole pile of herbs - I'm excited, I can't wait to cook with them! I just made a huge seafood curry, though, so I guess I'll have to freeze most of that before I cook more stuff.

The herbs include:

  • chocolate mint
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • basil
  • tarragon
  • oregano

I'm excited about the mint and the tarragon - I've not used either in a long while.

Posted by JAY at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2004

Library

Well, I didn't go swimming... I was almost there and then realized that I forgot to put my contacts in (I'm pretty blind without my glasses). ARGH.

I could've gone back and put them in, but by the time I was back home I was feeling tired. So I walked to the library instead and picked up some books. This was my first time using this town's library, and I immediately found 3 books that I wanted to read. (Legends 2 - a fantasy anthology, The Crystal City by Orson Scott Card and Spirit in the Wires by Charles de Lint)

Posted by JAY at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2004

Parsley, Sage...

... and Basil, actually.

Pat D gave me a baggie of herbs today from her garden. Mmmm, fresh herbs - I don't often buy them because they're very expensive. I know where these ones are going - they're destined for a pesto sauce for dinner tomorrow.

Posted by JAY at 10:40 PM | Comments (0)

Snacky

Had a lot of snacks for dinner tonight - saving my food for lunch tomorrow.

Mom sent over some homemade bread and jam, so I had that (plus some butter) for dinner. Lunch today was the curried sausage and zucchini that I made yesterday, and there's enough for tomorrow too.

Posted by JAY at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2004

Piano

Sean helped me bring home a digital piano on Friday (Thanks Sean!)... There goes the mortgage downpayment! Sigh.

Oh well. I'm really enjoying having an instrument again, even though I only play pretty poorly.

Posted by JAY at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2004

I Hurt!

Ohhh... I'm stiff and sore.

I was determined to do my resolution (3x swimming) this week, but I've been going in the evening, which means that I'm not time limited like I was when I did it before work.

Yesterday, I was sore, but I thought that I would "work the kinks out" in the pool. This morning I couldn't move.

Posted by JAY at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2004

Subtle Art of Bus-Fu

Bus-fu is a difficult skill where the objective is to wait as little as possible for a bus to get where you're going and back! I did fairly well today and got a lot of stuff done.

I managed to catch a bus to the Price Chopper (actually quite convenient - the stop is right by the store) and caught the same bus back to my apartment. This bus only goes by every half hour - so anything less than a 15 minute wait and I've beaten the odds. No waiting today!

Then later I went to the pool (I am SOO tired right now!) and managed to catch the transfering bus at the station with only a couple of minutes to spare. However, I walked back from the pool to the station - it's really only a 10 minute walk) and had to wait a full 10 minutes to get the bus back to my apartment. Gotta work on that one.

Posted by JAY at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2004

Kitchen Shopping


Did some kitchen shopping at Kitchen Stuff Plus They have some awesome deals. The one that set me back, however, was the industrial strength bowl-lift KitchenAid. Sean pointed out the deal to me: Regular price was over $400CAN and I got it for $225.

Also bought some canisters for flour and sugar, a thick steel Cuisinart muffin tray for $50 off (Yorkshire puddings, here I come - they'd go good with soup!) and a silicone spatula ($5).Since I'm not sure my oven can reach the temperature necessary to cook yorkshires, I bought an inexpensive oven thermometer. Actually, I should try that now - it's a cool night!

Posted by JAY at 08:30 PM | Comments (4)

Soupy goodness

Figured out the problem with the soup: it was too concentrated.

My stock was pretty concentrated and I put a lot of split peas. I watered down with about 1/3 water and it tastes really good now. Also, I'm really hungry, so that probably makes a difference too.

Of course, now I have a ton of soup concentrate. I'm actually looking forward to eating it.

Posted by JAY at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2004

Smokers

Do I look like a smoker?

In the last 5 days, no less than SIX people have asked me for cigarettes. A couple others have asked for a light. WTF? Go buy your own goddamn cancer sticks!

Posted by JAY at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2004

Swimming

Well, I didn't go swimming this morning, but I did go this evening. Geez, I miss 1 month and I'm totally out of form. Strangely, it's not my legs or arms that got tired - it was my stupid fingers and toes!

Both were starting to cramp after about 35 minutes. I started to swim with my fists closed, but it was too much hassle.

Posted by JAY at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2004

Leftovers

I've got an embarrassment of riches in my fridge and freezer. Maybe I've been cooking more than I've been eating. I've got pasta waiting for sauce (at least 2 portions), curry (2 portions in the fridge, 2 in the freezer), chili and some crab e-fu noodles, from an expedition to Stir Fry King on the weekend. For about $9, the portion is very generous. I ate until I was stuffed and then packed the rest away.

Actually, the crab noodles just disappeared - I don't often eat breakfast but I was up really early today.

Posted by JAY at 06:48 AM | Comments (0)

Back in the Habit

So I'm starting to go to the pool again this month... got my my bus pass yesterday. I woke up early to go today, but just couldn't make myself put in my contact lenses! Tomorrow for sure!

It wasn't a total waste though. I still got out of bed early (6:30am) so I should be tired a bit earlier tonight. Yesterday I went to bed relatively early - 11:30pm. I'm easing back into the habit.

Maybe I'll swim this evening. I'll have to check the schedule.

Posted by JAY at 06:09 AM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2004

Mmm...

Mmmm. Curry.

Surprisingly, Pat's lettuce was still ok in the fridge, so I added it too. Also had some firm tofu and roasted garlic. The sauce was made with cream, stock and some reserved tomato juice left over from the chili last week.

Posted by JAY at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

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

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

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 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)

July 17, 2004

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

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

July 15, 2004

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

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

July 14, 2004

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

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

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

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 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 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

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

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 06, 2004

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

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

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

June 29, 2004

My country, she is safe!

Relatively speaking, that is. It's escaped the socially backward clutches of the "Conservatives" - who were really just the Alliance/Reform in disguise.

As I was mentioning earlier to a colleague, the best outcome was a Liberal minority (punish them for that corruption) with the NDP holding the balance - better them than the Bloc. The Bloc made significant gains, but that was perhaps unavoidable. If at all possible, the NDP should use their new power to achieve their goal of proportional representation. I have the feeling that more people would vote NDP if they could choose Liberal as a second choice.

We'll see how this ends.

Posted by JAY at 11:12 PM | Comments (1)

These are a few of my...

... favorite businesses to deal with! They deserve mega-kudos.

The JBlog Awards!

