Sunday, December 31, 2006

Robbie Williams - Lovelight

While I'm a fan of Robbie Williams, I'm more used to his "pop rock" songs, but I just found this one and I really like it!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The proximity and nearness of things

Ok, so I am spending my holidays in Mexico, and I was just reflecting on how much I enjoy having amenities near my houses (both in Vancouver and in Mexico).

At home in Mexico, my parents' house is near:
* A movie theater (MMC)
* A supermarket (Soriana)
* A wonderful restaurant for Argentinian food (El Rincon Gaucho Clasico)
* A great hotel with lots of little restaurants (Hotel Fiestamericana)
* A car-washing place (La Vendimia)
* A big mall (Centro Max)
* A big park (Explora)

Really, I think that I have everything I need within a 2-4 minute drive...

Now, in Vancouver, I live within 15-25 minutes of:
* The best spots for brunch (Slickitty Jim, Cafe Main, Crave on Main)
* The best coffee places in the SoMa area (Soma, Waves, The Grind)
* Wonderful places for dinner (Red Sea Cafe, Monsoon, Crave on Main)
* The best spot for movie rentals (Happy Bats Cinema)
* Nice small Mom-and-Pop market (QS Supermarket)
* Great large market (Safeway)
* Wonderful places for dinner on Commercial Drive

So, I can't complain :) I'm a happy camper -- I got everything I need and more!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The invisibility of cancer

My family has had a history of dealing with cancer patients. I have had doctors and nurses in the family on both my father and mother sides. Furthermore, some of my extended family members have faced the disease itself. Our family has fought cancer many times, and unfortunately, we have lost all of our battles so far. I was just reflecting on how we felt when we last had to deal with the disease (the last time, was lung cancer). We didn't talk about it. We were silent, as though the illness was invisible, as though it wasn't there. I believe that by not talking about it, we let cancer win at least one battle. But I hope this is not the case this time. I hope we can conquer it, I really do.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sweet Surrender - Sarah Mclachlan

One of the best tunes from Sarah McLachlan!!!
Sarah McLachlan - Hold On

Best song ever. It still breaks my heart to listen to it, but it is unbelievably good. Sarah McLachlan rocks, period.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Computerized life

Ok, I admit it. I have signed on to the dark side. I have become a pseudo-geek. Why not a full geek, you might ask? Well, for all these reasons:
- I do not own an iPod
- My cell phone is pretty basic
- I don't use BlueTooth
- I do not have a Blackberry
- I don't own a digital camera BUT I now know how to download pictures!

That being said, I do:
- Bank online - which includes bill payments
- Organize my contacts using online calendars and address books
- Have a blog
- Have more than four e-mail accounts (which I read regularly)
- Watch YouTube
- Read the news online

Hence, while I do not deserve a full geek nomination, I can be a pseudo-geek. And I do depend
a lot on my computer! So I've decided that I will upgrade myself this Christmas, at least with a digital camera.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Movie Review - The Devil Wears Prada

Given my interest in fashion (yeah, I bought clothes in Montreal, Paris and Madrid alright!), and under the circumstances (extreme stress) I decided to rent the movie "The Devil Wears Prada" with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. It was a breath of fresh air. Yeah, Thirteen Going on Thirty also touched upon fashion and the sacrifices and choices we make to get ahead of the game, but TDWP has Meryl Streep (sorry Jennifer Garner, I love you to bits, but Meryl is Meryl).

And the lesson remains the same: Family and friends first, career advancement second. Not for everyone, I am sure. But at least, for me, it has worked wonders. And I have a very happy life full with friends and family who love me. Overall, the movie makes you feel good by the end of it (just as with 13 Going On 30) and teaches you a lesson or two...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Rant: Snow shoveling on Vancouver's streets

This is a call for Vancouver residents who have not shoveled and cleared their snow-covered (now ice-covered) streets... YOU HAVE TO DO IT! THERE IS A BY-LAW!!! I almost took a fall six times last night because of some lazy resident who decided that he/she did not want to clear their walkways. The worst part is when 90% of the block's residents have cleared their paths and there are only one or two who have not.

A mailman recently died as a result of a fall, and people still do not realize that it is wrong not to clear their walking ways. Unbelievable... and this is a first-world country!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Robert Palmer - Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You

Singing what has been named "The Ecology Song" (Mercy Mercy Me by Marvin Gaye) intertwined with "I Want You"... I love Robert Palmer's rendition of Gaye's song... he was amazing!
What A Fool Believes - Michael McDonald

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Poverty, homelessness and Vancouver covered in snow

I was just browsing through blogs and the Vancouver Sun picture gallery and found some really nice pictures. But the snow also makes me reflect on those poor people who are homeless and who are unable to sleep under a warm and dry roof. I have never in my life experienced sleeping on the streets, although the third time I moved to Vancouver I almost had to sleep in the car I had rented.

All this makes me think that, while some people may see the snow as a happy (and strange) occurrence in Vancouver, others lives are threatened by it. Vancouver does not have enough capacity (in terms of beds) to provide shelter to every homeless person out there. And yet we seem to be so happy that it's snowing because it is pretty. I am sorry, but I am not happy. If faced with the choice between snow and hot weather, I'm happier with hot weather. At least, homeless people can sleep on the street then!

All this comes back to the heated discussion on whether Vancouver has a progressive affordable housing policy. I won't comment on that. I will just ask Vancouver councillors and the Mayor to roam around in this weather without enough winter clothing... *then* they will maybe understand how does it feel for the vulnerable and disenfranchised...

