Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

why I sometimes feel that I live in a fraternity house

16th June 2013 | 0 Comments

 

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This is literally came out of the fridge and I couldn’t resist taking this photo once I put it on the counter.  And in case you don’t recognize this essential cooking item, it is piece of ginger.  Thought this would be a good posting for Father’s Day to honour all thing male.

 

 


Eric’s Convocation at University of Toronto

13th June 2013 | 0 Comments

1 down, 2 and 1/2 to go.  Eric graduated today, Adam is 1/2 through his masters, Noah and Ryan have years left!

There was magnificent rainbow today, not just one but two! Unfortunately, I couldn’t take pictures while driving on the Gardiner Expressway.    This makes it an extra special day for Eric’s convocation from University of Toronto.  The showers held off so that we could take photos after the ceremony.

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Honours Bachelor in Arts majoring in Transnational and Diaspora Studies.

proud parents of our newest graduate

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At St. Michaels College that Eric was enrolled in.

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new dance studio & store opening

1st June 2013 | 0 Comments

June 1 st, 2013

address of  new dance studio, down the stairs, south of Gerrard

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speeches before the ribbon cutting ceremony

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Noah, David RF (owner of RightFoot), Eric

inside RightFoot dance studio

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live entertainment for the studio opening

inside NOZO Toronto’s newest store

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and Eric’s office.  Yes that is a Triceratops head.


Labour Day, Jamaica, May 23, 2013

23rd May 2013 | 0 Comments

Today is a bank holiday so we are not at the bank  because it is closed.  However, we told the staff that since the trainer is here this week only, if they worked today, they could  take Monday off.  Traffic was light coming in and the campus is deserted.  Typically, you would spend the day off doing community service work.  K said that his community would be whitewashing the sidewalks.  We offered to write him a note explaining his absence.

My security pass and temporary office cubicle.

UWI office pass and my office

UWI office cubicle

 

Our building which is a new call centre training facility.

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Since it was a holiday, E gave them chocolate and I had leftover pears that we passed out at morning break.

I got a chance to walk around the campus. David suggested that I walk early in the morning before it gets too hot.  I walked around for 40 minutes.

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The Papine sugar plantation  originated here and some of the original brick structures such as aquaducts and buildings  are still standing here.  They are pretty much in ruins but interesting to look at.

aqueducts

The Geology department has a commemorative obelisk consisting of local rocks, oldest at the bottom to the newest at the top.

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Nearby is a time capsule to be opened up on the anniversary.

Geology Dept time capsule

There are local departments that you would only see on a tropical Caribbean campus.

sickle cell unit

and another Tropical Disease

tropical medicine research institute

University Of West Indies, Mona campus has a mix of old, low storied buildings as well as some new buildings being built.  It is the best university in the Caribbean.  Usain Bolt trained here.

one of newer buildings

new Law Building and the new Medical Sciences building  new Medical Sciences building


Jamaica, May 22nd, 2013

22nd May 2013 | 0 Comments

 

For breakfast , I cut into the biggest avocado that I had bought.  Well it was big because 80% of it was the pit.  I guess it was a local heritage variety.  I also tried an imported pear which was small and not sweet or tasty at all.  The fingerling bananas are nice.  A lot of stuff is imported. I’m actually craving broccoli which isn’t served much since it is imported.  It was broccoli season at home since it went cheap in price.

It must be a cultural thing where everyone acknowledges any one that you see, including strangers.

 

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Driving out of  University of West Indies campus.  There are some old ruins of aquaduts and forts.

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UWI

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we are in a new part of the campus called Mona Technology Park not in this building  but across from it.  note the coloured windows.  

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a department that you wouldn’t see at home

 

jamaican money

I’m rich! not after but you  move the decimal points 2 places.

Morning at the classroom then to the office, will be going back to the …bank and then meeting with a benefits consultant downtown.  We have spent so much time 10.5 hrs, at the bank, 1/3 of time is just waiting with our queue number.  We have even asked to speak to the branch manager to speed things up.  The problem was not having supporting documents to open up an account.

 

 


hookahs in Jamaica, May 21st, 2013

22nd May 2013 | 0 Comments

You have to read further about hookahs, I put it in the title just to ‘hook’ you in.

For breakfast, I had leftovers for breakfast.  I had red snapper and they also serve it with Carr’s style crackers.

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Morning at UWI campus, Business Management building.  It was hot and dry today.