Webhosting: NearlyFreeSpeech.net has the fairest prices, practical billing and the best support I've encountered, bar none. This thread in their forums illustrates how fast they responded on a Sunday, no less, to my problems with uploading thumbnails. They had a faster turnaround than I did with my feedback!

Usenet: Easynews is the most complete, longest retaining, most interactive news service there is. They constantly evolve their offerings. For example, awarding download quota for feedback. They also give quota for distributed computing hours (finding a cure for cancer, etc), which also gives them free advertising as the highest ranking team on grid.org. Finally adding a web interface to search all of usenet for my info!

And my favorite restaurants, Dhaba, Swatow and Golden Bell for being fairly priced and yummy!

Posted by JAY at 12:15 AM | Comments (1)

June 26, 2004

Rucell's Birthday

Went to Rucell's birthday today.

It was a lot of fun, out near the lake and with an overwhelming amount of good food. Poor Rucell must've been cooking all night! We had beautiful weather too.

I especially liked the fried rice and coconut confection. There were also bbq'ed meats, stews and other stuff. We talked with some of her friends and hung out there till late.

Posted by JAY at 11:00 PM

June 22, 2004

Hotel Meeting

At a hotel in North York this evening for a meeting.

Gave a presentation today that they tell me went well. Have one tomorrow that will probably suck.

And stay tuned for the story of how the lowly CS-01s beat the eeevil CS-03s in a 3 set match of shuffleboard!

Ugh, sleep now.

Posted by JAY at 11:45 PM

June 05, 2004

Relationships

Reading Emily and Lauren, I've decided that I will remain single forever. (Er, if either of you ladies come across this - it's not just you or in any way your fault... you're just the only public sources that I can quote!)

Me. Single. FOREVER.

Someone send me a link back to this place if I ever write that I'm seeing someone! (I mean, after all, it's not like I have any current prospects!)

Posted by JAY at 11:19 AM

May 25, 2004

Resolution Update

This entry will be revamped as time progresses, rather than clutter up the entire journal. The extended entry text will hold the past info.

Weeks 19: Perfect week

Swam every weekday, did the rest, too... and still gained 2 pounds!! Aargh!

Weight: 160lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 2lbs gane
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 5lbs

Weeks 19: Success

Swam 4 times, did the rest, too...

Weight: 158lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 1lbs loss
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 7lbs

Weeks 17-18: 2 weeks of Ultra-success

Did everything, swam 4x/week and walked 3x. Almost made it 5x, but got sick. Only ate out once/week. I'm still sick this week, though, so I haven't swam. Hopefully I'm better by Wednesday.

Weight: 159 lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 2 lbs loss
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 6 lbs

Weeks 14-16: Hey, I was sick...

I swam a bit (twice) in the final week, but was sick for the first 2. It actually was timed pretty well, since my swim pass ran out at the same time. And while I wasn't eating at first, I ended up eating like a horse. Argh.

Only weighed the last week...

Weight: 161 lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 2.5 gain
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 4 lbs

Week 13: Failure... but...

Only swam ONCE, and yet, lost a lot of weight.
Don't know if this is a delayed effect from last week's exercise or my sickness, because I ate a LOT this week.

Whatever, as long as it continues!

Weight: 158.5 lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 2.5
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 6.5 lbs

Week 12: Success

Did all the right things, and still GAINED a pound. Argh!

Weight: 161 lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 1
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 4 lbs

Week 11: Sorta Success

Only swam 2x, but I sorta figure that pushing the van to the mechanic's garage counts for the rest. Did my walks and weights, and didn't eat out ONCE! Still no more weight loss, though, which is starting to get frustrating.

Weight: 160 lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 0
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 5 lbs

Week 10: Semi-Success

Ate out waaay too much. Actually, ate too much, period. Swam 3 time, though, and got my walks.
It's worth a 0.5... and though I'm still 160lbs, it's a more emphatic 160lbs.
This nex week is gonna be tough though, with my car kaput.

Weight: 160 lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 0
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 5 lbs

Week 9: Success

Totally made it this week. Swam 4x, walked 3x. Bought 2 lunches, and one was just a grilled chicken wrap today at the ROM.

Weight: 160 lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 1
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 5 lbs


Week 8: Success

I was short one walk, but I made up for it with an extra swim (4 days this week). Unfortunately, my eat-outs were McDonalds and Swiss Chalet, of the eeevil french fries.

Still no weight loss, though.

In the bad news/good news department, it looks like I have the non-6-pack kind of abs. Rats! On the other hand, it's the first time in my life that I can see a hint of them...

Weight: 161 lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 0
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 4 lbs

Week 7: Unavoidable Failure

I tried my best, but it wasn't meant to be this week. I was away 3 days for training, where I basically had to buy my food. I swam twice, but the hotel pool was too small to merit much exercise. I did end up walking a lot, as the hotel was a few blocks away from the training locations, and I wandered Square One for about 3 hours.

Surprisingly, my weight didn't go up. Probably because I didn't do any weight training Wed-Fri.

Weight: 161 lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 0
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 4 lbs


Week 6: Success

Well, close enough, anyway. I only bought lunch 2x, and didn't buy dinner at all. However, Trev treated me to dinner (thanks, Trev!) when we went shopping for his Valentine's Day dinner. I'm not sure whether the food resolution was a monetary or dietary one, but I think it was mostly monetary.

My weight is down further than it has ever been, which is good. I wonder if this is what's known as yo-yo dieting!

Weight: 161 lbs (W00t!)
Net loss/gain from last week: 4 lbs gained
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 4 lbs

Week 5: Utter, Utter Failure!

Well, on my Week Of Rest, I didn't swim or walk. I ate at Swiss Chalet, Mary Browns (twice!) and The Golden Bell. I made Cinnamon Buns and a huge curry. Unsurprisingly, I'm back up to 165 lbs. Sigh.

Weight: 165 lbs (boo!)
Net loss/gain from last week: 3 lbs gained
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 0 lbs

Week 4: success!
I forgot to weigh this week - so we'll see next week.
I didn't get out to walk once, but other than that, did everything else. I figure I did enough moving stuff at work and shovelling snow to make up for that.

Week 3: success!
Total success, went walking yesterday and today (pure misery, it's COLD!) and swam Tues/Wed/Thurs. I haven't eaten out this week at all...

Weight: 162 lbs (yay!)
Net loss/gain from last week: 3 lbs lost
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 3 lbs

Week 2: semi-success
I'm somewhat discouraged this week, cuz I managed to undo any progress so far...

Did the swimming and the strength training, but it was too darned cold to do the walks. Only bought 1 lunch, but kinda bought 1 1/2 dinners - one dinner was just a salad.

