Friday, November 30, 2007
The idea of Corporate Social Responsibility is very often associated with sustainability because caring for the environment is just one of many ways in which corporations can be responsible with society, taking into account their needs and wants [the Wikipedia entry on CSR is currently nominated to be discussed for neutrality, but overall, I think it's ok].
I think Rhizome is at the forefront of socially responsible restaurants. Beyond the idea of the lentils where you "pay what you feel", one of the key elements that Rhizome brings not only to the East Vancouver/Mount Pleasant community but to the larger Vancouver society is that this is a place where social justice is one of the main themes. In an growingly corporate world, Rhizome is a breath of fresh air.
As for The Elbow Room, I used to be a steady customer for many years, but since it's downtown and I am now an East Vancouver boy, I rarely have brunch there anymore. However, this is definitely a responsible restaurant. For decades now, The Elbow Room owners have collected donations for A Loving Spoonful (a charitable organization for which I have Blogathoned in the past).
I believe that there is an increasing trend towards corporate social responsibility in the service industry. For example, some coffee shops like Lugz will only serve ethically-produced coffee. Other restaurants will serve fish that is certified with OceanWise. Green Table is an organization that helps restaurants become more green. There is a myriad of additional examples out there (I just don't know them all).
I would be interested in hearing more stories of socially-responsible restaurants in the Metro Vancouver area, if you have any.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Thus, we wanted to celebrate M's birthday there and therefore I ended up standing outside since 4:30pm. M and I had agreed she'd show up at 5:30pm (bad idea since I could have gotten us a table at 5:00pm sharp, since the line was short). By the way, thank you to the guy who loaned me his cell phone to call M's office (another reason why I need a new cell phone!).
Anyhow, we got to seat at around 5:45 pm and ordered edamame, go mae, a few rolls and some tofu. And I am going to say that I found the sushi not as good as Kaide's, and certainly not as good as Kishu Mountain. So I'm quite disappointed. For all the hype (and having to stand out in the cold for a good half hour), neither M nor I were impressed.
Would I go back to Toshi's? No. Definitely not. Maybe they were having an off day, but with two great choices for sushi where I don't need to stand out in the cold. It was good to know first-hand about Toshi's though. The guy who loaned me his cell phone was raving about Toshi's (and funny how it goes, we had already bumped into each other before, but I doubt he remembers) and I was quite underwhelmed. No more Toshi's for me, please.
I won't miss...
- The screaming kid that lives upstairs from me and his running around, stomping on my ceiling (his floor) on purpose. I will most certainly not miss his inability to shut up even when his parents yell at him.
- The gross weather we have been having. Excuse me, cold and slushie rain? No, thanks. I'm all for warm and dry climates. For a while, anyways.
- The lengthy commutes to and from my office, nor having to commute everywhere by bus (ah, the beauties of a small city).
- Some incredibly expensive food items ($ 1.00 for three limes? wow, for that money I buy three kilograms where I'm headed!
- My friends in the Metro Vancouver area. Each one of them is unique and I value their friendship in and of itself. I am very privileged to have the friends I do, and I will miss them dearly. If it weren't because I have to go, I would most likely stay for Christmas and the New Year. I am that confident that I would have a great time with them.
- My tiny apartment. Even though it is indeed tiny, and my neighbours upstairs are incredibly noisy, this is my own personal space and I am very happy with what I have. It's a small place, but it's cozy and more important, it's my own (I gave up on roomies a long, long, long time ago).
- The natural beauty of British Columbia. Especially Vancouver and the North Shore. I often go to Deep Cove, West Vancouver, Lonsdale Quay, Porteau Cove and Stanley Park for relaxation and to gather my thoughts. Some of my fondest memories are associated with these places. I will miss this.
- Playing volleyball on Saturdays and Sundays. Both my teams are lovely people and I have a ton of fun with them. And (even though I thought that an old dog couldn't learn new tricks), my game has improved a lot.
- The sense of self I feel while living in Vancouver. Since I live on my own here, I feel extremely independent. More than anything, I feel myself. When I go and visit my parents, I feel in many ways, constrained. I don't think I'm often the Raul I know.
- The opportunity to mend and salvage a couple of friendships. Given that I will be away from the city for a fairly lengthy visit, I won't have the opportunity to try and mend a number of relationships that, for one reason or another, have cooled off. Since statistically, we are bound to bump into each other, I'd like to make amends with these people -- but that will have to wait until the New Year.
- Talking to my brother every day. Since we live only a province away (thank you long distance phone plans), my brother and I talk over the phone quite regularly. I will definitely miss hearing his voice and having both profound conversations and totally silly chats. But well, this one can be fixed since we can talk on the phone while I am there.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
However, I think this time I may have some very fresh news for you loyal Vancouver and non-Vancouver readers. From the owners of Trixi's, one of the most fabulous crepe places this side of Paris, I got the following email:
Dear Trixi's Customers,I love going to Trixi's and have been a loyal customer for almost two years now. And I am also a strong supporter of businesses on Cambie, both promoting events and being a customer of Cambie businesses (even if it means having to navigate and negotiate street intersections, etc.) So I would strongly encourage you all to go on December 9th. Furthermore, since I will not be in Canada by then, would readers please go back to this post and leave a comment with your experience at the event? Thank you.
It's been a while that you have heard from us. We have some great news. As of Sunday, December the 2nd, the trench will be paved over and cross streets from 16th to 19th will be open again. In order to celebrate the progress of the Canadaline construction in the Village the Cambie Village Business Association together with Canadaline are inviting friends and neighbours to "Christmas on Cambie" on Sunday, December 9th from 12 pm to 5 pm.
