Bday photos

Some photos from my bday. Willy, Denny, Tine and Eva all have blogs (--> check out the links on the right cuz I'm too lazy to link them for you). Eva, I'm trying to help balance out that crazy photo you posted of yourself with this pretty one :P.

Broadway Prime Peninsula Cut

Denny and Tine matching

Candice, Eva and Tine


Hooray PM Martin

Too busy to update this blog much this week. Piles of homework and assumed the role of President at my Toastmasters club as ours has to prepare to move to the east coast. I kinda knew it'd involve a buttload of work but it's just not making a good combination with all my schoolwork especially now that students are actually coming during my office hours for writing lab. I used to use that time (5 hours a week) to do my own homework but no more. Damn I haven't even uploaded my bday pics yet. This is a record. I usually do it within 24 hours. OK time to make dinner. One thing that brightened my day today is that Canada's PM is not joining in Bush's Missile Defence Program. In this article the author writes:

"U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci told reporters he was perplexed over Canada's decision, which he said effectively allows Washington to decide what to do if a missile was headed toward Canada."

Gee, I dunno, but somehow I'm not worried about a missile heading toward Canada. In fact, the idea is freakin' hilarious. Good job PM Martin. I thought he was going to try to remedy Chretien's broken relationship with the US by kissing Bush's ass but I guess not.



So Saturday was my bday dinner at Broadway Prime Rib. This place was supposedly started by a couple of ex-staff/chefs from the famous House of Prime Rib (HPR) in San Francisco. Not sure if this is an urban legend but apparently many years ago HPR sued Broadway Prime for copying them. I did a Google search and could find no such info on this but it's not hard to believe. The menu is almost identical down to the names of the cuts of meats. The smallest cut at BPH is the City Cut, which is called the Peninsula Cut at Broadway Prime (the restaurant is located in the Bay Area's Peninsula in Burlingame). Both offer seconds if you can finish the Select or larger cut. At HPR you can also get thirds but not at Broadway Prime. Other points of comparison:

Size of cut: HPR wins hands down. Broadway Prime has smaller servings but both I found equally tasty and both offer seconds with the medium or large cut.
Salad: I liked Broadway's better because they didn't dump a bottle of MSG into it.
Yorkshire Pudding: Much tastier at Broadway Prime. The HPR one was a bit bland.
Bread: HPR served their sourdough nice and warm and soft. Broadway's was OK but not warm
Cream spinach: HPR wins on this too. The Broadway Prime spinach tasted weird and was not hot enough.
Mashed potatoes: Tie.

Overall, the meat was about the same but you trade good yorkshire pudding for mediocre bread and spinach at Broadway Prime. But you also trade decor(HPR) for convenience (Broadway). In the future, I'd still prefer Broadway Prime because it's close to home, plenty of parking (vs 1/2 hour haul plus 15min+ parking or valet and typically additional 45 min wait with reservations at HPR) and comparable food. In future I'd skip the creamed spinach in favour of the cream corn, get extra yorkshire pudding (that's free) and order the larger select cut (or eat some of Simon's second cut like I did).

To everyone who made it out. Thanks so much for coming, I had a great time. Sorry it was tough to get me hammered after all the food.


29 dammit

Birthdays suck after 24 (when you can look forward to renting a car by yourself). Mine came and went and now there's nothing to show for each passing year but a couple pounds gained and some fine lines around the eyes. I am definitely not looking forward to next year's bday that's for sure. I think 23-25 was prime. Young, optimistic, energetic, had some solid work experience and could've really done anything and gone anywhere without feeling like I should focus more on settling down. But with 30 now in the foreseeable distance, my desire to conquer the world has wained. Looking back I wish I had traveled more, particularly after my first lay off in 2001. I really should've picked up at that point and gone somewhere far away for grad school. I wasted too much time only to land a similar job that added plenty to my resume but nothing to my sense of personal satisfaction. But, hey, hindsight is always 20/20. The question now is what to do next. Graduation is not too far off.


jr. high segregation

This is something I posted on a collaborative site we use for our pedagogy class. It's a memory that resurfaced after another student mentioned that his math teacher had physically separated the "good" math students from the "bad" ones in his high school class:

Something happened in grade 8 that didn't strike me as strange at the time (I wasn't too observant or socially aware). Back then I was one of very very few ethnic minority students in my school (and in my hometown of Coquitlam in general). On the first day of Social Studies, our teacher moved the non-white students such that we sat in a row next to the window and all the white kids occupied the other seats (they didnt get moved around except to move them away from the window). She never explained why she did that and it wasn't until someone noticed and told me that I realized she moved all the ethnic minority kids to that row, including me. Maybe it was so the coloured kids took all the injury from glass breaking in the event of an earthquake. I still can't believe that I was so oblivious to what she was doing. I wish I could go back in time and grill her now.

Is that messed up or what? Does anyone else have any messed up stories like this? I think this among other bad memories really contributed to my current interest in youth and ethnicity.


bday party ideas

My birthday is coming up this week and Simon's a month from now. Typically I like to plan stuff that's a little more interesting than dinner followed by getting wasted at some club. Last year I did Laser Tag which was fun. I'm not sure what to do next for my own bday but I'll be at a convention in the day so that kills any plans for a daytime activity. For Simon I'm thinking indoor gokarting ($45 for 20 minutes though eeeek), paintballing (also runs about $50)....not sure what else. Fun stuff always costs so damn much. Any ideas? (The only other idea so far is to eat at Hooters and then go to the Lusty Lady peep show and that's just a little nasty. Oh and Great America wont be open yet).


beading and such

My Saturday was spent first at a Toastmasters officer training session which started at 9am. I realized that I'm am embarrassingly anti social at that hour, particularly on a Saturday. I spent the first half hour avoiding eye contact and not speaking as my voice doesn't find me until I've been up at least an hour and a half or so. Real great way to behave at a meeting for people who like communicating and public speaking. Man I felt like such a loser.

Anyways, the rest of the day I went to a couple beading stores in San Mateo and then one near Stanford with Gigi to see how we can hand make some jewellry to go with the bridesmaid dresses. I have an entirely new respect for people who make jewelry and give them as gifts. First, threading beads and twisting really tiny wires is really tedious difficult work. Secondly, this shit is soooo expensive. Little crystal beads smaller than a pea cost $2.75 EACH! They were selling strands of them treaded on a string for $30 - $300! And if you get help from one of the employees to crimp a wire or something, that's a fee of $6. When fads like jewelry making come into vogue, Americans really know how to cash in by opening fancy schmancy stores in affluent neighbourhoods and charging an arm and a leg for things that should costs pennies. I remember the Trading Post, a store on Granville street next to the theatre near the Underground. They sell anything and everything craft-related dirt cheap, even semi-precious stones and jade. The place is a bit of a mess and the owners speak to each other real loud in Cantonese but I can bet they dont charge $1.50+USD for cheap little things like earring posts and clasps.

Speaking of things being way the hell overpriced here, I went to pick up my Singulair, prescription allergy/asthma medicine (I sucked an entire inhaler dry in a few months with the change in weather and a couple attempts at running outdoors) . They don't make a generic version of it so my copayment was $85 for a pack. I said thanks but no thanks. I think I'd prefer to deal with the closing in of my airways with mind over matter and a puff of my inhaler only when it gets too uncomfortable. Anyone have any alternative/homeopathic medicine suggestions?

BTW, something to keep in mind when looking for a mate. Apparently, opposites might attract but they won't stay happy.


hemifacial spasms and stuff

Thanks to Shel for the suggestion that some eyelid twitches can be attributed to hemifacial spasms. What are those you ask?
What is Hemifacial Spasm?
Hemifacial spasm is a neuromuscular disorder characterized by frequent involuntary contractions of the muscles on one side of the face. The disorder occurs in both men and women, although it more frequently affects middle-aged or elderly women. The first symptom is usually an intermittent twitching of the eyelid muscle that can lead to forced closure of the eye. The spasm may then gradually spread to involve the muscles of the lower face, which may cause the mouth to be pulled to one side. Eventually the spasms involve all of the muscles on one side of the face almost continuously. The condition may be caused by a facial nerve injury or a tumor, or it may have no apparent cause. Very commonly, hemifacial spasm is caused by a blood vessel pressing on the facial nerve.
I hope to hell that my eyelid twitch is due to caffeine (though I don't drink much) or something less scary.