I wonder if I'm not eating enough - on 2 days, I skipped all meals except dinner, because I didn't have anything to pack.

Weight: 165 lbs (nooo!)
Net loss/gain from last week: 2.5 lbs gain
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 0 lbs


Week 1: success!
Weight: 162.5 lbs
Net loss/gain from last week: 2.5 lbs
Net loss/gain from 165 lbs: 2.5 lbs

Monday: strength training, packed curry
Tuesday: swimming, pork and rice
Wednesday: swimming, Swiss Chalet (yum!)
Thursday: walk, strength training, pork and rice (it was a BIG roast)
Friday: swimming, walk, lamb chops
Saturday: strength training

Posted by JAY at 05:19 PM | Comments (6)

May 24, 2004

Color My World

I spent the entire long weekend repainting the interior of the house (aka the Prison Beige, as that's the only color on the entire floor). The last time the family didn't listen to my suggestions, they ended up settling on a hideous bright orange beige (it seems like an oxymoron, but it's not!) for the finished basement.

So this time, they more or less let me choose.

I kept a pale beige for the foyer and hallway. A cool grey-blue for the family room and a more sophisticated coffee-cream color for the dining room. Mom wanted green in the kitchen, so we chose a minty cool one that should feel bright. I'm not too sure about that choice.

However, all was not well in color-land...

(Stay tuned tomorrow - this story isn't over yet, it's just waiting for my digicam to come home!)

Posted by JAY at 05:21 PM

Runts


Update: caught them the next day on camera - busted! Sadly, runt was nowhere to be seen.

On my walk today, I noticed a cute family of Canada geese. Then, as I walked futher up the path, I saw a little gosling struggling along alone. I chased it back (without touching it) to its family, but the parents were hostile and kept driving it away when it tried to join them. Maybe something was wrong with it - it was a good deal smaller than the others.

I felt bad for the little gosling and had a spirited conversation with the parents (involving much hissing on both sides). Unfortunately, they knew that I couldn't report them as I didn't have my digicam with me; they didn't take me seriously at all. The family eventually swam off, but by that time the adults had chased the gosling far enough away that it didn't notice them leaving. Aw.

Posted by JAY at 05:10 AM

May 07, 2004

Debate: Smoking

So after watching Supersize Me, Dave and I started debating the liberty of cigarette smoking in pubs. Dave (a non-smoker) argued that smoking in bars should be allowed because cigarettes are legal. I (also a non-smoker) argued that since second-hand smoke affects the health of everyone around them, legislating against smoking in public was fair game.

Read on for the arguments/counter arguments.
(I've left comments open on this one, so that Dave can correct me if he wants to.)

Dave: Cigarettes are legal
and thus should be allowed in bars, just like drinking.

My response to this is that when you start affecting other people, rules are always involved. Second hand smoke affects others, including the workers there. Drinking affects only yourself. If you do start to affect others (by driving, or even just being belligerant), legislation applies.

Me: Canada legislates a safe work environment

Dave's response was that many jobs are dangerous (like window washing on skyscrapers) and it's the choice of the worker to work in a smoking bar since the majority of work environments are smoke free. My response is that whenever there is danger, safety measure are legislated. The only reason that the majority of work environments are smoke free is the legislation that has been passed thus far.

Dave: Should cigar bars be allowed to open, then?

I'm not sure. The easy answer would be that you take the cigars home to share with your friends. However, I acknowledge that interaction with strangers is fun too. In Ireland, they're allowed to smoke on the patios, so I guess that's the compromise that I'd suggest.

I think that's the gist, but please do read the comments for any clarifications/further discussions. I'll incorporate any corrections and leave the comments untouched.

Posted by JAY at 11:55 PM

May 02, 2004

Customer Service

Ugh. Had a yucky experience at the Dominion/A&P grocery store in the town where I live. It retrospect, it was funny. When it happened, I was pissed. It cost me about $2.50 and half an hour of time. Names have not been changed to protect the identity of the rude.

The register wasn't working, and wouldn't read my cards. I insisted that the problem was with the card reader, as I had just used the card(s) at other stores. Amanda was very professional and courteous, even though she was new and due for a break. She called the cashier monitor, Gwen.

Gwen sucked. Read on.

Gwen refused my request to be rung in at another register and insisted that the problem was with my cards were being declined. Gwen patently did not believe me and it showed. She wanted me to use the bank machine outside the store, which I told her would cost me an extra $2.50 in Interac and convenience charges (it wasnt my bank). She insisted and followed me out to the bank machine. I showed her the ATM receipt with the card number but she still insisted it was my cards. I paid with the cash that I withdrew.

Of course, the next customer behind me also wanted to use his credit card and, of course, it failed on both readers (register and Interac reader) too. At that point, Gwen called a higher supervisor who promptly used the empty register beside me to successfully swipe his card. The supervisor apologized gracefully to me for the extra trouble. Gwen, however, was nowhere to be seen.

Honestly, the extra $2.50 on a $30 purchase didnt bother me as much as the arrogant refusal to believe that it could be anything but that my 2 cards weren't working. Argh. Stupid people.

Posted by JAY at 10:27 PM

Anniversary Lamb Leg

It was my parent's anniversary, and one of the things I made was a roast leg of lamb. Lisa made a trifle for dessert. To make this lamb, I ground up garlic, sage, parsley, black pepper and olive oil. I rubbed it over the lamb and baked it at 350 degrees.

Posted by JAY at 06:40 PM

May 01, 2004

Games Night

Had fun at Trev's playing board games with Dave and Rucell. We played Life (which has changed somewhat in the years since I was 10), Clue (which was a bit too mental for my tastes) and Settlers of Cataan.

Had fun, but really tired now.

Posted by JAY at 12:22 AM

April 28, 2004

On My Walk

On my walk today I saw a groundhog (I think it was a groundhog) chasing a squirrel across my path. The squirrel escaped up a tree. I approached the groundhog, but as I got closer he disappeared into a groundhog hole.

Also came across a stolen bike. It was a pretty expensive one - a Raleigh with Shimano gears. It was missing a seat, but after passing it I felt guilty and went back to pick it up. I figured I could ride it to the police station up the hill. Unfortunately, it wasn't in riding condition... the wheels wouldn't turn.

Posted by JAY at 08:31 PM

April 27, 2004

Nuts to You!

AC was kind enough to bring in some cashews for the lunch room. These, however, were no ordinary cashews. They're coated in a wasabi flavored shell that is one of the vilest things I've eaten in a while, but still quite an experience.

