Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Off the Deep End

I don't know what's happening to this guy. (Warning! This is not for the faint of heart/ or those who dislike "French")
I mean, I know that he has always been a bit crazy in the head. I know this as we have been friends for ever.

But now, it's just insane. It has reached gargantuan heights. I don't know if it's too much radiation, the tar sands, Ralph Klein, the cold, or just the rednecks.

My guess....It's all of the above plus a healthy dose of boredom.

So my friends and silent on lookers. It's time we speak up! It's time we give this guy something to do. If you have any suggestions of things to do while living in the middle of nowhere, please voice them here. All comments/suggestions will be compiled and presented to said crazy man in a nice user friendly format. Most likely a comprehensive report with interesting charts/graphs and an excellent executive summary.

Think of this bit of cyberspace as an electronic suggestion box.

So go ahead - this is your opportunity to be creative.

Now back to studying.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Not to worry

When I looked outside the window this morning and saw the glistening sun and gleaned magnificently warm weather, I decided that I'd stay in and write a paper instead.

So far, I've spent eight hours in front of the computer, an aggregate of 10 minutes in the bathroom, 15 minutes on the phone (thanks Mom) and 15 minutes on nourishment (cookies for breakfast, Asian noodles for lunch, pizza and salad for supper with tea interspersed between).

It was a long-haul of a day.

Now that I am done my monstrosity of a term paper, I have time to reflect on my week. My behaviour, quite frankly disturbs me. Boy am I looking forward to the holidays.

Unless I have class, I don't leave the house.
Unless I leave the house, I don't bother showering.
Unless I bother showering, I don't do my hair, and
At current, I am wearing the same pajamas I woke up in.

But not to worry - My social activities these days however are numerous, exhilarating, and provide me with a good outlet for my scholarly angst. For example, today they consisted of reading for pleasure (the newspaper, online), going for a stroll (to the kitchen and back) and getting some fresh air (by opening the window).

Ok, so it's safe to assume that this is bound to worry my parents and parents-in-law, and I write this with full knowledge that all four have access to this website. I would like to take a moment now to persuade them that this is all very temporary and within one week's time, I will be back to my showering, healthy-breakfast eating, jean clad, non-hermit state. The bliss that will be had! I'll go Christmas shopping; I'll sip gingerbread lattes; I'll sleep in until 10 am! I'll discuss politics with rigor and ... and ... right, I'll be marking papers. And exams. Joy. I forgot about that. Minor details really - I shall adorn the works of impressionable (or lack thereof) undergrads with my favorite red pen, and call it a week.

So let me revise then. After the week after that week, I will be free from the shackles of this intellectual vacuum and I will bask insatiable in the glory of the holidays and with relentless abandon.

You can bet on that.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

On Books and Butter

Yup - that's what my life boils down to these days.

For example: Today I got up, had some food, worked on a stats paper, had some more food, worked on the same old stats paper some more and then had some more food. Which leaves me here.

Now I am not one to be opposed to school, or food for that matter. After all, this whole grad school thing is completely voluntary and I quite enjoy it. I get to go to class and discuss esoteric concepts that won't actually be that applicable to the work that I will someday do. I get to write papers on whatever I fancy, and best of all, I get to torment young eager minds on a weekly basis.

As for food, well I love it. Last night Sima, Nat, and I went to a fancy "hipster" store, and let me tell you, there where a lot of hipsters there. Even the old people looked hip. No dogs, or yoga mats where present, but I am pretty sure most of the shoes being worn at this store where worth more than double the cost of everything on my back at the time. Anyways, I digress. So I was at a hipster store, and I got a cookbook. Yup, I got a hipster cookbook in a hipster store. And I love it, it's so awesome. Tonight, Sima and I made stir-fried noodles with crispy chicken....all from scratch. Tomorrow...who knows. But the possibilities are endless with my trusty hipster cookbook. If you ever come over to the left coast, I will make sure to whip something up.

So where does this leave us....I don't know. But hopefully you are jealous.

Oh yeah - no pride and prejudice tonight (phew). Instead, it's Buena Vista Social Club with some chocolate pudding cake.

Currently listening to: Dispatch - but you should listen to "The Decemberists". Why might you ask - because I told you so.

Next time on "Oak and 12th" Decking the Halls with Stephen, Paul, Jack, and Gilles: Why a Christmas election is just what we need.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Three minutes and three days

Wow. How quickly things change. Today, my sister commented on the fact that we haven't posted in a few days now. She sounded a bit worried. I was too. After all, we love our blog - how could we haven't neglected it for three whole days? What was wrong with us?