My two cents, even if gloomy.

PS - I found this cute picture... downloaded it from the Vancouver Sun website, so I am guessing it was provided by a Vancouver resident. If you are the owner of the picture, let me know and I'll credit you!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Flans - Las mil y una noches

Como todos los ridiculos fresas de aquella epoca, yo fui uno de los que se enamoro escuchando esta cancion...

"Tu forma de amar... siempre a medias, siempre loca, siempre a destiempo... tenia que acabar con alguno de los dos..." Cursilerias para muchos, pero bastante importantes para otros :)
Real Thing

Lisa Stansfield is, without a doubt, one of the best singers of the XXth Century.
Magneto 40 Grados

If you're Mexican and you're about my age, you have heard this song. May like it or not, but it was for sure super popular. I have it on tape and MP3. I can't believe it!!! I'm a dork :)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It's snowing in Vancouver!

For the love of God, I just can't believe it... it started snowing last night when I went out for dinner (well, apparently it started to snow around mid-day on Saturday) and now the whole city is covered in white powdery snow. I found pictures from the festival of snow in Vancouver... And for the record, I hate -3 oC temperatures... BRRRRRR

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Patrick Duffy & Mireille Mathieu - Together We Are Strong.

I admired Mireille Mathieu since I heard her sing "Allo" (Lionel Richie's "Hello") but when I was looking for Hello, I came across this one. It's so funny to see Patrick Duffy sing besides Mireille that I thought I should post it. It's quite sweet.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Restaurant review: Trixi's

I have been neglecting to write Trixi’s restaurant review because I’ve been swamped with work commitments. But I can’t delay it anymore. Last Sunday, I went there with two of my best friends and we had crepes for dinner. Yessir, crepes. I admit it, I was shocked myself. I am usually a fan of Trixi’s for 3 pm crepe and tea on a sunny day (as I have done numerous times with one of my closest friends) but they wanted a savoury treat and I wasn’t about to say “oh I am sorry I’m a sweet crepe kind of guy”.

So, there I went with a herb-chicken and mushroom crepe (without cheese but with tomatoes). It was, as usual, fantastic! But I was more shocked about the fact that I had enjoyed a savoury crepe rather than a sweet one. Of course, I shared a sweet crepe for dessert. Prices are fantastic (with 6 bucks you can have crepe and ice-cream and for 10 bucks you got yourself dinner). The owners are sweet and adorable and they’ll come to your table to tell stories. So, kudos to Trixi’s. It is located right across from Tomato on Cambie and almost 17th Avenue. My favourite crepe restaurant (and yes I know Cafe Crepe, and I like their crepes too, but Trixi's has a homey flavour to it).

Friday, November 17, 2006

In peace :) Amado Nervo

A really good friend of mine was feeling somewhat sad and blue the past few days, and even though we haven't seen each other in months, I thought I'd cheer her up with part of a poem by Amado Nervo... It's a wonderful poem worth revisiting here. I will do the translation eventually. I e-mailed this poem to an ex- of mine a few years ago, when I was head over heels and I was completely in love. The e-mail I got back was quite pathetic, I must add. But that did not detract from my emotions. I was SO happy :)

En Paz

Muy cerca de mi ocaso, yo te bendigo, Vida, porque nunca me diste ni esperanza fallida,ni trabajos injustos, ni pena inmerecida;porque veo al final de mi rudo caminoque yo fui el arquitecto de mi propio destino; que si extraje las mieles o la hiel de las cosas, fue porque en ellas puse hiel o mieles sabrosas:cuando planté rosales coseché siempre rosas.... Cierto, a mis lozanías va a seguir el invierno: ¡mas tú no me dijiste que mayo fuese eterno!Hallé sin duda largas las noches de mis penas; mas no me prometiste tan sólo noches buenas; y en cambio tuve algunas santamente serenas...Amé, fui amado, el sol acarició mi faz. ¡Vida, nada me debes! ¡Vida, estamos en paz!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Restaurant review: The Red Sea Cafe

Ok, this restaurant review was long overdue and thought I'd write it before I forget completely. I have been to the Red Sea Cafe (670 Broadway, near Fraser) three times in the last month and I am going again this week. The last time I bumped into really good friends and took one of my closest friends for dinner for his birthday. The time before I just had a craving and had to run get some Erithrean/Ethiopian food. The first time I went with a good friend of mine.

The basis for Erithrean/Ethiopian food is a crepe-like bread called injera. A bit sour but incredibly tasty, it is used as a plate for the wot (curry or 'mole'-like pastes with meat or veggies, amazingly well cooked and spiced). You then can use injera to grab morsels of food. I have been to the RSC three times already and every time I finish the meal so full I can barely walk.

The service is amazing and I always have a wonderful time. The owners I think are Erithrean. Despite the neighbourhood (it's in a not-so-beautiful part of Mount Pleasant) it's very well worth the trip to try the food.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A proposito de Dirty Vegas...

One of my best friends gave me this song in MP3. Awesome beats, although I wonder if it's along the same lines of Sam Roberts. You will understand my confusion when you know that Dirty Vegas is actually a house group (my good friend Silver introduced me to deep house). The better known song of Dirty Vegas is actually a house tune, Days Go By.