For more info see http://www.cambievillage.com/.
We are very excited about this and hope you will come out to visit sometime soon.
We look forward to seeing many of our customers again and serving you one (or two) of our delicious crepes.
Ernst and Beatrix
[Note] The link for Trixi's is actually a Canada Line link, but they are promoting Trixi's, for which I didn't find a website. But you can look at the Cambie Village Business Association website for more info.
I really love this type of food (gumbos, burgoos, etc), and since my good friend LM suggested that I try less wheat, I have enjoyed cooking these dishes. The only problem is I can't stop myself! I bought a type of sausage called "garlic tube" and I have eaten it in scrambled eggs and sandwiches like there's no tomorrow. That's the only problem with me. Once I enjoy a specific flavor, it's hard for me to say no to it.
Promotional merchandise for a band, record label, or other entity in the music business, usually distributed at concerts. May include t-shirts, stickers, promo CDs, posters, etc. Often free, but not necessarily.[Urban Dictionary]I picked up some swag from The Ark Store, on Main Street and the corner of 10th Avenue. I love this store. They have some ridiculously amazing things. I saw a beautiful set of two necklaces that have pieces of a puzzle (two pieces that fit perfectly and have the words ME and YOU) engraved in brass. These necklaces almost made me melt.
My friend L purchased a set of awesome tights, and in general I'd say the store is awesome. You should check it out.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I am also printing out travel itineraries, location of hotels where I am going to be staying at while away, etc. Kind of funny, actually. And again I am not sure why the exhaustion. It's only past midnight and I am unable to function (and still waking up at 6 am darn it).
I also really like the fact that it can do double-sided (not automatically as other Laserjets used to be able to do, but still it does allow me to save paper AND it's not as complicated as you may think). I have been able to print full articles (2 in 1 pages) and envelopes. Pretty near, I tell you.
I know that Darren Barefoot did extend an invitation to other local bloggers and I should've taken him up on the offer, but honestly I am not printing a lot of beautiful color pages. Although come to think about it, I'm now thinking what I want to print... hehe maybe I'll just have to ask (nicely) Rebecca or Tanya to print some stuff for me.
Ooops... don't you hate it when a good idea comes to you like, weeks after you should've implemented it? I now think I recall what I needed to print in color and I can't as I don't have a color printer. Darn it!
Monday, November 26, 2007
As for stage 1 of my travel preparations, I cleaned up the fridge, sent a couple of letters on the mail, wrote a page of commentaries I needed to submit, copied and pasted a few slides to prepare for a presentation I am giving next week. So I did get a lot accomplished within a very short period of time. Nevertheless, I'm pretty stressed and don't want to forget anything. It's like I want to make sure my trip is seamless.
Suggestions for preparation before a long trip?
Sunday, November 25, 2007
However, this week (and particularly the past couple of days), I have been feeling very much like myself again. I have listened to "Bye Bye Brasil" by Bossacucanova on my iPod non-stop, and I have had a chance to socialize a lot with my close friends like old times (e.g. not worried sick that I wouldn't have enough time to finish my projects). I did American Thanksgiving with a group of friends, did dinner with another group of friends and have scheduled dinners with K and M (independently, as M's birthday was last week and I owe her a celebration; and K really wants to try Ethiopian food). Furthermore, HZ and CS had me, BS and JH for dinner the other night (chicken fajitas), and we had an amazing time. Clearly, this couple (HZ and CS) are made for each other. They complement each other so well it's amazing. My friends BS and JH also hit it off, and I am really very lucky that they may hang out too. I am very lucky, really, because I have the group of friends that I do.
I spent some quality time with J as well, and we had great conversations (as we usually do). But one thing I noticed when I was talking to him and it really stuck with me was that, even though my knee hurts, my serve is totally nowhere to be found, and I didn't hit as hard as I usually do, I feel very happy with my volleyball. I feel happy with my work and at peace with myself. More than that, I feel myself again.
I know I can do things, I know I am talented and I know I am very gifted, not only in terms of my capabilities and my own work, but also in the social and family realms. I have friends who care for me and love me very much. I have a family, I have a great life and I am successful. I feel like I am myself again. I feel like I am the Raul I used to know.
It did take me a while to realize this to its full extent, and to feel like a star again. So, to my loved ones (friends and family), my loyal blog readers, my former students, everyone who has a place in my heart and in my life, I can summarize how I feel in just one sentence:
I AM BACK!!!!!!!!
- I do have a social life.
- Said social life is quite busy.
- I need to be available to friends and family.
- I sometimes need to phone people and there are no pay phones near by.
- I need to be able to text-message my friends.
- I need an alarm clock (I don't own one because my cell used to be my watch).
- I need a watch (I don't own one because my cell used to be my watch)
So, I am surveying phone plans and stuff. Suggestions gratefully accepted.
- I don't want a long-term plan, so either it is a plan that I can get out of quite easily and/or it is pay-as-you-go.
- I do need unlimited incoming calls because people call me quite often.
- I want to spend as little money as I can.
- I don't need data capabilities but I need voice-mail and text messaging. Caller ID would be nice.
- I want the most basic phone (e.g. I don't want a super sophisticated handset).
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The prices have gone up, and for a simple mango salad, I wouldn't pay $8 bucks (anywhere). The service was absolutely terrible. I was going to order the Huevos Rancheros (which in the standard format are over-easy). But I don't like over-easy eggs, so I told the waitress that I'd like to see if they could do my eggs scrambled and without cheese. She bluntly and rudely said "we won't change our menu for you". I was totally stunned.
