Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Book List

  • Dreams from my Father
    Barack Obama 2008.11.20

  • Getting to Yes
    Roger Fisher 2008.08.13

  • Three Signs of a Miserable Job
    Patrick Lencioni 2008.08.10

  • Tale of Two Cities
    Charles Dickens 2008.08.10

  • The Count of Monte Cristo
    Alexandre Dumas 2008.06.12

  • The Travels of Marco Polo
    Marco Polo 2008.04.28

  • Survival Is Not Enough
    Seth Godin 2008.04.12

  • The Screwtape Letters
    C.S. Lewis 2008.01.20

  • Crime And Punishment
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky 2008.01.01
  • Sunday, November 02, 2008

    I put down the larger stones yesterday:

    I figure that should get us through winter.

    We have our last regular-season game of Sunday Ultimate today. The weather's been great for fall season -- better than the all the rain in summer. Our last fall game was this past week, at the new fields down on Unwin. The new fields are amazing, nice location (close to downtown, although about a ten minute walk from the TTC), nice view of downtown. It's too bad they're not putting a dome over the fields for winter. There's a shortage of downtown indoor playing space with Waterside now closed (it's part of the waterfront redevelopment). We didn't get a team registered on time and the Sunday leagues are now full for winter, so I'll just be playing Ultimate on Tuesdays and hockey on Thursdays in the winter.

    I should get ready for the game.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    We just came back from a walk down Queen St to the DVP and back. It's getting pretty cold out there -- I should have worn my toque. Saw that a couple new places are open or close to it. Loic (a gourmet food-to-go place, although I'm not sure they need a big store front for their concept), a new art gallery (beside Comrade). LPK's Culinary Groove (a dessert place, I think) is still under construction.

    We're still waiting for a nice pub to open up in Leslieville. Maybe the new place on Queen and Curzon will be open at some point. It looks like their application for a patio on Curzon was not approved because of a lack of response to a poll of neighbours, and that they can't reapply for two years. Seems like a strong penalty for a lack of response. I didn't find anything about their liquor license application.

    Anyways we're just drinking a herbal tea and then going to bed.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    I worked on the backyard for most of yesterday:

    I decided to put flagstone for the whole path. So far I've used about 0.5 tonnes of 1" flagstone from Rock Valley. There were some larger pieces (as large as 2' x 2') that I'm going to use on the patio in front of the deck, to define the different spaces between the patio and walkway. In all the flagstone will probably end up costing about $300.

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    The weather has been really nice this Thanksgiving weekend. Friday I was sick (there's a bug going around work) and so I took the afternoon off and came home and slept. Saturday I felt better, but we still took it easy (just cleaned up around the house).

    On Sunday I started working on the back yard again. I had 2.5 yards of limestone delivered from Homeland Garden Centre. I had thought I needed crushed limestone but they insisted that I needed limestone screening so that's what I got. I had looked at other places but this was close (they're just up on the Danforth), and their delivery trucks are small enough to fit down back laneways.

    I used up about two-thirds of the limestone screening, and I have enough left to do the flagstone patio between the deck and my parking spot. I figured it's better to have leftovers because I can always give the extra away on craigslist.

    It was rather exhausting work. A previous owner had put down gravel in the backyard, but only up to the house. The little alley beside the house was about 3 - 4 inches lower. I removed the top 3 inches in the front of the pic, and used it to raise the alley. I put down industrial grade weed block and then the limestone screening.

    Next is to build a boardwalk from the deck to car, on top of the limestone. I don't know if wood sitting on top of screening is a good idea (maybe gravel was better for drainage), but I'll find out.

    Monday, September 29, 2008

    Sorry it's been a while since I updated here. Work has been pretty busy (it's now budget season).

    Heather and I walked up to Little India for dinner yesterday. Went to Lahore Tikka as usual, it was fast and good. We walked along Queen E from Greenwood and noticed a few changes in the stores. Studio Oui (Heather's favourite clothing store) has a satellite store carrying men's clothing; the Stage East lofts are almost sold out, and have a cool-looking sales office on the north side of Queen; Timmie Dog Outfitters are opening a Queen E location; the used car lot near Wild Thyme's old spot is now up for lease; and the pub at Curzon looks like the renovations are done (and it looks amazing inside), but our guess is they're still waiting for the liquor license.

    I've been fixing up my travel blog. Finally got CS3 installed and so I've been going through my old travel pics looking for images that crop nicely for header photos. I created about a dozen. I've been trying to find a free site that will host server-side scripting so that I can randomly rotate through the pics. Unfortunately Google Pages doesn't.

    JP is back in town, and he came out after our Ultimate game on Sunday. We won our game 19 - 15, in a fairly competitive game. Went to Jawny Baker's (in the middle of nowhere at O'Connor and StClair). It's a nice restaurant to head to after a game. Most of our Sunday games are at 1pm, and they serve brunch (including a decent eggs benedict) until 3pm, so we'll most likely be there every week. Our games are near Bermondsey and Eglinton (even more in the middle of nowhere). We should do pretty well this season.

    Hockey hasn't started out that great. We lost our first game 8-0; and then our next game 5-0. Hopefully they'll re-sort the teams soon. This week's game is late, at 11:15pm, but it's also the night of the VP debate in the US. Most people I know are looking forward to watching the debate, to see if Palin makes a fool of herself again. The clips of her Couric interview on youtube are pretty funny, if it wasn't for the fact that she really is running for VP. The Canadian english debate is also on that night (I guess so TV stations minimize lost ad revenue), but my preference will be the US VP debate. I actually watched Letterman for the first time in years, to see if he would make fun of McCain suspending his campaign for the 3rd night (the first two nights Letterman spent about eight minutes ripping McCain because he skipped out on his show).

    We had our 1st wedding anniversary last week. We went out to Tomi Kro's on the Saturday, because most restaurants are closed on Mondays. Heather had the scallop carpaccio appetizer and duck main; I had the foie gras appetizer and beef tenderloin w/ stilton cheese. All the food was great, as usual.

    The little black bugs are all over our backyard again. It happens around this time every year. We stopped using the back door, because every time we open it about 40 bugs fly in, which we then have to hand-vac up. If I remember the only way they go away is when the temperature finally drops below zero. It's quite a nuisance, especially when barbecuing. I asked my Ultimate team and other people have the same problem. The bugs are somewhere between aphids and mosquitoes. They don't do anything except fly towards lights and the ceiling, and then die within hours.

    Anyways I should start getting ready for bed.

    Monday, September 01, 2008

    The end of summer and the deck is finished

    Summer came to an unofficial end today, being Labour Day. It feels like we were cheated out of a week of summer because Labour Day was so early this year. (I was also sick for almost two weeks at the start of August which made it go by rather quickly).

    I was at Deerfield today with Doaner, Craig and Chris. We all started well on the 1st hole. I had a 6, and there were two 5s and another 6. We didn't do so well after that. I shot a 45 on the front, and then fell apart on the last 5 holes to end up with a 102. Bleh. The only club really working for me was my putter.

    I finally finished the deck yesterday!

    Oddly enough I tore down the old deck on Victoria Day weekend (the unofficial start of summer) and finished on Labour Day weekend. So the deck can officially be called my "summer project".

    The lighting turned out as I had hoped; I took some pics but my camera can't handle the low lighting levels. The front of the deck looks a bit odd right now, because there's no plants yet. There will be two globe cedars on each side of the stairs, tucked under the overhang. The idea is to make it look like the deck is floating. Our new city-issued garbage bin arrived this past week and fits in nicely under the bench with the recycling bin. (Fortunately, as I designed it that way). Our green bin will go around the side of the house, as it contains smelly stuff. (We wash out our recycling before throwing stuff out, and garbage is mostly non-recyclable plastics, which doesn't smell).

    I haven't figured out what to do with our old garbage bin -- the city suggests using it to gather leaves. Obviously suggested by some city staffer who lives in the suburbs where they might have room to store an extra garbage bin or two, and who don't have to design decks around garbage bins. The city did pick up the old blue bins, maybe they'll do the same with old garbage bins.

    The whole backyard project started because I need to disconnect the downspout. I can now landscape a bit of the yard (so that water flows away from the house). I'd like to complete that before winter.

    We lost in our hockey playoff game on Thursday so we're done for the season. All my summer sports are now done, and fall seasons don't start up for a couple weeks. I may have to go for a run to keep myself active over the two weeks.

    I'm going to try to read a bit of my book so that's it for now.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    We are the champions!

    We won our Sunday Ultimate final to win the championship! It was a very close game, the other team, Disco, was pretty good. Disco was up 9-7 at half (games go to 19); and at various points in the 2nd half were up by three points. At 17-15 for Disco I didn't think we would pull it out. But we scored two points to tie the game. I was exhausted and sat out a point, which Disco scored to make it 18-17. We needed to score the next two to win, and we did, winning 19-18, just as it was getting dark. The game took almost two hours to play. The win gave us an undefeated season over the summer.

    l-r Ed, Chris, me, Trishia, Craig, Maricar, Helen, Marshall, Cindy

    Chris showed up for the first couple games in spring (when we took the picture) and hasn't played since. The core of us (me, Trishia, Craig, Maricar, Helen & Cindy) are now into our 5th year playing together (anywhere from 1 to 3 times a week). After so many years we are all pretty good at reading the plays the same, which makes us a better team and harder to beat.