I am a big fan of Sam and now of Dirty Vegas :-) but definitely, I never expected DV to play something similar to Sam Roberts. I am confused now.

House or ... Canadian folk ?!

Dirty Vegas - Walk Into The Sun

One of my best friends gave me this song in MP3. Awesome beats, although I wonder if it's along the same lines of Sam Roberts. You will understand my confusion when you know that Dirty Vegas is actually a house group (my good friend Silver introduced me to deep house). The better known song of Dirty Vegas is actually a house tune, Days Go By.

I am a big fan of Sam and now of Dirty Vegas :-) but definitely, I never expected DV to play something similar to Sam Roberts. I am confused now.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Restaurant review: Figmint and Rain City Grill [2 Reviews in 1]

Well, this past weekend was very much a trouble-plagued weekend. But more than anything, bad choices for dinner and brunch. So I'm going to review them both in the same post.

I was totally looking forward to brunch at Figmint given that it had just been reviewed on the local newspapers and it is very well located, on 12th Avenue and Cambie. But it was a total disaster. First of all, they charge 7 dollars to park (valet parking). I would think that (as an added bonus) they would offer free parking. I now know that there's no such thing as a free brunch! For the price they charge for scrambled eggs, they should really provide some perks. I was not impressed. I could think of a good half-dozen places where I've eaten cheaper, nicer breakfast. The only good thing about it was the company, one of my best friends.

That same night, I went out with another good friend to Rain City Grill on Denman Street and almost Davie. The prices are quite exorbitant for what they offer (and the flavours are quite bland). I ordered salmon, and it was almost burned. Supposedly their dinner menu is very good, but I did not see the selection of dinner plates that is shown here. I was definitely unimpressed too. And I dine out quite a lot! Again, the only good thing was the company of another of my best friends. But, next time I'll pass on both Figmint and Rain City Grill. I think it's time I go back to my Main St. roots :)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Movie Review - Mount Pleasant

The 25th Vancouver International Film Festival, held in Vancouver this year from September 28th to October 13, had numerous Canadian films (99% of which I could not see because of work commitments). But I did make time to see Mount Pleasant, for three main reasons:

a) The movie stars Kelly Rowan, one of my favourite actresses, who happens to be Canadian too. Kelly likes to support Canadian film, as shown in this interview with The Vancouver Sun. For those of you who don't know who she is, here is her Wikipedia biography.

b) The movie is set in Vancouver in my neighbourhood, Mount Pleasant.

c) It is perhaps the first movie I have seen where I can actually relate entirely to what is being depicted in the film.

d) It is directed by brilliant UBC alumnus Ross Weber, who also happens to live in the neighbourhood.

So, on to the movie review. A few other blogs have also published a review of the film, so I'll make my review more focused on why the film struck home with me. Beyond Robson, a very good local Vancouver blog published a really nice and thoughtful review, although I have to say that I did not hate every character. I felt sorry for Nadia and for Sarah. However, I did hate Megan.

The film is set in the neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant, in Vancouver (present day), and the lives of two families collide with those of a lost soul, leaving a big mess. Nadia, a young under-age prostitute who lives with her pimp Nick, and works the streets of Mount Pleasant, is picked up by Stephen, who is a real estate agent. He is in an unhappy marriage to Anne, and they live in (apparently, I can't recall properly) Kerrisdale (or Shaughnessy), one of the affluent neighbourhoods. Doug and Sarah (whose boss is Anne) have just moved into Mount Pleasant with their six year old daughter, who pricks herself with a used hypodermic needle. This single event triggers an outrage by Doug, who is upset at the poor conditions of the neighbourhood, including drug addiction, prostitution, etc.

The movie does a superb job of depicting the state of the neighbourhood, and the complicated and intricate relationships of these individuals. It is a superb movie, and it struck home with me. As an example, 'Nadia' was "picking up" at the bus stop on the corner of 19th Avenue and Fraser Street, where I often have taken the bus to go either to South Fraser or Downtown. Seeing the neighbourhood where one lives in a cinematic fashion is really eery. I had an opportunity to talk briefly with Camille Sullivan (Sarah) and Ross Weber, the director. The question/answer period after the October 11th showing at Granville Seven was really good.

I hope they release Mount Pleasant on video so that I can show it to my parents and friends. Kudos to Ross Weber and the cast of Mount Pleasant for a job well-done.

On the sociological and urban development side, the movie does depict reality but I am hopeful that the gentrification process will reach this area soon. It is not a bad neighbourhood, it just needs some cleaning up.

Restaurant review: Nirvana

For those of you lovers of Indian food, Nirvana is *the* place. That is, of course, if you live nowhere near 49th Avenue and you do not want to go to the area of Vancouver known as "Little India". Since I love eating near my stomping grounds, I decided to go to Nirvana to meet a colleague and friend for dinner. My friend actually treated me to dinner, and while we were discussing a lot of issues and things that needed to be talked about, I recognise that the service was REALLY SLOW. The food is, however, superb.

Their dishes to share are to die for, particularly their chicken masala. The prices are a bit high for the amount of food that you get, but it's not unaffordable. I would not recommend this restaurant for a quick, cheap eat because it is neither cheap nor the service is quick. But the atmosphere and the food itself make up for a lot.

And you can't beat the location in Mount Pleasant: literally corner of 7th Avenue, Main and Kingsway (where all three streets intersect). Right besides the vegetarian restaurant "The Foundation", Nirvana is worth the trip if you are into good Indian food and are not in a rush to get anywhere. Beware, you might become addicted to Indian food!

