Friday, August 31, 2007

It's all about the equipment - installment # 6

After a failed attempt at purchasing a backpack (which ended up disastrously thanks to a broken bottle of Chardonnay), I had been desperately trying to find an affordable (e.g. less than $100 CND) backpack that was suitable for laptop transportation. See... in the business that I am, not having a laptop is simply not an option. I need my laptop at all times and I really needed a sturdy knapsack that would carry my books, articles and laptop altogether.

Then I was at Canadian Tire and all of a sudden... there she was... on sale for $25 CND!!! So I *had* to get the backpack. I already tested it and yes, it is quite sturdy. Two minor details: it doesn't have neither a water bottle compartment nor a cell phone compartment. But these are minor details. It is sturdy and allows me to carry my laptop places. I am writing from a Blenz (which has wireless, yay!) and I've walked around downtown already armed with laptop, books, 2 liter container (for when I want a smoothie/milkshake). I said it before, it *is* all about the equipment!

UPDATE .- I did find the cell phone and water bottle compartments. This thing can carry just about anything... *swoons*

Upcoming event? - The Tragically Hip

I don't give a damn if anybody thinks that The Tragically Hip isn't still Canada's top rock band. I love Nickelback, don't get me wrong... I am a fan for sure. But I always have had a soft spot in my heart for The Tragically Hip.

I swear that I read somewhere that The Hip was coming to Vancouver to give a concert. Their website doesn't show any concerts in Vancouver, though. If anybody has the 411 on this, could you please a comment below? Thanks!

The song below is "Little Bones"... the first song that I danced to when I first moved to Canada. As you can imagine, this song brings me great memories and I always feel re-energized when I listen to it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hanging out

Continuing with the series of "personal life" kind of posts, when I switched from Spanish to English I had to learn a totally new phrase in my book: hanging out. See, when you translate it into Spanish, it really doesn't work well. What are you hanging? And why do you have to hang it out? Can't you hang indoors? (hehehe - sorry, being silly here for a moment).

My friends often call me up or email me and say 'let's hang out' ... and even to this day, I giggle a little. It's not a commitment to do anything fancy (like dinner and a movie) but it does mean that people want to spend time in your company.

I love hanging out with my friends, don't get me wrong. But I find the phrase funny. Perhaps a more appropriate phrase would be "spending time with my friends". But what I find is that "hanging out" does provide enough wiggle room to actually do nothing. That is, if I call up any of my friends and say "let's hang out and watch a movie or just veg on the couch" [note veg=synonymous of vegetating] I am basically saying "let's just spend some time together and we can make plans later on what we are going to do".

I know, I admit it... this was a totally random thought. *blushes*

Testing the poll code

I added a poll as a page element, please vote on what you prefer that I write about. This is just a test poll in Blogger (I imagine the code is different for WordPress or LiveJournal).

Languages and commentary

In the past couple of weeks, some fellow bloggers who write in Spanish have been kind enough to come visit my blog. I left their commentary moderated because I was thinking of translating it to English. I don't have the time to do that, so if you want/feel compelled to write commentary in English, French, Italian, Portuguese or Japanese (non-kanji) feel free to do so. And to my fellow bloggers, your comments have been approved :-)

Cosmopolitanism in Vancouver

It seems like the topic of diversity, immigration and cosmopolitanism just doesn't want to go away, it keeps chasing me! I just came across a nifty website (one of perhaps many that I am not aware of) that actually showcases the multicultural diversity that we have in Vancouver. The Source newspaper, as cited on their website:

...finds its raison d'etre in the cosmopolitan character of Vancouver and intends to focus closely on the news of the various communities which make up our cultural mosaic.

I read a piece they wrote on the seven wonders of Vancouver, which (according to a survey cited by author Amelia Pourian) are:
  • Stanley Park
  • Grouse Mountain
  • Robson Street
  • The international cuisine
  • The sea wall
  • The Vancouver Art Gallery and
  • English Bay

Hmmm... This is worth discussing. I personally enjoy Deep Cove enormously (and since Grouse Mountain is considered still Vancouver, my preference is valid!). I wouldn't mind calling Gastown one of the seven wonders. What do you, dear readers, think?

PS - I should really try to learn how to insert code for polls. That would make this more fun.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Music review - Music & Wine by Blue Six

While we are on the topic of deep house music, let me just say that I would love anything by Blue Six. Funny how my favourites (Miguel Migs, Lisa Shaw, Aya, Blue Six aka Jay Denes) all share the same record label: Naked Music. Great minds think alike!

The song I feature in this review is Music & Wine. I've heard many versions but this is perhaps the one I've identified myself with the most. Below you'll find a video of the full song.

Music review - In This Life by Kaskade (Justin Micheal Remix)

Thanks to Nomade Moderne I now own an iPod. Of course, as a result, I've spent the better part of my daily commute listening to great mixes. One of the latest DJs I have come across is Ricardo Torres, who created an awesome mix (Higher: The Session) which includes what is perhaps the hottest song I've listened to in a while.

I am addicted to this song: In This Life by Kaskade (Justin Micheal Remix). I managed to find a brief clip on YouTube but I'd seriously recommend you to download it/purchase it, because it's a really great song.

Good reasons to be proud (post-Pride Vancouver)

I was reading the latest issue of Xtra West, and I came across a really heart-warming letter that made me reflect on the really good reasons to be proud: the noticeable increased support from the straight community to the queer community. Since I couldn't find the online version, I'll have to quote a specific paragraph that I thought was really nice.
"[...] Maybe I'm proud of the straight community that's finally starting to celebrate the pride within the gay community[...]" [Letter by Jesse Lobdell, Page 4, Letters, Xtra West, Aug 30th, 2007 edition.]

It is true that we've come a long way. Both at Pride and the VQFF I noticed many straight allies who came to join in and support as well as watch the many excellent films. In the same issue of Xtra West, you can also read about a straight couple who rallied to support a gay couple in Salt Spring Island. Actions like these renew my faith in humanity.

The Canucks' new jersey: What the ....?

If you are a Vancouverite or even remotely follow hockey, you might already think that I've lived under a rock for the past decade. So I am going to have to come out of the closet and admit that I am not a hockey fan (sin and sacrilege after having lived in Canada for the better part of a decade). I can watch a game (and will do so willingly and will share in the joy and happiness -- or desolation as it may be the case), but I've never followed the sport.

One thing I do know about hockey is that the Vancouver Canucks are our very own hockey team, and I've been following [sort of in a round-about kinda way] the discussions around the issue of the new logo and jersey. Since I am not a hockey connoisseur, I am going to direct you towards Rebecca @ Miss604, John @ AudiHertz, Chris @ LeftCoastByDesign and Karl @ Beyond Robson, all of them local bloggers who have picked up on the controversy surrounding the jersey.