In less disturbing news, Simon's floating head photo was actually used for his passport, it came in the mail today. He actually sent another set of photos where he is not wearing white in case the passport people rejected his bodiless (is that a word?) one. I guess the folks at Canada's passport office thought it'd be funny to make all the airport security people see the floating head pic instead.



My left eyelid has been twitching and having little uncontrollable spasms since Friday. Some people think that means someone is talking about me. If that is the case that person should've run out of things to say by now. It's been 6 days and it's driving me insane. What is the real cause of muscle spasms? I get them all the time, sometimes in my arm, my leg, my shoulder and on my face. I can actually see my muscle moving involuntarily.


Testing Hello

Just posting a couple more pics from the Clos Pegase Winery to test the posting of multiple pics using Picasa Hello. Here's the instructions from Christine, who gives awesome instructions:

After you choose to send a picture using Bloggerbot, it prompts you to add a caption to the picture. Add a caption and then add "||" (without the quotes) after the caption and the click on 'Publish'. Keep repeating that until you're done choosing all the pictures. Then, add the last picture and click on publish and it'll send all the queued pictures to that one post.

Thumb Sculpture at Clos Pegase

Make a wish when the thing forms a diamond


best and worst college profs

I'm taking a course in college teaching and one of our online discussions involves sharing stories about our best and worst teachers. Here are mine. Let's hear yours!

Best - Dr. Gary Poole, Psych 100, Simon Fraser University

The best and most memorable prof I ever had was Dr. Poole. http://www.batesandpoole.ubc.ca/garyBiography.html

He was my Psych 100 prof back in Fall 1994 at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, Canada. From what I heard, he appointed himself teacher of this 1st year psych course to inspire new students to love learning. His class was held in a huge theatre with a few hundred students, larger than Knuth Hall. The text for the course was heavy and dense but he broke down every principle and theory into simple terms and used humour and personal examples to demonstrate each. To this day, I remember a great deal of what I learned in that course.

He was funny without being offensive, cheesy or over the top. He took examples from situations with his own family and friends. He actively moved around the stage and employed his whole body in his lecture. And he had a full house for every lecture. In fact, I think some students brought friends. The theatre was silent (except for laughs) and every student sat on the edge of his/her seat through the whole 2 hour lecture. On the last day of class, the entire theatre thanked him with a huge standing ovation. It was as if he had said something, or maybe many things, that touched each and every one of us and cast away any doubts we may have had about attending that school. I found out later he is nationally known for being an outstanding instructor, but remains humble and even almost embarrassed with every standing ovation, semester after semester.

Worst - Can't remember his name. Some cranky old bearded asshole who wore cheap tweed suits. Taught CMNS 375 Magazine Publishing, 1999, Simon Fraser University

I don't remember his name but the instructor for my Communications 375 class Magazine Publishing taken around 1999 was by far the worst teacher I've ever encountered.

He was not a faculty member but rather someone who works in the publishing business. My school did this sometimes to get people from "the real world" to teach some of the upper level courses.

He took no interest in the students and used every class to boast about his success in the publishing business. He went on and on about how his business (some small publishing company that focussed on something rather obscure like Canadian Native art) ran its operations. He answered questions with a condescending tone and tended to brush off questions he didnt have an answer to. Everything he talked about related to his own personal success and wisdom. We essentially listened to this grouchy man brag about himself 2 hours at a time for 12 weeks. He made no attempt to do research to broaden the content of the course to stuff he was unfamiliar with and never asked for input on what we wanted to learn.He also reminded us each class not to bother trying to get a job in magazine publishing but it would just lead to an unrewarding life of poverty. He was so ridiculously negative and egotistical I spent more time fantasizing about strangling him than I spent paying attention. Attending the class was torturous and a good many students just didn't show up.