Of course, I wasn't about to suffer in solitude, so I got BA to try one. (She wanted to know why I was taking the picture.) The screams and faces she made while trying to choke it down were absolutely hilarious! KC wasn't nearly as funny - warned, perhaps, by our expressions, she sucked on it before crunching down and then promptly made a (still very funny) face and spat it out.

Before you feel too sorry for either of them, note that BA was complicit in getting KC to try them and is taking one home for her husband to try!

Posted by JAY at 02:55 PM | Comments (1)

April 25, 2004

Portion Control

Found a good deal at the Dollar Store in the mall. $1 for 15 Reese Peanut Butter Cups. That's, like, 7 cents a piece! Compare that to 25 cents+ for normal retail in the packs of three.

So I bought 3 bags. Ate 2 of them. Let's do the math, shall we?

30 pieces x 93 calories = 2790 calories. Oy.

Posted by JAY at 08:52 PM

April 13, 2004

Sick/Working/NotWorking

Yeah, about not going to work sick...

Well, I forgot there was an install that I wanted to do/told people I'd do today. Thankfully, the person with the weak immune system wasn't there today. However, about 1/2 way through the day I basically ran out of steam.

So I'm taking tomorrow off to try to shake this thing for good. (I don't know why I always don't - it always takes a miserable day at work to make me stay home the next).

Posted by JAY at 09:19 PM

April 11, 2004

Sick

Bleah, it figures, it's a long weekend and I'm feeling under the weather. Not in any great discomfort or anything, just a sore, phlegmy throat.

Sigh.

Oh well, if I'm not better by Tuesday, I'll probably stay home from work. Ordinarily I'd just go in, because it makes little difference if I'm sick at home or sick at work, but there's someone at work with a medical condition that makes it inconsiderate to risk infection.

Posted by JAY at 01:18 PM

April 07, 2004

Ungh...

That bowl of cookies? Yeah, I ate two of them.

Posted by JAY at 08:03 PM

April 04, 2004

Car Hunting

After lunch we went to look at various cars. Here's a list of what we looked at:

  • Mazda 3
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Toyota Echo
  • Ford Focus

So far, it looks like my cheapest option is the Echo hatchback, which I can get for $16K on the road without AC or power steering. The Corolla is better value, though.

Posted by JAY at 02:59 PM

April 03, 2004

Busy Busy Bee

Had a busy day today!

  • This morning, went house hunting
  • This afternoon, went car hunting
  • This evening, went to see The Producers (unplanned)

More later, when I'm not as tired.
(Back dated to the correct day.)

Posted by JAY at 11:59 PM

April 02, 2004

Hellboy and Monopoly

Went to see Hellboy - it was a fun movie! There was a couple of excruciatingly bad dialogue moments... "Remember who you are!" should never, ever be used. Ever. On the whole, however, all the actors involved gave fun, charismatic performances.

After, went to Trevor's house to play Monopoly with Trev and Rucell. She'd never played it before, but that didn't stop her from beating both of us while cackling evilly. Trev and I NEVER win at Monopoly, so it wasn't much of a surprise.

Posted by JAY at 11:55 PM

March 30, 2004

Dwelling

I am dwelling on my belly fat.

If you're squeamish, you'd probably better stop reading.

It seems that my belly fat is, like, 80% of my body fat. It was getting smaller, sort of disappearing from the upper abdomen down. But now it's concentrated in a donut around my lower stomach.

I know, ew.

My belly fat, along with my non-shrinking weight, has got to mean I'm doing something wrong. I'm toying with the idea of eating a bit less. Cutting out all snacks, for instance. I've been eating a fair amount of popcorn and onion rings, for instance. Nothing deep fried. Maybe no rice?

I dunno, something's gotta work.

Posted by JAY at 12:14 AM

March 29, 2004

Obituary...

The van, she is dead. Her carcass will be given to science.
(It was sold to the mechanic for a couple hundred.)

Apparently, the gas tank had rust holes in it, so the entire tank would have needed replacing. Hmm, it's at the mechanic's yard - I should get at least one picture of it before it's gone. I'm going to need a replacement, I think.

Sigh.

Posted by JAY at 03:07 PM

March 28, 2004

Pulling the Van

So yeah, remember the van that needs a new fuel pump? It caused an Emily-esque session today.

Well, my father decided that we could "tow" it to the mechanic's garage ourselves using our SUV. I argued that for $40 or so we could have it towed there instead, but he insisted. So as he was busy linking the 2 cars with some chain I was having visions of bumpers being yanked off of one or both vehicles.

He wanted me to drive the SUV towing the van while he was in the van. The problem is that the van is heavier and rolls faster than the SUV. Going up slight inclines was fine, but the first downhill slope, and the van started to gain on the SUV.

Meanwhile, he's yelling across the cell phone with useful instructions like "Okay!", "Wait!", "Go go go!" and then the inevitable "Why aren't you doing what I tell you?!" Sigh.

About 1/2 way there, going downhill, he managed to drive over the chain that was towing him. A frantic yank and yell later, we were stuck there because he hadn't thought to bring the tools that he attached the cars together with. He ended up running back on foot to get them.

Meanwhile, I was trying to explain the whole uphill/downhill thing, but he's frustrated and not in a listening mood. Thankfully, he finally realized what I was trying to tell him and let me tow him uphill, then disconnect and coast down hills. Of course, I ended up pushing the van from behind to get the van coasting uphill after a downward incline.

He did admit later that it would've been easier to just call a tow truck.

I'm exhausted now...

Posted by JAY at 07:13 PM

March 26, 2004

Found My Music

Found my iPod in the basement.

And all is right with the universe.

Got my newly acquired Maroon5, Radiohead and Five for Fighting on it.

Posted by JAY at 09:47 AM

March 25, 2004

Missing 'pod

I can't find my iPod... so I am sadly music-less for today.

I'm strangely dependant on it - while I can do without it for a couple of days, I feel bereft before too long. The ability to carry my entire music library with me is invaluable because I don't often know what I want to listen to. I'm not really an Apple elitist - I wear a low profile black set of headphones with it. If I can't find it, expect me to buy a new one before too long...

Posted by JAY at 12:51 PM

March 22, 2004

Computer Help

Went to a former manager's house to help him out with his new computer. Some spyware was preventing his browser from loading. It was a relatively quick fix for the browser, though getting rid of all the spyware and configuring it took a bit of time.

Had a nice dinner with him and his partner. They also had 2 big dogs: Tawny was friendly and Adagio was almost painfully shy. You could tell he wanted the same scratches that Tawny was getting, and he would edge forward to sniff my hand. But he was too edgy to let me touch him, though he would wuffle at my hand.