At risk of being smothered, I have to admit that I like the jersey, if for no other reason, because it looks kinda cute. And yes, the word Vancouver may look already clumsy but hey, imagine if you are at a costume party in Paris and you disguise as a hockey player... it will be hard to miss that you are from Vancouver :-) .... think about it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Start your week with your right foot

Despite having so much work, stress, many deadlines and due dates looming in the horizon, I feel strangely happy. Perhaps it's just the fact that my personal life is going so well :-)

Shout outs, waves and lots of positive vibes sent to the following:
There are reasons to be optimistic as well. After having had a somewhat heavy conversation with my good friend A who lives in Jamaica, and whose house was also ravaged by the effects of Dean (the hurricane), she said that people are slowly re-building their lives. Positive vibes and lots of good thoughts to them as well. Humanity is resilient.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The devastating effects of Dean on Jamaica

On August 19th, 2007, the hurricane Dean hit the southern coast of Jamaica with wind storms that were said to have reached speeds of up to 145 mph. One of my best friends is Jamaican and currently lives there. The worst part is that she was there when the hurricane hit Jamaica, so she was affected by it as well.

While chatting with her online about the tremendous damages that the hurricane had inflicted on this tiny island, I really felt awful. Some regions went without water or electricity for 8 days. These pictures speak for themselves. To all the people affected by Dean, I just want to say how sorry I am.

How can anyone be prepared for these disasters? I just ask, because I don't have an answer.

The risks of an affluent society

Climate change is a hot topic now everywhere, and Vancouver is not the exception. Other Vancouver-centric blogs have picked on the topic, with the most recent post by Jark @ Beyond Robson on breaking ice-caps.

This weekend was also an opportunity for some good intellectual exchanges, and I learned a lot about climate change from my friend H that I did not know before. He knows much more about the topic than I do, and thus it is always a great learning experience to hear him talk about it. Through our conversations, an issue arose that I have wondered about a lot lately (and that is talked about in the climate change discourse - adaptation).

The idea of adaptation can easily be related to the current garbage collection situation in Vancouver. I have often wondered why on Earth the strike hasn't been settled and how come citizens of Vancouver have not mobilized to the point where they push the parties to settle. Our discussion centered around the possibility that maybe citizens of Vancouver have easily adapted to the current situation and thus are not in a position of hardship. I can't help but wonder if this is a risk of an affluent society, where mobilization would only occur only under conditions of extreme duress.

NOTE - While I wrote about "an affluent society", I did not intend to use the term in the same way in which John Kenneth Galbraith has used it. Not having read his book, I can't say if it does apply, so I will plead guilty to not using the term properly if I misunderstood the idea.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bar review - 1181

Even though I have lots of friends who live in the West End, I almost never come down unless I have a specific schedule (e.g. dinner or dancing) and an arrange date with these friends. However, Nomade Moderne and I were already Downtown for the VQFF and therefore we thought we'd eat in the Davie Street area. We had an amazing dinner at Cafe Luxy (not surprising because as I mentioned in previous posts, Cafe Luxy is one of those trusted pasta houses where you know you are always going to get amazing food and great service). We were definitely not disappointed (though I wish we had bigger stomachs!)

After dinner, H and I decided to hit 1181 for a couple of drinks. The place is small, sleek, elegant, sophisticated and (yes) full of testosterone :-) But more than that, 1181 has a great female DJ who plays (amongst other of my favorites) Kaskade, Lisa Shaw, Synthique, Miguel Migs, and the list goes on. She really knows how to rock the house. On the plus side of things, the always amazing company of Nomade Moderne. On the down side, this place is really small. But the truth is, the overall experience was very nice. Good screwdrivers and caipirinhas. This is a good place for drinks and maybe some dancing, but definitely not the place to hold a conversation. But hey, who is actually wanting a conversation here? :-) I am sure we'll be back to 1181 soon!!!

Movie review - The Picture of Dorian Grey

As an avid reader since I was able to first recognize printed characters, I always had a soft spot for Oscar Wilde. So when I heard that the Vancouver Queer Film Festival was showing a re-invention of Wilde's famous novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray", I jumped at the opportunity. My friend Nomade Moderne was kind enough to join me (even though we had to do the Hope Line and cross our fingers that we were going to be able to get tickets, as it was sold out).

This reinvention has the charming and endearing David Gallagher (from 7th Heaven fame) portraying Dorian Gray. Gallagher did an amazing job at portraying the new-era Dorian Gray, and I strongly believe he tested his own limits during this movie. He really seemed to have grasped the character of Dorian Gray. Directed by Duncan Roy, the movie is challenging in many ways.

The movie asks the viewer to understand the motives beneath Dorian's cruel actions and to see the world through his eyes. The cinematic techniques in this movie (including flashbacks, intertwined stories, story-telling) are complex and this wouldn't be by any measure a chick flick. But I think it's beautifully realized and I commend both Roy for doing such a fine job with the screenplay and the direction and Gallagher for his amazing job as Dorian Gray.

I wasn't able to find a clip of the actual movie, but you can see an interview with Duncan Roy and David Gallagher at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (courtesy of YouTube and dgresource).

Saturday, August 25, 2007

More movie reviews

My friend Nomade Moderne has reviewed four excellent movies he recently saw (a couple of them have been reviewed here too, but a couple were not and he's done an excellent job of summarizing the plots and providing great video links). Mosey over to his blog to check these reviews.


I hate repeating restaurants, not because I don't like them but because it precludes any potential new places. Lately, I've been doing a lot of repeats for brunch and dinner. The problem is, these places I've been to are pretty damn reliable. So my question is - what do you do when you're hungry and you want to go out or want to hang out with friends and you know that Places A, B, and C will have the right food and right price?

Movie review - Hot Fuzz

Having dinner and a movie at B & C's is always a pleasure. J always manages to make us laugh with his sense of humor (which is very much aligned with B&C's and mine). So he brought along the movie Hot Fuzz on DVD. I should say that I absolutely love this movie. If you liked Shaun of the Dead (also starring Simon Pegg) you will adore Hot Fuzz.

Long story made short: overachieving police officer in big, ol' London is banned to small, Stepford-wives kinda town Sandford. The perfect town for everyone. Except that, beneath the surface of an apparently calm and agreeable society, lurks a not-so-perfect secret society that is bent on disappearing anyone (namely Nicholas Angel, our super-cop) who meddles with their business. Disaster (and hilarity) ensues.

I would strongly recommend this movie if you enjoy British humor. Having lived in England long enough to enjoy it, I had a great time. Plus it didn't hurt that B prepared a wonderful dinner and we had amazing company to go with it!

Following my good friend Nomade Moderne's lead, I'm posting the movie trailer. I think that from now on, I might insert a few clips to accompany my movie reviews. Yay or nay?

Friday, August 24, 2007

The beauty of cleaning dishes before going to sleep

My Aunt (who passed away in 1999) used to say "I hate doing dishes. I hate it so much I do them the night before so that when I wake up I won't have to wash them first thing in the morning". I have almost always tried to follow her advice but sometimes I fail to do so. The past week has been so stressful and I've been so over-worked that I hadn't even had time to clean up my apartment.