Then she basically dumped my glass of Coca-Cola on the table, and continued showing a really rude attitude. Of course, when I paid my part, I gave her a very minimal tip (I would have not left any tip but I was with my friends, who did tip, so I felt somewhat obligated).
With Las Margaritas, it won't be "debut y despedida" but absolute farewell. I am NOT coming back here, and I will not recommend it ever again. At least not until the restaurant owners have fired this woman, revamped their brunch menu and instilled some sense of customer service on their staff.
While J and I were visiting Victoria, we basically had time to chat over breakfast and dinner, given his work schedule. So our last breakfast together was at The Sour Pickle Cafe. We found this little place while doing a walk around the Victoria core, and I figured it had breakfast so we headed over there.
We had a really great time. Their breakfast special is so inexpensive I almost fainted ($ 4.00 for full breakfast... hello? not even at Bon's you get that!)... and the service was top-notch. This must be an owner-operated place, otherwise I can't figure out how they manage to provide such good breakfast. I was also pleasantly surprised that it was so inexpensive (with my budgetary constraints, this was a welcome surprise!).
C, B and KW had asked me if I wanted to do brunch with them on Thanksgiving Day, so I agreed and when they picked me up, they suggested Denny's. We had done brunch there before so I had no complaints. This time I tried the meatloaf and it was really good. My friend B got a bit of debris on her sandwich, but I think that was an accident. So, overall, I'd say Denny's is good food for the value.
I couldn't find UrbanSpoon's site for Denny's, so I can't link there. But here is the link to the website. And the best part, as I've often emphasized, that I got to hang out with C, B and KW. I really appreciate their support throughout thick and thin. They've really stood up for me whenever I've needed. They've consoled me, fed me, encouraged me and made me laugh. I am very lucky with my group of friends.
Naturally, the prices are higher than at a normal restaurant, but bear in mind that this is a top-notch hotel and thus you pay a premium. That being said, this is definitely top notch breakfast. I ordered a frittata and LF requested a chicken sandwich (I couldn't find the menu online, so I can't really offer you that).
There were several things that made it outstanding. The waiter was looking after our very need (although coffee refills weren't as fast as I expected them, but the service was phenomenal nonetheless). We started off with coffee and orange juice (freshly squeezed) and we received a complimentary smoothie, which was kind of funny considering that my mental association looks something like this:
(Smoothie)=(Only Possibly Tolerable Food Item after Horrible Hungover)
And since I had a smoothie last time I had been hungover before meeting LF, this brought good and bad memories (bad because of the hangover). Anyhow, on to the restaurant review. The frittata was great, although I was a bit taken aback by the salad on top of the frittata. However, the bread, the potatoes and the frittata itself were amazing. LF seemed to enjoy her sandwich. She praised the dressing, which luckily was served on the side.
Would I recommend Mosaic to potential customers? Absolutely. This is a great experience if you come with someone you really like or it is a business brunch. I know that they have brunch buffet but I doubt I could eat that much food in one sitting. One word of warning: it is fairly expensive, but definitely worth the money, particularly if it is (as it was the case) a pre-Christmas dinner.
Since I am leaving Vancouver way too early this year, we had to meet for brunch much earlier than we expected. Nevertheless, it was great fun, and luckily a great place to eat with a very good friends. LF and I have been excellent friends since over a decade, so it's fun to really talk very openly and about everything with her. Good times indeed :)
Friday, November 23, 2007
My parents, awesome and liberal as they were, suggested that I should take courses in the police academy, learn from books and/or talk to forensic specialists to see if I'd really enjoy doing this for a living. Now, bear in mind that I did a lot of things when I was a child, just because I thought they were fun. I didn't actually think they would be my career. As I had previously posted, sometimes I just learned a new thing in order to teach it or share it with my friends.
I figured that learning criminalistics (also known as forensic science) would be a fun activity. I even wrote manuals and handbooks (promise not to laugh if I tell you that I wrote manuals on how to decorate a room, how to be a detective, how to set up a library... I was a nerd!).
When I see the reality of crime and crime labs, the realization that I chose the right career (and not one in forensic science) was all much more clear. But that doesn't mean that I don't love the CSI shows. One of the great elements that makes C.S.I. a phenomenal show is that it intertwines personal elements within the forensics team (e.g. they have fights, they have romantic relationships, etc.)
Academia, as many other professions, can really take a toll on individuals. Professors are expected to do research, teach, write, participate in academic life, train and mentor graduate students, write grants to fund their research, sometimes even manage the funds for those research projects, and volunteer their time in many ways, shapes and forms.
Burnout in academia takes many shapes and forms. Often times, doctoral candidates and tenure-track assistant professors take on so much work that their stress overpowers them. One strategy to cope with academic burnout, I would argue, is to cultivate friendships and relationships. Another one is to enjoy humour, like PhDComics.
It was thus very fitting to hear Diana emphasize that young scholars (and also seasoned professors) should be careful and have a balanced life. Often times academic fatigue leads promising researchers and teachers in a downward spiral. That's true for many other professions, but I seriously believe that academia is greatly undervalued. Thus, I would like to pass Diana's wise words (not her exact words though) on to you: take care of yourselves.
- M's birthday was on Monday, and I was so crazy busy trying to finish a major piece of work that I completely forgot. It wasn't until Thursday that she reminded me and I feel SO guilty about having forgotten her birthday like you have no idea. Given M's sense of loyalty and dedication to her friends, family and work, I feel twice as guilty. Admittedly, I was super stressed. But I should have made sure to send her a birthday email. Luckily I do have her birthday gift already and I'll take her out for dinner to make up for my forgetfulness.