    I surfed around to learn how to change my icon. Depending on your browser, you may see a little picture of me as the icon in your browser and favourites.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    It rained this afternoon so I'll have to finish the deck next weekend. I just have a little railing to build, and then install lighting.

    We have our championship game for Sunday Ultimate this evening. We won our game easily last Sunday in the semis, but surprisingly The Enemy lost their game! I don't know how good our opposition is because we only played them on the August long weekend and both teams were missing key players. They only lost to The Enemy and us in the regular season, and then beat the The Enemy so they can't be that bad. The weather forecast looks good, it's hot and sticky out now but there's a cold front moving in so hopefully it will be comfortable on the field by game time.

    We won our first playoff game in hockey on Thursday. It was my first game in four weeks, and I scored again! I almost had two more goals, but missed the net on both. We finished 4th (out of four teams), and are playing the top team. It's a two game series, with an OT and shootout if we split the games. They are much better than us, and our goalie (who's by far the best player on our team) is out next week, so it's not looking good. But we'll see.

    I also went golfing out Thursday afternoon. I had a meeting out in Listowel (over two hours west of Toronto), and so we golfed at Listowel Golf Club. It was just two us, and we played the front nine in 1 hour 20 minutes!! We caught some other players on the back nine, but still finished the round in under 3.5 hours. I shot 92, and was generally consistent.

    One of the big old trees on Wayne and Walter's yard has an orange paint marking on it. Heather and I are a bit concerned, we wonder if it means the city's marked it as dangerous and are going to cut it down. There's three big trees that frame the entrance to our street, and the main reason I was interested in the house when I first saw it (after living here there's much more to like, but at first I noticed the trees). A lot of trees in Leslieville are about 100 years old, and then there's a big age gap in trees. On our street fortunately there are a couple 40 - 50 year old trees.

    Saturday, August 23, 2008

    It was a nice day today and I worked on the deck most of the afternoon. Replaced the stairs, with a more sound design. Also finished the other hinged door under the bench. The next little task is to put a small railing on the non-bench side of the stairs, and then do the lighting. Unfortunately the weather doesn't look like it's going to co-operate tomorrow so it may have to wait until the long weekend.

    Heather and I walked down to Lahore Tikka for dinner. It also happened to be the Festival of South Asia on Gerrard E, so the street was closed to traffic and the restaurant was packed. Our dinner was great as usual. After we walked down the length of the street festival to check it out. It was really busy! It was still early (9:30ish) so we headed to Strat's for a Keith's. They always have good draught beer there, and we sat outside having our beers until the patio closed at 11pm.

    Heather's old printer died an ignominious death on Thursday, so we had to go get a new printer. Bought a HP K5400, which I hooked up this morning. I had had the house cabled with ethernet when it was gutted, although I had to re-seat the wiring in the ethernet jack in the basement to get it working. The electronics in the house are finally coming together as I first planned -- a network printer that we can print wirelessly from a laptop and backyard speakers hooked up to the stereo. The printer is pretty good, although there is some black streaking that I need to fix. I did a test print of a photo, and it came out looking amazing -- near laserjet quality, and the full 8.5"x11" (there's no white border). Althought, it's probably cheaper to print at Staples, given the amount of ink used.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    I was out sick for much of the last couple weeks, with a bug that's knocked out a few people at work. Heather caught it a couple days after me and she was out too.

    I felt better this past weekend and finished off a bit more of the deck. The deck boards are all done; the speakers sound amazing (the wood surroundings make for great acoustics); and one of the hinged doors under the bench to the recycling is done.

    The door had to be weighted so that the natural position is closed. I wasn't sure if it would stay shut but the design worked out.

    I was concerned about the original design for the stairs (I wanted them to look like they're floating). I had cut away at the stringers but that weakened them. I bought new stringers to replace them with a different design -- good thing too, cause the bottom step snapped off this morning.

    I tested out the lighting over the weekend, to see how bright they were and where the best placing would be. It was a bit of a catch-22 because it's easier to install the lights before the deck is finished, but I couldn't figure out how the lighting would look until the deck was done. So I have to lift up some of the deck boards to install the lights but oh well.

    Last night Heather and I were at the Jays game (against the Yankees no less), in the Skybox (Rogersbox?). Paula (my boss) had the box and invited all the directors and their partners. It was a pretty good time, and cool for all the partners to meet all the people they'd only heard about. The Jays won thanks to a couple errors by the Yankee's centrefielder.

    After (surprisingly to me) we went bar hopping! First to Gretzky's and his very nice Oasis rooftop patio. Heather and I had been there years ago (it's where Heather first met Doaner), and neither of us remember the patio being that large and nice. Next we stopped in at Rain (!) for a (probably very expensive) drink (Heather was on sparkling water at this point). Then onto Ultra Supper Club's rooftop patio, which was packed (on a Tuesday night!). Heather and I left around 1:45am, with the rest of the crew still there.

    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    I just downloaded

    I just downloaded and trying it out to see how voice recognition works. I think I may have to stop mumbling. listen

    Powered by Jott

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    I took this past Monday as a vacation day so I could work on the deck. It's coming along, I should be able to (finally) put down the deck boards on the long weekend. It's been a bit of a hassle with all the rain, because I have to bring all the power tools inside (the mitre saw being the biggest), even if it's just threatening to rain. I mounted one of the speakers on Monday, and I'll hook it up on the weekend. Just bought some wiring supplies at Home Depot.

    Craig and I went golfing (Craig's co-worker Lou joined us too) last Wednesday at Lakeview. We had a 3pm tee off, but at 2:45 it started pouring, constantly for an hour. Craig got us a pitcher of beer to wait it out, and by 4pm we were teeing off. It was amazing how fast the golf course drained. There was a slow group in front of us, which started bothering me and I shot a 52 on the front. They let us play through on 10, and then I got my game together and shot 45 on the back.

    I had my best hockey game of the past year or so on Thursday. I got a goal and assist, and had a few really good chances to score, including in overtime. We ended up in a 3-3 tie. This is the most even the teams have been in hockey -- almost all our games go into overtime.

    Well we're off to make dinner -- steak, corn on the cob, caesar salad. Mmmm good.

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    Happy Birthday to me!

    It's been raining all day, so I've been lazing about most of the day. Had a massage at 2:30 (using my benefits), so I'm lazing and relaxed. Sketched out the stairs for the deck. I'm taking next Monday off, so I'll have two long weekends in a row to work on the deck. I got a new circle saw from Heather for my birthday which I was using yesterday. Can't go wrong with power tools as a birthday gift!

    Heather and I went out for dinner last night at Table 17. It was really good. They've done an excellent job of decorating the place. I had the scallops appetizer and pork main; Heather had the pea soup and rabbit. The scallops were amazing, done perfectly and served with fresh peas, crisp bacon and a mild hollandaise sauce. We asked them to match a glass of wine with each, which went really really well. We both recommend the place.

    On Friday night my high school friends took me out for dinner. We had dinner at The Citizen, and then went to Booze for a drink or two. (It's neat having all these places in our neighbourhood!) It was fun hanging out with my high school friends, we generally only get together for our birthdays and Christmas nowadays.

    The bike lanes on Eastern are painted better now, with well-defined parking spaces and bikes lanes around. It all looks very organized and european. However it's still a dangerous start going westbound at Leslie. One car lane simply disappears across the intersection. They should really make the right hand lane a right-turn-only lane on the east side of Leslie. I agree with Tanya's comment that this has something to do with the proposed Walmart.

    On Thursday was the annual soccer tournament at work for the United Way. Usually the IT team isn't very good. We generally go scoreless the entire tournament, but have the most fun and drink the most beers. However, this year we somehow made it all the way to the final, and lost 1-0 to Advertising. I was pretty tired after the final.

    This past Wednesday Heather and I went out for dinner at B-side (the patio at Joy Bistro). It's under new management (not sure if this also means new owners). They had a live band (two guys with acoustic guitars), which went well with the warm summer night. They've upped the prices a bit (still reasonable) and no longer have Keith's on tap. It was really busy for a Wednesday night, with a lot of people turned away because of lack of seating.

    Forgot to mention, I got ID'd the other day at the LCBO! I was a week short of being twice the drinking age :)

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    It's my birthday week!

    We had a Summerlicious dinner last night at Jaaadu with Trishia & Dave and Cindy & Joe. It was good, although I think I prefer Lahore Tikka (the restaurant perpetually under construction in Little India on Gerrard). For a nice change, we were allowed to eat a Summerlicious meal at a relaxed pace -- we were there for over three hours!

    On Sunday night we played The Enemy at Ultimate and finally beat them! It's always fun playing them, it's VERY competitive but friendly. We won 19-16, but they're still up 2-1 this summer against us. The game took almost two hours, and Craig and I played most of the game. I was exhausted afterwards, and took an epson salt bath when I got home (the first time I've used the bathtub).

    A couple weekends ago Heather and I had dinner at PicNic. It was really good. The Star gave them a bad review but I guess Corey Mintz just doesn't like Leslieville, or anyone who lives here, for whatever reason. He also gave Table 17 a bad review, so based on that, I think we'll really enjoy it. Heather and I are having dinner there this Saturday to celebrate my birthday.