I forgot how badly I react to cigarette smoke, though. By the time I got back home I had a killer headache. Took a long hot shower and some acetominophin - hopefully that clears it up.

Posted by JAY at 10:44 PM

March 21, 2004

EatWorkEatWorkEat...

Ugh. Well, worked a bunch of overtime Friday night and Saturday morning installing a new server at the mother office with some other friends. Unfortunately (and mostly through my own stupidity) it didn't go as smoothly as it should have.

Because of all this, I've been eating out at restaurants constantly (bad Jay!). Some of it was really really fattening, like the Swiss Chalet fries (though I did split the fries with Cathy, who gave me half her salad). Cathy later bought us a yummy pizza from Abruzzo's (pepperoni, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes) for dinner while we worked. And Saturday I had a chicken shawarma pita for lunch across the street from the office.

In other news, my car's not working. The bee-yotch looks like it needs a new fuel pump, if my father and various internet sources are to be believed. I don't really want to buy a new car, but this one may not be worth repairing.

I'm willing to spend about $1000 a year to keep it on the road, but no more... It's already had $300 of work done on it this year.

Stupid spam comments are turning up in my logs. Going to be posting without comments enabled from now on.

Posted by JAY at 10:56 PM

March 18, 2004

Sabotage at Vince's!

Went to Vince's after work to help him set up his own Moveable Type page. It's finally up, though there's not any content yet. I think he's more ambitious that I - he has plans to modify the CSS and templates to a greater degree.

Check it out in the IRL (In Real Life) section.

Had dinner with Vince's family - the sabotage of my diet - a double hamburger from Harveys. I was really hungry - I swam today and ate my lunch around 9:30am! So the burgers tasted really, really good! Thanks Vince!

Also looked at J & N's computer - whoa spyware. Cleared some of it off with AdAware, but it obviously didn't get it all.

Posted by JAY at 11:44 PM | Comments (1)

March 17, 2004

Sabotaging Myself

So I'm not supposed to be buying lunch (except for Friday) so I've been packing my lunches.

I've been doing pretty well, too - Steak on Monday, Curried Pork today... but there were no leftovers for tomorrow, so I figured I'd fry up some Italian sausages for lunch, along with some onions and steamed veg that was in the fridge.

It smelled sooo good that I had a helping now, right before bedtime. Ooops.

Posted by JAY at 11:01 PM

March 01, 2004

Hotel Pool

Trying desperately to acheive my resolution, I went to the hotel pool to swim on Wednesday. Unfotunately, the pool was so small that I felt a bit like a goldfish in a plastic cup. I swam lengths, then in circles and finally diagonally. But I couldn't make myself go back.

The best thing was the unlimited towels upon exiting the pool - I used a ton of them!

Posted by JAY at 12:29 AM

Training in Mississauga

The Novotel hotel where I stayed was very nice, but not as shiny-new as the Novotel in North Toronto. You could tell that the building was much older.

The best feature of the room was the shiny spotless bath tub. I must've been taking 3 showers a day! On Thursday, I picked up New Spring, by Robert Jordan and assorted junk food at the Bulk Barn in the Square One Mall and had a little reading/junk food orgy instead of dinner. It was fun!

Posted by JAY at 12:24 AM

February 26, 2004

Aargh!

Holy review of yesterday, Batman!

We're 1 hour into the 2nd day, and we're still reviewing the 1st day!

Not that I think review is bad, it might be needed. But I'm starting to get short on patience. On the plus side, we got to try PrimalScript, which is pretty neat - though I'll have to play with it more to see if it's worth using.

Posted by JAY at 09:57 AM

Training

So I've ben sent training for... ba-da-ba... VBScript.

Which is good, I've been doing VBS for a while now, just self trained. Hopefully when we get past syntax (should be about noon) it'll get more interesting. The trainer at least seems to be knowledgable - even if he is a die-hard Microsoft/VB defender.

Not much to complain about, though I nearly choked when he implied EMCAScript is just an identical company-owned variant like JScript and JavaScript.

The hotel is nice too, though the pool is way too small. Pictures on the weekend.

Posted by JAY at 09:35 AM

February 22, 2004

Multimedia Me


Here's a (legal) MP3 of me playing Love Song by The Cure on my very out-of-tune piano. I thought that there were enough entries with pictures and text, so I figured I'd add some music.

I came across this arrangement of Love Song done by Tori Amos in an MP3 of a radio program and scored it in Cakewalk myself. It took me forever and she still sounds better *sigh*. The sound quality is a bit sucky due to the ultra-high-tech equipment that I had to record it - the laptop and PC microphone you see in the background.

Read on below for the link and assorted thoughts.

The end kind of falls apart a little - my mind started wandering and I was kind of like "Oh, I'm that close to the end of the song?" There are a lot more notes in my score than I actually ended up playing.

I can post this sort of thing because I'm confident that I don't have enough readers to overuse my bandwidth! Hee.

Enjoy! And you can let me know what you think in the comments!

Posted by JAY at 12:04 AM

February 20, 2004

Working Late = Thai Food

Tonight I had to work late so that we could migrate our server to a (crappy) workstation that can only handle 10 connections at a time ... Win2k Professional. Can you tell I'm a little bitter?

Anyway, Cathy was kind enough to stay and help out (technically, I'm not allowed to be in the office by myself due to safety reasons). After we finished, we went to the Golden Bell Thai Restaurant where, among other things, we tried the Mango Salad that Trevor's girlfriend really liked (and that I tried to replicate without ever seeing, for her Valentine's dinner). Not to be a total ego maniac, but I think I liked my version a lot better. We also had one of their superb spring rolls, my favorite Satay Noodles and the new and very very yummy Curry Rice with Beef.

We also enjoyed getting the complimentary shrimp chips with peanut sauce before the dinner. Cathy seemed to really enjoy the food, which was great, and we both stuffed ourselves. Amazingly, with all the food we ate, the total came to just $30 with tax (tip extra, with green tea to drink). What great value!

Read more about the salad comparison below.

The salad was made with large (french fry size) pieces of unripened (apple crispy) mangos. It was seasoned with sugar (because the mango isn't as sweet when it's raw), chili pepper and peanuts. It also included sweet red peppers.

I think mine tasted better julienned (more surface area to absorb seasoning) and with the depth of balsamic vinegar, black pepper and garlic olive oil (not to mention the shrimp!). The ripe mangoes were juicier and tastier.