Since I had invited J over for dinner last night (pre-movie), I had to actually clean up my place and make it somewhat guest-friendly. While cooking dinner, I cleaned up all utensils and cookware [a method I learned from my Mom] and then, after dinner I proceeded to wash dishes (much to his chagrin since he wanted to help)... Anyhow, I digress... so the point is that, by the time I got home from the movie (and I was already dead-tired) I simply crashed. And this morning, as I was making breakfast, I noticed my kitchen spotless, therefore I didn't need to start my day by cleaning up my kitchen. Good times :-)

Spending time... enjoying company...

Some of my readers may think that I probably spent the better half of my late teens and early twenties either in Mars or Pluto, because I had never actually thought about the idea of spending time with people. Ok, let me step back for a moment. I love spending time with people. That's not what I am talking about. For me, spending time with people wasn't something I thought about, I just did it.

I played volleyball, danced competitively, did volunteer work teaching adults how to read and write (literacy-related work), and in doing all of those activities, I spent time with people. I also hung out with my friends all the time. But it never occurred to me (continuing along the train of thought that I established in the earlier post on 'getting to know someone') that actually I was seeking someone's company.

It hasn't been until I have been in Canada that it has dawned on me that we humans as social beings tend to gather around our own kind, and that because of our gregarious nature, we want to spend time with people. I remember that I told my good friend H that I was "out-people'd" in the sense that I needed some time alone. But those periods when I need "space" are so brief that most of my friends never notice them. Only until I tell them that I do need some space do they realize that I actually sometimes enjoy my alone time. I am good friends with myself, you know :)

On a related side-bar, I also think that spending time with people can also be considered enjoying someone's company. I think that we seek the company of like-minded people. H asked me what does it say about me when a few of my friends have mind-reading as their super-power (see this post to understand what I'm talking about). Well, I'd say that maybe they got my power wrong, because I probably should also be a mind-reader, hehe.

But I think it says that I enjoy the company of people who are intelligent and thoughtful. However, I would say that I also enjoy the company of energetic, intense individuals (manipulating electricity and fire). I sometimes hate those little tests. But sometimes they do help me find out something about myself I didn't know.

Movie review - Super Amigos

The Vancouver Queer Film Festival is on, and I went to see Super Amigos with my good friend J, who bought tickets for this show. Super Amigos is a Canadian-Mexican co-production directed by Arturo Perez-Torres, and produced by

From the website, we learn that:
Super Amigos is a feature-length documentary that follows 5 modern-day superheroes in Mexico City as they fight for social justice and human rights.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, although I can understand if Canadians (or any other foreigner) would have a hard time understanding a few parts. In the director's effort to intertwine each superhero's history, sometimes pieces of the plot could have been missed.

The sub-titles were definitely spot-on, except for very, very few English-language grammar errors. That's actually something the translators should be congratulated for. Particularly because they were able to capture the meaning of many Mexican phrases that nobody would have understood if a traditional translator had done the job.

These human, non-super-powered individuals are wrestlers by night and social justice seekers by day. That's what makes them so unique. I bumped into another colleague at the movie (which was very nice because we had a chance to talk about the movie for a bit). I was making a comment about the fact that Super Barrio has been studied as a phenomenon of collective identity building. Every Mexican who is in need of justice is Super Barrio. Because his face is masked, he can be anyone. He can survive for generations! This is actually an excellent topic for social movement theory research (collective identity and framing theory, as well as resource mobilization).

So these are the five super-heroes:
  • Super Animal - Protecting animal rights and fighting against bull-fighting.
  • Ecologista Universal - Protecting the environment and fighting against natural christmas trees.
  • Super Gay - Protecting queer rights and fighting homophobia, in order to have a national Pride Day Parade.
  • Fray Tormenta - Protecting homeless children, this is a priest-turned-wrestler.
  • Super Barrio - Protecting the right to a decent livelihood, and fighting against illegal evictions.
I would like to believe that in Vancouver we wouldn't need these superheroes, but I would think that maybe Super Barrio and Fray Tormenta should pay us a visit. We certainly could be doing better in regards to homelessness and illegal evictions.

You can watch the trailer below (courtesy of YouTube)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eatery review - Taco Loco

It's really hard to find good, authentic Mexican food in Vancouver. The past couple of years we have witnessed a growth spurt of places that sell pseudo-Mexican food within the GVRD, particularly in the downtown area. There are a few, however, that are fairly authentic. Usually, these are holes-in-the-wall. That would be the case of Taco Loco. This is a small eatery located between 11th and 12th Avenue on Commercial Drive. The food is fairly authentic (with the exception that mole con pollo NEVER has sour cream drizzled and that the actual chicken should be a full breast instead of shredded chicken). For what I ate, I would say it was overpriced (mole con pollo for $7.00?). But we were hungry and needed food. Furthermore, considering that the mole was pretty authentic, I probably shouldn't complain that much. If you need a quick meal that is fairly authentic, you could stop by Taco Loco. However, the service is nothing short of dreadful. At some point, I'll have to compare it with other fairly solid places like Casablanca and Las Margaritas (yes, Las Margaritas has fairly decent Mexican food).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What should your superpower be?

This was just way too cool to let it pass! My close friends know that I am a superhero geek. From Superman to Wonder Woman to Spiderman to X-Men... You got superpowers? We're now BFFs! (best friends forever). This little test will tell you what superpower you should have ;) Enjoy! And please leave a note in the comments telling me what superpower you are supposed to have. Who knows, we might be sidekicks!

Your Superpower Should Be Manipulating Fire

You are intense, internally driven, and passionate.
Your emotions are unpredictable - and they often get the better of you.
Both radiant and terrifying, people are drawn to you.
At your most powerful, you feel like the world belongs to you.

Why you would be a good superhero: You are obsessive enough to give it your all

Your biggest problem as a superhero: Your moodiness would make it difficult to control your powers

Just what I needed - addicted to Appel Stroop

Copper Lioness' husband is Dutch (hence Dutch Boy). Anyhow, he apparently enjoys an apple spread called "Appel Stroop". Since I don't read Dutch I can't tell you what it is. But I can tell you that one piece of toast covered in Appel Stroop quickly turned into three and totally screwed up my carefully-conceived and followed diet. Just what I needed - now I am not only addicted to chocolate, Ethiopian food and gummy bears, but also addicted to Appel Stroop! Darn...

Commercial Drive is totally underrated

I seem to have picked up a tendency to use teenager-speak ("this is, like, totally cool" or my recent "best patio, like, ever!") and I am sure my friends find it kind of cute. Anyhow, this stage will soon be over, but I want to be able to say that Commercial Drive is like, totally underrated.

