Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
For the past month I've engaged in a weekly workout with mi amigo, Senor D. I get the opportunity to go on a lovely walk through magnificent Shaughnessy and then do a 40 - 60 minute workout. I can't say I love it yet but I am trying to turn it into a habit. And without a doubt, I already have a lot more energy because of it.
Soon I'm going to be adding core muscle strengthening to my fitness regime. There's a great article about it here. For very little time per day, there are huge benefits.
I've discovered a new addiction. Take a shortbread cookie and adorn it with Nutella and you end up with one heavenly treat!
From the photo, you may think that this is a normal sized cookie but in fact, it's about 15cm in diameter! Yes it's bad but I'm not eating this culinary masterpiece 24/7 ... only 16/7. Then I work out the rest of the time! :-)
South Granville is getting excited. This Saturday, the first Williams Sonoma store opens in Metro Vancouver!
Everyone who knows me knows that I hate shopping but I may exceptions for certain things and anything related to food is one of them!
Inco Limited, a longtime institution in the Canadian Mining Industry, changed their name to "Vale Inco" today, reflecting the new ownership of their Brazilian parent company. You can read more about it here. Note: "Vale" is pronounced "Val-lay".
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I just saw a beautiful film called Outsourced. It's about a middle-level manager named Todd Anderson, whose department in Seattle gets outsourced to India. He can either quit and lose all his stock options or go to India to "train the new guy". He opts for the latter and the result is a fascinating look at the exotic country of India from the perspective of a simple American.
Beautifully shot and a well written story combine to provide a compelling cinematic experience. As I have a number of Indian friends, it was exceptionally interesting to me.
Meet Miga, Quatchi, and Sumi, the 3 mascots for the upcoming Olympics in Japan ... errrr in Vancouver I mean. Silly me for mistaking those names as being authentically Canadian! You can check them out in depth here.
Perhaps they agreed to the names in exchange for a discount from the Japanese Anime artists?! Further to these overly cute critters, I have an admission and a question.
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I will share with you that I once dated an Air Canada flight attendant named Sumi. She was half Japanese and half Caucasian. The mascot Sumi is cute but she was much cuter. I imagine her colleagues must be teasing the hell out of her!
And now the question: Do you think that Quatchi's hairy stomach was closely modeled after Charles Adler's beard? Think I'm kidding? Take a look at this:
Furthermore, his deep baritone voice is very reminiscent of Adler's!
Monday, November 26, 2007
Canadian Border Services held a heavily controlled press conference to release their inquiry into the death of Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, on October 14th. As I expected, it revealed nothing particularly new in substance, other than they had no idea what he was doing for 6 hours and 31 minutes, in between when he passed through primary inspection and when he tried to leave the luggage area.
It annoys me to no end how the process of tracking passengers is completely flawed. Nobody in this organization knew where he was. When his mother tried to find out, they didn't even know he had arrived!
Being in the I.T. business, it seems so glaringly obvious how a simple mobile database tracking system could have been implemented as long as 5 years ago. Federal Express has one. So does Wal-Mart. So does Amazon. But our Canadian government? Nope, they're still living in the 1980's.
How difficult would it be to have mobile wireless computers on every mobile official at the airport, each getting an update from their central database every minute. Anyone not accounted for, for more than 30 minutes could be red flagged and brought to the attention of one or the attention of many.
Additionally, each handheld computer could have prepared messages and/or questions in every language known to mankind, displaying them visually or audibly or even as welcome videos. Simple, simple, simple.
Yet will something so obvious get implemented? Probably not. Or if the government were to take on such a project, it would cost $100 Million and never get done right. If such technology was needed by a private sector facility, they would buy something "off the shelf" and just make minor modifications to suit their specific requirements. While I don't sell this kind of software myself I know many firms who do. I estimate the cost per mobile employee could easily be kept under $1,500 per person, for both the hardware & software.
What a concept, having timely, accurate information in the Year 2007! Who would'da thunk it possible?! Certainly not our public bureaucrats.
A geophysicist friend in Calgary directed me to this recent talk by business analyst, Peter Tertzakian. He's also the author of 1,000 Barrels A Second, a fascinating book that further delves into our deep dependence on oil.
