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!