I have had the pleasure of helping Copper Lioness pack some of her stuff to send out to the Old Continent and therefore, have spent the past few days hanging around Commercial Drive. Let me just mention a few of the gems I walked by each day.
  • Addis Cafe and Harambe. -- Ethiopian food. Amazing food that you eat with your fingers. Enough said.
  • Wazubee - Cool bar to have a drink and hang out with your buddies.
  • Cafe Deux Soleil and Cafe Du Soleil - Similar names, different target markets, both totally cool.
  • Continental - Best coffee, like, ever. Well, with the exception of Delaney's.
  • Waves on Commercial Drive - Awesome place to use wireless.
  • Van East Cinema - the exterior may look crappy but it's showing The Bourne Ultimatum. Sorry, that's just too cool.
  • JJ Beans -- Great patio and interesting customers
    • And a whole slew of other awesome places ....
The list is way too long. I was going to make notes but I've been so tired from all the packing and stuff that I just didn't want to do it. But I promise I'll be doing lots (and by lots, I mean LOTS) of restaurant and coffee place reviews. Commercial Drive, here I come!

Getting to know someone

I don't think I ever reflected on dating in my teens or early twenties. I was too occupied with sports, arts, my studies and volunteering to have time to think about relationships. Love? What's that? So you mean I actually have to consider loving someone in a romantic way?

It wasn't until I moved to Canada, and started dating again that I actually thought about something that has recently struck me [yet again] as the process we follow to fall in love. It all starts (apparently) with getting to know someone.

I used to believe that people fell in love magically, that somehow sparks just flew between two individuals and voila! - now they're in love! Through time, my own experiences and the privilege of witnessing other friends' evolving romantic relationships, I have come to appreciate the value of getting to know people.

And this idea does not apply only to romantic relationships. It applies to all sorts of relationships. I pride myself in being a good friend and in having amazing friends as well. And if I have to reflect on how my great friends and I came together, I am pretty sure it all started with trying to get to know each other. It was the amazing process of discovering the person that I had met at a conference, at a friends' party, in my dorm, at my school, through another friend, over the internet (yay Facebook, MySpace and blogs!), etc.

And now that I do know these people in a more personal way, I am amazed at the fact that this idea (the value of getting to know someone, regardless of whether you want to date them or just be friends) was so neat. To my loved ones (friends and family), thank you for giving me the privilege of getting to know you.

UPDATE - Yes, someone has actually thought about the psychological process of getting to know someone!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Safeway and Superstore green bags :)

Sometimes I wonder if humanity will actually ever reach a point of high maturity. It only took us what, two thousands years to realize that we can indeed reduce our impact on the environment? Duh!

As a single male who loves to cook (and shop) I have always tried to find ways to reduce my shopping bag consumption. So I recently found out that two of my favorite Canadian stores have recycled shopping bags to help reduce usage of plastic bags when buying groceries. It was SO hard to find information on the web regarding Safeway's recycled shopping bag. However, on Superstore's website I did find a wealth of information on different products they have to help reduce our impact on the environment.

I have recycled shopping bags from both stores as I often shop in both of them (for different products). Great idea! And apparently, SuperValue also has them? I'd appreciate any information from my readers on other green bag providers. Thanks!

More reasons for Mexicans to be proud - Junior Water prizes in Stockholm

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) is an international competition for students between the ages of 15 to 20 to encourage them to work on water problems and devise ingenious solutions to these. The 2007 SJWP went to Adriana Alcántara-Ruiz, Dalia Graciela Díaz-Gómez, and Carlos Hernández-Mejía from Mexico. Congratulations!!!! [Of course and not surprisingly, not many Mexican media outlets have made a fuss about this... why am I not surprised? Although I am happy that sources like Proceso, La Jornada and Reforma actually did pick on it.]

Mexicans have also made a presence in Stockholm in the past. Andrea Biswas-Tortajada won an honorable mention in the 2005 Best Poster Award competition for her poster on "Impact of Global Mega-Conferences on Water" (see pag. 14 of Stockholm Waterfront September 2005). Also, Itzel Garcia-Silva and Liliana Vargas-Meneses from Mexico were also awarded Diplomas of Excellence in the 2005 SJWP competition (see pag. 20 of Stockholm Waterfront September 2005). Congratulations to them too!

Lorena Ochoa wins Canadian Open (golf)

There are many reasons to love Mexico and Mexican culture. It is sometimes frustrating that soccer football (traditionally the national sport) receives so much attention, and that so many negative things are said about Mexico (more so by some Mexican natives). As I often tell my friends, there are many good things about Mexico and not everything is negative (although I am keenly aware of those negative aspects). It saddens me thus to only hear the complaints and not to hear praise for Mexican people who work really hard.

One such great Mexican representative is Lorena Ochoa. A 25-yr old golfer, Ochoa just recently won the Women's Golf Canadian Open and the Women's British Open. She is currently the world's top ranked female golfer, which in and of itself should make all Mexicans proud. But we see the flags waving when Mexico wins two rounds of the World Soccer Cup. I want to ask those who live in Mexico now whether there is a national outburst of pride with Lorena Ochoa's accomplishments. I doubt that there is such collective hysteria as when the Mexican national team wins one or two rounds, but I just want to take this opportunity to congratulate Lorena for her achievements. Well done!

Movie review - The Bourne Ultimatum

Ok, so I am a fan of Matt Damon, I'll confess. I like the guy. He is a good actor, and he's done great work. But I am not 100% sure I am in love with The Bourne Ultimatum. I really had a great time hanging out with B, J, H, K, M, B and J (how funny - two of the couples within my group of friends have the same initials -- hehehe I just clued in). We went to Sodas for dinner and then the Dunbar Theatre to watch a late show of The Bourne Ultimatum. Now, pointer in case you want to do dinner and a movie. If you show your ticket stub from the Dunbar Theatre at Sodas you can get 10% discount on your bill, which is pretty damn cool. This particular group of friends is really fun to hang out with.

Anyhow, basically The Bourne Ultimatum is the story of how Jason Bourne finds out what happened to him and how he became a trained assassin. Lots of action (IMHO not enough, I wanted to see more ultimate-killer type of martial arts ) and fairly good acting on the part of Joan Allen, Matt Damon and Julia Stiles. Would recent viewers say that the plot lines get resolved? I don't think so, personally.

Movie review - Wedding Wars

I normally avoid movies that depict gay and lesbian issues in ways that perpetuate long-standing clichés (such as the idea that all hair stylists and florists are gay) like the plague. Nevertheless, this is an excellent and heart-warming movie that, while using some stereotypes, still tries to bring across an important message: everyone (regardless of sexual orientation) has the same rights.

In Wedding Wars, John Stamos portrays the gay brother of Eric Dane. Stamos' character (Shel) is planning Ben's wedding to the daughter of a Conservative governor (this movie is set in the US). So when Shel finds out that Ben is opposed to gay marriage (as is Ben's future father-in-law) he goes on strike. His efforts soon gather national support and thus frustrate his brother's impending nuptials. You can rent it at pretty much any video store, worth watching. It's heart-warming and makes the point quite well.

While we are on the subject, the Vancouver Queer & Video Film Festival [Out on Screen] is on from August 16th to 28th, 2007. Shows sell fast, so you might want to run and get your tickets now. "The Picture of Dorian Grey" with David Gallagher [of Seventh Heaven fame] looks worth seeing. A Mexican-Canadian production, Super Amigos, is also on the roster.

