Friday, December 31, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

We're almost set for Christmas. Maricar got us our tree again, this time a little skinnier and it fits the house much better. Mom and Dad came over last weekend and we decorated the tree. Heather and I get each other a tree ornament every year, and we now have enough to make the tree look somewhat filled in with them (it's our 6th Christmas together).

Yesterday we went shopping in our neighborhood. We didn't end up crossing anything off our Christmas lists, but we did find a couple things for the house -- a big antique iron pot that fits nicely on the top of the linen cabinet in the bathroom, and another glass milk jug. I bought two old milk crates years ago that we use as end tables in the bedroom. They hold six milk jugs each, and I've only been able to find half so far. We got both at Highway 11 on Queen E, which has pretty good stuff at reasonable prices.

My sports team didn't do very well last week, going 0-3. On Sunday we ended up with no guy subs, against The Spinners. We were actually up by a point with 15 minutes to go, and then ran out of steam and eventually lost. On Tuesday we were up 7-1 and then lost. We also lost 1-0 this week in hockey. The good thing is the teams in our leagues this season are fairly even, so almost all the games are competitive where anyone can win.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We had steak for dinner on Friday, and had leftovers. So yesterday I made a Dagwood Bumstead sandwich, which turned out really good.

Heather and I decided on Chile for our next trip. The main goal is to do the W trek in Torres del Paine. It's become quite a popular trek, with limited accommodation, so we've actually had to plan and make reservations ahead of time. After the trek we'll travel around Patagonia and then up the coast of Chile back to Santiago.

The fall and winter Sunday Ultimate seasons overlap this year, so we have two games today. The fall game is at 2pm, outdoors at Downsview. It's the finals, against Ultimate Warriors who are a really good team. It's the last outdoor game of the year. Then later tonight we have a speedpoint game at Lamport, in the bubble.

I finally got in a hockey game on Thursday. I had pulled a muscle in my back a few weeks ago and so missed a couple games, and the schedule in November has been awful -- 11:30pm, 6:15pm, 11:15pm and a bye. We've been getting a lot of skaters out this season, usually 12 - 14, which means three sets of wingers and less ice time. I missed a tic-tac-toe play in the 2nd period, the puck went off the heel of my stick and then got caught up in my skates. Oh well.

We're getting yet another coffee shop in the neighbourhood, Bobette and Belle, where Hogar Home Decor used to be. From the signage that's up in the windows, it looks like it's more about artisinal pastries. It's a lot of square footage for a bakery / coffee shop.

We had 41 kids for Hallowe'en this year, which is about the same as previous years. There's a lot of families with babies in Leslieville, so in a few years I can see the number going up.

I swept up the leaves in the backyard yesterday, four bags worth. There's still lots of leaves on the trees. Hopefully the leaves will all be down and we'll have a sunny stretch before the first snowfall. A few years ago, it snowed just before everyone did the final raking, and it was a mess all winter with leaves clogging the drains.

Well I should get ready for Ultimate.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The condo on the southeast corner of Queen and Pape is coming along. This pic is from a couple weeks ago:

I finished the flagstone around the car at the start of October. I didn't leave much room to actually park the car, there's only about eight inches on each side of the wheels. I'm making a 6-point turn every time I park (I always reverse in). I want to put little curbs (3"x5"x8' ties), which will leave even less room. At some point next spring I think I will re-layout the passenger side, but make it 16" wide (it's about 24" now). It will depend on how good I get at backing in over the winter.

Hockey started up again, and I managed to pull a back muscle on the last shift of the game a couple weeks ago. Last week was a bye and I skipped tonight's game, but I'll be back next week.

We finally lost a game on Sunday Ultimate last week. We were down 6-1, then came back to tie it at 11-11, but eventually lost 14-12. We dropped too many passes that we normally catch.

We lost the championship on Tuesday (a few days after I pulled my back). We had two full lines of guys. The other line had a 10-minute point, and then a 15-minute point, which used up most of the clock (we have the field for 55 minutes, but by the time people warm up, we play for about 45 minutes). We ended up losing 8-6. Craig and I were only on the field for maybe 10 minutes. I much prefer having fewer players (in fact no subs for outdoors), but then it's more work for Trishia as captain to find subs for the games that someone can't make it. I can't wait until indoors starts, because we'll be playing speed point and get much more exercise.

I did more research on home automation. I think I'm going to buy an Arduino. The first application will be an outdoor thermometer, ideally hooked up to my iPhone. This will mean setting up the communication between the external thermometer to the Arduino, hooking that up to the LAN, and then writing an iPhone app to display the temperature. If that all works, then I can move to more complicated stuff like running the furnace. Eventualy it would be cool if I can connect the thermostat to my alarm clock, so that the house warms up depending on what time I'm waking up the next day. Anyways that's my little winter project.

Well I should go start dinner. We're having asparagus stuffed chicken with white wine shallot sauce, with new potatoes. Mmmm good.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

I had plans to set the flagstone today but it's drizzling right now so I'm waiting for the afternoon. It's easier to level out the limestone screening when it's dry.

So the next home automation that I'm looking at is hooking up the thermostat, so that it can be controlled remotely. I surfed briefly and there's a lot more options today than there were a couple years ago. There's three components: temperature sensor, electromechanical controller, and a console. The options I looked at all include a fancy console, which I prefer that they didn't. I already have a remote console (also called an iPhone), so all I really need is the temperature sensor(s), and the controller (which ideally can be separate devices, communicating over the LAN). Anyways I'm going to search a bit more to see if these exist.

(There's a pretty cool page on a "killer app for IPv6", which I think only Lloyd may find funny).

There was finally some more construction activity on the condo on the southeast corner of Queen and Pape. Looks like they just poured some more cement, but at least the project's not completely stopped.

The little bugs that come around every fall have been back for a week. It makes it a pain to barbecue, which we use about three times a week. We try to just use the front door (for some reason the bugs only fly in from the back door), which for barbecuing means we're carrying our food around the alley to the back to cook, and then back around to the front. It's supposed to go down to 3C overnight this weekend, so maybe that will kill them off. I think though that it needs to drop to freezing to get rid of them.