    The deck is coming along, a bit slowly. I think I may take a couple vacation days to work on it.

    I noticed that Eastern Av now has bike lanes! Cool! They've taken away a lane of traffic in each direction and added bike lanes. The stupid part is that I was going westbound on Eastern from Loblaws, where there are two traffic lanes, and then suddenly across Leslie, the avenue loses a traffic lane without warning. The intersection is dangerous enough with the blind eastbound approach. The whole thing is an accident waiting to happen. I saw someone who looked like CrazyBikerChick taking pictures, I'm guessing she'll have a post about this too.

    I've been out golfing a couple times over the last two weeks. The first time at Deerfield I stunk, but then last Monday at St Andrew Valley I shot a 95, with 4 pars and a birdie! I hitting my new hybrid club really well at St Andrew.

    Heather and I saw WALL•E the past weekend. We both liked it. There's not much dialogue, but it still makes its point. I particularly liked that WALL•E makes an Apple OSX sound when he boots up.

    Saturday, July 12, 2008

    A pub (maybe) opening soon?

    I'm working on the deck today, and just taking a break for lunch.  Walked up to Queen Pita to grab lunch, and noticed the place on the corner of Queen and Curzon (a little west of Tomi Kro's) is really coming along.  The interior is opened up (they've reused the old tin ceiling tiles on some walls and behind the bar whcih looks cool).  The exterior looks great now too -- the east wall has been cleaned to expose the original brick.  If it turns out to be a pub I think it may become our new favourite.

    The patio at OkayOkay was packed with brunchers.  It looks nicer now that they've painted a mural on the wall and added umbrellas.

    I messed up the bench a bit on the deck and so I'm in the middle of taking it apart to lower the back by an inch.  It's a pain but better now than looking at it in the future if I didn't do it right.

    Well our pitas are almost ready.

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Well I haven't been too consistent in blog entries lately -- this is my 3rd this month...

    I just got back from a best-ball tournament at Maples of Ballantrae. My foursome shot a 71 and only finished 3rd! It was through Craig and his friend Pete (from PEI, last name Rogers, don't know who his father his). Our fourth was this guy named Patrick, who also happened to be Mike Weir's cousin. Craig and Patrick hit the long drives, and Pete and I had our short game. It was a good combination for a best-ball foursome. The weather was perfect (finally a non-rainy day), and a fun day.

    A couple new restaurants finally opened in Leslieville, Pic Nic and Table 17. Heather and I went for a glass of wine at Pic Nic this past Friday and were quite impressed with the place. It's pretty much a grown up picnic -- they serve wine, cheese & meat platters, and sandwiches -- I could see people easily starting off with just a drink and end up staying a night. It was busy on the Friday, and there were quite a few people there on Monday night when we went for a walk. That's great considering it's not even been open for a week. I predict it's going to make it.

    Table 17 was also packed on the weekend, but I think more from reputation of the owners. It's on our list of places to try.

    Heather and I were in Winnipeg a couple weekends ago for Kristin & Erick's wedding. It was my first time in Winnipeg so we flew in on Thursday night, so we'd have Friday to sight-see. Stayed at the Fort Garry. It's the first time I've stayed in one of the old CN hotels, and now we have a goal to stay in all of them across Canada at some point in our lives. Winnipeg was nice (although a bit small for my liking as a place to live), and the wedding was great. It was small (about 70 people), held at the Tavern in the Park in Assiniboine Park.

    I worked on the deck this past weekend and now have the structural work completed. Next is framing the fence and built-in bench. It's coming along nicely, although slowly.

    I had a work function last night and got home a bit later, and so Heather and I walked up to Go (aka Spring Rolls) on Broadview for dinner. The food was great as usual (I sometimes get takeout for lunch at work from there). There's some nice older buildings on Broadview that are in disrepair. Maybe the gentrification of the area will help. Then again, it looks like a few of them will be torn down for the Leslieville Lofts so maybe not. (Never mind that I don't even consider that project to be in Leslieville as it's west of the tracks.)

    Tony (our electrician) came by a couple weeks ago and installed pot lights over the front porch. It looks great! I have to now finish the ceiling, but that's a lower priority over the back deck.

    We lost in the finals of Sunday Ultimate a couple days ago. We were playing against The Enemy (that's what they call themselves). We know quite a few of the players and so it was a very friendly intense game. We quickly went up 3-0, and then started to make unforced errors. The Enemy went up 10-5, and then Craig and I started staying on a lot. We caught up to within one, down 17-16, but then they won 19-16. Maricar and Trishia were away, and so there weren't enough people on our team who knew our offence, and that made a difference. We threw the disc away on offence a lot. It was a disappointing loss.

    We've been doing well at hockey, and actually scoring goals! We had two 4-goal games in a row last month. I can't remember the last time the Rockets scored four goals in a game. There's some new players this summer who are pretty decent.

    Well that's it for now. Just going to finish my tea (we've got in the habit of having a green tea or white tea in the evenings, which we figure might be healthier than a beer).

    Oh, almost forgot to mention I finally finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo. It's a long book (over 1200 pages) and partially why I haven't been updating here recently. I'm now onto Tale of Two Cities. It's a more difficult read so I won't be going through 150 pages or so a night.

    Sunday, June 08, 2008

    We won at Ultimate this evening, 19-6. The other team was 3rd in the league at 4-1, so they were a decent enough team. However, we really played well and our short and long games are working out. We used to be just a long team (Craig would throw it deep, and me or another fast player would run deep to catch it), but now we have a good short game too. So once we establish the deep game, usually the other team starts to play us deep which opens up the short game. Our defense was great too, with our switch d working well. I also finally made a nice catch. The disc has been bouncing out of my hand on tough catches lately until tonight.

    We were lucky to get the game in, as there were thunderstorms in the north just before the game, and pouring rain just after we finished.

    Yesterday I mixed the concrete for my deck posts. At first I tried using Maricar's barrel mixer (add the concrete and water, screw on the lid and roll around), but it wasn't getting a proper consistency. So I used the wheelbarrow and shovel to mix the rest. I got better with each bag of concrete. I would prefer to do the first post over again but it's set.

    I was going to start with the beams on Sunday, but need to borrow Maricar's mitre saw. Next weekend is Kristen's wedding so I'll continue with the deck in a couple weekends.

    We lost at hockey 5-4 in OT on Thursday. I had the puck on a 2-on-1 in OT and got a shot and my rebound at the net but didn't score. I think I had a couple assists on our earlier goals, but the scorer usually messes things up (I didn't get credit for my goal in the previous game).

    A house on our street is for sale, so I went to check out the open house today. I wasn't too impressed by it; but it still will most likely sell for over asking. There's not a lot of turnover on our street (this is only the 4th house that has gone up for sale in the three years since I bought our house. One of those was someone moving from a semi on our street to a detached, so really we've only had three new sets of neighbours on the whole street since we moved in).

    Heather and I went our for dinner at Citizen on Saturday night. It's become pretty popular, and we got the last table for two (we didn't have reservations). We were impressed by the food. I had the pickerel and Heather had halibut, and both were done perfectly. The chef is from out east (Halifax) so it's not surprising that he knows his fish. Tomi Kro is still my favourite restaurant in Leslieville (we still have to try Soma, and Table 17 and Pic Nic when they open), but Citizen would rank up there. It's also pretty good value.

    We went out for a beer on Friday to B-Side, to celebrate three years since our first date. (We actually had plans to eat at Gio Rana's back in 2005 but it wasn't open on Mondays and so ended up in the west end for our first date.) The heat and humidity were getting to us (typically Toronto goes from winter to summer heat waves in about four weeks) so we called it an early night. We both felt under the weather (pardon the pun) the next morning.

    Well I'm just going to finish my white tea (Heather's a big fan, we order all our tea loose leaf from Capital Tea) and then head to bed.

    Sunday, June 01, 2008

    So digging holes turned out not to be too difficult. I rented a manual auger from Home Depot yesterday. ($10 for 24 hours -- it was $8 for 4 hours so spent the extra $2 so I didn't have to rush). At first I only bought one 8' sonotube, in case the auger didn't work out. But digging was quite easy, so during one of yesterday's rain showers I headed back to Home Depot and bought a couple more sonotubes. I'm now the proud owner of six 42" holes in the backyard (four for the deck, and two to extend a fence from the deck to my parking spot).

    The next step is pouring concrete. I'm going to borrow Maricar's concrete mixer drum next weekend.

    I finally scored in hockey, breaking a two season slump. We tied 1-1, and it was one of the more energetic games I've seen the Rockets play in recent memory. We had three full forward line and were making quick changes, which helped. My goal wasn't pretty -- I banged in a rebound in a scramble in front of the net. I had a couple of better scoring chances that didn't go in.

    On Saturday morning I was running some errands which took me around Spadina and Dupont. I figured I'd stop into js bonbons to get the salted caramel bonbons (so we could do a taste test with Ambiance Chocolat), and saw that js bonbons has permanently closed ! :( The sign said she was closing to spend more time with her family. We don't really go there now that we live in the east end, but that's too bad they're closed.

    I got Heather a water carbonator for her birthday and we've been using it quite a bit. It's much more environmental than drinking bottled water that's been shipped from Italy or wherever. We just pour tap water into the container, load a CO2 cylinder (they look a bit like bullets), and, presto, carbonated water.