In the land of three remotes

I confess that I'm always two or three generations behind insofar electronics goes. I got a laptop years after everyone else already had one. I did not own a cell phone until 2005 and I had never switched on my TV until May 2007. So the past few months, it's been all about getting new equipment.

My very good friend A gave me a 27" TV, which actually does talk to my DVD player (generously given to me by my brother). When J was setting it up, he said a phrase that made me laugh and stuck to my head, so I thought I'd share it with you..."well, you are now in three-remote territory".

After the laughter I actually realized that I am indeed in the land of three remotes. I do not own a universal remote. And it does make things complicated. But to be fair, now I can invite good friends over to watch movies instead of having to use my laptop for movie shows (which was annoying because sometimes my laptop would malfunction right in the middle of a great movie).

On an unrelated note, sorry for not posting content over the weekend. Way too much socializing and very little time to write meaningful posts. I have prepared drafts on various topics, including the recently released study on diversity and social capital, movie review ("Wedding wars"), and updates on a socially-packed weekend. More coming soon...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Speaking in Español

Having a knack for languages (and being able to speak more than two) I've always enjoyed meeting people whose fluency goes beyond the usual "como esta?". Two of my very best friends [S and A, both female] speak what would be considered native-level Spanish, and three of my nieces do as well. As I was thinking about what I could blog about in this regard, I found out that Gwyneth Paltrow is set to co-host a food show in Spain. In case you guys didn't know, Paltrow is fluent in Spanish. I had the chance to hear a live interview with her and was quite impressed by her mastery of the language.

So if you happen to need some good help translating from English to Spanish and viceversa, you probably may want to go over to my very good friend Sara's blog. Her blog is intended to showcase terminology for social movement activists, particularly in the South. Qué buena idea!

UPDATE .- Actually I forgot to mention that L also speaks excellent Español. L is now in South America, but she is going to come back to me soon!!!

Bar review - Mahony & Sons (UBC)

I went to Mahony & Sons with my good friend JH who had just defended her Masters thesis. She's super smart, super sweet and really fun to hang out, and we had to celebrate. Two colleagues joined for a bit and then it was just J and I, and we had a long nice chat over a jug of beer (which I am proud to say, we finished all by ourselves - and I still could walk home).

On to the review. Best patio, like, ever! [insert early twenties voice]. Excellent beer. Top notch service, the waitress was super attentive and really friendly. Yam fries rock. Would I recommend Mahony & Sons for a drink and some appetizers? Absolutely.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Garbage wars in Vancouver

While I have to say that I am quite happy that the Vancouver civic strike has made people are now thinking again about another environmental issue other than climate change (hey, we do have other environmental problems, you know?), I can't fathom why the Vancouver strike hasn't settled yet. Well, actually I can... I know, it's all about lack of consensus ... *sigh* And you would believe that in a society where consensus-building is considered as such a big part of public policy-making, we would be able to settle strikes fast (as Delta, Richmond and other municipalities within the Greater Vancouver Regional District have already done).

Anyhow, this is actually part of a public announcement. Our fellow blogger @ Rant!Vancouver has requested that local Vancouver bloggers post a link to his website, as he recently found out that someone had driven to a park and dumped garbage there, so he is trying to find said driver.

In the mean time, please consider following the recycle hierarchy, compost, reduce garbage generation in each household and more importantly, please don't forget that there are many other environmental problems that have synergistic negative effects, so if you are worried about climate change, please also think (and act) to reduce other potential sources of environmental deterioration (such as e-waste, excessive water consumption, etc.). Thanks.

It's all about the equipment - installment # 5

This time I'm not blogging about the equipment I recently acquired (as I usually do) but about the equipment I should have acquired. A few weeks back, I saw what I thought was a really good backpack on sale, and I figured "hey I need a new backpack, why not", went ahead and bought it. Well, I paid the price of a bad purchase.

I bought a couple of bottles of wine to bring to one of the parties I recently attended (one Chardonnay and one Cabernet-Sauvignon). You know, in case someone likes red and somebody likes white wine. So in an effort to be environmentally friendly (and given the current status of garbage collection in Vancouver), I refused to have the bottles packed in plastic bags and instead put them in said backpack.

No later than two minutes, my backpack straps got untied and the contents fell right off. Of course, as you can imagine, disaster ensued. Luckily, only the Chardonnay broke but obviously, the content of my backpack got totally soaked in white wine. And even luckier, it wasn't the red wine that broke.

The part that really annoyed me is that some of my research notebooks got totally soaked, which doesn't bode well for my notes. I haven't even wanted to open them yet (I just let them dry off) but I am just bracing for the worst.

So the moral of the story? If you are going to buy a backpack, make sure it is a good one. I know for sure my next backpack will be a very good one. Not doing it again!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Saying goodbye is hard to do ...

This week I had to go through it again. One of my best friends, Copper Lioness is moving to the Netherlands with her husband (Dutch Boy). This is one of the cutest couples I've ever come across. Sweet, smart, well-educated and with hearts of gold. They couldn't have just one farewell party so they organized two. I went to both, of course. Hey, these are people that are near and dear to my heart! I can't not show up.

The first one was awesome. I went with A to this one. A and I are extremely close and we treat each other like siblings, which is awesome. She's also good friends with Copper Lioness. On Saturday, I went to the party with H, B and a friend of H. We met lots of fun people. This second going away party was just as fun as the previous one, with the difference that at this one I profusely demonstrated my capacity to be over-protective.

I will definitely visit Copper Lioness and Dutch Boy when I am in Europe next (potentially Paris trip in the next few weeks). But I'll definitely miss them and it really does suck that I have to say good-bye yet again! :-(

Music review - Downfall by matchbox twenty

Moving to Canada meant for me a profound transformation of my musical tastes. I first started listening to groups such as matchbox twenty, The Tragically Hip and the Matthew Good Band and Muse. Admittedly, only Tragically Hip and Matthew Good Band are really Canadian, but these bands I mentioned have started to shape my taste for rock bands.

The lyrics of Downfall by matchbox twenty (actually most of any of their stuff I've heard) are somewhat annoying for me because I find them portraying co-dependent people (e.g. "Be my savior and I'll be your downfall"). Excuse me? I'll be your downfall"? No, no, no! I pride myself in not being co-dependent. That's why I don't like the vast majority of their lyrics. I have the same feeling with "Bent".

Now that I've got that out of the way, I love their music. This is awesome rock. If I ever get a chance to sing with a live band, I want to sing this song. The version you can appreciate here is sung live. I can tell you this much: it sounds exactly like the version I have from their 2004 album. That's really rare, that a band sounds the same live than non-live.

The video starts here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Restaurant review - Browns Social House

A large majority of my friends live in the South Granville/Kitsilano area. I lived there myself for almost 6 years before moving further east, and therefore I know where to eat in Kits if need be. K and L had wanted to try Browns Social House for brunch and I agreed, so off we went.