However, adding the crushed peanuts would be a welcome addition and make the dish taste more oriental than Carribean.

I don't know if the Trev and Rucell agree, though. I'll have to ask them.

Posted by JAY at 10:18 PM

February 14, 2004

Happy Valentine's Day

Well, I don't have a significant other, so my Valentine's Day activities were largely in the "facilitator" role. Trev wanted to have a special meal with his girlfriend Rucell, so I helped him prepare a dinner. Erich helped with the wine selection as neither Trev or I are big drinkers, so it was a real group effort!

Later at home, I made more cinnamon buns, this time without any help. They turned out pretty good, though I was so tired, I forgot to put the cinnamon in the second batch!

Trev tells me that Rucell likes mangos, so we made:

  • Mango salad with chili and coriander
  • Scallop and Shrimp Penne with Leek Cream Sauce
  • Mango-Peach Trifle

We cheated a little bit, though - we used a store bought pound cake instead of making our own. Trev's kitchen isn't as well stocked as my own (he doesn't have a kitchenaid, for example), so we needed some shortcuts. (and some longcuts - I ended up whipping the cream for the trifle with a hand whisk.)

Posted by JAY at 10:16 PM

February 10, 2004

Winter Wonderland

I went for my walk today and the snow was coming down in huge clumps that dashed into powder on the ground. It was spectacular, but it only lasted for a few minutes before settling into the more conventional flurries.

Fleeting, but beautiful.

Posted by JAY at 07:53 PM

February 03, 2004

The Week of Sleep

So I worked all weekend on the office move - which on the one hand is nice, because I get paid for overtime now. However, I usually use the weekend to catch up on my sleep. I tend to get sleep deprived during the work week and sleep for 12 hours a night on the weekend.

I couldn't do that this weekend, so I'm going to take this week to get me back into it. So no swimming this week, I'll take the extra hour of sleep.

How pathetic!

Posted by JAY at 08:41 PM

January 29, 2004

Freakin' OW!

I think the skin under/beside one of my fingernails has split because of the cold weather. So of course, every time I type a letter with my middle finger, I get a sharp jab of pain. My finger is swollen now. That wouldn't be so bad except that I'm sure it's delaying healing.

I'm trying to avoid using that finger, but it's hard to break touch-typing habits.

Posted by JAY at 09:36 AM

January 28, 2004

Losing things...

Hmm, a couple of things I thought I had in the office have gone missing... A screwdriver set, which I used just yesterday, and possibly my digital camera (I still have to check at home to see if it's there).

Update: found the camera - yay!

Posted by JAY at 11:56 AM

January 27, 2004

Dream Therapy

Sometimes I have trouble telling reality from fantasy. My dreams aren't usually violent, so don't call the whitecoats for me just yet.

My cell phone LCD hasn't been displaying anything for about a week. Other than that, it functioned fine, though it wasn't too evident that it was powered up. Last night I dreamed of Manderly... er, sorry, fell of the thought train.

Last night, I dreamt that it was working again, and was slightly peeved when I woke up and realized it was a dream. When I got to work, I noticed that it wasn't on and when I powered it up - poof! - the display was working.

Posted by JAY at 08:34 PM

Let it snow, let it snow...

... let it NOT!

Geez, enough already!
We haven't really had that much snow this year, but today was bad... had to shovel snow before I left for work today, which meant no swimming. In anticipation of the snow, I did swim yesterday. However, it's still snowing, so I don't know about tomorrow.

Plus, the drive home to work and back home are a bit nerve wracking... I'm not that good of a driver.

Posted by JAY at 07:30 PM

January 23, 2004

Food, Lately.

You might notice that lately there's been fewer pictures of food (heck, there've been less pix in general). In accord with my New Year's Resolutions, I've been going out to eat much less frequently.

This week, I've been eating mostly roast chicken, pork and pan fried steaks, which have been good, but I've written and taken pictures of them already. This weekend, though, I plan on making an apple pie.

Posted by JAY at 01:40 PM

January 15, 2004

Got the Van Back

Welp, the van is fixed. I was wondering whether I would have to buy a new car... but it was only $400 to fix the van. So here's hoping it'll last the year. The gear shift is working fine now, though.

Posted by JAY at 11:29 AM

January 14, 2004

Lack of Resolve

It's going to be hard this week to keep my resolutions. The only one that I think I'll make good on is the swimming.

It's too damned cold out to take walks. It's -25 degrees, not including the wind chill. Last week I walked anyway, but it was pure torture. I was going to make up for it by swimming an extra day, but the car troubles made that impossible. Thankfully, I still will be able to swim 3 days.

As far as eating out goes, I bought dinner yesterday night and I'll be buying lunch tomorrow (and maybe today!). So as far as spending less money goes, this week is shot. On the other hand, I skipped all meals except for dinner last night, so fat wise, I'm probably ok.

On that note, I doubt I'm eating enough lately. Especially since I'm considering skipping lunch today (and I never eat breakfast, though I should). I have no food here and the roads are slippery, so I don't feel like going out.

But man, I could use some Mary Brown's Chicken or Chicken Satay right now!

Posted by JAY at 10:07 PM

January 13, 2004

Car Troubles

Aaargh! The gear shift cable of the van gave out on me while driving from the pool to the office this morning. Totally lost power to the wheels and thought I might have to get a new car. Luckily, no one was hurt. I spent most of the morning in my car waiting for a tow truck.

Got a ride with my father to the Fairview mall in the afternoon to buy the mic stuff for the office PA system. $167 total ... 2 microphones and 4 extension cords.

Since we weren't sure how much the repairs would cost, we went looking at new vehicles this evening. We went to the Honda, Toyota and Acura dealerships. So far, it looks like if I were to buy a new car, it would be a Toyota Corolla at around $17,700CAN, on the road.

But luckily, the dealership called and said the repair to the cable would only cost $308, so that's what we're going with. I would've like buying a new car, but I guess it's back to the old clunker. Oh well, didn't wanna pay for a new car anyway!

Posted by JAY at 08:14 PM

January 12, 2004

Acts of God and Landlords

Yay Mondays.

Got into work this morning and there was a couple of inches of water on the ground. Splashed my way into the LAN room, which was (thankfully) relatively untouched.

Apparently a pipe had burst in the cold weather and when it got warmer on the weekend it flooded the area. It was a bit disconcerting, but the cleaners with wet vacuums soon sucked up most of it.

We're undergoing renovations right now, and I made the mistake of mentioning the microphones for the PA systems weren't taken into the current design. So now I'm saddled with buying them in a 3 day timeframe. Argh. It's not going to be pretty - I really only have access to consumer retail parts, not the nice gooseneck heavy-duty stuff.

