June 24, 2007

Happiness Is a Pair of Yellow Shoes

At the beginning of the month I promised myself these pair of shoes if I got my project management job.... and here they are! I'm glad I waited this long though because they just went on sale last week, AND I was lucky enough to find the last pair in my size. Double score!

This weekend was a pretty busy, but still a relaxing weekend: dragonboat practice, scored my 2 Sweden books half off at BMV books, walked along Bloor between Yonge and Christie (whew!), had drinks at the Madison, tried the famous Dante's Pizza (so amazing!), played tennis, did a mini marathon of The Office, and cooked up a Red Roast Duck Curry, which honestly could rival the curry at Salad King.

Continue reading for the recipe...

Red Roast Duck Curry

[For this recipe, we only used half a duck and threw in broccoli, onion, red pepper and potatoes]

1 tbsp peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
8 spring onions, cut into 3 cm (1 1/4 inch) lengths
1 tbsp red curry paste, or to taste
400 ml coconut milk
750 g Chinese roast duck, chopped
450 g can pineapple pieces in syrup, drained
3 makrut (kaffir) lime leaves
15 g chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
2 tablespoons chopped mint

1. Heat a wok until very hot, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic, spring onion and paste and stir-fry for 1 minute, or until fragrant.

2. Stir in the coconut milk, duck, pineapple, lime leaves, coriander leaves and mint. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the duck is heated through. Serve with jasmine rice.

Serves 4-6.

Posted by mich at 11:46 PM | dreams [0]

June 22, 2007

There's a Party in Sweden's Pants, and I'm Invited!

My dream is coming true... I'm finally moving to Stockholm, ja!

These last few weeks have been a complete whirlwind for me. I had four job interviews: 2 for Toronto, 1 for Denmark, and 1 for Sweden. Unbelievably, I was hired on the spot for all 4 — I had never been hired on the spot before in my whole life. I had planned on relocating early in the fall but hadn't been applying anywhere in Toronto, so I was surprised to get called in for interviews for contracts. I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a project management role (that eventually leads to full-time), but the company was understanding enough to let me only do a short 4-month contract with them when I told them I was looking for jobs abroad :) In the following weeks, I phone interviewed with the European companies, who were initially looking to hire for Aug/Sept, but were willing to wait until November after the end of my contract. I was pretty torn between the 2 offers because the job in Copenhagen seemed a lot more interesting than the one in Stockholm, but on the other hand, I had always wanted to live in Stockholm. In the end I decided that I should go more for the experience than the actual job... and the fact that there's a party in Sweden's pants had a little something to do with it too:

Posted by mich at 3:17 PM | dreams [1]

June 15, 2007

Maybe I Should Have Gotten a Mac

Ever since I brought my new Sony Vaio back to Toronto I ran into the problem of only being able to connect to wireless networks but not the internet via those networks (I was only able to connect to WiFi once in Montreal). I was downtown to try to do some work, but I tried various networks at coffee shops and at U of T, but no luck. No matter who I asked to look at my laptop, no one was able to help me. So I brought it to the Sony Store and all they could tell me was to restore it back to factory settings, but to perhaps call Sony support before I resort to their solution. I called Sony support and was on the phone with them for TWO freakin hours. OMG those people were unbelievable. The first 45 minutes was with some dude who, after I told him I couldn't connect to the internet, still told me to try to use my browser. Here's how it went:

Him: Try going to www.sony.com
Me: I can't reach it because I'm not connect to the internet.
Him: Ok, then try typing in www.google.com
Me: [What??] Um, still not working.
Him: Now try typing this [and he spelled out each character really slowly for me]... h, t, t, p, colon, slash, slash [and some random ip address]
Me: Still doesn't work [surprise surprise!!!]
Him: Ok try this other IP address then
Me: ............