It was a nice day yesterday so I took the afternoon off and went golfing with Craig at Lakeview. My short game was okay but not great, and I ended up with a 99. I've stopped using my driver (hitting with my hybrid off the tee) and I've been much more consistent in getting to the green. So now my score just depends on my chipping and putting.

A couple rivets had popped out of the bottom of my skates (which hold the blade to the boot), so I left them at the pro shop at the arena last week. Unfortunately the pro shop didn't work on them, so when I showed up on Thursday to pick them up before the game, they were still sitting there, and I missed the game. I'm going to give the arena a call on Monday to complain.

Tonight's Helen's and Nick's 40th birthday party. Helen plays on my Ultimate teams, and her and Nick (and their kids Sarah and Noah) live just up in Riverdale, about a 10 minute walk from us. It should be fun.

Anyways it looks like it may have stopped drizzling outside.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We went for dim sum last week, except our usual place on Gerrard had a big "closed" sign on the front window. So we stood hopelessly in front of the restaurant, when a man and his son walked by, and informed us that the place was closed for renovations, and that there was another dim sum place just down the street, which was pretty good. Which was the exact thing I suppose we were hoping would happen.

We tried the recommeded place, and it turned out really good, in fact better than our usual place. We went there again for dinner tonight because we couldn't decide on what to make, and it was great for dinner too. Who'd have thought. I can't remember the name of the place though. It's a bit west of Boulton on Gerrard, although that's not a very specific description for Chinatown.

A new bar opened up last week, called The Avro, on Queen St E, in the old Bergstrom place. We went for a quick beer to check the place out. It's pretty cozy, a nice place to drop in for a beer. I think it will do well.

The fall Ultimate seasons have started. So far we're doing well, we haven't lost a game yet. Most of the games are at Lamport, which makes it convenient to get to the games. The fall season is pretty short -- it's done in four more weeks, because then the domes go up on the fields for winter. I prefer indoors because it's speed point, which is a better workout.

I cleaned up the backyard where the car is parked, to put down flagstone around the back and side of the parking spot. It was getting a bit like a jungle on the passenger side. There were two old birch stumps that I had picked up at Kirk's years ago, which I had intended to turn into stools or side tables. We didn't like the look of them, and so they sat beside the parking spot for the last couple years. So I put them up on Craigslist for free. Some guy came and picked them up, along with four patio stones that came with the house. So this weekend I weeded and put down landscaping fabric, a few bags of limestone screening, and then Heather and I did the jigsaw puzzle of flagstone pieces. I still have to set the stones, which hopefully I can do next week if the weather is good.

Before pic:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just got my iPad today. So far so good! Big difference so far in the typing. I can type at pretty much the same speed as on a regular keyboard. On the iPhone it was a bit of a struggle.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, September 06, 2010

It was a busy August! Maricar and Robin were married on August 14, (we were invited to both the wedding and reception on the Saturday, and the picnic on the Sunday). Shelley and Geron were married the next weekend, on August 21, in Thorold. Around the same time, Nalini and family were in town to visit. And then my high school friends and I went on a Carnival cruise, from Miami to the Bahamas and back, to celebrate our 40th birthdays, from August 26 - 30.

The cruise was okay. I'm not much of a cruise person, but it fit our schedules, and it was another country for me. Luckily for us we didn't get much rain, with a hurricane and tropical storm in the area.

I finally finished a book this year. I had been struggling through Jane Jacobs, and finally stopped that and started on The Three Musketeers. This is the first book I've read as a digital book, on Stanza on my iPhone. It's more convenient to hold the iPhone when in bed (considering the size of some of the books I've read recently). Also it's self-lit, so I don't need to have a light on. The only annoyance is that I prefer to read it in landscape mode, but when I'm lying on my side the iPhone is turned 90* from horizontal and the iPhone wants to flip to portrait. You can freeze the orientation in iOS4, but only in portrait mode. When I get an iPad I don't think it will be an issue, because then I'll be reading in potrait mode.

Our barbecue was looking a bit run-down, so I spray painted it today and it looks much better. I bought a can of heat-resistant spray paint at Home Depot for about $7 and gave it a couple coats this afternoon. Unfortunately I broke the thermometer trying to take it off, so now I need to replace it. Last month I replaced the grill and heat wave, from the friendly folks at Broilmate (I think it cost about $40, including delivery). The barbecue still works, so I don't want to buy a new one yet.

Stephane and Sab are coming over for dinner so I suppose I should start preparing the food. We're having grilled pork chops with quinoa.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Here's what the living room looks like now:

As you can see, we still need a big piece of art on the wall above the monitor. Also in the pic is the painting that Adnan's wife, Snjezana, painted for Heather. The TV stand that the monitor is on will at some point be replaced with a smaller stand. For now it also contains my old (big) tuner, connected to my old (big) Cerwin Vega speakers. Both are circa 1988, and sound as good as when I first bought them, but in a 12' wide house, they take up a lot of space. At some point we'll replace those with something smaller, but for now it works. You can see the wireless keyboard and mouse (it's the white rectangles). The mouse is optical and doesn't work on the glass top of the coffee table. Unfortunately a couple days after I bought the mouse, Apple came out with their new trackpad, which would fix that problem.

The old TV used to be where the black armchair is now, and the black armchair was in the pathway from the front door. So now there's better flow through the room, because you don't have to dodge around the chair. You would be surprised at how often one can stub their toe in the dark checking that the front door is locked before heading upstairs for the night.

Monday, August 02, 2010

It's the Simcoe Day long weekend and the weather is beautiful.

So we've been cable-TV-free for the last couple weeks, and it's working out pretty good. Right now the HD antenna is upstairs in the office, and we get nine channels (all GTA-based). At some point I'll put the antenna on the roof, but then I need to worry about lightning and surge protection and all that, so for now the office it is.

The best part is that we got rid of my big old Sony Trinitron from the 90's, which allowed us to rearrange the living room furniture. The living room now has much better flow. Maybe even better feng shui, although I'm not that knowledgeable about feng shui.