- Had a wonderful American Thanksgiving dinner thanks to the hospitality of M and K. Good friends of mine C and H were also there, as well as three other friends of the hosts. Lots of laugh, good food, and great times. And yeah, I'm still a light-weight. Two and a half glasses of wine made my evening quite the experience, he he he.
- One of my best friends, who is now living a split life between Madrid and Mexico City, called me this morning. It was so nice to hear his voice again. We met in Vancouver around a decade ago, and we have maintained a very strong bond despite the physical distance. This friend of mine (CB) is very successful and it was nice to catch up as though no time had passed.
- My best friend from high school's birthday (LEAD) was yesterday, November 22nd. I really did intent to call him but I've been running around so much it was pretty much impossible. Oh, well, I'll have to make it up when I visit.
- My great friends C and B managed to sneak a visit with KW, since she's visiting them for American Thanksgiving. Since C and B will have a ton of friends over for these holidays, I know that it'll be a complete madhouse at their place. But we managed to do lunch together (at Denny's of all places, and it was quite good) and then we did coffee on Granville Island. Spending time with C and B and KW is always really fun, and I got to meet JN's mom and brother too. Very nice people. I still can't believe I've done so much socializing in the past day!
The next few days will be crazy so don't expect content to be posted very frequently. But I'll keep you on the loop, I promise.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I know for a fact that my brain requires between 5 and 7 solid hours of sleep or otherwise, I won't be functioning. However, it was funny to discover that I had grown used to an early rise. As a matter of fact, yesterday I was so tired by 11.30am that I started wondering what was wrong with me. Well, nothing is wrong, but if you think about the fact that I had been already up for 5 hours, I shouldn't be all that surprised.
Can people really switch sleeping patterns and habits that they have had for many, many years? I tried to do this switch in 2002, and then again in 2004. However, it really didn't work very well. There were times when I was sleeping 3 to 4 hours, because I was teaching first thing in the morning (6 am) then came home, had breakfast and went to work. Furthermore, I needed to prepare my lectures in the evening, so often I would go to bed at 2 am.
J and I were talking about our former capacities to work all day and night to finish projects, and how through time, we seem to have lost that amazing capacity to work. But the truth is, I think that as people grow older, their physiques are unable to take as much pounding as we used to impart on them. Now we need more sleep, and more regular hours of sleep.
All in all I am not that upset about this apparent behavioral switch. I'll see how long it lasts.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
So we started off our visit with Sidney. We arrived late during the day so we had to basically do a walk around and then eat lunch. The place where we had lunch (Cafe Med) is very cute and the service was really nice. Brunch wasn't really expensive at all. I personally love everything about Sidney. Even though it appears as though it's almost a retirement community (lots of seniors), the shoreline has changed and there are new buildings right across from the Cannery.
I was reading that Sidney used to be a farming community, but I can't really see how. Renowned for whale-watching and its mineral museum, Sidney is the quintessential small town in Canada. You can walk it in less than an hour. I could work there given that within the first two minutes of walking around, I found an environmental services firm. I also found a nice mix of residential and commercial land uses. And being there just brought good memories to me, as well as allowed me to re-create new beautiful ones.
We walked around the Fisherman's Wharf, and had a nice stroll on the Sidney dock. We didn't get to have dinner at Bistro Suisse, which would've been really nice, but I guess that'll have to wait until next time we visit. The advantage is that it's very near to the Victoria Airport.
And for all of us, urban planners/environmental folks, this is so cool! It's a complete socio-economic and demographic analysis of Sidney. I will save the PDF file for my future reference should I decide to move there.
a). Google, and generally for my restaurant reviews.
b). Urban Spoon, and generally for my restaurant reviews too.
c). Some Googling of environmental issues.
d). Local (Vancouver and surrounding areas) bloggers (the usual suspects).
e). Bloggers in other parts of the world who know me.
f). Friends of mine in different countries (US, Mexico, Netherlands, etc.)
g). Colleagues and friends with whom I've shared my blog address.
h). People who like tennis matches such as the one Monica Seles vs. Steffi Graf (final of the Australian Open 1992, a phenomenal match).
And I want my numbers up. Not that I'm just wanting you to come visit my blog just 'cause. I just appreciate the love :) [and clearly, I'm so brain-dead after my recent effort to publish something that I'm not writing anything substantial - sorry for wasting three minutes of your life :-(]
And he found one... Rosie's Diner. Located in the beautiful Cook Street Village, Rosie's Diner is simply outstanding. The food is very Canadian, I would say. I had a turkey dinner (turkey meat with mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce) and J had a Montecristo sandwich. Really inexpensive, and their home-made strawberry cheesecake was to-die-for.
I doubt that we'll be coming to Victoria *just* for the experience of having dinner at a 50's style diner, but I would definitely bring friends or loved ones to Rosie's Diner just because it's a great experience. You can see a photo here.
I had a chance to walk around the city, particularly near Market Square and the Village. Actually the Village looks like it's been frozen in time. We had dinner at a cute little 50s diner called Rosie's Diner (on Cook), and then had a coffee at the Moka Cafe near by. If I could, I'd probably move to this area of town. It does have everything you could possibly need.
I also noticed that the prices for dinner, breakfast and lunch are much cheaper than in Vancouver. This leads me to believe that I would probably be much happier here as it would be cheaper to dine out (which I do quite often). However, I probably would exhaust the places for dinner/brunch quite soon :) considering how often I go out!