I want to imagine that this place is much better at night, but I can't help but agree with the first comment I found on on Browns Social House. The music was super loud, so I had to ask them to lower the volume. And, at best, their brunch food is mediocre. I ordered a basic brunch with eggs with sausage and toast which was overpriced at $ 9.00. I had to customize my order to have it with scrambled eggs (which are in no way close to Burgoo's or Crave on Main's scrambled eggs). My friends K and L requested a chicken salad that was totally drenched in dressing. Overall, not a nice experience.

Now, the staff is totally sweet and nice, but they really need to update their brunch-serving skills. There's an art in how to serve brunch food. You need to offer sauces (hot sauce, HP sauce), refills on coffee and water, jam for your toast and ketchup. I had to request, well, pretty much everything. And the servers (again, totally sweet) looked almost puzzled that we were asking for "can you bring me some HP sauce, hot sauce, jam"?

I eat out a lot, and I am a loyal customer of a lot of different restaurants, from very fancy, high-end to holes-in-the-wall. But I can tell you this much: I am not coming back to Browns Social House. As we say in my family "debut y despedida" (debut and farewell). If I want awesome brunch, I can go to any of Crave on Main, The Nice Cafe, Sunset Grill, and the list goes on. Browns does not qualify in my books as the place to go for brunch. Maybe I'll try it for dinner or drinks. But not any time soon.

UPDATE - I had to edit this entry because my very good friend L reminded me that it was incredible that we had to basically ask for scrambled eggs and that Browns' scrambled eggs do not compare in any way, shape or form to Crave on Main or Burgoo's. So if you want unbelievable scrambled eggs (and brunch, in general) - two of my favorite restaurants, Crave or Burgoo. I recently had brunch at The Nice Cafe and Rhizome, two of my other favorites.

Browns Social House Kitsilano in Vancouver

Friday, August 10, 2007

TUI - Texting Under the Influence

I refused to own a cell phone for the longest time, up until 2005, when I found out that my work and personal life were both so inextricably linked to the use of a cell phone that I had to get one. I basically got it so that I could call my parents all the time from wherever I was (I'm a bit of a worry-wart, so I tend to worry about how they're doing).

Now that I am back in Vancouver, I use my cell phone all the time, although I do have a land line. I use it because I have a pretty active social life and people love to call me. If I didn't have a cell phone, I wouldn't be able to organize my social calendar at all. Anyhow, a number of our friends were chatting about how there has been a shift from 'dialing under the influence' (DUI, the same acronym used for "driving under the influence" (although my friend A also calls it 'don't drink and dial', similar to 'don't drink and drive') to 'texting under the influence'.

On the night of the finale of the HSBC Celebration of Lights, I was guilty of intexticating. This made-up word means 'texting under the influence'. Yeah, I sent a drunken text message to someone I'm interested in. And another one to a very close friend of mine saying "miss you and wish you were here". So, really, nothing to be ashamed of. But it's funny how things shift.

So the lesson, my friends: don't dial, text, email or blog under the influence. Bad things can happen! According to Wikipedia, drunk dialing often associated with booty calling :-) [but I plead the Fifth here]... Not that there's anything wrong with booty calls, but I'm just saying ...

Statistical improbabilities?

About two weeks ago, a bunch of my good friends left town or were unable to meet with me. One was in San Francisco, one in Edmonton, one in Montreal (visiting with another very close friend of mine who just moved there), one was in Nunavut , one was in Chicago, one is in Africa on holiday, three (yes, you heard right) were in Calgary for the long weekend, three were busy with work, one is in Croatia, and the story goes on.

So in the end the Blogathon weekend was somewhat of a nightmare for me in terms of emotional support. I won't deny that I did receive moral support (and generous donations), my out-of-town friends gave me a call as soon as they got back, and even my friends who were busy with work called me over the weekend to see how I was doing. I also had the the moral support of my monitor and Rebecca (Miss604), who also Blogathoned (in her case, for the Surrey Food Bank). But I was really unable to hang out in person with my close friends (something extremely rare for me). My weekends are usually booked solid because I love seeing people in person.

So last weekend, when I was having breakfast with B, H, and A, I complained [of course, jokingly!] that they had abandoned me. But this rare occurrence (so many of my friends either out of town or unable to hang out with me due to work/personal commitments) made me think about statistical improbabilities. How likely is it for someone like me, with such a strong and solid network of friends, to have a vast majority of my close friends unable to hang out?

I consider myself a quantitative person. I like data and I like making statistical inferences. But I just found this extremely funny, the fact that so many good friends were out of town or super busy. There is no way to make sense through statistics. I guess it's summer :-) And for the love of God you guys, please don't do this to me again!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Music review - Say it Right by Nelly Furtado

For more obvious reasons than the fact that she hails from beautiful British Columbia, I really like Nelly Furtado's music. Born in Victoria (as indicated by her Wikipedia biography), Nelly has a very broad variety of musical tastes and this is reflected in her creative song output. This is perhaps one of the songs that I like the most. Say It Right has amazing tones and Nelly's voice really shines. This collaboration with Timbaland is considered "R&B" by Wikipedia, but I really don't care much how it's classified as much as how enjoyable it is. Whether working out, writing or reading, I can always listen to this tune. I found the video shown below.

To increase Vancouver's friendliness, say "Ok!"

So a few weeks back, I was reading an article by Agasel on Beyond Robson that promoted the use of a cute little button (see picture on BR's link or Ok! Social website) that is intended to promote friendly behavior on our part. That is, if you see me wearing my Ok button, you should feel free to approach me and strike a conversation.

I am the kind of guy who would actually need to be looking for the Ok buttons, because I have a tendency to strike up conversations with strangers like there's no tomorrow. And I tend to be a bit of a social butterfly, but the truth is, I enjoy the idea of the Ok button because I think Vancouver's shell sometimes can be hard to crack (I have a post that I am preparing on Vancouver's effect on people but I am not ready to post it yet).

From the OkSocial website, I quote:


It's pretty hard to randomly speak to someone you do not know on the streets of Vancouver. Even in public spaces, without a personal reference or formal introduction, it just isn't commonly done. Making small talk in the course of our daily lives contributes to a sense of community and well being. In addition, a chance conversation can lead to new friendships, adventures, and experiences.

The OK button

An OK button is handsome and functional. You wear it as you navigate your day. It tells people that you're not only great to talk to, but you like the idea of a warmer and more open city. It's an icon to let people know that it's OK if they actually try and speak with you. That's all there is to it.

At any rate, Steve from was kind enough to send me my Ok buttons for free, which I really really appreciated (I live in Vancouver). But I just recently found out that he and his team are shipping them all over the world, so I'd recommend you to go and get your Ok button and start striking conversations! Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any weirdos that approach you whether you're wearing your Ok button or not.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Where do you belong in? I belong in ... Paris!!!

Everyone who knows me even if just a little bit knows that I am in love with the City of Light... Paris, France. I know the city like the palm of my hand and have been there longer and many more times than I care to remember. With all these internet memes, I always wondered if somebody had done a quiz of which city best represented you, or what city do you belong in. Well, somebody has already thought of that... and I have no idea how, but they are right!