    I'm hoping the rain and wind holds off for this evening's Ultimate game. We haven't had very nice days so far this season.

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    I was out golfing a few times over the last week. Last Thursday was the Digital Imaging Association golf tournament at St Andrews Valley, courtesy of Apple. I've heard a lot of good comments about the course from my hockey team. It was a nice course, although pretty long (for me). It was a best-ball tournament, which worked out for Jay and I because the two Apple guys both shoot in the 70's. We won with a 8-under 64 in really windy conditions. Jay won closest-to-the-pin, on a 165-yard hole into the wind. He actually hit the pin and bounced about 8 feet off. I hit after Jay, and wound up about 10 feet off, inside the previous marker (not bad, eh?). Jay won $200 for his shot, and our foursome get our names engraved on the trophy. I almost forgot, all the participants got a Cobra Baffler, a 20* hybrid club. I was hitting it not-too-shabbily.

    On Sunday I went out with Craig, Stu and Chris and played Hoot at Osprey Valley. It was a beautiful day. My new club was working great. Unfortunately my short game wasn't, in particular my putting. I ended up shooting 97.

    Tuesday was Joanne's annual Rotary Club tournament at Dundas Valley. The rough was thick, and the greens hard to read, and I shot a 104. My chips were landing where I aimed, but I kept misreading the green and I'd end up through the green or short. I three-puttted a lot too. We were one of the first foursomes through the longest drive and closest-to-the-pin holes, and I ended up with my name on both! It's the first time I've ever put my name down on a longest drive marker :)


    So they've started putting up scaffolding around the sidewalk at the Film Studio Lofts at Queen and Pape! Maybe they'll start actual construction soon...

    Our plants in the front yard are doing really well. After a couple seasons of experimenting, Heather and I have figured we like flowers in the blue - purple colour range, and low ground cover. My yellow flowers (which flower from June until October!) may end up replanted to a pot in the backyard once that's done.

    I've decided to try digging the post holes manually this Saturday (it's only $7 to rent a clamshell digger for four hours at Home Depot). If that turns out to be difficult, then I'll get someone to do the footings. I've asked around for quotes, and it should be about $250 for 6 posts, including digging and pouring the concrete.

    My parents were over for dinner on Saturday night, to celebrate my Mom's and Heather's birthdays. Ended up at Kubo Radio, which was really good. Heather and I ate there the first week we moved in (our kitchen was finished yet), and then a dozen other restaurants opened up and so we haven't been back too often. We were all stuffed, and didn't have room for dessert at Barrio's.

    Well I should start dinner. We're having cedar-planked salmon, with green beans and rice with a butter-lemon-parsley sauce. My hockey game is at 10:15 tonight, so there's plenty of time to eat.

    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    I tore down the old deck in the backyard on the May 2-4 weekend, and did a general clean up of the yard. The old deck was supported by cinder blocks buried about two feet deep. I thought about building the new deck on the old supports, but decided just to bury them and put in new concrete posts.

    I've found that building a deck is one of things that every guy has an opinion on. The general consensus is that I should get someone to dig my post holes. I called around and for six posts (dug and cemented) the cost is about $250 - $300. I think I'm going to try the manual auger (it's only $7 for a 4-hour rental at Home Depot), and see how that goes first.

    At some stage I'll also need a couple yards of gravel and limestone screening. On craigslist there's quite a few people who have gravel for free as long as you pick it up. However, it would be quite a hassle to transport that much gravel in blue bins in my trunk. It's not that expensive to have it delivered, so I'll probably go with that (and then I'll be one of those people trying to get rid of leftover gravel on craigslist).

    Jay told me about Google SketchUp which is a 3D sketching tool. I've just downloaded it and watched the tutorial videos, and it looks pretty neat. I'll have to mess around with it later. Right now we're cleaning up the house.

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    I was at The Cure concert with Marissa on Thursday and was texting the song names to my blog. The next day Marissa sent me a link which lists a whole bunch of info about every Cure concert ever, including setlists. So I cleaned up my posts with just the link.

    The first concert I ever went to was The Cure in 1989, with LeeAnn and possibly Bernice and Tanya (I forget who came with us). It was at the old Exhibition Stadium, and was one of the top three concerts I've been to. I was looking through my box of ticket stubs (I keep all my ticket stubs to movies, concerts, sports events etc), and apparently I saw The Cure again in 1992 but I don't really remember it. The concert on Thursday was pretty good (I knew most of the lyrics, the only time I've known more songs was for U2). However the bass was pretty weak (maybe as the band gets older they turn down the volume?). I was wearing ear protection (the orange squeezy ones like they have at VPC) for the high end, but I was expecting the bass to vibrate the entire building.

    Anyways, I had got together with Marissa and one of her co-workers for wings and beer before the concert; then we had a couple large beers at the ACC; and then Marissa wanted to go for a beer after to talk about the concert so we had another pint at the Irish Embassy. I was a bit foggy on Friday but made it to my 8:30 meeting.

    We played Ultimate this evening, and lost 19-15. Craig was at his cottage and we missed him on offense. We dropped about a half dozen discs in the end zone, so we had chances to win but couldn't execute. We know a lot of players on the other team ("The Enemy" is what they call themselves), which made it a fun game to play. It was pretty cold and windy, and we had one-too-many subs so I was stiffening up on the sidelines in between points. The previous week we played in the cold and rain -- I'm hoping the weather on Sundays improves soon!

    Anyways I should be heading to bed.

    Thursday, May 08, 2008

    Just noticed this morning that the small store between the Dang and Amato's Pizza (north-east corner of Queen and Pape, on Queen) has a sign for a dog washing store! I suppose washing a dog is a messy task that people would prefer to do not in their own home. The place used to be some sort of sweat shop, with people on old sewing machines all day. I saw a couple contractor-types doing renovations as I was waiting for the streetcar.

    Sunday, May 04, 2008

    We had our first Sunday Ultimate game for the spring / summer season this evening. We won quite embarrasingly 19-4, against Disc Bangers who used to be our nemesis. In 2004 - 05 we'd usually meet them in the finals, and usually they'd win. They've had a lot of turnover, and the team took a sabbatical for a year, and they were definitely rusty. After went to the Firkin up at Leslie and York Mills for a drink and some food.

    I bought a Napoleon PatioFlame outdoor firepit today. While I was out with my bad back I designed the backyard, (I'll post a pic of my plans soon). If I park at the far end of the backyard, that leaves a 12'x 21' area for us. The PatioFlame will sit in the middle of that area, with patio furniture around. I had googled around for a Canadian distributor, and it turns out there's one just down Queen St near the Beach(es). It was also cheaper there than the prices I'd seen on the web.

    So the summer project for the backyard includes rebuilding the back deck; building a boardwalk down the side of the backyard so I can get to the car; planting a large tree, and installing the PatioFlame. First step is rebuilding the back deck.

    My back has been getting better quite quickly. Wednesday I was able to hobble into work; today I was a bit stiff playing Ultimate, but didn't feel any pain. Because the game wasn't that intense, I never really warmed up; which I think would have loosened my back. Just as well -- if it was a close game, I may have gone overboard and pulled it again.

    I repotted a few of the plants in the front yard today (moved the hens-and-chicks to surround the rocks, and moved a larger plant away from the front of the rocks). I think I now have all the front yard plants how I want them. (finally!)

    Heather and I had lunch this afternoon at the Real Jerk, and it was packed! We had to sit on the 2nd level. There was some sort of fundraiser going on, including a live steel drummer. There were some other performances (singers etc) starting up, but we had to leave for home.

    Walked by the former Food Savvy, and chatted with the new people who were renovating. They're creating a restaurant that includes both the former Food Savvy and the store to the east. They're calling it Table 17, and it will be a lounge / restaurant sort of thing. I'm still hoping for a nice pub to open up in Leslieville (hopefully in the place at Queen & Curzon?).

    I finished The Travels of Marco Polo during the past week, and started on my new book, The Count of Monte Cristo. It's really good, and I want to read a bit before bed.

    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    I'm getting old

    It was nice weather this past weekend, so I planned to do quite a bit in the front and backyard. Unfortunately I twinged my back on Sunday and have spent most of the time since then lying on Heather's Pilates mat. I'm hoping to be mobile enough tomorrow to get to work, as I'm getting quite bored.

    Last Wednesday was our last Ultimate for the winter season. The game was for 6th place (6 vs 7), and at 9:30pm, so we decided to head out for dinner and beers before the game. It was a really good time at Fionn's. There was seven of us, and because Ram was out I knew that there would be shooters at some point.

    On Thursday I made a trip to a real nursery (the Sheridan Nurseries in Mississauga), along with Maricar and Sab. We were like kids in a candy store, picking up all sorts of plants, checking each others' carts to see what cool stuff we had found. We almost had to force ourselves to leave. I bought a lot of ground cover, and a signature plant, some type of elephant ear Colocasia esculenta?. Had to wait until Saturday to plant in the garden. I also rearranged the rocks (including my big 300-pound signature rock) (gardening is all about the signature pieces :) ), which is most likely what caused my back pain later on. Decided to remove the wood chips that we had had in the past -- the ground cover tends to grow over the wood chips, but not root effectively.