I just sat there and I couldn't believe where this was headed. After I told him it was a no-go yet again he made me try some other useless stuff for I don't know how long. He gave up and passed me onto the next level of support,who was just as unhelpful. After another 45 minutes with the support person, she got really frustrated and I think she just wanted to give up. The next part of the conversation became quite ludicrous:

Her: Wait, are you running Vista Home or Business?
Me: Vista Home
Her: Hold on. [Goes off the phone for 5 minutes and comes back] Vista Home actually doesn't support networking.
Me: Um, WHAT?
Her: Yeah, only the Business version gives you networking capabilities. Vista Home doesn't have the networking capability to connect through servers and proxies [and she continues on without making any sense], and so you won't be able to connect anywhere outside your home.
Me: [WTH! Now I'm getting really peeved. Is she telling me that Microsoft is seriously that retarded?] So, you're basically saying that my computer is useless.
Her: Um, hold on please. [Puts me on hold for another 5 minutes and comes back to continue helping me as if the last 10 minutes didn't happen]

Basically, the support woman came to the conclusion that I had no recovery partition (even though I told her I could see the recovery partition) and was missing important files, which supposedly was the possible cause to my problem. Now I have a recovery and backup disk being delivered to me. Just great.

I took my laptop to the tech guys at Robarts library and within 10 minutes they were able to tell me that I was having problems because either my network card is too new since it's in draft version so it wasn't compatible with the older routers, or that my ip address was static. Turned out it was the latter, and after fishing around forever in Vista trying to find the IP properties, my problem was fixed and now I'm up and running. I hated my laptop before but now I love it :P

Posted by mich at 11:15 PM | dreams [0]

June 7, 2007

Back in the Groove

During the last half of my trip last week I was feeling pretty unhealthy and gross from eating out all week and getting no exercise. So I set on biking 50km instead of 25km for the Becel Ride for Heart that was happening the morning after I returned. Unfortunately I caught a cold the night I got home and the next morning when I woke up at 5:30am I felt horrible — I didn't even want to get out of bed let alone bike. I guess I'm a bit crazy but I forced myself to go and completed the 25k, which felt great after a week of pigging out. My legs felt surprisingly fine after biking hard but my poor nose suffered.

After taking an hour break upon returning to the starting point I biked up to Bloor for the architectural preview of Libeskind's crystal at the ROM as part of the Luminato festival. I had to wait 20 in line to get a free ticket, which had a certain entry time at which I could actually go in. So I returned in line 1.5 hours later to wait in line for another 30 minutes before finally getting into the ROM. Since the preview was to just allow visitors to explore the architectural space, no exhibits were installed yet, which was great. The final structure itself wasn't exactly how I expected it to turn out... I had preferred Libeskind's initial proposal that had the crystal structure made mostly out of glass, but due to technical and environmental factors it wasn't the most feasible solution. Nonetheless it remains a pretty cool piece of architecture and it still allows for some transparency that connects the interior of the museum to the public. I love all the skewed geometries throughout the building: the random cuts of glass slits on the facade, the criss-crossing ceiling lighting in the lobby, the slanted columns that go through each floor, and the interesting bridge walkways that intersect and cross through a dark and empty space (very reminiscent of the Void in Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin). I'm looking forward to see how the space will be filled with the exhibits along with the completion of the rest of project phases.

Last year at TIFF the film Brand Upon the Brain! was screened once in Toronto that ended up selling out so fast and was a huge hit. It returned again to show for its second time here, this time for Luminato, and I was ecstatic that I was able to score tickets for Christina and I. It was playing at the Elgin Theatre and the director Guy Maddin made an appearance to introduce the film. It was the most unique film-going experience I've had, mainly because it was integrated with a live performance. The film was shot in the style of a 1920's black & white silent movie and the entire soundtrack was performed right in the theatre — there was the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for the background score, 3 foley artists for all non-musical sounds and effects, a narrator, and a castrato (although I've read that it was a joke since there are no living castrati, and that the "castrato" was actually lip-synching to a recorded woman's voice). The sound effects brilliantly executed and timed that sometimes I even forgot there were live performers. The film itself was erratically yet beautifully shot, but poor Kris got a bit motion sick from the flashing and jumping images. The storyline looked at the teen detective genre through the eyes of a young Maddin, who placed himself on an island where his evil parents kept a lighthouse that housed orphans for a bizarre purpose — it was all at once intriguing, playful, hilarious, wildly imaginative, mysterious and absurd. My favourite line of the movie was just as random as all the rest: "What's a suicide attempt without a wedding?" In one scene where the characters are trying to bend a stiff corpse back into place, the imagery along with the sound was so grotesque that I was cringing, but when I took a look over at the foley artist creating the crunching sound, he was simply twisting a stalk of celery in half, which made me burst of laughing along with the rest of the audience.