Restaurant review: Crave on Main

As a result of the post-birthday season outings, I have been to several restaurants within the past few weeks. That, and the fact that I'm super busy has delayed my reviews. So, I'm slowly trying to catch up. I am sure that as I type more reviews I'll discover that I missed a few of the places I've tried lately.

On to the topic of this review: Crave on Main, whose website looks as sophisticated as the place itself. For anyone who lives near the Main St. area (what many people call SoMa or South Main) - still part of Mount Pleasant, the choice of restaurants is overwhelming. But in the stretch from 20th Avenue to King Edward, Crave does stand out. It has a cute patio and another patio inside the actual restaurant.

Mom and I walked by Crave just about every day while she visited Vancouver this summer, and we never got around to eating there. However, one of my best friends and I went for brunch there a few weeks ago. I had a smoothie and she had scrambled eggs with bacon and toast. Arguably, the smoothie was one of the best I've had, while my friend said these were top-notch scrambled eggs. The service was a bit slow, as the place is quite popular. We haven't been there for dinner, but the brunch menu rocks, and the prices are quite reasonable, particularly for student budgets!

I will definitely come back to Crave on Main repeatedly, not only because it is near where I live but also because it is a fun and tasty place.

ADDENDUM - October 14th, 2006.

I went to Crave on Main again this weekend, this time with another good friend of mine. I was (quite obviously) a bit worried about whether we would be taken care of quickly. Well, I can't say anything but pure praise to the staff of Crave. The service was TOP NOTCH. As in, unbelievable. There were times when three waitresses would be coming by to make sure that we were doing ok with water, coffee, etc. Our dishes took (I'm not kidding) seven minutes to make, and the food was superb. Recommended brunch item: Eggs your way with mediterranean turkey sausage with white toast. The server who was in charge of our table even came to the door to say goodbye with a smile :) -- ok, now THAT is what I call impressive!

UPDATE - September 30, 2007. I decided to try to link to UrbanSpoon and thus here is their code. Here's hoping they'll link to my other restaurant reviews!

Crave in Vancouver

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Kindness in Vancouver - not so much of a lost art

Today I had to go Downtown to run a couple of errands (despite not feeling terribly well) and I ended up stopping at a Burger King (Granville and Robson) for a bite to eat. This area (Granville Street at night) can be very depressing with all the homelessness, the peddlers, etc. (Sorry, it's the truth!)... Anyway, as I was eating my burger (which, might I add, was really tasty), I noticed a young girl eating all by herself in the neighbouring table. She had, quite obviously, finished eating quite a long time ago, and was there just gathering her thoughts (or at least so I thought).

She might have been my niece's age (16) or perhaps a bit older. But she was definitely distraught. So the young woman who sweeps the floors approached her and asked her if she was alright. The young lady in purple (I think she was wearing purple) said she had missed her bus connection and that she needed to make a phone call. As she was speaking, tears started to well her eyes and she lost her composure for a couple minutes. The young lady sweeper kindly offered to find some way to give her a ride, although the girl said that she could call her Mom or Dad to pick her up. She was definitely not feeling well, and I felt really guilty for not helping more (although I did approach her and talked to her to ask whether she was ok and needed help).

At any rate, what really struck me was the compassion and sincerity of the young lady sweeper. She said "whatever you need, let me know and we'll help you". And she meant it. In a city that has been criticized for its lack of spirit and for being cold and closed, I was simply awestruck. This young lady who sweeps floors at BK was offering as much help as she could and being sweet and sensitive to the needs of the distraught young girl. Things like this warm my heart and remind me that, in spite of Vancouver's "cold" society, there are still many people out there who are willing to give a helping hand. Annonymous heroes who live their lives unsung. Here is to praise a quiet hero. I hope the young distressed lady got home safe. I'll have to check this week with the young lady sweeper. And perhaps bring her a token of appreciation. She really did brighten my day.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Charlie's Angels Reunited - Emmys 2006

Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith... the three women we all know to be Charlie's Angels ... 30 years later, they still look stunning...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Restaurant review: The Red Door

I had to pick up some stuff from one of my friends tonight around Granville Street, so I thought we would go for dinner near by. The closest restaurant (really) is The Red Door (Granville & 14th Ave.), so we thought we'd try that one. I am rarely into Asian fusion or Asian tapas, so I thought "well, what the heck"... we tried the eggplant with rice and we shared a won ton soup. The food was tasty and abundant. Didn't really need to eat more than these two shared plates.

The prices are really reasonable. The only problem - the service. I wasn't impressed with the level of service, despite the fact that the waitress was very nice. I think that it took them way too long to bring us drinks AND food. But once we got those out of the way, we were alright... All in all, I would go back to The Red Door... but only if I have had something to eat a bit earlier. Otherwise the wait might get to me...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Love is where your heart is

Well, normally I blog about one of these things

a). My personal, day-to-day life.
b). Environmental affairs.
c). Restaurants where I eat.

Today I was reflecting on how lucky I am (yet again!) and how quickly moods can change. This needs some explanation. I am near the end of my 'birthday season' (one week before, one week after my birthday - all spanning three weeks)... and I have just had a lovely dinner cooked for me last night (though I was so hungover I could barely eat). So anyhow, I am a lucky man with lots of good friends...