All in all, I love Victoria.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I've done modeling (catwalk and catalogue), bar-tending, competitive volleyball, acting in theatre, contemporary dancing, volunteer with literacy groups teaching how to write and read (in Spanish), and a bunch of other stuff. And the primary driver was to be able to share exciting stuff with people. And teaching is only one of my passions, but clearly it is one I have had since childhood.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Several noteworthy points that would warrant fuller discussions but that I don't have the time to delve into.
- Best recipe of the past couple of weeks: Ma Po Chicken (the actual recipe is for Ma Po Tofu, but I ended up changing tofu cubes for chicken breast cubes). This is tonight's dinner. I made rice (strangely, basmati rice) to go with the Ma Po Chicken. Thanks to B for the recipe and the ma po sauce!
- Question of the week: Why didn't anybody think of calling an interpreter to help Robert Dziekanski? He was Polish, why would people assume that he spoke Russian (but of course, you would have to have some degree of cultural training and language skills). Getting an interpreter would have been my first reaction. I had talked to my good friend Sara, who is a professional interpreter (English-Spanish), and she mentioned she asked herself the same question.
- Strike of the week: We just emerged from a civic worker strike recently and now the Screen Guild Writers of America are on strike. If you watch Vancouver-shot shows, such like Bionic Woman, Smallville, Supernatural... you may be in for lots of re-runs.
There are many things that you can do in Deep Cove, but two of the activities I have enjoyed the most and that bring me some of the most beautiful memories are, respectively, having brunch near the water and walking around Deep Cove and the community of Panorama.
We arrived to Arms Reach Bistro thinking that we wouldn't be able to do brunch. However, they d have brunch and the food is amazing. They also have one of the best martinis in town. The staff were extremely friendly, particularly a beautiful young waitress who was born and raised in Deep Cove. She gave us the full 411 on the community... "Deep Cove in a nutshell".
Arms Reach Bistro is the type of place you would take someone you care very much for, or an out-of-town visitor, for brunch/lunch or dinner and then a nice walk around the shores. I absolutely love Deep Cove, had a wonderful time at Arms Reach Bistro and would gladly come back any time. It is even accessible via transit. The map is located here.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Community Meetings to Discuss Regional Growth Challenges (Organizer: Metro Vancouver) (Vancouver and Electoral Area A)
When: Nov 19th, 7-9pm,
Where: Vancouver Public Library
In November and December 2007, we will be hosting meetings to talk about regional growth challenges. How can growth be accommodated on a limited land base? How will we provide the housing that will be needed for a growing and aging population? How will we keep Metro Vancouver prosperous and competitive in the global economy? How will people and goods get around in the region? How can we develop in ways that reduce our greenhouse gas emissions?
A Discussion Guide is being prepared to provide a starting point for the consultation process. The guide contains an overview of the issues and outlines the goals, strategies and a number of implementation options.[Metro Vancouver website:] http://www.gvrd.bc.ca/growth/strategy-review.htm"
When: Wednesday November 21st, 5:45pm onwards
Where: Steamworks in Gastown (Skytrain: Waterfront Station)
A monthly gathering of anyone interested in 'green'. Green Drinkers are from all ages, backgrounds and groups - non-profit organizations, academia, government, small business, big business, self-employed, volunteers, students, concerned citizens...and everything in between.
Average attendance is 60, with new people stopping in every time.
Interested in meeting a group of friendly people having lively conversations about all things green? Then join us for drinks!
There's no agenda or other formality - it's just a chance to meet regularly to chat, debate, socialize and connect with others in Vancouver who are passionate about environmental and sustainability issues. Whether you're keen on green building & design, sustainable energy, organic gardening, or something else entirely, you'll find like-minded people. Please feel free to bring your business cards, brochures, info sheets, magazines and newsletters to put on a table for people to take away with them. Do make sure to take whatever you left on the table with you when you leave. [Green Drinks Vancouver]: http://www.biothinking.com/greendrinks/index.php?country=Canada&city=Vancouver]
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Besides, I spend Christmas with my parents and while I decorate my Mom's house to my liking (and hers, quite obviously), it's not the same than decorating my own apartment. I haven't taken pictures of my newly decorated place just yet because I've been super busy. Besides, I need to decide whether it's worth it to put up a few more decorations. I am usually reluctant to clutter my place as it is really tiny. But I guess some stuff in the walls would do the trick.
Suggestions for Christmas decorations that don't occupy lots of space are most welcome.
Through our friendship, he learned to be sweeter and I learned to be more pragmatical. One of the best ways to remember him is through the song Vogue. I am (as you might have read before) a trained dancer, and I have choreographed many songs before. I put this one together (Vogue) for our undergraduate graduation. LE was the lead (in drag as Madonna), and he did a fabulous job. So I toast to good memories, to his (upcoming) birthday and to our friendship. Gracias amigo :) Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you... Vogue (courtesy of YouTube).
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I tend to feel rather unproductive and blue when the weather is awful (which, in Vancouver, has been pretty much ALL THE TIME). However, when it's sunny, I have absolutely no problems whatsoever doing work. And this morning, funny how it goes, I simply snapped out of it. I woke up at 7:00am, and started working like usual. Had a few meetings in between (some with former students, some with close friends) and a volleyball game. And I feel pretty good.
The thing is, depression is still stigmatized. The sole mention of the word seems to warrant worry and weariness. But I would argue that when you are depressed, you are at in a prime position to recognize who are your true friends. When my friends heard that I was thinking I was depressed, everyone rallied to give me 'pick me up's. I still think that people (myself included) need to be educated about what it means to be depressed. And for those of you who may be afflicted by depression, let me tell you this much: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are lots of people out there who suffer from it, and I am pretty sure you can find help if you look for it.
