Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Japanese Culinary Adventure

Last night, I embarked on a journey to Tokyo Bay for dinner. I dined by a renowned sushi chef and ate various treats directly from the Bay.

Well, sort of.

I had the good fortune of being taken to (possibly?) the best omakase restaurant in Toronto: Kaji. If you enjoy eating good food and are adventurous, this is the place to try out at least once in your lifetime. I chose not to bring in my big SLR to document my food adventure but since I recently got a new BB, I thought it would be a chance to use the new phone.

The dishes were more like amuse bouche than actual full dishes, but you will NOT leave disappointed. It doesn't get tastier than this. Here are the photos from my food journey into authentic Japanese Sushi transplanted to Toronto...
daikon radish simmered with pork belly
 trio plate
 tofu with wasabi--out of this world delicious
 bamboo shoot with 3 types of miso
spinach with i can't remember
 i can't even remember the name of the fish..
 octopus with seaweed and a sweet vinegar jelly
 sashimi plate with all edible veggie bits
 sesame sauce for veggies
 the fish on the right hand side was divine. nice and firm and perfect temperature--not smushy icey
sea trout and sea bream
 taro, cherry blossom and something else delicious
 sea eel with vegetables and a japanese pepper (non-spicy)
 duo dish
 some sort of wonderful crab with mountain yam, egg and some other tasty parts
 duck and fish cake
 this one was delicious... i don't even know what was in it
 i don't remember what this one was either!
green tea soba noodle with mountain yam and something else delicious
 our next dish was coming...
 tuna with a ginger sauce?

more tasty delish
and just when you're ready to explode... dessert!
 japanese jelly with red bean and a yuzu macaroon
pear sorbet with a wasabi macaroon

Chef Kaji must have the ability to ruin people for mainstream sushi. What a true business man.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Reminder

I spend a good deal of time seeing the negative, I'm told. I'm not sure if it's intentional or if it's something that I've worked into my psyche over time. Despite this, I feel that I'm a realist and not necessarily heartless or cold. I recall a character from Xena who told her that "The entire world is driven by a will - blind and ruthless. In order to transcend the limitations of that world, you need to stop willing, stop desiring, stop hating." What does this mean, to me?

I've come to understand the first part and I can see and even accept it much more easily now. It isn't that I don't care, but that I don't need to try to control something that is outside of my realm to control. While one might be able to change one's thoughts and perspectives, there is a great deal that we're helpless to enact actual control over. Death, sickness, taxes... These are things that are just a part of the world we live in.

I was thinking about a coworker who was recently diagnosed with a serious condition and thinking about his situation and how it affected me. I recognize that his family is going through hell and back with this whole thing but, I noticed a sort of indifference in myself. I felt neither sad nor happy about it. I didn't even feel numb; I felt nothing.

My boss is someone whom I feel is passionate and expressive; perhaps the opposite of what/who I am. When I dropped by today, to ask about the care package that was being put together, I made a passing comment about the gift that was communally put together and how I didn't understand how it would help, given the rather dire prognosis. A smile crossed her face and she said to me [paraphrased] "it's not about him using this 'toy'. It's about how this item will bring the family together and give them a beacon of happiness to look forward to, during the time of hardship." At that moment, I felt ashamed and foolish about my previous thoughts. I realized that it doesn't matter the outcome--good or bad, but that the happy time he has with his family is what matters because nobody is playing the fool; they're just trying to live their lives and appreciate each other and what is provided them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cinefranco 2012

I'm taking French language courses this year. We live in Canada and it's become more obvious to me when I'm at work (and half of our stuff comes in French) and I understand little of it. Let alone be able to communicate with our Quebecois clients.

I'm taking the lessons at Alliance Francaise which is recommended as one of the best schools, for teaching the French language. I've picked up the French language much faster than I have, at any other point in my life. But, I'm far from being right up to par with native french speakers. So, I want  to check out some French language movies at the Cinefranco movie festival.

It's being held at the TIFF Lightbox where for about a week, there will be French language films from all over the world. I unfortunately missed "Free Men" this evening but intend to find it and watch it because it sounds just so good (I'm referring to the plot). The second is My Little Princess. It's got a dark gothic feel to it and I just love gothic themed movies, books etc.