On to the discussion of what the title means. My apartment is tiny. It is a one-bedroom ground-level basement suite. I love it dearly. It has everything I need, and I don't really have a lot of furniture. My dining table can be expanded to hold up to four people. However, it's really basically a two-seater. I usually invite one friend over for dinner and my dining "room" fits perfectly. However, two weeks ago I folded one part of the table so as to make enough walking room. It ended up being a one-seater (for me to eat breakfast or dinner - I rarely eat lunch at home).

A few seconds after I had folded the table, I felt really sad and lonely. It really struck me... I live alone. I *am* alone. I have wonderful friends, a very good neighbour, and my family. But I am really alone. It wasn't until I answered the phone an hour afterwards (one of my friends calling) that I thought "well, you are not really alone... you have lots of people who love you and care for you, and when you make enough money, you will have a real dining table for six"...

That's what I meant by 'love is where your heart is'. If you have friends and loved ones near you (either by phone, email, MSN or physically), you are never alone. So, in short, I am not really alone... And I am grateful for that.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Restaurant review - Yaletown Brewing Co. [plus Justin Trudeau sighting]

Well, I was out and about having dinner tonight at the Yaletown Brewing Co. (commonly known in Vancouver-lingo as 'the Yaletown Brewery', located at the corner of Mainland and Hamilton) with one of my best friends (who took me there for my birthday) when something happened. I went to the rest-room, and on the way back, I had to weasel my way around a table where a very animated conversation was taking place. Lots of really heart-felt hugs. And then I thought to myself "that guy is behaving exactly as I usually do - very public displays of affection, very warm, very outgoing and genuine"

... When on close observation I am start thinking to myself "oh, that guy looks strangely familiar... I am sure I have seen him somewhere... isn't that... oh yes it is... it really is... Justin Trudeau!". Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The first-born son of Monsieur Pierre Trudeau, the late Prime Minister of Canada, husband to Madame Sophie Gregoire [yes, they DO make a very cute couple].

And, for the record, Justin is a UBC alumnus (Bachelor of Education), although currently he is studying a Masters in Environmental Geography at McGill University, as reported by Wikipedia. Justin used to teach in Vancouver, so it does not seem surprising that he has very close friends in the city. I was just surprised. The last time I saw him was at GLOBE 2006, where he moderated a panel. Most of the time, my association with the Trudeau last name is the Trudeau Foundation, which sponsors great thinkers in Canada. I guess I just hadn't seen Justin in a social setting in a long, long time (I seem to recall having seen him a few times over the past ten years in various other settings, but really socializing with good friends, I think this is the first time). He looked so genuine, so warm, so authentic, that I think my admiration for him is well deserved. He uses his charm, good looks, poise and positive attitude to inspire people and raise awareness on critical issues (such as avalanche control, sustainability and opportunities for youth to mature and grow). *sigh* Now I know why women want to marry him and men want to be like him...

Having gushed about Justin Trudeau for a few paragraphs, on to the restaurant review....

The Yaletown Brewery was a popular haunt of my friends and I since 1996. I think I have been to dinner at the YB more often than I have at a White Spot [which is supposedly super-Canadian]. The food is really good (and portions are generous), the service is friendly and it has an outdoor patio. I think I've been there at least three to four times a year for the past 10 years. No, it's not that I don't have options. It's just that the YB is good. It is really good. And seeing Justin Trudeau was just icing on the cake. I had a wonderful evening with one of my best friends and I managed to walk around Yaletown for a good half hour (something I hadn't done in AGES).

Friday, September 22, 2006

Matt and Elektra

This *IS* the actual fight, with some footage of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck talking before the fight. All Matt Murdock is trying to do is get Elektra Natchios' name :) That's a really cool fight. If you are interested, here is the link to the "Cats Fighting" version (animated cartoon).

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The courage to learn (A post to reflect)

I am a very lucky man. I really am. I have had a number of really wonderful birthday celebrations (for me it's not usually birthday, it's more like birthday season! it spans one week before and one week after). I am extremely blessed to have the family I have, my brothers, my parents, my wonderful friends in Mexico, in Vancouver and every other country where I have had the fortune to spend time.

But today I realized how lucky I am to be complete (as a human being). Being able to walk all over the place, see wonderful things, read and speak various languages. I am truly amazed at the many gifts I have received in various shapes and forms. The ability to walk is one particular gift I came to cherish today as I was strolling to pick up some documents near my office.

One of my students and I bumped into each other this afternoon and started a fairly animated outdoor conversation, in the pouring rain and enduring cold weather. After a few minutes, we saw a young lady who was wheelchair-bound, trying (quite unsuccessfully) to get into her car at the parking lot. Due to the rain, the floor was very slippery and it was extremely hard for her to control her wheelchair. Therefore, my student and I ran to offer our help. We held the car door open and provided her wheelchair with a leverage point so that she could push herself into the driver's seat. She finally did get into the car and we happily placed her wheelchair in her car's trunk.

While she was very embarrassed to have asked for help, we were very happy to be helpful. I couldn't help but be completely in awe. I thought to myself "this is a student who faces challenges to transport herself from one point to another, and I am so lucky to walk everywhere I want to without even thinking". If we hadn't been there to help her get into her car, she probably would have gotten even more wet, and the rain was freezing cold. Yet, she never lost her composure, and she gave us (at least me) a lesson in humility and made me reflect on the gifts I have received.