Despite the fact that I do not live in the West End, I religiously read The West Ender because it has lots of interesting articles. Furthermore, I don't think that there is a Mount-Pleasant-focused newspaper just yet (although admittedly, The Republic of East Vancouver does have some degree of overlap).
Now, the question that lingers in my mind is... are we witnessing a fad or are people really starting to care more for their environment? In a previous post, I indicated that there had been a steady increase in public opinion support for environmental causes and a growing interest in green issues (at some point, environmental issues overtook health as the top concern of Canadians in 2006, if I recall correctly).
So the question is - are we only witnessing a fad or is really environment our top priority? The jury is still out.
- L and W took me to brunch at The Nice Cafe. They also brought me flowers for my apartment. On a rainy day, these little details made me feel so much better. It's also nice to know that my friends can accommodate my quirks (I don't eat cheese and I enjoy greasy spoon places for brunch).
- As we often do, C, B, J, L and I went for dinner at Kishu Mountain. The sushi was excellent, the company was superb and I was witness to a small little detail that just made my evening. L brought B a page of Canada stickers (as she had just recently written her citizenship test). This is a demonstration that she cares.
- I have felt the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (a mild version) since I first moved to Vancouver, but these past couple of years it has affected me much more. J got me a LiteBook(R) to help me cope with this challenge. Isn't that sweet?
- A few days back, when I was feeling somewhat blue, A took me for crepes to La Bretagne Creperie near Robson. She knows very well how much I enjoy crepes and she took the initiative to bring me there. We shared, as we often do, our crepes, and it was such a great time!
- B organized a Diwali party recently and she invited me and insisted that I participated. That helped me a lot because it made me socialize again (this weekend I've been quite anti-social, despite the fact that I've been playing a lot of volleyball). I know she cares deeply for me, and I really appreciate it.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I went to the second day (November 8th) with a close friend of mine (J), with the excuse of his upcoming birthday. I love Rhizome and embrace all of what it is. Therefore, I always jump at the opportunity to participate in events that are hosted at this cafe.
My experience with the play was good, but there are several reasons for that.
- I went to the play with one of my closest friends. Hard to beat a chance to spend time with good friends.
- I am a specialist in environmental issues. I know the issues at stake and I am well read and well informed.
- I am a former stage actor, and I've done experiential theatre before.
- I am very analytical in my personality. I am used to over-analyzing issues and deconstructing my thoughts.
People are asked to share a story and then de-construct the inner motivations behind the interactions amongst characters. As I am a trained actor, I knew what the director wanted from me and from every participant. However, hardly anyone in the audience knew what was expected of them, and thus it took a long time to build the rapport and create the atmosphere that the director wanted.
All this being said, I really enjoyed it because it provided a very different perspective on how to examine the thorny issue of climate change and how to change our own behavioral patterns. These explorations as the director called them are the foundation for a larger ensemble piece called "2 Degrees of Adaptation". I would sincerely support this project and hopefully they will be able to find the funding that will enable them to bring it to fruition.
It's always hard to find a way to just put all that behind me. Some days I feel as though I'll never think back again about the time when we were together, and some other days I feel as though these ghosts come back to haunt me. How can we be assured that these ghosts are gone for good?
Friday, November 09, 2007
After volleyball, two of my team-mates and myself proceeded to hop on the 99 B-line as we live fairly close from each other. At first we were just discussing the reasons why we didn't want to join Facebook ... and then two other young men joined the conversation, and it became really animated. Of course, by the end of it, seven people (us three plus 4 complete strangers) were debating on the value of joining Facebook. And maybe that's one of the benefits of Facebook. I probably could have asked them "hey can I add you as my friend?"
So the thing is, I am considering the possibility of breaking down and joining Facebook. I am just afraid of its addictive nature (see my post on the Crackbook). I think if I can stay clear until January 2008, I'll be able to avoid caving to the pressure. So... spill the beans... what are YOUR thoughts on Facebook?
Thursday, November 08, 2007
In my case, my good friend LB was kind enough to invite me over for dinner (pasta with mushrooms) and drinks (vanilla martinis). After 3 martinis, I thought "I should make myself scarce", so I B-Line'd it home (or at least, I thought so). What would be my surprise when I was abruptly woken up at Rupert Skytrain station "Sir, you are at the Rupert terminus... where are you going?". I was SO embarrassed that I simply took off.
Skytrained it to Commercial Drive, had two slices of pizza (from different locales) and then walked home. I am still embarrassed about it. Please help me get over this embarrassing feeling. Spill the beans about some time when you got horribly drunk.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I've recently read a nasty comment in regards to my restaurant reviews (those comments do not appear because, hehe, I have enabled comment moderation and really, who wants to read a comment from someone who wants to put you down?). I suppose that comes with the territory. I am by no stretch of the imagination a food critic, but I do eat out a lot and enjoy good food. If a reader disagrees with my review (or a restaurant owner anyhow), they have a space to contact me (respectfully, of course. I'm pretty good at dealing with nasty commenters).
And on the idea of being geeky and liking good food, I found that there is such a thing as the Wiki Cookbook. I love cooking Jambalaya, and I found a recipe for it! Oh the wonders of the Internet.
However, this month's VBM is scheduled on November 8th at 7pm at the Chateau Granville Lounge, and sadly, I can't attend YET AGAIN! I have volleyball games and there is no chance in hell I can teleport myself to my games on time. Those Star Trek geeks really should get on it and do something about teleporting!