In Paris during WWII, an Algerian immigrant is inspired to join the resistance by his unexpected friendship with a Jewish man (IMDB). This is a still from Free Men:

My Little Princess is a 2010 French-Romanian drama film directed by Eva Ionesco and inspired by her relationship with her mother, the well-known artistic photographer Irina Ionesco whose pictures of her young daughter aroused discussions when they were published back in the 1970s. The movie illustrates a situation which at first glance seems to be a paradox: Whilst revealing more and more of her daughter to the public the mother seems to get increasingly estranged from her and vice versa. (Wikipedia)

The other film I'm debating to go and see is called "De Bon Matin" and it's about a bank employee who goes to work, brings out his gun, shoots two managers and waits patiently for the police to come take him away. At first, it felt a little too close for comfort but I thought about the psychological aspect of it and I think it could potentially make for an interesting evening.

Can't wait!! Let's get cultured. Whoever said Toronto lacks culture is an idiot.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Music Soothes the Savage Beast (within)

I've been meaning to blog about this subject for the past week or two. Music. And yes, all sorts of music but particularly, classical and contemporary orchestral music (and maybe a little Christmas music tossed in there).

Two weeks ago, I went to the first TSO 3-pack concert: What Makes it Great: Vivaldi's Four Seasons by Rob Kapilow who was both host and conductor. It was a fabulous event that brought the music to the audience by breaking it down into pieces that literally anyone could understand and appreciate. It was an intricate look at the intricacies of Vivaldi's music both the actual composition and the history of it.

Then, this past Tuesday, I added in an impromptu session of a Century of Broadway music with the TSO. The hosts, Doug LaBrecque and Christiane Noll were absolutely magnificent and I enjoyed the journey they brought the audience through; starting in the early 1900s and moving through the decades and ending with possibly the most famous musical of all time: Andrew Lloyd Weber's the Phantom of the Opera.

Truly magnificent. I haven't had the chance to have so much music injected into my life. And not this mish-mash of music that we hear on the airwaves these days but real music that soothes the soul and calms the raging monologues that have a tendency to bubble to the surface when stress pushes it up.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Photo Blog CPR

I know I know... I've really been falling behind on this thing... I took a few photos this weekend after my hectic week and I came up with a really pretty one. I love things that are old and elaborate. That's why my favourite ROM gallery is the European gallery on the top floor in the old section of the building.

I got to Trinity College and saw their gorgeous court yard filled with pretentious rich kids.

The copper topped steeple (?) has turned a brilliant green

A little over exposed so another time I'll get the chance to take it again but this building is amazing for architectural detail.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Growing up is Still Awkward

I haven't been on here in a while and I'm way behind on my photo blog for 2012. It's time, everything is starting to coincide with everything else and I'm going to be running on a daily schedule very soon.

This week is going to be particularly rough. I usually get home to do some exercise and at this point, I don't think I'll be getting any all week. I've got a work related 2-day conference which I'm responsible to organize and coordinate. Then I have my french classes and my regular things. Good thing the Walking Dead finished yesterday. I just have to catch up on Vampire Diaries, Glee, Supernatural... and when the Game of Thrones start? oh god.

Today was a particularly rough day because I found out on Friday that the original reservations I have booked for this Thursday evening are... no good! I spent my spare time this evening working on trying to get a venue lined up on a small budget. Or so I thought!

When my other manager walked by and asked me what I was doing, I told him that I was under the impression that the budget was a LOT smaller than I thought we could do (and I wasn't frivolous to begin with, btw!) and when he looks at me,

he says, "think about what you'd expect on a date".

*crickets* I uh haven't been on a formal "date" for at least 4 years.

*more crickets* You... well, just think about what a normal date would constitute.

*mega crickets*

Maybe I'm a cheap date but I don't expect that a pricey date to equal a great time. I would like to think I place more emphasis on substance than cost. Apparently this isn't the way "adults" think. It seems that the cost is a big factor in how a date should run?? How sad! I'd rather have a relaxed fun time being entertained than having to entertain!

It's days like this that I think I still a kid or maybe that I'm just not where all these "big wigs" are at. And frankly? I don't think I care... I just don't like being caught off guard since the crickets can be really awkward...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Eating my Way to My Future

I have never given a lot of thought to how our foods get to our tables. Take for example, the cheese I just had for dinner. Where did that come from? I know that a (faceless, because I don't know them personally) dairy farmer raised some cows (a milk producing sort???) and then milked them and somehow, the cow's milk ended up with a cheese maker and then to Scheffler's Deli in St. Lawrence Market.

Right, that's the kid version. In the last year or so, I have started to consider more about where all this comes from and how it is regulated, if at all, to our tables and tummies. There's a lot about our food, that the common person has absolutely no clue about. And some prefer that it remain this way. I don't. I want to understand and learn where my food has come from and see what has made it the way it is.

I wanted to find a farmer to deal directly with, to purchase eggs and lemme tell you, I can't find anyone online. And I definitely wouldn't know how to reach them by telephone and wouldn't be walking up to their door to order farm fresh eggs.