There were only about 50 people in the class but he made no effort to learn anyone's names. Our biggest project was a group proposal and production of the premiere issue of a magazine. He randomly assigned us to groups of 7-10 people (way too large). I had the group from hell. Half of the people were hoping to get away with doing the minimum work possible to pass, a few of us were working full-time, one girl lived 3 hours away and one very incompetent woman with the worst ideas ever wanted to run the whole project. He refused to mediate group problems and conflicts and offered no one-on-one guidance with the project.

I hated him, his lectures, and his assignments so much it stressed me out to attend class. At the end of it all, I learned nothing about magazine publishing.


wine, geyser, mud

So Saturday we did an early Valentines and went on a daytrip to Calistoga which I planned as a surprise. (Calistoga is the town just north of Napa and east of Sonoma) Here's one of the pics.

Old Faithful

We left home at about 10:45am and got up there in a couple hours. We went first to Clos Pegases which was a really interesting winery because the owner collects a lot of art, both modern and ancient (even stuff from the 1st century). The tour took about half an hour and it was as much a museum and art gallery tour as it was a winery tour. Totally recommend visiting that winery.

After that we headed into Calistoga's downtown for some lunch. The downtown is tiny but really cute. Not quite as nice the St. Helena downtown just south of it. That was much larger and had more upscale shops. Anyways, after stuffing ourselves with fries with truffle oil, carnitas, fish tacos and mushrooms, we headed up to see California's Old Faithful Geyser. I had never seen a geyser before so it was pretty interesting but the attraction is a bit of a dump. The information about the geysers was printed out on plain paper and slipped into one of those plastic title page covers and stapled to a piece of wood. Oh well. I patted myself on the back for having printed out a dollar off coupon from the Internet for a total of $7 admission per person. The coolest part about the attraction was an area where they kept these special goats that faint when they're scared. There's only 500 in the US. They were super cute but I felt bad for them because they had a pretty tiny enclosed area.

baby fainting goat

After hanging out with the goats we headed out to Silver Rose for a rather unimpressive wine tasting and then went back into town for some tea and to kill time. At 5:45pm we headed over to Golden Haven for our mud bath appointment, the surprise I had been saving up all day. I didn't have high expectations because the reviews were rather mixed. Some complained about the noise level, others about the somewhat sketchy neighbourhood, and one fat lady complained that no one was there to help pull her out of the mud. But that was OK because I was armed with another Internet coupon. Instead of paying $74 per person, we were doing the nightowl special (6pm) with coupon for $49. Basically we got a private mud room with a shower, mud trough and jacuzzi. You do 10 minutes suspended in a huge tub of mud, shower off with mineral water, 10 minutes in the mineral water jacuzzi and then 20 minutes wrapped up in a blanket in another room to rest and listen to music. The mud part was a little gross. It's not some nice white clay like the stuff that goes on your face. It's lumpy stinky mud that feels, as Simon describes, like wet lint. But at the end of it all, the mud and hot spring water makes you feel like jello and your skin smooth like a baby's. I think I liked soaking in the spring water more than sitting in the mud but at least I can say I did it.


messy day

The only thing that could've made my day worse would be breaking a body part and going to the hospital. I messed up my school class schedule like no one else can. When I checked the semester class schedule online in December it told me two of my classes were on Wednesdays so I registered. I checked my schedule again 3 weeks ago and worked my tutoring schedule around it. So I go to school today expecting to do some paper work and meet with another student about a conference we're prepping for. While sitting around in the lounge, one of my peers walks in and asks why I missed this morning's class. Apparently I got the day and time mixed up (even though I swear I checked it twice online). I got home and found an email in my inbox from a prof for another class I expected to attend tomorrow that asks why I didn't show up today. So due to some online mess, or possibly my own senility/insanity, I missed the first class for two of my courses. But wait that's not all. I just checked the real schedule and indeed those classes are on Tuesdays but that messes up my tutoring schedule and when I move one kid I have to move 3 so I'm waiting for responses to my requests for schedule changes. %$@#

OK gotta end with some sort of good news. I sold my old Palm IIIxe for $25, my autographed US Gymnastics team print for $26 and the laptop battery I bought actually holds a charge. Hooray for eBay.