I gave away the old TV for free on craigslist. The asking price for similar TVs was $1 to $200 (I don't know who would pay $200 for an old TV, when I bought a brand new 24" LCD monitor for less). We decided just to price it as free, to get rid of it. Within minutes I had five replies. I gave it to the first person to reply, who picked it up the next day. I also gave them Heather's old DVD player.

As part of the living room makeover, we also put up a collage of framed art from my travels that were sitting in boxes in the basement. On their own they were too small for our walls, but as a collage they work. It nicely fills in the wall between the front door and front window.


For my 40th birthday, Heather made reservations at Ruby Watchco, a new-ish restaurant in Leslieville. We had both wanted to go there since it opened. They only have one set menu which changes every day (if you click on the link you'll see the menu for the current day). The interior design is really great, very much our style. We weren't as impressed with the food, it was really good, but too rich to our taste. I also felt the food too busy -- all the ingredients overpowered the main part of the course. Unfortunately on my birthday the main was chicken -- it was done perfectly, but I just can't get too excited about chicken (unless it's chicken wings after Ultimate). Overall none of the courses made us go "wow". But we were happy we checked the place out. We might go back, but it would depend on the menu being served that day.

Heather also bought me a t-shirt from Dorly Designs that says "Bacon makes me happy". We had dropped in to check out the new store in June, and I really liked the t-shirts.

The facelift of our Shoppers is moving along. They've expanded to take over most of the parking lot, and have added a 2nd floor. It fits in much better with the rest of the street now. Before, there was too much empty space and it broke up the continuity along Queen E. Already on Carlaw there's a new restaurant planning to open opposite the Shoppers. The Shoppers people also used brick on the exterior which again fits in nicely with the rest of the street.


I went out golfing at Deerfield with Chris, Doaner and Craig on the day before my birthday. I left my driver in the bag (actually didn't even bother bringing it to the course), and just used my hybrid off the tee. (I need to take lessons before I use my driver on the course). Anyways, I had five straight pars on the front, a record for me, on holes 2-6; unfortunately double-bogeyed the other four holes, for a 42 and a bogey-free front. Ended up with a 92, one of my better rounds in a while. I also beat Doaner for the first time ever.

This Wednesday Craig and I are golfing at Lakeview with a couple guys from hockey, Scott and Marc. Hopefully I'll still be hitting my hybrid straight.


With all the hot weather this summer, I've been looking at how to shade the sun coming in from the skylight. Eventually I want to get some sort of smart window but for now I'm going low-tech, with just a linen covering that can be put on hooks with a long pole:

It might make more sense to see it when it's completed.

Tonight we're having an experimental dinner. There was a bottle of wine at the LCBO that said it went well with chicken with olives, almonds and paprika. So I bought a couple chicken breasts, (bone-in with skin), and I'm going to stuff them with the olives etc and then barbecue. The side is a salad of navy beans and wilted spinach, with cured chorizo sausage. I think it the meal may be a bit on the dry side, so I may need a chicken broth-based sauce of some sort.

Well that's it for now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Heather's laptop is nearing its end and so she's been using the MacBook. Fortunately with all her dissertation is synced locally on her laptop and the MacBook (as well as in the cloud) so it was pretty seamless for her to keep on working.

We're replacing her dead laptop with a Mac Mini. I also ordered a Dell 24" LCD monitor, which will become our TV, and a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. The total cost was a little less than a Windows laptop.

Oh yah, so I finally cancelled cable, and we're switching to an HD antenna. Rogers makes you wait (pay) for a 30 day period if you want to cancel your cable, so we have it until July 21st. It wasn't that hard to convince their call centre that we didn't want cable. I just told them we don't watch tv, and I don't think they have a script for that. They tried to offer us cheaper cable, but I just repeated that we don't watch tv. A week later they called us at home, and Heather said the same thing, an it appears Rogers has now given up. We're still keeping our Internet through Rogers, there's no additional cost to have just Internet services. We were paying $70 / month for the cable portion of our Rogers bill, so it's quite a savings.

We bought a Channel Master 4-bay antenna, and the HD HomeRun tuner, which connects into our home network. So now we can watch TV from any computer (well right now, the computer) on the network, even over WiFi. When I get the Mac Mini, I'm going to install eyeTV, which is basically a PVR for the Mac. The antenna, tuner and software will end up costing about $250, so in less than four months it will pay off.

Which means we'll finally say goodbye to my old 27" Sony Trinitron TV. I don't know how to dispose of TVs, as this is the first TV I've ever owned (it's from the 90's). I suppose will have info.

Which also means we'll have more room in the living room, yay! The new monitor (when it arrives) will have to go somewhere, but it will take up far less room. Also the DVD player can go, and Rogers will pick up the cable box. The MacMini will be the radio (via iTunes), DVD player, TV, and Internet. Digital convergence is happening, right in our living room! And I'll be able to control most of it remotely from my iPhone, so there's no single-use remotes cluttering up the coffee table. All of the hardware (except the monitor) will be in the basement, with the wireless keyboard and mouse upstairs. It will all be neat and orderly, just how I like it :)


We won the Sunday Spring Ultimate championship yesterday, 18-11 over The Spinners. The game was originally scheduled in mid-June (when it was actually spring) but we were rained out. So we played at 5:30, in the heat and sun. We had our normal Sunday game right after at 7pm, so it was a long afternoon. Fortunately we had lots of water and oranges and so we were okay. We won the 2nd game too, 19-6, but it was just a regular season game. Our Ultimate teams have been doing really well over the last few months.

Well I should get ready for bed.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Walked around downtown today at lunch, taking pictures of the G20 security waiting around

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Today would be a perfect evening for having a Keiths on the patio at Strats, unfortunately I pulled something in my back over the weekend which I'm still recovering from. Instead Heather and I are having a little barbecue.

We came back from three weeks in Portugal, which was a nice vacation. We've been catching up on yard work the last couple weekends. It was raining all day this past Saturday, so we went to Humber Nursery for some perennials for the front, and annuals for the flower pots on the front porch, and the new pots out in the back deck. We also stopped into Rock Valley for some 1" beach pebble, to fill in the borders around the flagstone in the back. They're sold in 70lb bags, and lifting those out of the trunk is what likely caused my back to go out.