I should go take some pictures of the space in progress...

Posted by JAY at 10:13 PM

January 08, 2004

Minor Cheats

Well, so far the first week of resolutions has gone pretty well. The only things I did that were kind of cheating was buying 2 snacks: an ice cream and a pecan tart. But I had reasons!!

When I went to buy the swim pass on Tuesday I took $150 - that's what I thought it cost. Unfortunately, it was $175. I got a 3-month pass instead and got some change back.

The reason that I never take money into the rec complex is that when I finish swimming I'm temporarily famished. And wouldn't you know it, the pool has eight ... EIGHT! ... vending machines right at the exit. 2 pop machines, 2 snack machines, a lunch machine and an ice cream machine.

And the ice cream vending machine has a cool ice chest that opens and a vacuum hose that yanks up the ice cream to dispense.

So with change in my pocket I broke down and got one.

***

It was bitterly cold and slippery outside today and the only way I could make myself go for a walk was to promise myself a pecan tart from The Maid's Cottage, a local shop... they're so awesome.

It was still a pretty miserable walk, but at least I had my pecan tart to console me!

***

These were pretty minor breaches, though - and I never really swore off snacks. I feel a bit guilty, but I'm still going to chalk the week up to a success if everything else goes fine.

Posted by JAY at 08:32 PM

January 05, 2004

Resolutions 2004

I wasn't sure if I was going to do this but then I figured, hey, it can't hurt and it will add some accountability to the process. I'm going to try to remember to post how often I meet my goals in a weekly status report and set quantifiable goals.

I'll also add a resolution counter on the sidebar.

So without further ado, here they are:

  1. Swim at least 3 mornings a week. This is the big one. Tomorrow, I'll go and get a yearly swim pass. I'm going to try to swim Tuesday through Friday. That's four times - but that way if I miss one, it's OK. Further accountability: If I don't swim in the morning, I'll swim Friday evening (8-9pm).
  2. Reduce the amount of eating out. I want to bring my lunch to work at least 3 times per week. I want to only eat dinner out 1 day per week. This shouldn't be any hardship - after all... allowing 4 weeks * ($7 (lunch) * 2 + $25 (dinner)) = $156 per month! The hard part will be making sure there's something to carry in the morning.
  3. Do light strength training at least 3 evenings per week. This shouldn't really be a problem. I do it while in front of the TV. Weights and sit-ups are a nice quiet thing to do while watching.
  4. Go for 2 walks per week. Use my daily breaks (which I usually don't bother taking) to go for a brisk walk. This is easy in the spring and fall, but hard in the summer and winter.
  5. Sign up for karate classes by June 1st. This is the hard one. Finding something that's compatible with the rest of my fairly agressive schedule and maintaining other activities while dedicating enough time to karate will be tough... I think I need to break it down into a series of substeps, one per month:
    • Compile a list of dojos in the area.
    • Work out the schedules and costs.
    • Select a dojo.
    • Sign up.

So far, by doing this stuff haphazardly, I've lost 15 pounds since this time last year. So on to the reasonable results that I'd like to see from the above resolutions.

My desired result from all of this: Lose 10 pounds
Current weight: 165 pounds (what personal information!!)

Posted by JAY at 06:02 PM | Comments (3)

January 02, 2004

Sweet Dreams...

Yeah, yeah. Dream journals are boring for everyone.

Ugh, you know those dreams when you wake up in a pissed off mood? Well, had two of those last night. In the first, I was somehow swimming with three layers of clothes on.

In the second, under some stupid spy scenario, my computer was cracked. The only possible vector was some software that I had gotten via Usenet - ie. some sort of Trojan client. I was pretty peeved at needing to re-load my computer.

Competency dreams (swimming resolve, computer skills) often leave me in a peeved mood upon waking. Another common one is dreaming about losing my teeth from not brushing them properly (in real life, something I'm pretty neurotic about). I usually wake up from those not sure if I still have all my teeth!

If only I could control the content of my dreams. I've tried before, with no success. Even gory nightmares are better than the competency dreams - I usually awake from those feeling exhilarated rather than pissed. (Eating the squirming, undead vampire steaks was a bit much, though entertaining.)

Posted by JAY at 09:01 AM

December 27, 2003

Visiting Vince

Because who am I to resist alliteration?

I also got to meet Vince's cool family: his wife Nives, older daughter Nyssa and younger son Julian. (Hi Jules!) I probably have some of the names misspelled...

Julian joined us watching T3 and chomping on yummy pizza during intermission. He's in some sort of high school arts program and I saw a bunch of his sketches. He's into anime, which brings back memories... Oh, and I also told him I'd look up my old art website, which I couldn't find and thus had to reload.

Sidenote: I verified the site with some w3c validators for both HTML and CSS to fix some errors, but I still haven't tested them with anything other than Internet Explorer. Still, according to the validators, it's standard w3c code...

Nyssa introduced us to the friendly pet budgie (whose name escapes me - leave it in the comments, someone!). Budgie would cheerfully perch on our fingers but had an unreasoning attack-on-sight prejudice against thumbs. She seemed particularly taken with Sean (and his red sweater).

We were also introduced to their pet lizard, Osama, who steadfastly refused to eat crickets for our amusement. (And therefore no animals were harmed in the production of this journal entry... so far.)

I should've taken pics of the pets, but I kinda forgot. I didn't think the family would've appreciated pics of them posted on the internet - not that they're unattractive or anything, just for privacy. ;-)

Posted by JAY at 02:56 AM | Comments (1)

Movie Night At Vince's


Vince has set up an awesome movie theatre in his basement! Some friends and I went over after work Tuesday to check it out and watch Terminator 3. It took him about a year to build - definitely time well spent.

I forgot my digital camera, but luckily Sean had his new Canon A80. I post this today because Sean just FTPed me the files.

There'll be more about the visit in a later post.

More pictures below...


He's got a digital projector set up in an enclosed projection room. The projector shines through a a slot in the wall into the theatre (pictured left), which consists of 3 rows of 4 seats with an aisle up the middle. You can see the entrance to the projection booth in the first picture. The pictures don't really do it justice - the flash washes out the cool lighting.

The screen is a painted super-flat wall surrounded by dark curtains. The projection on the wall is really crisp. The blurring in the last photo is because I wasn't using a flash and didn't have a tripod, so the camera was shaking.

So yeah, the whole thing was pretty inspiring. Rather than buy a big screen TV, I'll definitely get a projector setup instead. It'll cost about the same and you get a kick-ass experience out of it. Vince's setup looks like a lot of work, though... I'm surprised that his kids aren't down there every night!