This is getting ridiculous, since I correspond with lots of local bloggers via email and commentary and I haven't met up with any of them in person (with the exception of Carolina whom I danced with recently at Atlantis and Jark from Beyond Robson, with whom I've had a chat and a coffee at Lugz).
And if there's a VBM in December, I'm going to miss it since I'm going out of the country for over a month. Dang it! On other news, Darren Barefoot is asking local bloggers to test drive a Brother printer. Rebecca and John are test-driving this beautiful printer, and I'd be tempted to join.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
My question is - do we really do anything for love? The reason why I have been thinking about love (and perhaps also feeling blue) is that around this time of the year (but a couple of years ago) my heart was broken. And then the phrase "anything for love" became empty and meaningless. So much for all that 'love'.
Not one to be jaded, I've poured myself into strong friendships and relationships, both with my family and with other people. So, the question is - do we really do anything for love? Or are there limits? What are yours?
Monday, November 05, 2007
I would just encourage you to consider the possibility of donating if there's a way. I really feel very helpless for not being able to do anything for the people in Tabasco. The worst part is the looting. I can't believe someone would take advantage of their peers' suffering and disgrace. It irks me to see reports of people taking stuff from abandoned stores and houses. Unbelievable. I despise them so much that I think these people should not be worthy of being called humans.
The following video is footage from people who are actually living in the area, just so that you witness the amount of desolation. I hope we can do something to help them.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
However, I have also noticed recently that some of my former strengths, for some reason, have abandoned me (or I've just shelved them somewhere). You'll see, I used to be really good at doing "to-do" lists. I had everything organized and tackled my projects one by one. More recently (and I'd say this is maybe in the past few months) I have tended to use the "firefighter" technique, in many ways, just trying to get things done but not with a well laid-out plan.
I realized that in doing this (abandoning strategies that made me successful in the past) was pretty much self-sabotaging. So I've decided to go back to my roots, to being my usually-organized, intense, hard-working, strategic self. Not to say I haven't been working hard, but instead of working harder, I think I could work smarter.
SOME OF THE ROUTINES THAT HAVE MADE ME EFFICIENT (AND THAT I NEEDED TO REMEMBER)
- Write down everything in a handbook. An old Chinese proverb reads that the faintest ink was more effective than the best memory. Sure, I do have photographic memory. But I also happen to memorize lots of stuff that probably need reallocation within my brain. So, having a notebook helps you organize your thoughts. It can also serve as a daily planner (I have to do this on Monday, this on Tuesday, this on Wednesday).
- Book all your regular appointments on your calendar. I use Google Calendar, but for years I used Outlook Schedule to manage my day-to-day activities. I have volleyball (Saturday and Sunday), church, meetings with friends, everything on my online day planner. And because it's web-based, I can access it from anywhere.
- One paper one time only. I read this strategy somewhere, and I can't recall where. I try to do this particularly with mail and other personal stuff (like banking, health insurance, etc.) I open an envelope, check its content, and then process immediately. If, for some reason, I can't process immediately I try to make a note about what I need to do with said piece of mail.
- One e-mail, one process. This is something I have needed to work on, again and again. Since I am environmentally-minded, I try not to print e-mails (unless it is absolutely necessary) and instead, write in my handbook whatever I have to do with those e-mails. Other times (when printing out the email) I use both sides, and make notes about the process I need to follow on the actual printout. But I really try hard not to process the same email twice. Once read, I just engage in whatever process needs to be done or make my note and then mark the e-mail as read. This is sometimes a bit of a problem with GMail since it doesn't hide the e-mails that you've read (as our good friend Outlook Express does).
- Always keep pen and paper handy. And by handy, I mean carry it with you EVERYWHERE. Even from one room to another. My apartment is tiny (really tiny) and sometimes, in walking from my bedroom to my living room, I get an idea or remember an errand I had to do and forget about it in the back-and-forth between room. That's not a smart strategy. With the gazillion things I think about every second of my life, I forget some stuff simply because I didn't write them down in time. So now I carry paper and pen everywhere with me. Jot down even simple short buzzwords. 'Safeway bread' may mean "do some grocery shopping at Safeway". One of my favorite shortcuts is "cc pay" (credit card payment). You can always make extended notes later.
- Keep your intensity levels up. This may mean having a cup of tea or coffee right besides you and maintain your focus. I have noticed that if I simply don't leave my desk until I have my list of things to do sorted out, written down everything I require and then start working on stuff, then I get a lot more accomplished. It's easy to feel tired, woozy and sleepy, and to cave to the temptation of 'I'll just have a short nap' and then WOW, you end up sleeping in for two hours or more. What I have used to keep my energy levels up is to continuously drink tea and have a good meal before doing my to-do list. That means that I have enough sugar in my blood stream to work for a long period of time without having to get up and eat some munchies to keep your sugar levels up.
- Exercise. This is the hardest part for me at the moment. With the rainy weather, and impossibly cold temperatures outside (remember, I'm not very good in the cold), I can't run outside. So what I am trying to do (not very successful at the moment) is to go to the gym in the morning.
- Create a routine for work. Lately, my routine is as follows:
- Sunday night
- work on my to-do list for the week, answer e-mails, try to get some work done (easy tasks that I can just cross off my list) so that when I wake up, at least I have finished some small projects.