The talk is lengthy - about an hour - but if you can listen to the first 15 minutes, you will gain a much better understanding of the facts behind our predicament and why much of the talk by environmentalists and politicians is nothing more than hot air.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
I had many people to visit this weekend, so I rented a car to get around in a more reasonable time period. Without it I could have never accomplished all that I needed to.
The car was a Buick Allure. I'd never had driven this model before. It was stylish, had a very quiet engine, and a smooth ride. It also had a Satellite radio featuring XM Radio. I'd never experienced this before so it was quite a treat. In addition to some great music channels such as this one, it also featured talk radio channels from BBC, CNN, and Fox News. Perhaps the most interesting channel was one called "POTUS 08". I'll leave it to you to figure out what was on it - my politically savvy American readers should instantly know!
Here's a shot of my friend, Monsieur S., and his long hose! :-)
And here's his sister's beautiful dog, Cory. What a wonderful little guy he turned out to be!!
It was my first time to see an iPhone up close. It belonged to one of my friend's cousins, who was visiting from California.
Finally, here's a selection of photos of the great food I was lucky enough to consume this day:
Saturday, November 24, 2007
My longtime friend, Mr. T., is turning 37 on Sunday so his brother and I decided to take him out for dinner. We ended up at Maurya on West Broadway. What a great choice! Not only was the food and conversation great, but we also met two lovely ladies working there, one from Guadalajara, Mexico and the other from São Paulo, Brazil.
Friday, November 23, 2007
There's a Canadian fellow in Seattle who was prompted to start writing a blog because of what happened to Robert Dziekanksi at YVR. Way back when we had an informal competition about who could get the most letters published in each other's local newspaper. He won!
His blog is called Renaissance Cynic. I think you'll enjoy his witty, cynical prose. Do check it out!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
This past evening I saw American Gangster with my good friend, John, husband of my friend & colleague, Fiona. John & I typically go to films that Fiona has no interest in seeing. She missed a good one this time! The film stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, and was directed by Ridley Scott. I've never yet been disappointed with a movie involving any of these fellows.
It focused on the life of drug lord Frank Lucas, who became extremely wealthy selling pure heroin known as "Blue Magic" throughout the Harlem area of New York City in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The film is long, which I love as long as the story is good. This story was great. It interwove several themes together, including: the illicit drug trade, a highly corrupt NYPD, the Vietnam War, and the emergence of Black power.
Thankfully, it also showed the dark side of the glamour of people like Lucas; wasted lives, miserable deaths, and pain, pain, pain. No thinking person could escape the fact that there are strong parallels with what's going on in Vancouver these days. Highly recommended!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I'm a big believer in not wasting food. So here's my first attempt to make something [sort of] edible out of my recent bread disaster:
Was it the most delicious dessert I've ever had? Nope. Did I get sick from it? Nope.
My less than positive views about Kindle's chance of success have been somewhat tempered after reading Guy Kawasaki's blog. What's interesting is that the $400 price tag gives you free lifetime connectivity via a cel-based EVDO network. This isn't direct access to the Internet but instead to a private network controlled by Amazon. However, within their domain you get unlimited free access to Wikipedia and perhaps some blogs and other material too. On top of that you can purchase books, newspapers, etc. Apparently you can also send Amazon your Word and Excel files and "for a small charge" get them converted for viewing on the device; I think the hassle & cost of doing this will make it a non-starter.
You can watch a promo video about Kindle and a tutorial video as well.
It'll be interesting to see in the coming months if some hackers find a way to modify the inner workings of the device to do something totally unexpected by Amazon!
Amazon.com is trying to do with books what Apple has done with music. They're introducing a new electronic book reader called "Kindle".
At US$399 for the reader and $9.99 for new release books, the price seems a bit pricey to me. I'm sure they've done tons of research but I wonder if it'll sell? Something tells me not.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I just read Vaughn Palmer's column about the NDP new affirmative action policy. I couldn't resist sending him a little note about this man shown on the right, BC Federation of Labour president, Jim Sinclair:
I just read your article about the NDP's new affirmative action plan. I couldn't help but notice that Jim Sinclair was a strong promoter of it.