    I decided to hire someone to cart away the construction debris from last summer's front porch projects. The prices were all similar, so just went with 1-800-GOT-JUNK. They arrived promptly on Sunday morning, and carted it all away in about 10 minutes. Much easier than renting a van, loading it up, taking it to the dump, waiting in line... for about $100 more, which I felt was well worth it. (Last time I ripped my jacket, which meant I didn't save money at all by doing it myself.)

    I then started cleaning the air conditioner (the web comes in very handy to learn about stuff like this). That's when I pulled something in my back and had to call it a day (more like three days so far).

    Anyways, Heather and I are about to start dinner.

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    My Sunday Ultimate team was out tonight (Monday night) at Alice Fazooli's downtown for the awards for winning Sunday Ultimate. It's not really an awards ceremony; it's more just a bar where you pick up t-shirts for winning. (It's not really a bar as I will explain shortly).

    The t-shirts looked great, and it's always nice to wear during the season before the game, showing that at one point we actually played for a winning team.

    But to the bar thing. They supposed had seven beers on tap, but on this night they were out of Keiths, Stella, and Heineken. Half way through the night, they ran out of all their beers, except Guiness and Coors Light. In a bar!

    We were very disappointed so went to another bar. They were also out of a few beers, with the excuse that they served five days worth of volume over the weekend (which was the first nice patio weekend after the winter).

    But it's not as if the nice weather hadn't been predicted all week. Plus, how hard is it to go to the beer store and buy a keg of beer? We went home sober.

    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    Got out golfing for the first time on Saturday, and shot 91! We went to Deerfield, and it was great weather for mid-April (21C). I started off okay on 1, sitting about 50 yards out after my 3rd shot:

    View Larger Map

    But I hit my wedge thin, and put it over the green into the water. I hit a poor next shot and 4-putted for a 10. However, the rest of the round I was really consistent, until 18 when I tried to force a par to break 90, and double-bogeyed. I mis-hit only 2 irons all day, which is good for me. The tees were slightly up (they're letting the grass take on the regular tee blocks), but 91 is still my 3rd best ever score.

    I didn't need to check out the greens on my BlackBerry because I've played Deerfield so many times it could be called my home course.

    (Normally when goling I'd say ...about 50 yards out lie-ing 3..., but I couldn't figure out how to spell the word so I wrote sitting)

    We're in between winter and summer seasons in Ultimate, so Trishia organized a pick-up game up at Coxwell and Cosburn. About 40 people showed up, so we split into two games. It was fun, and I was exhausted afterwards. It took a while to get used to playing outdoors (the wind becomes a factor).

    Last week Heather and I were talking, and we couldn't name 5 people who lived in Toronto who had a Bell land line. It was only a few years ago (2002) that I ditched my land line for a cell phone and it was unusual at the time -- now it's the other way around.

    I cleaned up the front yard this afternoon, finally picking up the leaves from autumn. The pine needles from our Christmas tree are everywhere, and not easy to sweep or rake. I had planned to head to a proper garden centre (e.g. Sheridan Nurseries) with MC today, but there wasn't time with Ultimate at 1pm. So we're planning for later this week, maybe Thursday after work (hockey doesn't start till May 1). In prior years I've just gone to Loblaws and Home Depot, which causes our garden to look like every other garden in the neighbourhood.

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    Well I just installed GoogleGears, although I haven't gone off-line to try it out. (Google has something called GoogleDocs, which allows web-based software for documents and spreadsheets. As a comparison, in the old days, email was actually stored on your computer. Then web-based email such hotmail or gmail came along. GoogleDocs is like web-based Word or Excel.)

    Heather and I used GoogleDocs to plan our wedding, and it was the best thing ever. We didn't need to email a spreadsheet back and forth and keep track of who had the latest version. The only thing was when we didn't have internet access, we couldn't see our stuff. Now with GoogleGears we can.

    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    We win!  We won our Ultimate game and so we're the champions of Sunday Competitve 6s!  Woo-hoo!!!  Just out for some food and drink after the game...

    I just figured out a practical use for my BlackBerry, which is to get an overhead view of traps on a golf course (see, watching the Masters does have some good). I've installed GoogleMaps, so can get satellite images on my BlackBerry. With the built-in GPS I can see my location on the golf course. The only thing I can't do is get the distance to the pin. GoogleMaps tries to find the distance using roads, there's no option for distance to target. However the satellite imagery is much better than the pictures of holes on scorecards at most golf courses. With improved club selection I should be able to lower my handicap considerably... (just thinking, I'll have to google for a scorecard app for BlackBerrys)

    We're in the finals in Ultimate tonight, at 8:30pm. We were 1-1 against the other team in the regular season. If we can play good switch-defense we should do well.

    Had a good couple of dinners on Friday and Saturday. On Friday picked the wine first and then tried to match a dinner. Sheri at the LCBO recommended a shiraz, and suggested a peppery meal. So went with pepper steak with mushrooms, and grilled asparagus. It turned out pretty good. Last night tried out another LCBO recipe, balsamic onion stuffed pork loin with grilled radicchio and corn on the cob. I wasn't too keen on the pork loin (though Heather liked it), but the vegetables were excellent. I'll need to grill the radicchio a bit more next time to get rid of the bitterness.

    My kill-o-watt came in the mail a couple days after I ordered it. I've been recording the energy consumption of all of our electrical stuff (TV, coffee maker, rechargers), to see what draws electricity when plugged in (but on standby / off). I tried to figure out whether I should record watts, volts, amps etc, but I still am confused. I recorded watts. So far the cable box is the biggest user while off, using 18 watts when off. The TV uses 7 watts when off. Everything else I've measured uses 0 - 2 watts, which is close to the target of the One Watt Initiative.

    Anyways I should get ready for the game.

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Our blue bin arrived today (we requested the medium), and it's not as big as the ones that were delivered earlier in the week. However, it's still too big to wheel on our path to the "side" of the house. It's not ideal to carry, and it won't be possible to wheel it around the alley in the winter (if we get a lot of snow). So for the summer we're good; but I'll have to think of where to put the blue bin in the winter.

    I tried a new recipe on Saturday that worked out pretty good. Actually it wasn't a recipe, but a menu item I saw in at the Waterside Cafe: bourbon pork chop with mango-raisin chutney, with sweet potato frites and mixed vegetables.

    I made a simple bourbon glaze with butter, brown sugar and Jack Daniel's; chopped up mango, raisins coriander and red chili for the chutney, and made sweet potato chips in the oven (sliced the sweet potato as thinly as I could, and then baked at 375F on a baking sheet brushed with olive oil). Had zucchini, eggplant and red pepper in my vegetable mix.

    The CSI-Greg-lookalike (Victor) at LCBO Vintages on Queen's Quay recommended a riesling kabinett, which was slightly sweet and matched the sweetness of all the meal. The whole meal went together really well.

    Well I'm off to make dinner (grilled lamb chops with sweet potato and flat beans)(and corn on the cob -- first of the season).

    Monday, April 07, 2008

    Our street started to receive the new blue bins today. It looks like only the large size (the default if you didn't tell the city your size preference) were delivered today. They're huge. They look larger than some of the houses on our street. It looks like they were designed for the suburbs. At least the city is allowing one free size change until November. Also looks like we're getting similar options for garbage cans.

    We won at Ultimate last night in the semi-finals, 26-21. It was a really fun game, and well-played by both teams. It was one of our best games, both offensively and defensively. The finals are next week, against the team we beat the previous week. Looks like we're peaking at the right time! After went to Brazen Head for a few drinks and food.

    It was a full weekend, with spring finally arriving. There's still snow piles in the front (the north side of the house), but enough has melted that it was possible to do some outside work.

    I removed the remains of a fence post at the end of the backyard, which was starting to annoy me because I'd bump over it parking. The previous owners had put up 4x4 posts and a fence which I removed during our first spring (2006). At the time I just cut the post at the bottom close to the concrete base. Over the last couple years, it's risen (or maybe the surrounding ground has eroded). I started digging on Sunday, and it turned out that the concrete base was 3' deep and about 12" in diameter -- it must weigh about 300 - 400 pounds. There was no way I was going to lift it out (and then what to do with it?), so I dug the hole a bit bigger, and buried it. (I took pics before covering it up so I know where it is in case we want to build something there in the future).

    I also built a little flower bed in the small area between our neighbour and our front path. When it warms up we'll actually plant flowers.

    On Sunday we had lunch at the Burger Shoppe, which was a bit of a disappointment. Heather was hoping to have a chicken burger, but they were out of whole wheat buns, so she had the chicken salad. The salad was frozen (!) (I think their fridge is too cold), and served in a disposable container (supposedly biodegradable). The girl serving us was clueless, and didn't seem to understand our request that because we were eating in, we didn't want to get our food in a large brown paper bag. The burger was good, and the fries were great (they make the best fries).

    There's a couple new things we noticed on Queen E:

    • The vacant building on the NW corner of Queen and Curzon has a liquor application in the window! It used to be a medical centre (judging by the taped-over signs). The application is for both indoor and outdoor -- the east side of the building would be a great place for a patio, and is currently an eyesore.

    • The dollar store beside The Citizen (or The Comrade, I confuse the two) is shutting down

    (Just signed the mayor's petition to ban private ownership of hand guns.)