You Belong in Paris

Stylish and expressive, you were meant for Paris.
The art, the fashion, the wine!
Whether you're enjoying the cafe life or a beautiful park...
You'll love living in the most chic place on earth.

Is Vancouver a toxic city?

I know all too well the perils of posting a half-baked idea on the web for everyone to see. However, this is a question I have had in my mind for quite a while. Recently some people I care for (and some people I am starting to care about) have indicated that this city (beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia) is poison for them. The context being, that we are able to find wonderful friends but that finding steady, true, meaningful love in this city is not easy and that they'd be better off in other cities.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I am lucky enough that I have built a strong network of close friends and a large enough network of buddies/acquaintances in the city. My close friends always have my back and are always there when I need them. I am very fortunate in this regard. I have also fallen in love while living here (however ephemeral that relationship might have been). On the other hand, this is the city where I had my heart broken for the first (and so far only) time. I don't really know if I will be able to find a mate here. Vancouver seems sometimes so... clique-ish.

So, having posed the context, my larger question is - is this phenomenon occurring to more people? Do you feel that Vancouver is not giving you what you need? Is it the city? Is it the folks living in the city? Or what is it? I am very curious to know, particularly because it's not the first time someone has told me that they don't feel at home here (and I am talking, some people who are born and raised in Vancouver!)

Upcoming Events: Michael Franti and Spearhead on August 19th

My very good friend Nomade Moderne has just informed me that Michael Franti and Spearhead will be playing on August 19th at the beautiful Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park (Vancouver), and that Rastrillos (a Mexican ska-reggae band) will be opening for them. This being the case, I am seriously considering attending the concert, since we both really like MF&S *and* Rastrillos. For an excellent review of Rastrillos recent performance at David Lam Park during the Vancouver Jazz Festival, mosey over to his blog.

Restaurant review - Ebisu (Richmond)

As I had indicated before, I rarely go to Richmond, unless I am visiting my good friends B and C. They suggested to do dinner at a new sushi place, Ebisu in Richmond, so off we went. The place in itself is neat and somewhat sophisticated. It was super busy, which made our wait to order rather long. And to be very frank, I do appreciate a short wait. Anyhow, we ordered our food, which was good although their specialty sushi rolls were (how do I say this nicely) strange. They looked very pretty but they tasted weird.

Prices are steep for specialty rolls (4 pieces for $6 CND?!) but overall the rolls are excellent. I ordered gyozas and they were super tasty (particularly with the sauce they brought). I also shared some of B and C's BC rolls and California rolls, which were big and filling.

Would I go all the way to Richmond to eat at Ebisu? I probably wouldn't since I live in Vancouver, but to be very fair, the place was packed. I am going to guess that these people live in Richmond and value a nice sushi place. And this is a nice place, with good food (albeit slightly expensive). Overall rating: good.

UPDATE - I hadn't realized that there was another Ebisu on Robson. Some reviewers on DineHere.Ca indicate that they have had a great experience eating here.

Body image, weight loss and fairness?

By now, everyone who is close to me knows that I am exercising like a maniac and undergoing a diet (which I have admit has had super fast results). These results have even made many good friends of mine say that they're envious of how fast my body responds to exercise (although I am very sure that this is said in jest, because they do know this is important to me).

A very good friend of mine, L, was mentioning the other day that she wondered where the fairness was in the ability of some men to lose weight faster than women do. I am not 100% sure if this factoid is true, but according to some, women have more fat than men. If this is the case, there are two possible explanations for differences in weight loss speeds.

a) That women require to have more fat for their metabolic functions than men do.

b) That women start from a higher body fat percentage and thus it takes them longer.

Now, I would hazard a guess that, according to mass transfer laws, women *should* lose weight faster than men if it is true that women actually do have more body fat than men, since the gradient is higher. But this website argues for an evolutionary explanation (my understanding of their explanation is that men are hard-wired to be more athletic than women). What do you think?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Music review - Rock the Nation by Michael Franti & Spearhead

I had been a fan of Michael Franti & Spearhead for the longest time, but now that I own an iPod, I've been listening to a lot of MF&S tunes. The one that made me dance while walking around the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood (if you saw a guy with a hoodie and shorts dancing around, yeah, that was me).

The one song that made me dance around while out and about for a walk was "Rock the Nation". Funny how things go, I never found the exact version that made me dance. But I found the version shown below.

It's all about the equipment - installment 4

I have decided to actually continue my series of "It's all about the equipment" posts, so I thought I'd include one piece of equipment I have recently acquired. My very good friend H gave me an early celebratory gift that he knew I lacked. Shame on me, I never had owned an iPod (*gasp*). I just never saw the need for it.

I used to own a portable cassette player, then I transitioned to a portable CD player (actually an excellent piece of equipment which was stolen from my house last year, I could jog with it). So I thought I'd never own any portable music device, because I was so angry having lost my CD player.

Well, this year H and I had conversations about iPod and he kept asking me why I didn't own one. I just thought I never needed one (even though I exercise regularly, commute everywhere by bus and walk a lot, all circumstances under which using a portable music device makes the experience all the more pleasant).

Those friends of mine who know me well know also that I only plugged my TV this year (actually in May of 2007), after having owned one for over a year and a half. So I am quite slow in adapting new technologies or gadgets (unless they're work-related). Anyhow, H thought I needed an iPod and so he generously gave me one.

It's time to confess that I have become addicted to iPod. So much that I'm actually considering the possibility of buying a Nike+iPod kit to track the calories I burn while exercising. My iPod I think is 30 GB, and H kindly left me lots of music in it, so now I'm walking and commuting all over the place while listening to awesome tunes. How could I have lived without an iPod for so long?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Tearjerker movies? Missing on the list are...

After finding out that, as Miss604 predicted, I am technically now part of the Vancouver blogging community (I found myself in the Urban Vancouver news aggregator, which is actually quite an honour) and recognizing that there are other better known bloggers in Vancouver, I checked out Darren Barefoot's blog. From there I backtracked to Meg Fowler's blog and found that she talked about Entertainment Weekly's list of the top 50 tearjerker movies.

I consider myself a movie fiend, and thus I was quite disappointed to see that they had missed a few films that have caused my eyes to well (or fully weep, as the case may be). They did hit the nail in the head with most of them, but they also left a few that I thought were worthy of a nomination. Interestingly, they did ask "what did we miss?". This is my response, and I would like to ask you my dear readers to provide your own responses in the comments section.

So without further ado, here is my list of "I Don't Understand How You Could Have Omitted This Tearjerker Film" movies that should have made EW's list and did not.

One True Thing: Admittedly, there are personal reasons why this movie makes me cry nonstop (I lost someone I loved very much to lung cancer). Nevertheless, Meryl Streep's performance was Oscar-worthy (yet she was denied that year, despite having been nominated). If you rent it, I would recommend watching it with a close friend or someone you love, as you'll probably need some emotional support.