Posted by mich at 9:57 PM | dreams [0]

You Know You're a Computer Geek When...

1) You keep typing Denmark as Denmakr... every. single. time. (And yes, I had to go back to correct myself for the first spelling)

2) You type Cape Code without seeing a problem until someone points it out and calls you a computer geek.

I guess I have too much time on my hands so I googled my name for fun, and my site actually appears as the first result, woohoo! The last time I did that a few years ago I only appeared in a tutuorial class list on like page 4 or something- my name is way too common. My life is finally fulfilled.

Posted by mich at 3:43 PM | dreams [0]

June 5, 2007

New England Road Trip

Last week my family took a vacation where no one was actually left behind (our first one in 7 years!). Our main destination was Boston to visit my cousin's newborn baby, but we ended up booking a resort in Cape Cod 1.5 hours away from the city. We ended up only doing one day in Boston, where we hung out with my other cousin during the day checking out the Museum of Fine Arts and MIT's Strata Centre by my favourite architect, Frank Gehry (with all the money we shelled out, why couldn't the UT comp sci students get such an awesome building like this?!?) In the evening we drove all the way up to Chelmsford, which was faaaar &mdash we were almost at the New Hampshire border &mdash to see my other cousins and to play with the adorable new baby. The next day we ventured out to Newport in Rhode Island, where we took the scenic Ocean Drive, walked along the Cliff Walk overlooking the ocean, and visited a the gorgeous Bellevue Avenue historical mansions. In the evening we stopped at a factory outlet mall in Wrentham for some shopping, but I couldn't justify any purchases for myself after my shopping craze in HK. On our last full day in New England we drove around Cape Cod visiting the various towns (Hyannis, Yarmouth, Chatham and Orleans) and they're beaches and harbours. We bought 3 fresh lobsters and made ourselves a homemade lobster dinner back at the resort, yummy! On the drive back to Montreal we stopped in New Hampshire for some tax free shopping in Manchester. I scored myself my first pair of rollerblades and my very first laptop, a Sony Vaio, yay! Gotta take advantage of the exchange rate, y'know? ;)

In Montreal I went to see the Once Upon a Time Walt Disney exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, which was the only North American stop. It was a fascinating exhibit that looked at Disney's various inspirations ranging from literary and cinematic sources to classical art and architecture and that included original sketches, storyboards and design backgrounds of Disney's golden era that spanned from Snow White to The Jungle Book. I never had an appreciation for Sleeping Beauty's angular and stylized medieval look, but after having a chance to see one of the huge background paintings close up I noticed all the amazing detail and graphical patterns (and only using solid blocks of colour) that went into the forest scenes, I was in complete and total awe. Another highlight of the exhibit was the screening of the beautiful short film Destino, which was a collaboration between Salvador Dali and Disney that began in 1945 and was finally completed in 2003. Of the many exhibits I've been to, this one was definitely the BEST one I've ever seen by far (but I may be teeny bit biased!) If anybody is in Montreal this month (Coach Canada even has a super duper $10 deal for trips between Toronto and Montreal!) definitely check it out since it closes at the end of June.

The main reason for our stop in Montreal was for my sister's convocation at McGill. Thank goodness her music faculty was small so the ceremony only lasted a little over an hour, unlike the U of T ones that go over 3 hours. The best part was the reception afterwards with all the amazing food that just kept on coming and the delectable desserts. After all that food we had to walk it all off with some shopping at Simons before having a late dinner at an Indian restaurant at St. Laurent/Sherbrooke, which had the best Tandoori chicken I've ever tasted.

Posted by mich at 11:53 AM | dreams [0]