In the meantime, I started dabbling in the stock market earlier this year to help enhance my savings for the coming year when I'll need to generate a further payment on the condo which I have bought (pre-build). One company that caught my eye was Viterra (TSE:VT). I thought that what Viterra did was really interesting. It was helping to answer some of my questions!

Viterra (one of their many lines of business) is essentially to act as a grain broker/trader between the collective of farmers and the the vendors/purchasers and help them market their product as a collective. They also process the grain and act as the physical distributors/sellers. Just amazing. I didn't realize this was all happening while I'm happily munching away on my wheat crackers.

I think I've found something that finally interests me enough to want to actually learn about it and understand what it is. Looks like I'm getting right on track.

Friday, March 9, 2012


I got an email from AL the other morning, telling me the fate of one of the pair of ducks (angel and devil) I got her for a previous Christmas. The devil duck became a unnecessary casualty between one of her podmates and a Brampton manager. While AL, DC and I were trying to think of ways to retaliate to this unwarranted act, we were thinking of ways to punish the initiator...

Per an email from DC...

You know, sometimes the worst punishment is the anticipation of punishment.
So next time she calls you...

"Ya, I forgive you."

"Oh, thank goodness. You know, I still feel really bad."

"Don't sweat it. I have my duck back, that's all that matters... And although I doubt the sani-wipes you used to clean his under-side did anything to cleanse the deep-seeded darkness that stained his soul for eternity, caused by the trauma so unfairly bestowed upon him... I have my duck back."

"... Geez, I had no idea you-"

"You know,... He may be a devil duck, but I assure you, the fiery pit from whence he was forged out of pure, concentrated evil was undoubtedly a day-spa compared to what he was subjected to... Submerged in the foul sludge of a Brampton toilet bowl."

"Brampton's not that-"

"I have my duck back... That's all that matters. But if I were you, I'd be careful."

"Whoa now... You're not threatening me, are you?"

"OH goodness no. ME? Listen, lady. I'm not the one with crimson complexion and the horns growing out of my head. At least not until sundown. I'm talking about the *whisper* d-u-c-k.... He's extremely well-connected... To beings beyond our realm.... Ya."

KONY 2012: Knowledge is Power

And I like the taste of power. In fact, I enjoy bathing in power when I'm feeling down. It helps revive the spirit and get me feeling like I can take on the world with anything it throws my way. It's refreshing like a cool mojito on a hot summer day.

As I mentioned yesterday, I would speak more about Joseph Kony. I received an email from my coworker regarding this horrible man. I do plead ignorance to what is happening around the world in many respects. I comprehend that there are people of all walks of life and all types of experiences and cultures. I even recognize that there are atrocities happening in this world, that may be far removed from our western society.

Most of us are very privilaged and we even live our lives through rose coloured glasses. We pretend (or maybe choose) to live ignorant to the bad things that are happening around us. We continually surround ourselves with things that don't "bring us down". That's human nature.

But, as human beings, we have a sort of responsiblity--I think--to be aware of what is going on as well as taking action where we can. I'm not suggesting that we get out there and do some of the crazy things that protestors do. To me, that's not effective anyways. Even donating money to the cause may not help. Getting into the trenches is really, or spreading the word on a cause or situation. Educating oneself fully about what is happening is key.

Joseph Kony is a horrible human being ("human" is used loosely) who has been doing unspeakable things to other human beings. Watch the video to better understand what's going on: Kony makes the top of the Worst War Criminals.

I don't necessary suggest that everyone get their wallet out and donate a bunch of money to the non-for-profilt group, but merely to make yourself aware of what else is happening in this world. It's foolish to continue living in the bubble we currently live in and believe that it's ok not to be educated in what's happening. You might never get yourself out to Africa to do something about this, but maybe someone you tell will. Or maybe that letter you write to the Canadian government will get something initiated for stopping this.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Always the Optimist

I sneak peek people's reading material on the subway. While I usually have some reading material of my own (current: The Big Short by Michael Lewis), I periodically peek at what other people are reading--particularly when they're reading a paper.

This morning, I saw an article about Joseph Kony (more about this tomorrow) and the solar flares that will possibly affect our technology today. When I first heard about this news, I was really excited because I am an avid nature/space/science hobbyist (can you be a hobbyist in such an area?). This sort of thing interests me and that morning, I spent part of the morning reading about it instead of *ahem* doing what I should have been doing.