I happen to believe in God, and I often think that God gave me certain gifts to share them with the world. I am very grateful that he gave me the ability to walk. But beyond that, I am truly amazed at how some people have the courage to face their challenges and become successful. True champions in their own way. I salute those people who overcome their handicaps and make something of themselves instead of feeling sorry. By taking charge of their disability, they have overcome it and grown more mature. Thank you for giving me a lesson in how to live life.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Restaurant review - Slickitty Jim's

Well, last night I went to see Lino do stand-up comedy, at Marcela's invitation. I had a really good time, and I was impressed with Lino's ability to make jokes in English! That takes a lot of hard work and courage. Kudos to him!

Since I frequently read their blogs, I found out that they had reviewed a few restaurants in the past, some of which I have visited myself. Having lived in Vancouver for ten years, it is likely that I haven't been to pretty much just about every nice restaurant within the Vancouver area. For sure, when I have been out and about I've done my share of Burnaby/North Vancouver/New Westminster restaurants, but for the most part I've been a Vancouver eater. Furthermore, traditionally I have been a Downtown/Yaletown/West End/Kitsilano customer. So, it's kind of hard to try and find new places. Chances are, I've been there already!

So I thought I'd continue with my restaurant reviews with my traditionally favourite meal: brunch. For those of you who are brunch-addicts, Slickitty Jim's a great choice. Located between Broadway and 10th Avenue on Main Street, it is basically a few steps away from the Main St. 99 B-Line stop. It is small, usually crowded on weekends, and definitely can get a line-up if you aren't there by 8 am.

That being said, I went for breakfast/brunch with Mom a couple of months back when she was visiting Vancouver. Three times, if I recall correctly. Now, for me to repeat brunch three times during a three-week visit, that must indicate something. The place is not good. It is awesome! [Correction - Mom was here for a month]

The owner is there running the show, she is sweet, kind, caring and the food is just amazing. Mom and I had both the Chorizo Scramble (I think that's the name, I forget) - unbelievably good. Very filling and reasonably priced. If you want to get a taste of Main St., breakfast Slickitty Jim's-style sounds like a good idea.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sustainable transportation in Vancouver

Today I had a really hard time taking the 99 B-Line. Most buses went through, fully loaded with people. As someone with an environmentally-minded orientation, I should be happy. But I can't be happy because, even though we are making more use of public transit, we are indeed over capacity. The popularity of the U-Pass (a universal bus pass for students at UBC and SFU) has made it commuting much easier (as it covers all three zones of the Lower Mainland).

Sustainable transportation should also be climate-neutral, in my humble opinion. I was talking about this topic with Marcela, who is very passionate about sustainable transportation. For example, she was suggesting that street-light coordination would be but just one of the many ways in which you could streamline traffic in the Metropolitan Zone of Guadalajara. I don't know since I don't work in transportation, but I'll take her word for it :-)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Presuntos Implicados - Mi Única Razón

A song that speaks about tolerance, love that has no boundaries nor definitions, really beautiful music. Worth watching.
Presuntos Implicados - Cómo hemos cambiado

This is a song by the Spanish group Presuntos Implicados. It was my favourite for a long, long time. It still is one of my top 10 songs.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Australian Open 1996 - Bests Moment

This is Monica Seles' last Grand Slam (Australian Open 1996) but for some reason, she's not featured at length!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

My graduation from 'mocoso' to 'hombrecito'

A few days ago I reached the 10 year anniversary of my move to Vancouver for graduate school. August 23rd, 2006. What a milestone!

It was a cold day, I recall. That was surprising since Mexico isn't characteristically cold. My older brother and his family had already left, as he was going to do his PhD in the United States. Five days and my Mom had to see two of her children move to different countries. In my case, I was the one who moved the farthest. My other brother was already in the US, so 60% of my Mom's children were living abroad by September of 1996 (this percentage increased to 80% by 2000).

I reflected on Caro's blog that ten years ago I moved to Vancouver. The reflection being that, before 1996, I avoided at all costs living away from my family. I did my undergraduate degree near my hometown just so that I could see my parents and brothers every other day. And then, one day I told myself "I can do it. I am going to do it." So I packed everything, quit a rather lucrative job, and moved to Vancouver to start my Masters.

And then I stayed... and I decided that this is where I want to live. I fell in love with Vancouver. But moreover, I grew up. I stopped being the wimpy little Momma's boy and became a strong young man with the grit and willingness to face the challenge of a country I didn't know. I graduated from 'mocoso' to 'hombrecito'

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Elements of Soul featuring Mia Taylor - Head Above Water

Wow :)

My first two comments from two well-established bloggers... YAY!

I haven't really taken the time to link to other Vancouver- (or other) based blogs, but sometimes I am not sure I have the content to enrich them... well, I'll give it a good try. This weekend I shall put some time into connecting with some other blogs.