Posted by JAY at 01:00 AM

December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

My family doesn't really exchange presents - we celebrate mostly with food. So today (after I get some sleep!) it'll be a rib roast dinner with all the trimmings. We're not very religious, either, so Christmas is really just a family gathering time.

However you are celebrating the holidays, I hope you're having fun!

Posted by JAY at 01:20 AM

December 17, 2003

Office Trifle


At my office, we take turns bringing in food and snacks in the days leading up to Christmas. I decided to make a large trifle (scroll down a bit) in a punch bowl. It was ok, but it could have used a bit more pound cake.

Co-workers brought in yummy French Onion Soup, tasty canapes, lasagna, meatballs, ceasar salad, chocolates and more! It's been a very yummy couple of weeks!

Posted by JAY at 12:53 AM

December 16, 2003

False Alarm... For Now.

Well, even though my department has been dissolved and re-formed into 2 departments, it doesn't look as if there will be any immediate ramifications, which is good.

On the other hand, reassurances were directed at permanent staff (like me), so contract staff may not be so lucky. It'll be interesting to see how this 2-department-thing is going to work... though I'm told that the department tends to do a centralization-decentralization cycle every now and again.

Posted by JAY at 08:33 PM

December 12, 2003

Job Cuts?

So the Administration changes and announces the breakup of my department. That's a bit unsettling - just when I thought that I had a nice secure little job. Oh well, I'm not too worried... but I'd hate to lose my present location. We'll see.

There's a big conference call on Monday.

Posted by JAY at 10:32 PM

December 07, 2003

Flames in the Kitchen

Yesterday I was told that I should eat with the family, as they were cooking a prime rib roast. I had thought that my mother was cooking, but she was at work, and it was my father and sister, who don't usually cook big meals, who were at work in the kitchen... *cue the ominous music*

When I got home, the house was full of smoke and my sister was waving around a cut finger! Apparently, the oven was full of flames (grease fire, apparently) and she had managed to cut her finger with the chinese chopper while cutting carrots!

It soon became apparent that no one was seriously hurt. The roast was a bit dry, but in their defence, the meat thermometer is a bit off and they didn't realize it. They had made the Yorkshire Pudding according to the recipe I posted earlier (I left the recipe on the fridge), but when the oven caught fire they got a bit scorched. They had puffed properly, though.

And in all the excitement, they hadn't managed to make any gravy, which the dry meat really needed. Today Mom made some gravy, and the leftover meat was much more palatable.

Both my sister and father swear they're never cooking any big meals ever again!

Posted by JAY at 12:52 AM

December 03, 2003

Step AWAY From the Email...

Well! Nothing like embarassing yourself in front of all your peers. For those of you who don't know, I'm a LAN admin working for a federal department. Following is a series of emails that I sent regarding a service ticket, forgetting to change the reply section. (I actually remembered, but hit send anyway out of habit...)

__________
To: JAY
From: National Service Desk

P is getting message to change her password when she tries to login to Windows . Said that she did not change her Windows password recently . She can bypass the screen and keep working .

__________
To : National Service Desk <----- OOPS!
From: JAY

Hey P,
It just means you need to change your password.

I'll be out shortly, but right now I'm in my underwear waiting for my pants to warm to room temperature.

Long story...

J
__________
To: National Service Desk
CC: P
From: JAY

A long story that I just partially shared with the NSD, apparently.

Sorry about that, people.

It has to do with the swimming pool being closed this morning, and it's actually my swim shorts, not my underwear.
Hope I've managed to brighten your day with the oversharing of too much information!

JAY
__________

Embarassing, much?

I try to go swimming in the mornings, and I tend to wear my swim trunks to the pool, rather than change into them at the pool. It's winter here and the temperature is about -10 degrees Celsius, not counting the wind chill.

This morning when I got to the pool I found out it was closed for repairs, so I headed straight to the office and figured I'd change in my LAN room. But my pants were in my gym bag and they were freezing from being outside, so I figured I'd let them warm up first.

I'm not at my best first thing in the morning. Sigh. I just know this email is going to get passed around National Headquarters. I kinda wish I could see their faces!

Posted by JAY at 08:33 AM

December 01, 2003

Old Friends...

See, sometimes buying lunch can be a good thing!

A craving-that-would-not-be-denied led me to Mary Brown's Chicken (mmm!) today, where I met up with a good friend whom I haven't seen since high school, where we pretty much hung out together. He still looked the same (and I'm pretty sure that I look about the same), so I was pretty shocked when I learned he had just gotten married!

Sigh - I'm falling behind... that's the third one of my contemporaries to get married, and I'm not even dating. Ah well.

I lost track of S. back when he went to Korea for some sort of business school. I had left my new phone number with his mom, but I guess it had gotten misplaced (besides, it's changed in the years since I gave it to her).

S. is one of the few people who understand the terror that is being hunted by a certain girl named Anna. *shudder* Of course, I probably shouldn't say that: I'm not sure what his new bride's name is yet ... so it could be her! And wouldn't that just suck!

Anyway, I gave him the URL so:
Hi S., if you're reading this!

Posted by JAY at 12:18 PM

November 05, 2003

Apparently, I Live to Eat

Well.

Y'know that saying, "Eat to Live, Don't Live to Eat"?

Looking back at my blog entries, it's pretty evident that I do the latter half of the proverb (or is it some diet-guru's tag-line?).

Which makes me wonder exactly how much money I've been spending eating out. Heh, I refuse to check, though I'm going to start packing my lunches.

There really is more to my life than eating - just not a lot more. I've been swimming in the mornings so as not to get fat(ter) with all the eating. I've been working to support my eating habit. And of course I play around with technology - so that I can post about what I eat.

Hmm.

Anyway, as you might've noticed, I've been posting more stuff in the past that I've saved pictures from. Once I catch up to the present, I'll post a compilation of stuff in the past that I've posted. Posts pending are about my recent technology purchases, a pretty picture or two, some events attended over the summer and some more restaurants.

Posted by JAY at 08:16 PM

September 15, 2003

Pretty Pictures...

Click image for larger view.

On a warm September afternoon, a butterfly rests on a branch outside my office.

I take my pictures on a 3.2MPixel Canon A70. It's a nice camera - it runs on standard AA cells and has all the nifty manual settings that I could want - and some handy automatic ones as well. It's a bit on the big side, but well designed for a steady grip. It's the first camera that I've ever owned.

Posted by JAY at 08:15 PM