There's a few new places on Queen St E that opened up while we were away, Dorly Designs (a clothing store with tshirts that I liked) an EZrider (a bike shop). There's also a couple places that are coming soon that I'm keen to see how they turn out: Avro, a place in the old Bergstrom that's applied for a liquor license (likely a lounge-type place), and Papa Sol, an italian sandwich place. Now all we need is a rotisserie chicken place like Eduarda's.

A new italian sandwich place also opened up near the Star, beside the other sushi store near Subway. I had the sausage sandwich today, it was excellent (and huge!) The buns are amazing. Finally a place with decent bread near work. Apparently they just opened up yesterday.

Traffic's already a mess with the upcoming G20. Next week I'm just going to walk into work.

I've missed Ultimate on Sunday because of my back, and will likely sit out sports the rest of this week. Our Ultimate teams have a lot of players and so I started doing interval laps when I'm subbing off, just so I get some exercise. I much prefer speed point indoors for the workout.

Went golfing at Lakeview with Craig last Tuesday, one of the few non-rainy days since we came back from Portugal. Shot 54-47, obviously much better on the back nine. I forgot my driver in the car (it doesn't fit in the trunk), and probably did better without it. I'm intending to take lessons this summer to figure out how to hit with the thing.

Well I should start the barbecue.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It was an eventful week in sports for my teams. Both my Ultimate teams played in championship games for the winter season, and we won both of them! Historically we've only won about five championships (doing the math, there's four Ultimate seasons in a year, and the core of us have played twice a week since 2004, so that's 5 winning teams out of 50-odd teams), so to win two in the same season is quite unusual for us.

On Sunday we had what should have been the more challenging game. We were up against the Spinners, who we beat in the previous season to win the championship. We were underdogs the previous season, having snuck into the playoffs with a .500 record and winning the final game in OT (the Spinners were undefeated until then). So they had extra incentive to come out with a strong game. Plus on paper they stack up pretty good against us. However, we played one of our best games as a team, scoring almost every time we got the disc. We won 25-16, although I would not have bet on a blowout before the game.

Tuesday we should have had an easier go of it. We were by far the best team over the regular season, and were playing the 6th place team, who we beat 35-15 the first time. Our bench was somewhat thin, with only 6 guys and 4 girls. Normally that would be perfect for us, but Trishia's back was still out and so she didn't play much, and then Mike landed funny on a jump, threw out his knee and sat out the rest of the game. So for most of the game there was only me, Craig and Nicole from the core team (who know our system and can read the plays the same). We fell behind early, 6-2, but then after a timeout scored 9 unanswered to go up 11-6, and then maintained the 5 point lead for the rest of the game, winning 23-19. It wasn't a pretty game (Craig said he felt like we had lost), but we won.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We've been having some luck with the fish recipes from Loblaws. They have a chef that creates recipes based on what's on sale, and have a sampling station right in front of the fish section. A few weeks ago we tried a haddock recipe; the most recent we tried was a rainbow trout recipe. Both were mmm good.

Last weekend I was in a curling bonspiel with some people from work (Ram, Ryan, Marc). It was organized by the Southern Ontario News Association so there were a few teams from the Star. This year it was at the Royal Canadian Curling Club right near us at Queen and Broadview. Our first game was at 9am. I've only curled about three times before, at other bonspiels. Ram had never curled, and Ryan and Marc had in high school, so we really had no clue what we were doing. The first game got off to a slow start, while we figured out the hand signals and how to sweep without hitting each other. However, we got three lucky shots, all to win ends, and although we lost the game 10-3, we still won three ends (out of six). Winning an end counted towards the overall stats so that was good for us.

We lost our next game (and all six ends). The other team almost won one end 8-0, which apparently is curling's version of a hole-in-one, except rarer (and you don't want to have it happen against you). We lost our last game as well, although we did take two ends.

Overall it was a lot of fun, and a lot of drinking. I forgot about that part of bonspiels, that the winning team buys drinks. We had a lot of drinks purchased on our behalf.

Heather had dropped by for our last game because it was so close to home. The bonspiel included dinner, which the organizers invited Heather (a lot of other people left early so there was more than enough food). The dinner was actually quite good for a buffet, with roast that was medium rare and bottled red wine. Our team finished 22nd out of 24 teams, so there were slim pickings by the time we got to the prize table. Ended up with a ceramic plant pot.

Heather and I went to see Darlene and Fed's new place in High Park last weekend. It's a nice place with character, and lots of big trees around. The really cool thing is that Fed has dropped cable, and is just getting HD over-the-air. I have been thinking about doing that, and need to do more research into it. I'm looking at the Channel Master 8 bay antennae, hooked up to a Silicondust HDHomeRun networked digital tuner. Then we can ditch cable, my old Sony Triniton TV (which I bought in the late 90's), and just watch TV on any computer on the network. I'll likely need to get a different ISP because I doubt I can get internet from Rogers without also paying for cable.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

So we did the Queen St walk yesterday, from Roncesvalles to Fallingbrook Rd (a little east of Victoria Park). The 14.2km took us five hours, although we did stop for breaks and I took a few pictures.

We caught the streetcar out west at 11:45am, and arrived at Roncesvalles around 12:30pm. I haven't been out in Queen West west since I moved out of my condo. The area reminds me a bit of Leslieville. Heather wouldn't mind returning to check out all the vintage clothing stores. Roncesvalles isn't that far west; we were surprised at how quickly we reached the Drake. Passed by Dufferin where the construction project to tunnel Dufferin under the tracks and remove the Dufferin jig is well under way.

We were getting hungry and stopped in at The Prague, a friendly little sandwich place at 638 Queen W. Heather had a turkey sandwich, and I tried the perogies. Both were excellent, although after seeing other people's food I had a hankering for the chicken schnitzel.

Back on the walk, it got really crowded with pedestrian traffic between Spadina and University. East of Yonge the foot traffic really dropped off. By the time we got to the Don Valley (which is about the halfway point as we later looked up) there was hardly anyone else on the street.

We stopped in at F'Coffee for a washroom break (and had a beer while we were there). The place has a very nice vibe. We usually only walk by later in the evening, so it was one of the few times we've had a chance to try it out.