In the mean time, I want to recommend my latest acquisition on Beatport (yes, I do pay for music!)... Head Above Water by Elements of Soul featuring Mia Taylor. It's such a cool song. I've had it in my head for the past hour or so. I can't stop listening to it. It's soulful, it's deep house and it's very much in the lines of The Rurals and Deep Six (as argued by Guidance Recordings in their review). If you click on their webpage you'll be able to listen to the version I bought - (Axwell's Star Beach Mix) -- well, only a tiny bit. Worth the purchase, though!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bionic Woman

This is a compilation of Bionic Woman clips to the theme of BW. Very well produced.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Restaurant review - Whineo's - A place to remember - and sustainable seafood

Well, it seems like my blog has been all about YouTube and superheros lately. Not a lot of environmental commentary either. I know, I know! I've had family visiting and it's been a hectic few weeks. But I'm back on track now :-)

Mom visited recently from Mexico, and we went for dinner a couple of days before she left. I wondered where to take her since we had done the majority of restaurants I usually like. My Mom has been to Vancouver many times and we've very frequently eaten out so I really didn't want to take her to a 'repeat' restaurant. Dining out in Vancouver is normally not hard to do. There's a gazillion restaurants to please just every palate. But throughout my 10 years in the city, we've been to too many of them. So it took me a while to think of a good place.

However, I had just recently read a review of Whineo's, a neat dining/bar place in the downtown core of Vancouver (right on Granville Street). I knew Josh Manuel, one of the co-owners, through his former job and I thought it might be neat to check this place out. And as I will explain below, I think I made the right choice :-)

Mom and I ordered a platter (for $ 14 bucks, you can't beat that) with all the strong flavours we both like (capers, olives, hummus, anchovies)... yummy! Then we proceeded to order chicken breast with mushrooms in a nice wine reduction. The plate size was right, the price was really inexpensive (under $ 15 for a main course, it is almost unbeatable). We also ordered patatas bravas, although I think by then we had eaten too much. And the cheesecake with blueberry compote... to die for.

My Mom was so happy with the meal that she said this had been the best dining experience she had had in Vancouver this time around. I was quite pleased to hear that, particularly since the staff at Whineo's was very friendly and the food was amazing. I wanted to come back with my brother but he had to fly out and thus we couldn't do it. But I'll certainly be back :-)

Since I didn't take pictures, I had to borrow pictures from Urban Mixer Flickr's website to showcase how the food is presented. You can check it here... You can check Raincoaster's picture of Whineo's indoors here.

I found out that WaiterBlog had reviewed Whineo's so here is the post.

And just a minute before I was about to push the "Publish Post" button, I discovered that Whineo's is an OceanWise member and thus their seafood dishes are certified as sustainable :-) Now one more reason to go for dinner there!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lovetronic - You are Love

For those of you who like House Music, this is totally the type of music I dig.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

An Alternative Wonder Woman

This is not the Lynda Carter version, but another actress. Well done as a matter of fact.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Wonder Woman Saves the MTV Movie Awards

Heat wave in Vancouver

Sweet mother of God! It's 28 oC and it's supposed to get hotter this weekend. The forecast predicts up to 37 oC in the Lower Fraser Valley... *sweat*

I know that this may be one of the effects of climatic change, but living in Canada has made me appreciate warm temperatures :) I am sorry to say, but I'm all up for 28 oC in Vancouver!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Not your fault (Good Will Hunting)

The YouTube video of the climatic scene of Good Will Hunting.

Some of the finest acting in history - Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting)

This movie is one of my favourite. Apparently, it is one of the favourite of the Academy as well... they gave GWH an Oscar for Best Screenplay (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck). The most poignant scene is a testament to Matt Damon's acting ability and range, as well as Robin Williams. Two of my favourite actors show here what genuine care and affection is all about. I got the movie from YouTube.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Land-use, housing and... Superman Returns!

While it might be a surprise to read the name of the world's mightiest superhero in an environmentally-inclined blog, there is actually a relevant connection. I am not going to reveal the plot of the movie, which recently opened in theatres in Vancouver (yesterday as a matter of fact). What is important (and certainly connects to the issue of urban sustainability) is that the movie touches upon the thorny issue of land-use and real estate.

Lex Luthor (many people's favourite villain, played by Kevin Spacey in this version and pitted against Brandon Routh's Superman) is in the real-estate business, and is conspiring to build a new continent using Krypton's advanced technology. He'll destroy many continents, killing many people, and then he will sellhis land (never mind that the actual 'crystal-grown land' looks horrible and arid).

The issue here is to remember that while for many people, land is a resource we need, for many others it is business. How to make land use a sustainable activity (equitable, just, accessible) ... quite an interesting challenge....

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The World Urban Forum in Vancouver - June 19th to 23rd, 2006

Well, I picked up today my badge and registration package for the III World Urban Forum that will take place in Vancouver from June 19th to 23rd.

Given my interest in urban sustainability and the politics of environmental regulation, water sanitation, patterns of land use and zoning, it is fitting that this event is taking place in the city where I live now. Lucky me! I was unfortunately away from Mexico when the 4th World Water Forum took place (too bad, since water policy is one of my research interests). But at least I got to attend one megaconference in 2006.

But there is one substantial difference between WUF3 and 4WWF (that's how they like to be called, really!) is that WUF3 was 100% free. Gratis. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Whereas, to ensure participation in the 4WWF you would have had to shell out in the realm of $ 600.00 US (six hundred US dollars). Now, quite obviously WUF will have substantial participation from NGOs, academia and the general public, simply because it is taking place here and it is entirely free!

The Georgia Straight has a full issue devoted to the World Urban Forum, which you can check out if you click here. Note that this link may disappear after WUF, but hopefully you will be able to search the GS archives. The actual website of WUF is really neat, and I am sure that there will be lots of things to be said and discussed there.