The answer just dawned on me earlier today.

Reminds me of all the times I tell Jonathan I want something. I want a pony. I want a puppy. He never responds well to these sorts of requests. And now, I know why.

Ponies, and puppies need love. They need to be feed, and walked, and played with. Like our blog, they would probably receive a lot of attention in the beginning. After all, in our first week, I wanted to post every three seconds. Jonathan held me back (not unwise). And now look at me! Look what has become! I haven't posted in three days. The treachery! If our blog were a puppy, it would be hungry by now. Unloved. Unattended too. Maybe even bored. Obviously, I am neither ready for ponies nor puppies. But a blog - isn't that a good place to start practicing that nurturing role? Maybe this is my red flag going up, alerting me to the fact that if I can't be responsible enough to have a blog, I certainly won't be ready for those larger things. Like plants and babies. It is definitely worth my further consideration. And Jon's. In the meantime, I'll try to find that happy balance between three days and three minutes.

As a recap, today Jon and I threw in the kitchen towel and had dinner at Moxies. Our kitchen has been pretty underutilized this week of papers. But, we bought a cookbook today (with Nat) from Caban and it looks quite promising. We're settling down to watch Batman (Jon's pick), which means tomorrow night will be Pride and Prejudice...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What a Gong Show

So you're not having a good week? Neither are we. It's Vancouver's annual week of fog, which means its beautifully sunny outside (if you happen to be on a mountain), but tragically cloudy and then some, if you aren't. Throw in the good butt-kicking that papers so eagerly deliver, and you have a grumpy little household.

But all is not lost. Not when you are young and hip and free. Not when you have clean socks, a good education, soup and a latte for lunch, new deodorant, a recollection of the 80s, the best spouse in the world, and THIS. (Thanks Neil)

Play the whole thing, play the whole thing! It gets better and better. By the end, you'll have forgotten about the fog and the papers and will soon find yourself in line at Shoppers with a couple thousand packages of LED lights and a vision of orchestrating the greatest ACDC lightshow ever.

THUNDER ... na-nana-na-nana-na-na.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Our Potterless Weekend

What a weekend. So much (and yes, so little) to recap.

On Friday, we had a plan - we were going to reward ourselves for our day's extra paper-writing effort by treating ourselves to the intoxicating madness of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. At around 8:30pm, we started putting ourselves together from our mop-head, pajama-clad state, purchased movie tickets over the internet, and hopped the two buses over to the downtown cinema. With 1/2 an hour to spare, things were looking good. We went to the kiosk to swipe our credit card and to collect our tickets.

Alas, we had none!

With the show completely sold out, we dejectedly sauntered home with not a word exchanged on the bus ride back. We were just too sad and too shocked to engage in post-potter banter. We still don't know how such a tragedy could have occurred...

Saturday was a blah-day. With five 20-page papers to accomplish between the two of us within the subsequent 11 day period, our day's events were rather limited to the pursuit of 100 pages, or 30,000 intelligent words. If you have any related to networks, globalization, rational choice, the European Union, offence-defense theory, or military participation, let us know.

And finally, blessed Sunday. The paper-writing continued throughout the day with breaks devoted to eating chili, downloading movies, and a call from Jonathan's folks. There was also an emergency run to Shoppers because Jonathan has been out of deoderdant for a few days now but it was only today that I finally found out he's been using mine...

At current, we have apple cider bubbling on the stove, and spice cookies about to go into the oven, thus filling our toasty little apartment with the aroma of cinnamon, orange peels, orchard apples and cloves. I had some jazzy Christmas jingles (Louis Armstrong - Winter Wonderland) playing for awhile, but after about 3 rotations, Jonathan gave me the look that it was time to turn them off. Jonathan is now preparing some delicious pad Thai, a deserving end to an otherwise, tragic, mundane, but nonetheless pleasant weekend at Oak and 12th.

Did I mention the pure sunshine on Friday and Saturday, and the ice capped north shore mountains (above) peaking just beyond our living room window?

- Sima

Friday, November 18, 2005

Another day in August

So, I think we're ready to take the next step in blogging: pictures. Apparently in the blogging world, the saying goes: "1 picture is worth 20 posts." Well, we have a lot - over 1000 - from the wedding, so here is August 13, 2005 in pictures. Enjoy. We did.