    Well we're going to start dinner (steak, baked potato, creamed spinach) so I'll continue later on.

    Sunday, March 30, 2008

    We won our Ultimate game tonight, 31-23, against the #2 team in our league. We played really well on defense, and for the most part played smart on offense. The other team likes to go deep to their girls, but we were aware of that and the help defense took away that play.

    After we went to Betty's (the game was at the Docks) and had some food and drink and played a game of cards.

    Earlier this afternoon Heather and I had lunch at The Real Jerk, an original landmark in the neighbourhood. My vote for best roti in Toronto still goes to Island Foods in my old hood, but this is a close second (and within walking distance of our home). I was stuffed after.

    On the way to lunch, passed by Rowe Farms which was having their grand opening and giving out free tastings. Sampled a few meats, which were great, but pricey. I'm not willing to pay $11 for a package of bacon, even if it is organic and all that good stuff. But I suspect there are plenty of people in the neighbourhood who are. Their pricing was only in pounds (I'm more familiar with metric prices), so I don't know how their steaks compare to Loblaws for prices. Stuff I could compare, like the bacon, was expensive.

    Did our taxes this afternoon (exciting times in the Heather-Eric household, a weekend of cleaning out the bathroom cupboard and income taxes). Used QuickTax online, which I've liked in the past, but this year should be called SlowTax.

    Also bought this product to measure electricity consumption. Supposedly Canadian Tire carries a similar product, but the staff aren't aware. Tried looking for it yesterday at Canadian Tire, and today phoned them. So just paid the shipping fee and bought it online. I want to see how much electricity a few things use in standby mode -- the TV, computers, my Blackberry recharger etc.

    Here's some more pics from the past week (Heather took the two of Leo):

    Leo reviewing the latest chapter in Heather's dissertaton

    Leo snuggled in with Heather

    Yet another picture of the Queen St bridge over the DVP

    Mercury Espresso Bar
    Heather & I walked around Queen E yesterday around 6pm, which made for nice lighting for pictures. Noticed that these two sets of buildings (on the south side of Queen, just east of the DVP) are mirror images:

    I wonder if there was originally a building in the middle that connected them? The façades have been kept in really good condition. I can't believe that I've just noticed the symmetry. F'Coffee is in the bottom of the west building, behind the TTC shelter.

    The buildings are just east of the Edge Lofts. The strip mall opposite the buildings (on the north side of the street) also looks like it will be redeveloped (there's a public notice up). Hopefully at some point someone will buy the Edwin Hotel and fix it up. Then the entrance to Queen East across the DVP (I don't think it qualifies as Leslieville) will look really nice.

    We walked by Cajun Corner and Heather commented that she'd be really sad if they moved -- and then we saw the note that they are moving, up to Laird and Eglinton. We've only actually bought something from there once, so it's not like it will inconvenience us; but it was nice to have the variety in Leslieville. They also sponsored the annual Cajun festival in Jimmie Simpson Park. (I can't remember if that happened last year?)

    I found out how to use MP3s as customized ringtones on my BlackBerry (the songs have be stored in the ringtone directory, which I think is silly -- I can choose a default ringtone from my SD card, so why not a customized one?). So on Thursday evening Heather and I spent a couple hours trying to choose the ringtone for Heather (the one that will ring on my phone when she calls). It's not just a favourite song -- it also has to be identifiable and sound cool in the first few seconds. We wanted Back in Black, but AC/DC isn't sold on iTunes, so settled for Sweet Child of Mine.

    We lost our Ultimate game last Wednesday, against the top-ranked team. They're pretty tall and use their height, which makes them hard to beat. It was JP's last game before he heads off to England. I missed hockey on Thursday because I was in a late meeting at work.

    Friday was Teresa's (Ram's wife) 40th birthday party, at the Ultra Supper Club (where the Bamboo used to be). They've really fixed the place up nicely. It was very convenient to get there -- straight across Queen on the streetcar. Heather was working on her dissertation so we had dinner and then I headed out. We had our weekly dinner last night instead -- a picnic of cheeses, smoked oysters and olives with a baguette and a bottle of pinot noir. We were hoping to get bread from the Brick Street satellite bakery at Logan and Queen, but you need to be there at 8am. We're not up at 8am on Saturdays, so settled for Ace Bakery from Loblaws.

    We tried the hot chocolate at Ambience Chocolat yesterday. It's really good, but very rich. Heather thought it was like drinking the flourless chocolate cake at Barrio's. We should have split a small, but for some reason I bought the large size. We also picked up some bonbons for after dinner, but with the large hot chocolate I was chocolated-out.

    We gave the house a spring cleaning yesterday. Finally went through the bathroom cupboards and threw out half the stuff. It was annoying me lately because every time I'd try to reach for something, half the cupboard would unceremoniously fall out and clang around the bathtub. Not sure if throwing out expired products fit in with Earth Day but whatever.

    Sunday, March 23, 2008

    I'm still not 100% and spent most of the long weekend resting about. Yesterday Maricar hosted a wine-and-cheese as a going-away party for JP. JP's off to England for six months (while his girlfriend finishes a program), and then they're off somewhere for a year. I didn't have much to drink (or much cheese either). A lot of people from our sports teams were there and it was odd to see people not in sports wear.

    We had dinner at Hanoi Three Seasons (up at Gerrard and Broadview), our favourite Vietnamese restaurant, one evening last week. (I was sick and felt like pho). Turns out they're moving closer to us. The restaurant owner also has a furniture store (Hanoi Chic) on Queen E (near where All Most Antiques was). He's building a 3rd floor on the building, and then turning the store into a restaurant. I noticed the liquor application is in the window already. The waitstaff at Three Seasons said they're planning to open before summer.

    Heather and I went for a walk on Good Friday, and there were a surprising number of stores and restaurants open. Looks like Native Organics didn't make it -- there was a legal notice in the window that their store had been repossessed by the building owner. I wasn't surprised, as I was never impressed by their selection or freshness of produce.

    It's pretty boring being sick.

    Saturday, March 22, 2008

    I played around with my template quite a bit today. It doesn't seem to be working if you use Explorer on a PC (the blog title is supposed to be opaque). I'm thinking of changing the blog title to be a pic instead of text so that it's standard across all browsers, but need to figure out how to use Photoshop to create that.

    I also changed the URL of my blog. If you go to the old URL you will get redirected to

    My blog header picture is now the same dimensions as It seems to be more of a standard dimension. Picasa links to the maximum size of 800 pixels, so the header pic comes out slightly smaller than

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    I noticed I lost another friend on Facebook, I'm down to 86. I check my account maybe once a week now. I've never even created a bookmark for Facebook.

    So the bonbons from Ambience were really good! Much more convenient than js bonbons which is in the northeast end of the city. ("northeast end" in a downtown context, meaning Spadina Rd and Dupont). Heather and I have a sentimental attachment to js bonbons, as that's where Heather bought chocolates when she came over for dinner on our 2nd date. We also had js bonbons as our wedding favours. Ambience has a smaller selection (which I'm sure will grow). Now all I need is a fresh pasta place like the Pasta Pantry I had nearby when I lived at Yonge and Davisville.

    Didn't go out for St Patrick's Day because I'm still recovering from my cold / flu.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    So published one of my pics! Cool!! I had to refresh the page a few times to see it (Heather hit it in the first five tries, it took me over 40), but it's there. It's the picture of Leslieville in the snow.

    I was in Minneapolis on Tues-Wed-Thurs for work. One of our vendors (DTI) holds an annual meeting to get input from key customers, and I was representing us. I had the Thursday afternoon free, as the meetings ended at noon, and the first direct flight to Toronto left at 6:30pm. Except there's not much to do in Minneapolis on a weekday afternoon in the winter. I ended up going to the Mall of America, just to see what it was all about. It was generic suburbia on a large scale. Decided I'd rather sit in a generic airport waiting lounge, so headed back to the airport to wait for my flight.

    The flight was uneventful. However, the customs area at Terminal 1 had the largest line-up I've ever seen there -- I estimated about 3,500 people in line, which took me 45 minutes to get through.

    I picked up a cold somewhere along the way, so this weekend is also a write-off (last weekend was all about snow shoveling).

    Went for a walk this afternoon with Heather to get some air. Walked along Queen E to the DVP and back. Took pictures of two of the three-part artwork Time: And a Clock, by Eldon Garnet.

    The new siding on the community centre in the 2nd pic is a real improvement over the peeling paint they've had in the past. If only the Shopper's on Queen and Carlaw would do something about their image. I suspect that now that the new Shopper's at Lakeshore and Leslie is open, the property at Queen and Carlaw will be redeveloped. It's a pretty big tract of land, which is mostly parking lot right now.

    There were quite a few people out and about on Queen E. Leslieville will be quite busy once the weather warms up! Looked like Rasputin Vodka lounge has opened up. If I was feeling better it might have been cool to head there for an after-dinner drink. There was a new chocolate place, Ambience Chocolat, near Broadview, so we bought a half-dozen bonbons for dessert tonight. Rowe Farms has their sign up which looked really nice (Leslieville Cheese Market should take some notes).

    Well I think I may take a nap and try to kill off this cold.