- Monday morning
- Print out my weekly and monthly calendars. Try to review if I've missed anything on my to-do list and insert where appropriate. The rest of the week proceeds as follows:
- During the week:
- First thing in the morning:
- Open email (all four of them), check if any of those emails are high priority - if they are, answer immediately. If they are not, post-pone (flag or mark as unread).
- Read blogs and news. Post comments on blogs.
- Off to shower.
- Breakfast (big breakfast, I don't do well with small breakfast - coffee and a muffin? Please! I am a firm believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day).
- Head into the office (or when I am working from home, dive into work).
- Check to-do list and proceed with tasks.
- Around mid-afternoon:
- Check e-mail again to see if something has come up.
- If nothing comes up, head for lunch. With my diet, I used to eat six times a day. Right now I can't do that, so I am working on the following: big breakfast, big lunch, very light dinner.
- Early evening
- I am really bad right after lunch (in regards to ability to think/write), so if I can, I schedule meetings with colleagues/friends/former students.
- When I feel unproductive, I just read or blog.
- Dinner is usually around 7. And lately I try to eat light. My commute is long so I try to get a nap on the bus.
- Late night
- This is actually my best writing and working time, so if I can, I put in a few hours of work at night, even if that delays my breakfast until say 10 am. I can do lots of work late at night (as I am doing now).
Swagat Tandoori Restaurant is located pretty much in beautiful English Bay, around the corner from Denman and Davie. I had been trying to come here as their lunch and dinner buffet special seems totally worth it and inexpensive ($10.95 for all-you-can-eat Indian for dinner - sweet deal!) Anyhow, J and I were walking by and we thought "oh well, since you want to try it, why not buy some take-out".
Let me tell you, two people ate and I still took food home! The place is neat, the owner is sweet and the food is OMG to-die-for. Very good food, I had the butter chicken with rice and vegetables and I swear I can't stop eating this food until I am completely full. The portions are generous and I look forward to a continued consumption of food from Swagat Tandoori.
They do delivery within the West End (if I recall correctly) and dinner for two is totally a sweet deal at $ 24+tax.
This event (and similar occurrences) have me extremely upset and enraged. Who do these kids think they are? And are they going to escape justice? What are we doing to ensure the safety in our streets? What the heck is happening in this world-class, "Most Livable City"? Yeah, right... world-class - NOT.
So, I'm going to try and test my theory about collective action and viral internet behavior. I want to ask if somebody saw something on that night. There must be more witnesses, or someone who knows the perpetrators of this attacks. In a way, I am trying to see if by using the Internet and blogging, I can do something to help bring these people to justice. Didn't anybody take a photograph of these women while the driver was being attacked? I mean, for crying out loud, everyone and their mother have a cell phone with camera now (except me, of course, since I don't even have a cell phone at the moment!).
A couple of months ago or so, a photograph of someone who took pictures of himself with a stolen camera surfaced on the Internet and soon thereafter, the story took a life of its own, and (I am hoping) helped in a way get closer to solving the theft. I want to see if my blog post inspires other bloggers to ask for help in identifying the attackers of this bus driver, and to see what we can do to ensure that they are punished.
Think about it - according to the story, the female bus driver was trying to offer Halloween candy and in return, she gets attacked?! And to worry you even more, the Vancouver Sun offers a list of all the incidents of that night. If you feel safe around your neighbourhood, I'd recommend that you read this. Stealing iPods on 36th and Wallace? (the Southlands, Dunbar area - posh and allegedly safe). All of a sudden I feel so safe in this city... NOT.
So if you have any information, please contact the Vancouver Police and/or TransLink. I am in no way associated with either, but I can't tolerate more events like these happening in our supposed-to-be-safe city. Citizens need to do something about this. At least, this is my contribution. I am outraged and I want to help in any way I can.
It's funny - we've created verbs out of things that have become a routine in our lives. For example, I often hear myself and other friends say "oh don't worry, I'll just BLine it to your place". The implication of course is "oh don't worry, I'll just take the 99 B-Line to your place". I also have heard people indicate "I'll skytrain it to Main Street and will see you there". This mains of course, that the person will take the Skytrain from wherever he/she is to Main Street/Science world. These expressions, I call Vancouverisms.
I am curious to know if you've heard another Vancouverism. There must be other phrases that are typical of our beautiful, rainy city.
Do fellow bloggers feel a responsibility to post content? Sometimes I'd rather not write instead of being inane, but then again, I guess it all comes down to what we want our blog to accomplish. In my case, it's a repository of restaurant/bar/coffee/music reviews, a place to remind me of upcoming events and also an opportunity to share my thoughts with the world and see if some of those words have an impact.
So, I do feel somewhat compelled and responsible of posting interesting content. But I'll still forgive myself if I am not all that coherent sometimes :)
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Had the chance to do brunch with JH who is an adorable young woman. During our conversations we reflected on how much do people know someone and how much people think they know us. I think I'm pretty transparent, so whomever thinks he/she knows me, chances are he or she does indeed know me. However, I am not sure that's the case with everyone. We discussed the possibility that some people may think they know you better than they indeed really know you. What do you dear readers think?
On another quick thought, Paul, Keith and Erija have kindly commented that my blog already has a voice. It's an interesting thought... I am not sure what the voice is, really... but I like the idea :)
Third quick thought - an interesting trend I've noticed in some seasoned bloggers is a tendency to post three essays in a row. I don't generally do that, sometimes I do blog a lot sometimes I can't write for the life of me. But I'm curious to hear what you think about my blog's voice.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Here's a short clip of a forthcoming episode I found on YouTube. Lana will absorb Clark's powers and try to get rid of Lex Luthor for good. Yet another Supergirl ;) ?