- Sima

August 13th, 2005 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 17, 2005

None needed

HARRY POTTER OPENS TONIGHT!!!!!! Please join us (telepathically) in our excitment!

Poop Decorators

What a long day. Have those? We do. Every Thursday, without fail. Our routine begins at 7:00 am. I shower and Jon eats; Jon showers and I eat. Socks, books, papers, and jackets start to fly around the apartment at exactly 7:57, in a predictable 3-minutes frenzy otherwise known as "things-I-forgot-to-put-together-last-night-for-morning's-9:30-class." Following a brisk 6 block walk, a bus-ride, a skytrain commute, and another bus transfer, we're finally on the mountain. This 2 hour ritual is truly an assault on the terribly sensitive morning body. After eight straight hours in captivity, we get to go home. Luckily, today's events ended on a high note.

Recall our loathing of Safeway? Apparently our blog has reached the masses, and in doing so saved us from our grocery misery. A day after that post, my sister called. My sister is a full-fledged Vancouverite. She does not own an umbrella - just a heavy duty rain jacket. She also camps, hikes, aspires to do yoga, and loves art lattes. How much more left-coast can one get? She doesn't carry a miniature dog in her matching purse yet so there is still work to be done. But I digress. My sister called, having read the post, and having lived in all sorts of jurisdictions in the GVA, she had some important insight for me: a 75 minute journey from my house, but most importantly, a 5 minute skytrain detour on my way home, will take me to the haven known as Extra Foods.

Extra Foods sells PC Products, and today, Jonathan and I checked it out. We had the conveyor belt brimming with boxed PC Products. I wanted to hug our wood-fired pizza, as well as the cashier, but I didn't. I just paid with my PC Mastercard, grinning from ear to ear, and happily sauntered home with Jon and our groceries. So happy was I that I left my mitts on the skytrain... :(

Now Jonathan and I are sitting down to devour our wood-fired PC pizza, with a pot of English Rose tea (from Steeps!). We were going to have chili, using the recipe Julien posted, but alas we didn't have corn.

"We don't need corn!" Jon said,
"But I do. I like it! We can't make chili without corn" I reply,
"You just like it because it makes poop decorators" Jon finishes.

So that was that. We're having pizza instead.

- Sima

Public Service Announcement

This slipped my mind the other day - but definitely deserves to be mentioned.

Over the weekend Sima was conferred a Master's of Arts in Public Administration from CU. Although Sima has never actually been to a convocation ceremony, she now is the proud owner of two degrees and working on a third one. Her husband is very proud and hopes to attend convocation for the third degree. You know - third time is a charm.

If you wish to send congragulatory remarks, cheques can be made out to her name.

- Jonathan

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

One of those Days

No no - don't worry I'm not going to quote that short stalky guy with the tattoos and the backwards red ball cap. So keep on reading.

So yeah - today was one of those days. One of those days where the skytrain ride does not feel long enough for you to wake up, where your students did not do their readings and hence sit there looking like someone has just stolen their souls while you extol the virtues of studying bureaucracies within the context of comparative politics (i think someone actually fell asleep for a few seconds), and where the stupid bus broke down three times on the way down the mountain.

Luckily for me, I must report that things are not all that terrible at the corner of Oak and 12th. I had "The Decemberists" to keep me entertained on the bus/skytrain and I got to go out for yummy Vietnamese with a beautiful woman.

To top it off there is no snow here - nope.... not one little bit. Except...for Whistler and all the other mountains around. hahahaha. So I can look forward to enjoying the mountains and all the snow while not having to subject myself to -30 weather or the risk of drowning in a wave of a black and grey substance that is also known as "slush" when the OC Transpo drives by.

Eat that Manitoba and the "Ice" Coast.

- Jonathan

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Blogging etiquette. Does it exist? Today, I've been pondering this quite deeply. For example, Jonathan's last post... I sat down with him to talk about it. I was frustrated - after all, this blog is a common property resource: its success and failure depends on the individual efforts of two individuals, he and me. Is it "free-riding" when one of those individuals doesn't post for days and when they do, it's two lines long and largely cryptic? That is, is it blogging etiquette to only post things that are interesting, funny, enlightening, or at least display a threshold amount of effort? I would hesitate to say yes, fearing that this might lead to some blog-fascism. Plus, what's funny to one, is often vulgar to another (Family Guy is case in point. Gigadee-gigadee.).