    Sunday, March 09, 2008

    My new goal is to get a header photo published on Heather put me onto the site, and they have some really cool header photos. I've had the same pic on my blog for a while and it was getting stale, so I took some pics last night in the snow storm. Futzed around in Photoshop to figure out how to crop to a specific dimension. My blog's header aspect ratio is 9.25:1 and is about 5.5:1, which takes some getting used to when looking for pictures. The next thing is to figure out how to get a rotation on my blog so that I can have a few pics in circulation.

    I also have been trying to change my blog address to Right now it's set up as a redirect, so if you go to you'll end up here, but the URL in your browser says I tried following the directions in blogger but got an error. I have to do more reading on setting up my domain.

    This weekend was a write-off with the storm. Spent a lot of time shoveling. The Star was filled with stories about the weather. I think the most amazing fact is that it's snowed on 75% of the days in winter.

    We actually didn't lose at hockey this past Thursday! Dave (our captain) sent out an email prior to the game about not showing up if we didn't think we had a chance to win. I guess it got everyone fired up, because we came out with one of our best efforts of the season, and tied 2-2. I had a great chance to score in the 2nd period but the puck was bouncing and the pass skipped over my stick. It's the third game in a row that I've had a great scoring opportunity, although I don't have any goals to show for it.

    I've been in a lot of lunch meetings lately at work. Usually lunch is ordered from the cafeteria. I dislike the food from there and rarely eat the stuff. Fortunately the new directors share my like for food and so last meeting I had us order take-out from a real restaurant. We went with Bellissimo's, which everyone enjoyed. We're downtown Toronto, so there's no shortage of good places to get take-out from. It's also cheaper than getting catering from the cafeteria.

    On Friday evening Heather and I couldn't decide what to cook for our Friday night dinner, so we ended up going out to Gio Rana's. It was one of the first places to migrate to Leslieville, and is usually busy. (We were supposed to go there for our first date in 2005 but it was closed on Mondays). The food was pretty good and the atmosphere was hopping as normal. (I find the atmosphere very similar at Gio Rana's and L'il Bacci.) After dinner went to Barrio's for dessert and a beer. We hadn't been there in a while either. The flourless cake was excellent as before. However, the local art that normally hangs on the walls wasn't there -- I wonder if they're in between artists?

    Well I should start making dinner. My game is at 9pm tonight so want to finish eating by 8pm. We're having tom yum goong (thai shrimp soup). Mmmm.

    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Well it looks like I should avoid blogging-while-drunk, judging by the spelling mistakes. Although, the keys on a blackberry are rather small and it was cold outside. (I also forgot to mention that I was out on my own as Heather was working on her dissertation).

    I had to cancel my Operations Tour of the Star this evening because it's snowing yet again. This is the 2nd time I've tried to schedule an Operations Tour for the new IT directors and had it cancelled because of weather. The operations people keep reminding me that although we couldn't make it for the tour, they still manage to get the paper out.

    Heather and I went for a walk down Queen E last week, and noticed a few more storefront developments. The faux stone façade on the building between Prohibition and Jilly's is finally being replaced! Neither of us were big fans of the façade. The location has been vacant for as long as we've lived in Leslieville. On the down side, it looked like the Toronto Free Gallery just west of the Burger Shoppe is no longer there. Their website doesn't mention anything.

    There's proposals to build two 11-storey lofts at the corner of Dundas and Carlaw. I think it will be really good for the area. Right now it's a 24-hour gas station and a vacant lot. It's a perfect corner for intensification as it's surrounded by old industrial buildings and converted lofts. It's also the intersection of two transit routes (Dundas streetcar and Carlaw bus).

    Closer to home, they've finally started construction on the lofts on the southeast corner of Queen and Pape. I think the sign that says "Occupancy Fall 2007" is still up though. Might miss that date. Again, it will be good to have people living there instead of an empty lot.

    We won our Ultimate game last Sunday, against the last-place team in the league. On Sundays we play at BMO field (home of the Toronto FC). The bubble is large enough for three fields, and it's one of the best artificial turf I've played on. The scoreboards are a bit complicated, and we usually end up keeping score manually. After our game we went for a quick drink at Brazen Head, a new-ish pub in my old hood (King West). They've done up the place nicely, and I'm sure it will make a mint in the summer. There's two large rooftop patios and a whole lot of single 30ish people living in Liberty Village. Heck, the bar has been busy on both Sunday nights that we've been there on cold snowy nights in February.

    Leo dropped by a few times on Sunday, purring away madly. We finally had to boot him out as he kept jumping on places he's not allowed -- the counter, bed, couch... He came by for another visit with Heather today and he was back to normal. Good ol' Leo. On a sad note, our neighbour's dog Molson passed away this week. Our neighbours had had him for twelve years, so he was like a family member to them.

    Well I should get ready for bed.

    Sunday, March 02, 2008

    First streetcar in 20 minutes; lotsa drunken people on board including me

    Saturday night in TO

    So tonight was our night out for Bernice's bday and we had dinner at Bungalow in my old hood at King and Strachan.  Dinner was pretty good and then we went to the Velvet at which point I ended up pretty hammered and now I'm waiting for the streetcar home.

    Been a while since I've been west of Yonge and have forgotten about the whole testostorone scene.  East of Yonge is generalluy couples and west is singles and I rarely make it west nowadays.

    The streetcar in went past the fire on Queen
    W and the entire streetcar moved to the south side to see the remains.  It was pretty sad to see;  almost the entire block was being razed.  

    Well I will update tomorroq with more.

    Friday, February 22, 2008

    Waiting for Wonderboy

    It's Friday afternoon and I'm just waiting for Craig to pick me up and then we're heading to Kirk's for the 10th annual Wonderboy.

    It's been a tiring week. Sunday was the dinner with Sue and Nadine. Tuesday I was at the Leafs game (2nd row in the reds). Wednesday I was at the Sabres game at HSBC arena. We had really good seats, 4th row at the blue line. It's the closest seats I've had for a professional sport. The Sabres won in OT. I was hoping for a shoot-out, because when you're that close, the glass above the boards gets in the way and you can't see the other end of the rink (which is where Buffalo scored two to tie, and then the OT goal).

    Last night was hockey, which we lost 3-1. I came very close to scoring on a rebound. I had a wide open net at an angle and actually got the shot on net, but the goalie stuck up his glove and caught it. I got the assist on Craig's goal. It was good to get out skating, as I hadn't played a sport since last Wednesday.

    We made homemade pizzas last Saturday, using Heather's sister Jen's recipe for dough. The dough came out really well! I was tossing it around in the air like in the movies (or any pizza place). Next time I'll roll it a bit thinner though, as it rises (who knew!).

    Well Craig's on his way, so I should get ready.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    (Just having some leftover soup before heading to bed.)

    We had Nadine and Sue over for dinner on Sunday, what with Monday being a new holiday and all. We can't have the dinner on a school night because there's five courses and we have a bottle of wine with each course.

    Dinner turned out really well. I started with an amuse bouche of a mussel in the half shell, with a jerk / white wine sauce with a slice of shiitake, cilantro and orange zest. Served with a pinot gris.

    Next Sue had spent a couple days making a mushroom barley soup, with a beef stock from scratch. It was excellent. It was paired with a pinot noir.

    I made the pasta course, the porcini / pimento / basil risotto with the merlot that we had made before.

    Sue had the main, a beef tenderloin topped with a wasabi / parsley / yogurt sauce, served with portabello, asparagus and mixed greens. Top marks for presentation. Matched with a bourgogne. Mmmm.

    Finally for dessert I made up some creme brullee, served with a chai liqueur.

    Well I'm done my leftover soup. More later on...

    Leafs win !?!

    I was at the Leafs game tonight, a 3-1 win for Toronto.  Another win closer to 17th and two points further away from the first draft pick.

    I'm just waiting for the streetcar at Yonge and Queen.  I'm thinking a get-rich-quick idea might be little buttons to stick on the outside of gloves to use a blackberry in the cold just might work.

    Lots of stuff to catch up on, although I just got on the streetcar and I'll be home in 12 minutes so it will be quicker to type on a laptop.

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    Just had some of the new flavours of bonbons from js bonbons (I bought Heather the Big Box of Love for our traditional Valentine's Day dessert). They are amazing. Usually we have two bonbons after dinner, but tonight we had five! In order of consumption:

    1. Clementine and fennel -- first taste of citrus, then white chocolate and only at the end a taste of fennel. Mmmm.

    2. Honey Caramel and Vietnamese Black Pepper -- Caramel was dominant taste, hint of honey, and then strong pepper finish. Excellent!

    3. Jasmine Tea -- a subtle surprise (quoting Heather)

    4. Coffee Cardamon -- an excellent combination

    5. Peanut Butter -- very good, but too close to the flavours of Reese's Pieces

    We decided to document just for next time. There are a few more new flavours on their website that we need to buy after we finish the Big Box of Love, e.g. Chipotle Sesame with Lime, and Ginger Cardamom Caramel.

    Saturday, February 09, 2008

    Heather and I had a really good dinner on Monday night. I was looking for new fish recipes, because I was getting tired of planked salmon. I was at Loblaws during lunch (buying stuff to make a sandwich), and wrote down the fish selection so I could surf for recipes. ("wrote" as in made a note in my BlackBerry). The choices were monkfish, basa, tilapia, nile perch, boston blue and ocean perch. I've tried a couple of these in restaurants but never at home.