Decided not to drop in at home along the way because we wanted to stay on Queen St. Pedestrian traffic picked up through Leslieville, and then got very busy again once we crossed Woodbine into the Beach.

Once out of the busy central part of the Beach, it becomes a nice little neighbourhood again (although too far from downtown for our liking)

I had though Queen St ended at Victoria Park, but it actually continues three side streets east until Fallingbrook, where it ends / starts unceremoniously (there is a nice apartment building called Queen's End though).

We walked back to Quigley's which has a large outdoor patio and had a beer to celebrate. It was starting to get cold, so we caught the next streetcar back home.

I took pictures of all the independent coffee shops on Queen St. There were more independents than chains through most of Queen St, except in the Beach where chain stores abound. Most of them were on the north side of the street (23 out of 31), I guess to take advantage of the sun. I tried in include only coffee shops that were primarily about coffee (and not a bistro or pub for example), but we didn't stop in at them so it was more a guess. I was also surprised that there weren't more people sitting outside sipping their coffee (which would have made the pictures look better).

Now we need to look up another street about 10km long to do another tour.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

This has been one of the best Easter long weekends weather-wise that I can remember. In fact, it's better than most summer long weekends.

Yesterday Heather and I walked up to Little India for lunch. We've had too much of Lahore Tikka for our lifetime, and were looking for something less heavy. Ended up at Lahore Paan Centre, one of those places on Gerrard E that spills out onto the sidewalk. We both had the grilled corn on the cob (with a spice and lime rub) (lots of times after eating at Lahore Tikaa we've seen people wandering down Gerrard eating the corn, and it's always looked good except we were stuffed just having eaten); I had a pani puri and Heather had a chaat puri. After, we had some sort of sweet treat (nuts, spices and stuff in a leaf wrapper), and then split a kashmiri tea. It was all really good, and only cost $23 in total. I tried to take a pic of the place and send via SMS to Twitter but for some reason it didn't show up. Today I'll try using Twitterrific and see if that works.

Today we're planning to walk all of Queen St, from Roncesvalles to Victoria Pk. According to Google Maps, it's 13.9km and 2hr 50min. We'll likely take longer, because we're planning to stop along the way for lunch and browsing and maybe a patio. It will be a good test for Heather's back for when we go traveling again.

I downloaded a GPS tracking app (MotionX) which I want to test today on the walk. Unfortunately it's not the best demonstration because we're just walking a straight line, but at least I can see how it works. I don't know how it will handle switching out to the background if I want to use other apps, but I'll find out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My blog is now iPhone-friendly! All that means is I've created an iPhone icon, so if you have an iPhone and find the need to save my blog to your home screen, it will actually show a nice little picture of me. (Did the same for my travel blog too).

I have to get ready for Ultimate so don't have much time to write. It was a very busy week this past week. Yesterday evening went down to Doaner's and we had a nice bbq'd steak dinner and played Scrabble all night. We ended up splitting four games, two wins apiece. We didn't have very many seven-letter words -- I think only five over the whole night. Usually we have about four or five in a game.

Yesterday afternoon Heather and I walked up Yonge St from the Star building to Bloor. Had some errands to run -- Heather and I both needed walking shoes (Heather has new orthodics to fit into shoes, and my old shoes are pretty worn out). Also was looking for a case for my iPhone, and for our new digital camera. The Apple Store was crazily busy at the Eaton Centre so I'll likely just order a case off the web. Did find a nice case for the camera at Henry's.

Last week bought a new digital camera, a Panasonic Lumix ZR1. Ordered it from on Monday, and on Wednesday morning it was delivered ($100 cheaper than any other price we saw). My previous camera was almost eight years old (I bought it before Lloyd and Mina's wedding), an impressive 1 megapixel at the time. My iPhone is a better camera so we figured it was finally time to get a new digital camera.

Well I should get ready for Ultimate.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dwiggin AllStars 1986

Here's my first video posted to youtube:

You may be wondering where this little vignette came from. There's a guy at work who I've known work-wise for a few years. His brother was transferring some old VHS movies to DVD, and so he asked him who was in the movie. He said Eric and Lloyd D'Souza. The guy from work said, I know an Eric D'Souza, I wonder if it's him. So he emailed me at work. Turns out he was our next-door-neighbour (Jim's brother), although he would have been around 3 years old when they moved away.

Dad's old Volvo is on the street, and all the trees look pretty small. Check out our old 1980's glasses too.

I had to figure out how to convert a DVD to .mp4 to post it. I ended up downloading Handbrake, which was pretty easy to use.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I got an iPhone at work on Thursday and have been trying to figure it out since. My favourite app so far is the Apple Remote, which allows me to remotely control iTunes on my Mac. The iPhone address book syncs properly with my car so I can now dial from my address book from the steering wheel. I'm amazed at how many places have free wifi (which means I'm not racking up data charges).

It took a while to figure out how to save my songs as ringtones. There's a 40 second limit on ringtones on the iPhone (you could save an entire song as an .mpa on the BlackBerry), so I had to figure out GarageBand. But I now know how to save clips, and so Heather's ringtone is when the guitar starts in on the live version of Back in Black.


Last weekend it was really nice, and Heather and I walked over to Cabbagetown to explore. Heather sees it riding on the Gerrard streetcar, and thought it would be nice to walk around. It's surprisingly close to us, only about a 20 minute walk from our house. We had lunch at Gourmet Burger, which was pretty good (I liked it better than the Burger Shoppe). We walked up and down the residencial streets, and then down to the Distillery. We were hoping to have a beer at the Brew Pub, but it was packed. So we walked back to Leslieville and had a beer at Prohibition. We walked about 10km, which was a god test for Heather's back.

Monday it was still nice weather, so we walked up to the Danforth. Heather had googled around for Greek restaurants, and we tried out Pantheon. It was really good, with huge portions. We split the calamari appetizer, which filled up both of us, and we still had our mains. A 1L carafe of house wine was only $15, which is really reasonable. Next time we'll likely just split two appetizers and skip the mains.