Question two - my brother-in-law (so weird, saying that!) I noticed, posted twice today. He said he couldn't help it - it was after all, a really exciting day. The pumpkin drop needed to be shared with the rest of the world. Here I find that we've done the very same thing: posted twice in a 24-hour period. Is that okay? Is that too excessive? Will be scare away our readers? More importantly, is it healthy? Will my social skills suffer? Will I start mumbling on buses and break into public song and dance every time I find myself carrying an umbrella in one hand and a briefcase in the other? What are risks of cancer and does blogging increase or reduce them?

As you see my friends, blogging etiquette largely escapes me. If any of you are more informed, we would like to hear about it.

And thanks for the recipes. The pie crust I already know is delicious and as far as chili goes, you can consider both of us fanatics so they should both soon find their way into our routine cooking.

Well, off to bed. Jon just left to grab a jug of milk from the 7-11 and I have to clean the kitchen before he returns. I told him to wear the head-lamp (it's dark outside, after all, and this is Vancouver). He gave me the look I probably deserved. Maybe the head-lamp suggestion wasn't a well-placed one. After all, if anything, a grown man walking down the street with his camping flashlight slung over his head might attract the kind of attention that would result in beat-downs, don't you think?


- Sima

Enough Said

What's with this? Way to fight the system buddy! Way to really stick it to the man! Congrats.

Enough Said

- Jonathan

Monday, November 14, 2005

That fabulous verb-to-noun transformation

Tonight, we feast.

In the spirit of aspiring to become routine bloggers, this will be our very first consecutive posting. That's right - two posts in two days. It's getting a bit crazy.

But back to the subject at hand - feastage. As a sidenote, we like to append 'age' to some of our favorite verbs in order to transform them into nouns. We have been doing this for years and would like to think many lives have been improved by this technique and would encourage you to use it in your own life's work. Example: To camp? So much more hip when its 'campage'. To blog? Give it that je ne sais quo with 'Bloggage'. Notice how much cooler both verbs have become in this simple transformation. Imagine next (warm) Friday afternoon, a coworker inquires "say, what are you up to this weekend". The reply "I am going camping" sounds like some sort of grade-five retreat. No, no, no. My friends, to articulate to that coworker the seriousness and grownupness of such activities requires the transformation from verb to noun, only achieved by an appendage: "Oh, I'm doing some campage." Campage sounds exhilarating, tough, complex, mature, hip.

If we haven't convinced you by now, I suppose we never will. So in the spirit of not scaring away our biggest fans (I think we're clocking it at about 3 now), we will leave it at that.

So returning to the subject at hand - feastage. That is what we will be partaking in this evening. This feastage will be exhilarating, tough, complex, mature, and hip. It begins, now, with Jonathan squirting an entire (brand new) bottle of liquid soap into the small, narrow opening of our modern soap dispenser, so that we can watch the dishes in preparation for the big event. This will probably take him a good 10 minutes of squirting, followed by another 3 minutes of sopping up the soap that missed the opening. It's a coordination task that neither of us are very good at yet. Tips are welcome.

Second in this feast (after soap squirtage) will be the cookage (are you catching on yet?) of dish 1 (we have two on the menu tonight) - Butter Chicken by Jonathan, and dish 2 - A symbiosis of potatoes and peas harmonized together in a snappy red curry sauce (we don't have a name for this dish because it is a secret family recipe guarded by our ancestors in a manner not unlike that taken to protect the Holy Grail...). Together, in a feat of multitaskage (okay, we'll stop with the 'age' now), we will then ball, roll, grill, flip, grill, and butter the roti - a staple (and edible!) utensil in our traditional Indian entrees of the evening.

This task of course requires that we stop blogging and start cooking, so we hope this posting makes you hungry enough to concoct something deliciously satisfying for yourself, while practicing your verb-to-noun technique in the kitchen. More than that though, we hope that you will send us your favorite secret family recipes. In the spirit of globalization and the free flow of information (Jonathan says), we hope you will do the right thing and let us in on Grandma's bread pudding.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

On culinary hankerings

Alright, so I suppose the bandwagon we jumped on wasn't an express route: it stops at all the local watering holes! So, that means we are on to a slow start - one musing a week - we'll get better. It's a steep learning curve, my economics friend tells me.