    Found a recipe for tilapia that sounded good. After work stopped by the Vintages LCBO and the product consultant (who reminded me of Greg from CSI) recommended a Veramonte sauvignon blanc. We really like the cabernet sauvignon from Veramonte, so I was hoping for big things.

    Unfortunately Loblaws had sold out of tilapia. I already had a wine that matched the recipe, so bought basa which the fishmonger had recommended as a replacement. (It's some sort of catfish). The recipe was really good, and the wine went well too!

    We lost our hockey game on Thursday 3-0. I had two or three good chances to score, and set up Craig a couple times with good passes. As the zero in our score attests, none of chances went in the net. The other team played a very good positional game, passing the puck around like a team. After we went for pizza and a beer, but the pizza oven is still broken and so we had to settle for wings and fries. The only good thing of the night was that I finally got the best parking spot at the arena!

    Leo (the neighbourhood cat) made an appearance last week after being AWOL for a few weeks. It looked like he had eaten well during his vacation. He's been back a couple times since.

    Our Sunday Ultimate starts up this weekend, finally. Playing sports on Wednesday-Thursday left a big gap over the rest of the week. We're playing out of Sportsworld (at the Docks), and at BMO Field (the home of the Toronto FC).

    Yesterday at work, David Holland (CFO of Torstar) had invited the IT senior management to lunch in the Atkinson Room at One Yonge. (There's seven directors including me, we report to the CIO, who reports to the CFO). It was an opporunity for David to meet us (we're brand new as a team), and for us to meet David and Prichard. The Atkinson Room is on the 6th floor at One Yonge, and is a nice dining room with various pictures and portraits of Joseph Atkinson. There's a framed internal memo from Atkinson, dated 1940, to future executives at the Star with four points (loosely quoted from my memory):

    o what ought to be done?
    o how do we do it?
    o who needs to do it?
    o is it done?

    Lunch was quite formal, with cloth napkins and the like. The appetizer was tomato and bocconcini with fresh basil; main was a chicken breast stuffed with mushrooms with grilled vegetables and new potatoes; dessert was three flavours of sorbet with fresh berries. David gave a brief welcome, and then we spent the rest of lunch each person giving a 5 - 10 minute history of themselves. Prichard was held up in other meetings and dropped in to say hello, shake everyone's hand and give us a welcome. It gave a good message that the upper executives supported IT.

    Well I am going to work a bit on the basement today, insulating a couple spots. The rubber strip on the bottom of the shower door is cracking and needs to be replaced as well, so I'll have a quick walk over to Home Depot at some point.

    Thursday, February 07, 2008

    Let it snow

    Lots and lots of snow today.  I was supposed to be in Buffalo with 4th row centre ice tickets at HSBC arena but that was cancelled.

    So I was going to play Ultimate instead but that was cancelled because the bubble collapsed with the weight of the snow.

    So we just went to the bar and drank instead.

    Got home and shovelled so there's less tomorrow morning when I go to work.

    Sunday, January 20, 2008

    We had a really good dinner last night. Our favourite staff at the LCBO have moved on, so we have to choose our own wine now *gasp*. So instead of choosing a meal and then matching the wine, last night we chose the wine and matched the meal (we did this when we first started dating).

    The LCBO has little info sheets for the wine, and one merlot had a very specific recommendation superb with basil, pimento and porcini mushroom risotto. Hmmm. I called Heather to surf for a substitution for pimento (red pepper). Also bought a small tenderloin for beef carpacio for an appetizer.

    The meat guy at Loblaws didn't want to thinly slice the beef (he told me he'd then have to clean the machine), so I threw the beef in the freezer when I got home. About two hours later it was semi-frozen and I was able to slice it really finely. It turned out to be one of the better beef carpacios I've made (I think related to the thinness of the slices).

    The risotto also turned out really well. I was wary of using too much basil (fresh basil can be overpowering), but the balance tasted really good. The wine was also a great match. We may have to stick with this strategy (choosing the wine first) :)

    After we headed out the new organic wine bar in Leslieville (we think it's called Upstairs). The owners of Le Café Vert converted the apartment above the restaurant to a cosy little bar. We really enjoyed it. The grand opening is next Saturday, and we're thinking of going.

    Yesterday I spent a couple hours at work moving to my new office. I like having everything set up just so. Hid all my wiring behind my desk (messy wiring is a pet peeve). I have a window seat again -- I last had an office with a window when I was at P&G. The building plant guy (I forget his name) has suggested moving an orphaned 10' ficus into my window. He said he'd prune it so that it fit the space. The office goes to about 12' high near the window, but the ficus is pretty broad right now.

    Well I want to go shopping for groceries before the Patriots game so I should get going.

    Sunday, January 13, 2008

    Well shortly after I had my pizza on Wednesday, I got back to One Yonge, and got a call from our CIO asking to meet her in her office. She then told me that I was being promoted to director, effectively immediately. Cool!! I was figuring on moving to a director position this year (either at the Star or elsewhere), so I'm glad I'm able to move up at the Star.

    Heather and I celebrated by going out for dinner on Friday. We wanted to try a new place, but Soma was revamping their menu and was only open as a lounge, and we couldn't get a reservation at Globe Bistro. So we decided to give Tomi-Kro's another go.

    We tried things we hadn't had before: lobster maki rolls and foie gras creme brulée for appetizers, and the main special (venison I think) and scallops with a mushroom sauce. I had too much foie gras (there was a lot of it). The lobster was excellent. The venison was supposed to be medium-rare but it came almost well-done, which was disappointing. The scallops were likewise slightly past perfect (Heather's a scallop connoisseur) but still quite nice. The sauces on both mains were amazing -- I can't make sauces like that. That's one thing I like about Tomi-Kro -- there's no way I could make anything as good as they do. Overall a very fulfilling meal. I think we have very high expectations of Tomi-Kro so if it's not perfect we're disappointed.

    Saturday Heather met some of her friends at Prohibition, and I joined them later on. The pub is actually pretty nice inside. Wasn't impressed beer selection (all Molson's, no Keiths or Mill St beers) (a nice local touch is that most Leslieville bars have Mill St beers). I tried the wings which were breaded and oversized. Bleh. Heather had the grilled quarter chicken which was much better. The atmosphere was nice, although they kept on changing the TVs to the Leafs game (I was trying to watch the Patriots). It's the first bar in Leslieville that I've been to that has predominantly single people.

    The lofts on the SE corner of Queen and Pape are finally starting construction! At least, they've added "Sold Out" to the banner, and have re-razed the site. It will be good for the intersection, which currently has a gas station, a bank (in a beautiful old building), the dang restaurant, and the empty lot where the lofts will be built. The dang restaurant was actually called Dang Restaurant in the past. A couple name changes and a lost liquor license later, it's still sketchy, deserving of dang as an adjective.

    There was a gathering held today for Brad Henderson who passed away last week. He interviewed me when I first joined the Star. He gave me advice which I still follow today: read the paper every day. The Star is our product and I should know what's in it. He also suggested that I call John Honderich when I first started and ask John for a meeting. It's how I first met John, and I've heard John still tells the story of this young guy (me) who demanded to know from the publisher what was going on with the company. (It wasn't quite like that, but that's the way John tells it). Anyways, Brad was one of the old-school newspaper folks who lived and breathed the paper like you see in the movies. There's not many left in the industry.

    Well I should be getting ready for bed.

    Wednesday, January 09, 2008

    Pizza at Fortino's, mmm

    I'm at the Fortino's in Vaughan waiting for my Pizza #7 Calabrese pizza.  It's my favourite place for pizza.

    Our Ultimate season was supposed to start today but the league messed up the schedule and our first game is now next week.  Trishia's trying to set up a pick-up game but so far there's only 14 people (24 would be better).  Hopefully we'll get more players!

    The low air indicator on my car went on again so I'll stop by a gas station after lunch.  I can never figure out the newer air pumps, but hopefully I'll get some air in the tires.

    Lunch is ready!

    Saturday, January 05, 2008

    I'm just out buying a gift for my high school friends Krys Kringle party.  It was supposed to be before Christmas but it was postponed because of the big snow storm (LA lives out in Georgetown).  Fortunately there's a lot of cool shops now on Queen E so I didn't have to go far. 

    Stopped in at Queen Pita to pick up some lunch to go.  Noticed that the thai restaurant beside Tomi Kro is now open.  It also looks like Tomi Kro has expanded again, this time taking over the store to the east.  We were a bit disappointed with our last visit after their first expansion, although they still draw crowds (we couldn't get in the night we went out for dinner with Chris and Roseanne).

    The building on the corner of Queen and Berkshire is now sporting a third floor -- it fits in with the streetscape much better now.

    Well I think my lunch is ready.  Hopefully won't have missed too much of the world junior finals...

    Thursday, January 03, 2008

    I'm at Loblaws and they're out of stock yet again on a three items on my list:  sweet potatoes, breakfast pitas and maple syrup.  I don't think these are obscure items.  I've often thought shopping at Loblaws is what it would have been like in the old Soviet republic -- if you see something you stock up cause you never know when they'll have it again.

    I'm going to try to find the new supermarket that opened up near the docks.  Maybe they'll have stuff like, you know, stocked shelves.