Lorenzo's Oil
: The true story of a mom and dad who are desperately trying to find a cure to their son's incurable (and degenerative) disease. In addition to the fact that Sarandon and Nolte's performances are top-notch, this movie reminds me of my parents and their never-ending support and encouragement.

: There is something about Susan Sarandon (nominated for an Oscar I think five times and winner once) that just makes this movie totally worth watching. But I think Julia Roberts' performance brought her to a new level. The story of a dying Mom who helps her ex-husband's girlfriend through the transition to becoming the stepmom to her children, this film is guaranteed to give you lots of opportunities to make use of your tissues.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Even though there's lots of martial arts in this movie, I can guarantee you that you won't be able to keep your eyes dry towards the end of the movie. This movie is a gem.

Awakenings: Proving that he can be a leading drama actor, Robin Williams breaks our hearts as a doctor who attempts an experimental treatment on a group of catatonic people. He is able to wake them up but just for a short period of time. Bring lots of tissue when watching this movie and cuddle up with your loved one. Robert DeNiro was nominated for an Oscar for his phenomenal performance in this movie.

What Dreams May Come
: Again, another phenomenal performance by Robin Williams, who loses his children. Further in the movie, he also dies (can it get any sadder? yes it can!). Anabella Sciorra made me cry, as did Williams, with their performances.

Rounding up a great weekend :)

I probably should've blogged in reverse. My weekend started on Friday with a phenomenal dinner (sushi) at a place I will review later. The dinner was not the highlight of the evening. It was the company. J picked me up and drove to C and B's and then we headed for sushi (review forthcoming). Then we went back to B and C's place and consumed copious amounts of red wine. B and C are two of the most caring people I've ever met, and they really are always looking out for me. For that, I am very grateful. I absorbed so much good energy and positive vibes in the past weekend that I feel fully recharged. Friday night, Saturday morning/afternoon and Sunday all day, three days of only positive energy, great friends, good food and amazing entertainment. What more can you ask for?

Oh, and on Friday night, the night cap was a great chat with D who had M over for a visit. They hadn't seen each other in 20 years so it was a great reunion. I think by then I was a bit above my tolerance level for CH3CH2OH. So I ran on Saturday not only hungover but still processing the alcohol. Whooops :)

Pride in Vancouver

This was, by far, the best Pride Day I have spent in Vancouver in the last decade. It got off to a great kickstart with breakfast at Paul's Omelettery with B, A and H. We then headed to downtown and met J and B. We watched the Pride Parade until about 3, when we headed to the Beer Garden. Quite disappointed I must add. Prices were a bit steep, and the entrance fee (though by donation, and with a suggested $ 2.00 - I ended shortchanged with $ 5.00). Not a big deal, but I felt uncomfortable.

The negative sensation subsided really quickly as I had a really good time with all my friends. We then headed to J's place and had gin and tonic, planned our camping trip and organized our weekly movie night. J is a great host, and he and B are such a cute couple! We nibbled and drank until they headed to a T-Dance and B, A and H and I went for dinner. We couldn't find a place, so we settled for Vera's Burger. Luckily, J (B's boyfriend) joined us for dinner.

Then A had to head home so H, B, J and I went to Delaney's for coffee and dessert. It was amazing. I can't really recall the last time I had had so much fun at Pride. The great thing is that this particular group of friends created the conditions and opportunities for new gatherings and social activities, which I really value. I am very blessed with the friends I have. So, yeah - for me, it was a Happy Pride!

UPDATE - Little omission that is unforgivable. From brunch at Paul's we took the AquaBus over to the Aquatic Centre. There are few things more enjoyable than having a bunch of your friends take the AquaBus with you. I may sound dorky, but I really enjoyed it. Actually I felt that the whole day flowed unbelievably well. We all had a really great time. I was actually quite amazed at how energetic my friends are. They kept up with my pace. We spent over 12 hours together! :-)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Restaurant review - Joe's Grill

With Pride weekend happening (B.C. day is on Monday, which ends up being a holiday), this is the best opportunity to catch up with old friends. So I ended up contacting S and R, and they called up A and P so that we all could go for brunch. I chose Joe's Grill on Davie and almost Burrard because I had heard rave reviews of the place. I am sure I came to Joe's Grill at some point with L, early in our friendship. But that was years ago, so I had to come again.

Anyhow, Joe's Grill did not disappoint. I had the "Chopped Steak" (scrambled eggs with a beef patty) and it was awesome. I could almost say that Joe's Grill's eggs rival those of Crave on Main or Burgoo on 10th and Sasamat. The food is inexpensive, very filling and the service was top-notch. The best part of it was seeing S and R again (they are close and dear friends of mine) and the fact that they invited A and P really was the icing on the cake.

I would strongly recommend Joe's Grill for brunch. I would like to try Score or The Fountainhead, I am sure they have good food. Happy Pride everyone!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Music review - La flor de la manana by Presuntos Implicados

There is no better way to start a nice work day than listening to Presuntos Implicados. This group of Spaniards lead by vocalist Sole Gimenez have made a name for themselves in the music scene worldwide. Their lyrics are filled with passion and fire, and their music is sublime. The song played in this video, "La Flor de la Manana" (the morning flower) might be one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.

The video starts here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Update Blogathon 2007 - $ 151.63 USD raised! :-)

Dear supporters of "Random Thoughts of a Student of the Environment"'s Blogathon 2007 for "A Loving Spoonful", thank you very, very much for donating! We raised $ 151.63 USD that I am sure will go a long way to help people in Vancouver living with HIV/AIDS that really need a meal. By now, most of you have been receiving reminder e-mails. You can donate via A Loving Spoonful's online form (I contacted them re: the security, http instead of https, I still haven't heard back from them) or through other means (e.g. a cheque). You don't necessarily need to do this ASAP, you can do this at your earliest convenience. Your support during the Blogathon meant the world to me. To those of you who donated (you know who you are). THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Read all of my Blogathon posts here.

Music Review - I'm Afraid of Americans by David Bowie

First of all, and full disclaimer. I am NOT afraid of Americans. I am proud to have many friends who are Americans, and they are lovely people. The thing is, this song is super intense, and my neighbour was playing it out loud so I had to find the video. David Bowie, is in my humble opinion, a musical genius. The video is one of David's live appearances.

Parks and off-leash dogs: Rules are broken everywhere

I just came back from a run at Robson Park (which is a designated non-off-leash park, i.e. if you want to walk your dog there you need to leash it) and what do I find? Two women with large dogs and one man with a tiny dog, all of them off-leash. There are plenty of signs in the park that advise the owners to pick up after their dogs AND LEASH THEM. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs. I really do. But what I find annoying is breaking the rules.

There are several off-leash parks, why break the rules? So this only comes to confirm my thought that rules are broken everywhere. I am by no means a prude. But when we say that we live in a society that abides by the rules and then I walk out the door and first thing I see is someone breaking those rules, it just irks me.

At Beyond Robson, you can find a discussion on off-leash parks (although in this case, I think Degan was describing the exactly opposite situation, someone having a picnic at an off-leash park -- in my case, I was running in a park where dogs must be leashed).