I firmly believe (as firmly as I can press my tongue against the inside of my cheek) that you should suggest to Mr. Sinclair, that as an older white male, he has 2 choices by year's end:
1. Resign from his current position because it is just patently unfair that someone with his genetic credentials is there.
2. Or get a sex-change operation, thus making him satisfactory to keep it.
On a more serious note, I've ALWAYS been against affirmative action programs. And it's not because I'm a white male, but rather that I'm against the folly of perpetuating the myth that everyone in our society is a victim ... except for white males that is. What a complete insult to the successful women, non-white, and gay people I know.
Earlier this year I read Mark Steyn's book, "America Alone". It was absolutely phenomenal and opened my eyes to a lot of things including the huge demographic changes that will become more & more obvious with each passing year.
In this recent posting, Steyn talks about this problem in Japan and in Europe and refers to this BBC article. Japan provides the most crystal clear example of the disaster ahead. The replacement birth rate for any society is 2.1. This means that in order for a population to sustain its numbers, each couple needs to have 2 children, plus there have to be a few more born to account for:
- Homosexual couples who don't produce any children.
- Children who die from disease.
- Children who die from accidents and other untimely deaths.
- Children who move away to other countries.
A cynic might say, "Who cares, they have too many people there right now anyhow!" Fair enough, but if a population drops too quickly then obvious problems arise:
- Economic depression.
- Lack of funds to sustain the existing social programs.
- Lack of people to take care of the elderly.
The next time you hear someone condemn you for the children you've had or are planning to have, remember Japan.
A few years ago my Uncle Hector gave me his bread maker, along with this warning, "The only thing it's good for is making door stops. I hope it works better for you!"
And it has. I've made some terrific loaves of white bread, multigrain bread, and many other combinations. It's also proved highly effective at making pizza dough.
But I've always been VERY careful at using the precise ingredients called for by the recipe. Until now:
I tried making a loaf of white bread but decided to substitute the little bit of milk called for with Egg Nog. The result is what you see - a complete mess of what looks like crumble cake, combined with several 1 cm balls!
In retrospect, since the Egg Nog in question probably contained little to no actual milk, I highly suspect that it was the culprit. Oh well, I'll smash it up some, add some chopped apples, walnuts, and maple syrup, and have a dessert fit for a king ... well, maybe fit for a junior guard at the castle!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
It was absolutely miserable in Vancouver today, but I was fortunate enough to attend a lovely birthday party of the 1 year-old daughter of some friends of mine. In their home it was bright and vibrant and colourful.
One day my housework-challenged husband decided to wash his Sweat-shirt Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to me, "What setting do I use on the washing machine?"
"It depends," I replied. "What does it say on your shirt?"
He yelled back, " University of Oklahoma ."
And they say blondes are dumb...
A couple is lying in bed. The man says, "I am going to make you the happiest woman in the world."
The woman replies, "I'll miss you..."
"It's just too hot to wear clothes today," Jack says as he stepped out of the shower, "honey, what do you think the neighbors would think if I mowed the lawn like this?"
"Probably that I married you for your money," she replied.
Q: What do you call an intelligent, good looking, sensitive man?
A: A rumor
I pray for Wisdom to understand my man; Love to forgive him; And Patience for his moods. Because, Lord, if I pray for Strength, I'll beat him to death.
Q: Why do little boys whine?
A: They are practicing to be men.
Q: What does it mean when a man is in your bed gasping for breath and calling your name?
A: You did not hold the pillow down long enough.
Q: How do you keep your husband from reading your e-mail?
A: Rename the mail folder "Instruction Manual."
Friday, November 16, 2007
On November 17, 2002, my best friend's mother passed away after a long battle with cancer. Part of her treatment against this horrific disease took place at St. Paul's Hospital in downtown Vancouver. Ever since then, the family has donated money to the hospital's foundation.
This year I got to join them for the special evening when the Lights of Hope on Burrard Street are lit up. Here are some photos and videos of this event:
I actually don't know who these people are! Their camera wasn't working properly so they asked me to take a few photos of their family and then will supposedly e-mail me for them. One important thing though: The young ladies (sisters?) are two of the tallest women I've ever met!!