Heather's been having reactions to red meat, so I've been looking for different recipes. We tried out grilled veal chops with artichoke-arugula. I didn't realize, but veal chops and arugula is a classic pairing. Anyways, it turned out really good. It took a while to eat because both the propane tanks were empty (luckily there's a number of 24hr gas stations near us).

Yesterday was a rainy day, the kind of day that's nice to have lunch in a pub. So we headed back to Cabbagetown to check out the House on Parliament. It has a really nice vibe. I had the liver and onions, which were a bit overcooked (Allen's was better). Heather had a mince meat pie with a side salad, which was excellent. The place has a nice patio, which I'm sure is packed in the summer.

Anyways, I should get ready for Ultimate.

There's an app for this

I traded in my blackberry for an iPhone on Thursday. I've downloaded a bunch of free apps, and just bought my first paid app, BlogPress. This will allow me to enter a post, and then publish when I have access to wifi. This is more important when I'm on vacation and have roaming data turned off. My typing is still pretty slow, although in landscape mode it's better. Plus it's supposed to take a week for the iPhone to learn my typing.


Monday, March 01, 2010

The $10 plant I bought at Home Depot is still alive, so I bought another one this past weekend Brassaia arboricola Hawaiian Schefflera. The tag says it likes warm houses (21C - 25C), so this one may not make it, but it's a $10 gamble I'm willing to take.

Wonderboy was a couple weekends ago. I finished on the trophy in 3rd, with eight points. I should have had ten points, but lost in the ping pong semifinals to Doaner's team. We were up 20-17, and his team came back to win 23-21. I also got a point from two-man log saw for the 2nd year in a row, finishing 2/100ths of a second behind the 3rd place team. The highlight once again was hockey on the lake. There was about a foot of snow on the lake which took a while to shovel, but the lake surface was perfect for hockey in boots. It was slightly pebbled, so wasn't too slippery. In fact it would have made a nice curling rink. Oh yah, I won the poker event (I guess that was a highlight too).

Roach was in town the week following WB (last week), so we headed out to Fionn MacCools for wings a couple times.

Heather and I watched Canada win the gold medal hockey game at home yesterday. I had an Ultimate game in the evening, so didn't think going to a bar mid-afternoon to watch the game would have been a good idea. Saw about half the closing ceremonies before I had to leave for Ultimate.

We won at Ultimate, 33-12 (the other team didn't have the same concerns about going to a bar to watch the game, I think most of them were a little drunk). I couldn't stretch out my legs fully after Ultimate, so I booked a massage this evening (it's 2010 so my benefits are full again).

I did our taxes on QuickTax again. It was a little less intuitive than in previous years (a few double-negative questions with yes / no options). Also it wasn't straightforward on how to transfer Heather's medical costs to me. QuickTax wanted to assign them to Heather (being in the lower tax bracket), but it didn't factor in that she couldn't use the tax credits as she had no income in 2009.

Lloyd and Mina had their 3rd kid on Feb 22nd. We found out from Mom. I would have found out from Lloyd's facebook, except I rarely log into my account. Good news is he's updating his blog again, so Heather and I can keep up with the Jiang-D'Souza household. It's a private blog so you'll need an invite from Lloyd to read.

I checked the facebook notification settings, and it's all-or-nothing if I want to get email updates from friend's status updates. I was hoping the settings would allow me to specify lists, but it's not that granular. Now that I reached my goal of 100 friends, I was thinking of cutting the list to those that are actually friends, and not just people I've met in my life. Work people could be moved to LinkedIn (that would be a funny message on the LinkedIn invite You are being relegated from a Friend to a Contact...) I started thinking about security after signing up for a foursquare account, and then reading about the Please Rob Me site. So my foursquare checkins are not public, and feed only my facebook status (which only friends can see), and not my twitter account which is public. I'm trying not to specify my location in my Twitter updates. This blog is public, but is generally historical.

Well that's it for now.

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's the annual Wonderboy weekend, I'm just waiting for Craig to pick me up. As the kids say, you can follow the Wonderboy happenings on Twitter.

It was a short week for me, with the holiday Monday and taking Friday off. Roach was supposed to be in town this week, but his flight got cancelled from Bermuda last Saturday, so he'll be hanging out in Toronto for the week after Wonderboy, which means he didn't get in the darts practice he was hoping for.

I'm hoping the ice is frozen over up at Kirk's. It has been around 0C this past week in Toronto. One of my favourite parts is playing hockey on the lake on Saturday afternoon.

So the warmish weather has exposed a slight design flaw in the backyard. I had designed the patio and pathway to drain rainwater away from the house, and also not into the neighbour's yards. The water is funneled in between the pathway and the main patio, and through the gate. It worked great in summer, with rainwater going where I intended. However, in winter, when it's around 0C, the snow melts slowly and pools around the path, and then freezes overnight. So there's now a nice sheet of ice as you enter through the gate. I'm not sure yet what to do about it.

Also the lock on the gate isn't lined up anymore. The gate itself is still square, so I am wondering if one of the posts is rising or sinking with the ice. This is easier to fix, but I'm waiting until spring to see if it changes again.

I redid some of the shelving in the basement. I had built in space for 16 bottles of wine, but we sometimes have up to 20. Also, the location was close to the heating duct, which probably isn't good. The shelving is a mix of Gorm shelves from IKEA and kijiji. I had it all figured out, until I realized that the shelves I bought from kijiji were pretty old, and IKEA had since changed the dimensions (IKEA now sells 30" shelves, and mine are 34"). I ended up just buying lumber from Home Depot, and making my own, which actually turned out to be cheaper. I think IKEA changed the sizes, because you can get three shelves from an 8' piece of lumber at 30", but not 34". I'll post a pic soon.

Home Depot had a sale on big house plants, $10 for tropicals. I bought a Dracaena Marginata (Dragon Tree), which dropped most of its leaves, but is still hanging in. We thought it was worth a chance at $10.