I'll be posting some of my thoughts on WUF3 throughout the week. Besides, it is a great opportunity to network :)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Restaurant review - Enigma: The pleasure of simplicity and sophistication

The 12th International Symposium on Society and Natural Resource Management is currently taking place at The University of British Columbia. Co-organized by Simon Fraser University's School of Resource and Environmental Management, this symposium takes place from June 3rd to the 8th, 2006.

Many of my good friends and colleagues are currently visiting Vancouver because they are presenting their research here. Therefore, I was very pleased to have had the opportunity to take a group of them for dinner to Enigma, on 10th Avenue and Tolmie.

Enigma is a wonderful place that is very much not what people might think at first glance. The place is decorated with sophisticated furniture, high chairs and tables and a nice outdoor patio. However, despite the 'posh' factor that might lead you to believe that it will be a pricey place, it is surprisingly inexpensive, and the food is amazing. The portions are generous and the taste is really good. I would highly recommend it. It is the kind of place where you would take a date, or an out-of-towner and where you could be sure that the person you are inviting will have a wonderful experience. The owners are there to check on every detail, so you feel very much at home. I have been there for dinner, breakfast (I haven't been there for lunch however).

Overall, a wonderful experience. Six marvelous academics at a table and we all had a great time... what else can I ask for?

Enigma in Vancouver

Friday, June 02, 2006

Al Gore, UBC and climate change

I had the amazing opportunity today to go and listen to Mr. Al Gore, former Vice-President of the United States of America, speak about climate change, the future of Earth and the challenges ahead. It was a great talk. Mr. Gore is a very articulate speaker and he can galvanize the hell out of you. By the time his speech was over, I felt recharged and empowered to effect change. Yes, we can succeed in facing the sustainability challenge (at least that's the message Mr. Gore is trying to get across). He was unbelievable, and even though I'm very stressed and overwhelmed with work, I wouldn't have traded this opportunity ever. He talked at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at The University of British Columbia. Dr. Martha Piper, the (out-going) President of UBC was there to deliver her last official speech and present Mr. Gore. It was an awesome evening altogether. Now, back to the grind :)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Mexican elections

Normally I wouldn't even go there, but I've been bombarded with propaganda from the two main contenders. The interesting part of this phenomenon is the incredible bias that one can read from pseudo-political analyists. I read a profile of one of the candidates (I will not say names to make my own life easier) who was basically touted "a perfect candidate" whereas the other was profiled as a complete whack-job. This profile was written by an Anglo-saxon writer, not based in Mexico. Thus, the chances of him actually knowing how things are in Mexico are nil. However, he invested himself with enough authority to have an opinion (a biased one, I might add). So, the problem is, there is no balanced, objective analysis of the 2006 Mexican elections. What will happen is anybody's guess. I for one am happy I am not there.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Climate change in Canada and Mexico

This topic seems to occupying a substantial amount of space and time in the mainstream media and environmentally-related academic discussions in Canada. Everything seems to be associated with climatic change and the need for adaptation. I wonder to how smart this is and to what extent all these discussions and money spent on climate change-related research will be well spent.

On a related note, this year's 'Fondos Sectoriales de Investigacion' SEMARNAT-CONACYT (Mexico) seem to be strongly focussed on climate change and vulnerability/adaptation. So much that many proposals seem to have thrown the keywords "climate change" and "vulnerability" and "adaptation" in an effort to get funded. Is this how environmentally-focused research is supposed to be carried out?

It seems to me as though Mexico is following the climate change fad. This is not to say that climate change isn't a priority or that it is not occurring. I just worry that this is just one of many environmental priorities and that it should not be THE main one.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Gentrification - The hip word for urban transformation

My interest in urban sustainability (and my current location) has made me reflect on the possibilities for/issues with gentrification of certain areas in Vancouver, particularly in Mount Pleasant (for a bit of history click here). I live slightly southeast of the Main and 16th Avenue area, which in recent years has become the 'hip' area in Vancouver. A few years ago (some people say it might be even 15), the Main St. area was considered "seedy" and unsafe. This blog has actually a nice discussion of the pros and cons of the East Side vis-a-vis West Side.

Noteworthy, I hang out around Mount Pleasant area, but I don't live exactly there (I live more in the "Little Mountain/Riley Park" zone, according to the neighbourhoods map I saw recently). And if you look at this, you might realize that my neighbourhood isn't that bad at all.

The sad part is that I recently learned that a Canadian, Vancouver-shot movie (Mount Pleasant) will depict this area as it used to be 15 years ago (seedy and filled with drug-addicts). I read that the director, Ross Weber, actually lives in the neighbourhood so I hope he will be very true to the current status of Mount Pleasant. I, for one, enjoy living there. And I hope that the Riley Park/Little Mountain area becomes just as hip as Main St. very soon. What scares me is the housing prices OUCH!

PS.- One of my favourite actresses, Kelly Rowan, will participate in "Mount Pleasant"... yay!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

First real day of Spring in Vancouver

I got home well past 5:30am (I went dancing downtown). Dawn in Vancouver can be quite amazing. I went to bed and woke up around 1:00am. Sure enough, I was awakened by the sound of Samba upstairs (I have a Brazilian neighbour). I went outside just for a brief period and that's when I discovered - SPRING IN VANCOUVER! I did not check the thermometer but I would have sworn it was well above 20 degrees (Celsius). As I was making my way over to Main and Broadway (where I usually take the 99 B-Line to UBC) I felt the breeze and the sunshine. *This* is the reason why people move to Vancouver!