So, today I heard this news while trying to get out of bed. CBC often has great coverage on stuff like this so I checked out their website and found the newest coverage. Looks like the sun spot eruption happened on Tuesday and they were expecting the actual flare to hit Earth around 1am-5am Thursday (today). They're still waiting and nothing has glitched yet.

(on a side note, I found equally great coverage on BBC)

The reason people are generally concerned about the effects of the solar flare is because of the fact that it may or may not disrupt the technology we enjoy. When I think about people in (blind) panic, en masse, I remember the Eastern Seaboard blackout in 2003. I remember coming home from my coop in Burlington and the radio just went out. I wouldn't figure out what just happened and continued on my merry way. By the time I got home, I realized that nothing was working.

While part of me recollects the following few days of technology-free bliss, another part of me (the paranoid nutjob) imagined a zombie apocalypse (or any apocalypse, for that matter). I'd probably be the poor sucker who couldn't tell the difference and while fiddling with my radio equipment, get eaten while screaming for my life. Not a pretty picture.

Anyways, there's no need to panic since it's just a solar flare and not the end of our solar system as we know it. Though, if the sun exploded, it might just be fast and swift so there is no screaming for my life while a zombie rips out my insides and eats me alive.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Information Download

I always remember the scene in The Matrix, where they literally download "programs" into the people. Keanu Reeves has all these martial arts downloaded into him and then he gets them to upload tonnes of information too. I found this concept fascinating. So, I try to read as much as I can and learn about all sorts of things, places, times and people. It's a slow (and sometimes inefficient) method to obtain information but at this point in time, it's the only one we've got.

While I like to read about real life and history, I have a spot for certain types of fiction.

Lately, I've gotten back into the series of books written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon--a Spanish writer who writes gothic/macabre type novels. I've read his first of the series called the Shadow of the Wind and literally could not put it down. Last night, I finished the second installment, The Angel's Game.

Just a great story that is well written and just opens my eyes to a different time, place, people and thoughts.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hide the Pigeon Parts

I had the rare opportunity to go out for a stroll today.  While it was a bright sunny day, it was still pretty chilly out. I kind of wish I wore my warmer coat but alas. Perfect chance to take photos since I can go out and the lighting is good!

I wanted to keep on the theme/tangent of "games" and while it's really clear when I was taking the game photos, I thought it would be interesting to find my interpretation of "games" in the rest of the world. So here you have it, "hide the pigeon parts".

I don't know what it is about this square but there are flocks of pigions just squatting about, sunning themselves.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Great Leader is the Same, Anywhere, Anytime

I found an awesome blog post from Forbes Magazine. It's titled Five Leadership Lessons from James T. Kirk. I thought this was ingenius! So, today I'm going to summarize the blog post and if you're interested, you can check out the original blog post by Alex Knapp. Alex Knapp writes for Forbes about the future of science, technology and culture. Sounds like an all round nerd/geek to me :)

While I never got that engrossed with the Kirk franchise since he always struck me as being kitschy and an all round womanizing playboy, I have to admit, when you strip all that stuff away, I'd follow this guy into space on a starship. Then again, many of the Starfleet captains would fit this description as well...

1. Never Stop Learning: "You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there's no such thing as the unknown--only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood."

2. Have Advisors with Different Worldviews: "One of the advantages of being a captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it."

3. Be part of the Away Team: "Risk is our business. That's what this starship is all about. That's why we're aboard her."

4. Play Poker, Not Chess: "Not chess, Mr. Spock. Poker. Do you know the game?"

5. Blow up the Enterprise: "All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by. 'You could feel the wind at your back in those days. The sounds of the seas beneath you, and even if you take away the wind and the water it's still the same. The ship is yours. You can feel her. And the stars are still there, Bones"

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Medieval Stronghold

While Settlers of Catan has been picking up in main stream popularity, I still have an old favourite which I got several years ago: Carcassonne. This set is produced by Rio Grande Games and they have some of the best (both quality of board and the actual game) I have come across. Sometimes a little pricey but this one is different everytime...

I've also taken up the French language and the last 2 lessons have been about the youth hostel in Carcassonne. It's a real place and the youth hostel there is a castle! One of the reasons I really love this game is that the board is different everytime and you can really screw over (or get screwed) other players. But like most games, the more the merrier.

I only have 2 expansions right now... but the series has more than a dozen.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Everyone wants to go out and party it up at the latest social scene and schmooze with their friends and friends of friends and perhaps hook-up with some one else. *le sigh* I never cared much for this. I like to play games... my favourite party game is Cranium. I got the updated Canadian version during the boxing day sales. Yippie me!

Finally cracked this baby open to see what it's all about. Too bad I don't have 3 more people to play with... :(