Well I should get ready to go soon.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Buzz is evil

So Google has their new social networking tool, Buzz. I tried it out, and it seemed pretty cool. Until I realized all the default privacy settings are not private:

- My email address is viewable to followers of followers (and I can't seem to turn this off!)
- My frequent contacts are automatically added as followers by default
- The list of who I'm following and is following me is public by default (and to turn this off, I had to create a public profile, go into the settings, and then turn this off) (if you don't create a public profile, I couldn't find the option)
- Even if you decline to join Buzz (as Heather did), as far as Buzz is concerned, you're still in
- My Picasa account activity was automatically added to my stream -- I had to turn that off

So overall two thumbs down. I'd give more thumbs down if I had them. What the heck is Google thinking?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

I took the afternoon off yesterday, because Heather and I had tickets to Body Worlds at the Ontario Science Centre. We were booked for the 3pm slot, which we figured would be after the school groups had left and before the afternoon crowds showed up. It was pretty cool, and our timing worked out well. There were only two other couples at the exhibits as we went through. My favourite was the nervous system one.

We had dinner last night at The Chef's House, which is the George Brown student restaurant. We originally had planned to order from the Winterlicious menu, but they were featuring chefs from their italian post-graduate class, and so we went for that instead. It was excellent, and very affordable. I had the four courses for $32, and Heather had three for $25 (we shared dessert). The appetizer was prosciutto and pickled vegetables, which was a great combination. Next was tortellini, in a butter-sage sauce; followed by pan-fried whitefish. Dessert was chocolate cake. Mmm good. They have overhead cameras on the prep areas, so you can see how the meals are prepared.

We walked in for dinner, and saw that there's now signs up for Sync Lofts, which is on the north side of Queen St just east of the DVP (there used to be a strip mall that was recently torn down). I signed up on their site just to see what they're proposing:

Today we're going to try the coffee-rubbed pork chops again, but this time with decaf. I'm trying to find a place to buy just a small amount of decaf coffee beans.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's been a lazy weekend. On Friday night it was Maricar's birthday. Trishia had organized dinner at Six Steps, which had a Winterlicious menu. It was freezing out, one of the coldest nights of the winter so far, about -20C. We were going to take the TTC, but it was too cold.

The dinner was okay. Heather and I shared the appetizers of calamari and beef carpaccio. The carpaccio was served with pickled mushrooms, which I didn't think went too well. We had the same main, roasted chicken served on a sage-flavoured latke. It was okay. The dessert had excellent presentation, wrapped in chocolate like a package. Overall, nothing I liked better than how I make it, with the exception of the dessert presentation. But it was still worthwhile for a night out.

We rented Miller's Crossing last night. It's one of my favourite movies, and Heather had never seen it. At first the video store guy couldn't find it, but then he realized it was under the featured director rack (it's a Coen brothers movie).

This afternoon I was rearranging some of the IKEA shelves in the basement, to make room for another wine shelf. I originally only had space for 16 bottles, but we're now up to about 20 on hand. I had it all figured out, then realized that I had two different sizes of Gorm shelves. So there will be a trip to IKEA in the near future.

Tonight's the Sunday Ultimate finals, us against The Enemy (our nemesis). It should be a good game.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We tried out a new recipe on Monday evening, pork chops with a coffee-paprika-cayenne rub, with an apricot sauce. Brant at the LCBO had to think for a while about a match for coffee (went with a red with a smoky taste). I had planned ahead and bought the pork on Sunday and so applied the rub so it could sit for 24 hours.

Monday evening I barbecued the pork, made up the apricot sauce (had to add a bit of brown sugar to sweeten it), and we had a nice little dinner. It tasted really good, and we thought we'd add it to our repertoire, as Heather likes to say. Until we were wide awake at 2am, wired from the caffeine. Next time I'll have to look for decaffeinated coffee for the recipe...

We actually made the finals in Sunday Ultimate! There's only six teams in the division, and we started the season off quite poorly, 0-4-1 (four losses and a tie). We won our next game against The Enemy (our nemesis team), and then won our final game of the season against the 2nd place team to squeak into 4th and the playoffs with a 2-4-1 record. This past Sunday was the semifinal, and we played the unbeaten 1st place team, and actually won! The game was tied at the buzzer, but there's no ties in the playoffs, and so it was next point wins, which we got.

Unfortunately I managed to mess up my left rotator cuff during the game. I was reaching out to catch the disc, and got fouled and fell on my outstretched arm, which is not good for a rotator cuff. Anyways, I sat out my game on Tuesday and I'll miss hockey tomorrow, and hopefully it will be okay. So far it seems much better.

The Enemy also won their playoff game, and so we'll play them on Sunday at 7pm. It should be a good game.

Heather had a dentist appointment this afternoon (at One Yonge where I work) so she worked from the cafeteria until I was done. The cafeteria overlooks the lake and Toronto Islands and is one of the better views around. Anyways, we both felt like pub food so headed up to Fionn's for dinner.

I looked up the painting I liked by Michael Snow, it's called Man Examining a Line. Turns out Michael Snow is the guy that did the geese in the Eaton Centre, and the sculptures at SkyDome (or whatever it's called now). Who knew.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

So I've started using Dropbox, which allows you to sync files to the cloud, and other computers. I was looking for a free alternative to back up Heather's dissertation. Also, I've never tested a restore from the existing cloud backup that I set up for Heather, because it's a bit onerous. With Dropbox, it's very easy. I also want to install it at work, to use it as a shared folder instead of emailing myself documents. However I'm not sure if our firewall at work will allow it. I surfed around and there's very few negative comments about Dropbox, mostly from people who dislike that you can't specify which folders to backup.

(If you check it out and want to sign up, if you click here we'll both get an extra 250MB free.)

Heather and I had a little day trip to the AGO. We both wanted to see the changes by Frank Gehry, and the permanent collection (neither of us were too interested in the King Tut Exhibit). The building and new windy staircases themselves look quite cool, but we didn't like how difficult it was to navigate around from floor to floor. Plus with the King Tut Exhibit on the 3rd floor, you have to take the elevator to get to the 4th and 5th floors! Not a very good design.

My favourite pieces were Evan Penny's Stretch #1 and Michael Snow's picture (something about a man looking a at a string, I can't remember the title). The Galleria Italia was also really cool.

After we went to the Village Idiot Pub for a drink (right across the street from the AGO). It's a nice little pub, with emphasis on little.