So, the context for this post: Vancouver, cloudy. Apartment, steamy. Music, Jimmy Eat World's "Last Christmas" (yes, we are listening to the O.C.'s Chrismukkah album. People, people, there's no shame in that). Sima, blogging. Jonathan, intellectual stimulation a la paper writing. Not too much going on at Oak and 12th. So far we've managed to have 4 cups of tea (that's 2 each), watch an episode each of Family Guy and The Office, try out our new rainshower shower head, stick metal rods into our now-receiving-affectionate-attention-since-
it-started-to-crawl-up-through-our-venetian-blinds plant, in order to get it to curl around something more practical, and that gets us to about 3:00 pm.

Time for a rant. No day is complete without a good ol' verbal tirade. So here it goes. Vancouver and its damn Safeways. Don't get me wrong; I like the West Coast. I like the mountains, the varied plant life, the gentle chilly hug they call Winter over here. I like the efficient bus system, the art lattes, the ocean, the cars. I even like Kits. But, my affinity for Vancouver promptly ends when the automatic doors to the entrance of Safeway open. What is wrong with that grocery store, you ask? How could something as mundane as grocery shopping get our knickers in a twist? Imagine this. Imagine that first off, Safeway, a monopoly it sometimes seems on grocery availability in this town, does not sell your favorite products. It does not sell Memories of Szechwan Spicy Peanut Satay Sauce. It does not sell Lassy Mogs Soft Fruit & Nut Cookies. Nor does it sell New York-Style Pecan Streusel Caramel Apple Cheesecake or Blue Menu Thick & Juicy Chicken Burgers. Those of you who are particularly on the ball today will recognize that all these glorious food products are brought to grocery stores all across the country, by President's Choice - grocery stores except Safeway that is. Safeway doesn't sell PC products. They sell "Safeway Select". I won't describe my past experience with Safeway Select's Vegetarian Lasagna, but I will say that Select products just don't have that extra hug inside the box that PC products do. Select products barely give No Name a run for its money. And that's fine, I suppose. It's okay to sell second-rate brands. What isn't okay is to spawn grocery stores across the city, at all the most convenient locations to our house. It isn't okay to stash my beloved Great Canadian Superstores in Richmond and Burnaby, a good 70 minute bus hike from my home.

That's not all.

Safeway is perhaps the only grocery store where you wish things don't go on sale. That may sound odd to you, but consider the possible scenarios and then decide what you think. As far as I can see it, the worst thing that could possibly happen is that your favorite food goes on sale but is therefore out of stock. The second worst situation is when your food is there, and not on sale. Great would be if it was on sale and in stock. That never happens at Safeway. At Safeway, everything goes on sale, and nothing is ever in stock. So, when I have an uber-crucial ingredient list for late-evening scones, I cross my fingers that none of my ingredients are on sale. Last week, my probiotic vanilla yoghurt and my all-bran raspberry cereal were on sale, and out of stock. These are staples in my diet. Our marriage works when both are in hefty supply in our house. Needless to say, I'm a wreck without them. I'd rather they never go on sale, then have the uncertainty of not knowing if I'll be probiotic yogurtless because every Safeway in town has been bought-out of my favorite dairy delicacy.

Oddly, even things that are not on sale are frequently not in stock - last week, sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds! How does a grocery store run out of something like that? Doesn't it come in various brands, various packaging? The bulk section (with the plastic bags and twist ties), the baking aisle, the snack aisle. Needless to say, we were shocked. On another occasion, it was bread crumbs (we resorted to smashing up a box of instant turkey stuffing with a rolling pin). On another, pie shells. And yet another, fondue fuel. So the last one is a bit obscure - given that though, you would think their shelf would be well stocked - after all, they do carry it. But alas, on the morning before our fondue night, it was waiting to be stocked.

If Jonathan and I return to Central Canada before the four years of my Ph.D. pursuit are up, you'll know why. That is really the best kept dirty-little-secret about Vancouver: it's not the rain that gets people down and depressed; its the unrivaled insensitivity of Safeway to the culinary aspirations, dietary needs, and frivolous cravings of its residents. I feel for all those expecting couples of the lower mainland...clearly the invisible hand (the one that lets soon-to-be fathers escape the wraith of their pregnant spouses by catering to the latter's complex, urgent, and hormonal hankerings) has failed in this city. Safeway should consider sponsoring the "pregnant women with unsatisfied cravings" charity of Vancouver.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


We are no longer luddites! Apparently you are not "in" if you don't have a blog to rant, rave and generally mouth off about everything and nothing. So here goes. We have caved, we want to be cool, we want to be "in". This is our attempt to do the aforementioned as well as stay in touch with friends and family.