We rented The Brothers Bloom, we both really liked it.

Well I should go get ready for Ultimate.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

There's an app for that

I was re-typing all my old travel emails so I could post them on my travel blog, when Lloyd suggested looking at OCR'ing them. I googled and sure enough, there's a few on-line OCR services. The most popular one was, which turns out to be a Google project. Anyways it worked really well and took only a fraction of the time to fix up the formatting.

I was at Loblaws yesterday and they were sampling a haddock dish. I liked it so much I bought some haddock for lunch (Heather was having brunch with Nadine so I was on my own for lunch). I liked that so much we had it for dinner tonight. It's pretty simple, mixed mushrooms with garlic and shallots, white cooking wine, lemon juice and parsley, and the haddock is just salted and peppered and then fried. Anyways it was really good.

We tried out Sophie for lunch today. It's the café on the SE corner of Logan and Queen, near Leslieville Cheese. It opened up a few months ago and we've always liked the look inside. The look was somewhat familiar, and we realized today it's because it's all IKEA. The tables, chairs, cutlery, flatware etc. I do like the style though. The food was great, and the service was good too.

I was at the LCBO on Saturday buying wine (we had Adnan and Snejzana over for dinner), and I got ID'd. I asked the cashier "Really?" and she insisted. Then she said "oh" when she saw my date-of-birth and that was it.

We have a late Ultimate game tonight, 11pm, and I should go get ready.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I was sick today and missed work. I actually got sick quite quickly last night -- I was at Loblaws and started feeling ill, and by the time I got home I was out. Missed Ultimate (we had an 11pm game). Today I slept most of the day, and I'm starting to come around.

On Saturday I went down to Burlington to visit Doaner. When we graduated we agreed to get together every year for a steak dinner, but we haven't been that consistent. I think it's been at least three years since we last got together just the two of us. Anyways it was a good time catching up. As usual we played Scrabble (Doaner won, although it came down to the last few tiles), we had t-bone steaks and then headed out to play darts (warming up for Wonderboy). Stayed overnight at Doaner's, had bacon and eggs and then headed home around noonish.

We finally had a decent time for an Ultimate game, 7pm on Sunday. We won against The Enemy, who have been our arch-nemesis the last few years. It's always fun to play against them, although both our teams have had a bit of turnover, the core players are still there. Went out to Brazen Head after for dinner. I was looking forward to having wings (with all the late games, I'm usually eating dinner beforehand). Unfortunately for me, they had changed their wings! They're now big and breaded. I asked the waitress to let her manager know I preferred the old wings. Apparently it's just a temporary problem with the wings supplier and they'll be switching back.

Forgot to mention, I took the Audi in to the dealership at the start of winter, because the seat heaters take about five minutes to heat up, and the brakes squeal for the first few times braking. Audi said the seats were "up to Audi specs", and gave me a pamphlet about how it's normal for brakes to squeal. I should have asked them if they also had pamphlets about why people don't return to Audi for their next car.

I've been typing in the old travel emails from Russia-Mongolia-China-Nepal (that I found print-outs in my storage) and putting them on my travel blog. I kept the writing style and punctuation as it was, including spelling errors. They were written just as email was becoming popular, and Gerry and I were still figuring email out as a medium (all my emails began with "How's it going?"). Gerry and I took turns writing the emails home, so half were written by him.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

We lost at hockey tonight, 2-1. It was a good skate, we had nine guys + a goalie, which meant two full forward lines and three D. The other team had about four full lines -- I've never seen that many players on a rec team, and for a 6:30pm game too! It was really cold out on the ice -- my toes and fingers were frozen until about the 3rd period.

We all went upstairs for pizza and beer after. Unfortunately the pizza oven was broken yet again. Everyone was disappointed, it was like we just lost a playoff game. This is the 3rd time the pizza oven has broken over the last couple years. We were trying to figure out what actually breaks on an oven -- none of us had ever had an oven break.

We won our Ultimate game on Tuesday. After the game, we arrived at Brazen Head just in time to see Team Canada tie up the game in the World Juniors final; only to see them then lose in overtime. The bar was pretty packed with people there to watch the game. It reminded me of a Leafs playoff game (I hope I'm not dating myself)


Years ago when I travelled through Russia, Mongolia and China with my friend Gerry, it was just as web-based email was becoming popular (this was in 1997). We created a Hotmail account for us to share (individual email addresses still being a bit nouveau). Every week or so when we found an "internet café" we'd send out a group email. My sister would print off the emails at work, and mail them to my parents, so they could get an update about our little trip.

Fast forward to now: Gerry and I have been trying to find anyone with a copy of these emails. We tried getting into our old account, but we couldn't remember the password. I don't think it would matter though, as back then, email systems didn't automatically keep sent emails (it took up too much disk space). None of our friends had copies of the emails either (I think the hotmail limit was 2MB or something silly, so no one actually filed emails, you just read them and deleted them).

Finally I thought to look in a box I keep in the basement with odds and ends from each trip (things like bus transfers, museum ticket stubs etc). And there they were! Surprisingly, there were only eight emails for a four month trip. (Nowadays I might have eight blog entries in two weeks of traveling). I'm planning to re-key them into my travel blog.

Well I should get ready for bed.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Testing geotagging blog posts

Well let's see if the geotag works. There should be a link at the bottom of this post which shows where I posted from.

Friday, January 01, 2010

We had a little dinner party last night for New Year's Eve. MC, Robin, Stephane, Sab, Trishia and Dave and the two of us, all snugly fit around our table for six.

It turned out rather well, all the wines were great matches too.

We weren't feeling too bad this morning considering. It was snowing big fluffy flakes, and looked nice for a walk. However when we got outside the cold wind made us think otherwise. Most places were closed (except for a few like Lady Marmalade which was packed). We walked up to East Chinatown and had dimsum at what used to be called Grand Restaurant (it has a new name now that I forget).

I got a Magic Bullet mixer (as seen on TV!) for my Krys Kringle gift from my high school friends Christmas party a couple weeks ago. I've never actually seen the commercial, or heard of it before. I finally took it out of the packaging. We've tried it a couple times and it works pretty good. I made the asparagus soup with it.