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Even Kenny who is a local, complains about having rice and peas all the time.  He just wants a tuna sandwich!  And I started to feel the same about Jamaican so it was a nice surprise when we found a middle Eastern restaurant instead of  the intended Mothers which has ice cream as well as patties.  This looks like a new strip mall with a supermarket  too.   The middle Eastern restaurant was called Aladin.  Though it wasn’t full of treasures, it did have a lot of hookahs for sale.  I ordered Fatoush Salad, beef Shawarma and David had a falafel sandwich.  The table had a bottle of hand sanitizer too which I don’t know if the restaurant supplied or left behind by another customer.  I used it.  The server came and wiped the table before we ate so maybe they are focused on cleanliness too.  The food was good  but the pita bread was thinner than what we have at home.

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this was the Fatoush salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, parsley, mint, lemon & pomegranite juice) which had pita chips in the middle.

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left: David’s falafel and my beef shawarma

After lunch, I went to the supermarket to buy plantain chips.  Most were not made in Jamaica.


Jamaica, May 20th, 2013

20th May 2013 | 0 Comments

Due to some sort of buzzing,  I woke up while it was dark, showered.  Then David tells me that it is only 4:30 so I had to decide whether to go back to sleep with wet hair or stay up and blow dry it.  I tried going back to sleep but without flattening my wet hair.  Then the real alarm went off at 6:00am.  Don’t get up until the sun gets up.

Breakfast fruits: sugar cane, rose apple and fingerling bananas.  I asked a staff person what the proper name for the fingerling bananas and she said just small bananas.

breakfast fruit

 

For breakfast, I cut open the rose apple.  It is pear shaped, soft flesh and I didn’t eat the peel since I thought it was a bit sour.  The flesh is mild taste probably like a guava.  I heated up the rest of ackee and salt fish and had that too.

a rose apple

Back to the office on campus.  We are in a different building Business, since we needed a larger classroom.  It is much cooler here.  But then the air conditioning broke down.

We had lunch catered in from the Social Welfare department which is the training program for people at risk.  I ordered sweet & sour chicken, rice and peas with a yellow triangle.  I had to ask to identify it, a yellow yam.  And since I asked for natural juice not fruit juice, I got pineapple with ginger.  This is really nice combination since the ginger cuts the sweetness of the pineapple.  Some of the other drinks didn’t arrive since our class order was placed late.  Apparently the coconut water was left out to thaw and thus forgotten.  David had stewed beef.

campus lunch, sweet & sour chicken


Jamaica, May 19th

19th May 2013 | 0 Comments

Woke up early which happens if you go to bed early.  However with the office closed, lawyer closed and bank closed, we are working at the apartment.  I’ve learnt how to add photos to my blog so that it should be a lot more interesting.

So the cherries are Acerola cherries.  I decide to freeze them as ice cubes since they are too sour to eat.

This is what is in our fridge here>

left to right: June Plum (has ginger), soursop, cherry, sorrel with ginger and mango carrot. And the supermarket has just as many Ginger teas as a Chinatown.

local fruit juices

We had lunch using up all leftover sides and making egg omelets.

We had to go to the airport to pick up someone E. from the airport.  Guess what I saw on the way to the airport as well as a huge pig grazing on the side of the road?  More goats except these were all  black.  I should mention that the road to the airport goes through a poorer part of town and then its a long causeway to the airport.  People are finishing along the water with long rods.

We picked him up and we all went out for dinner together.  It was at So So seafood restaurant.  The waitress showed us the fresh fish that you could order.  It was in a cooler in the back.  There was some parrot fish, very pretty and some snapper.  David ordered conch in oyster sauce, not spicy.  After discussion about parrot fish being better fried, I settled for snapper steamed in coconut milk, with okra and pumpkin and 1/2 fried not steamed bammy.  It was a little bit spicy but too spicy for E. He had to settle for steamed rice.  The fish entree came with  Irish, meaning white potatoes not sweet.  No photos since I left my data card behind.  Unfortunately, the music was so loud playing Whitney Houston that it was hard to talk.


Jamaican lingo

18th May 2013 | 0 Comments

As I left on Eric’s birthday, I sent this message for him with some of my new vocabulary.

as they would say here on the island…Big up, all fruits ripe, hope you were treated as a ginnygog yesterday. sure you don’t want me to bring you back some whites or some trash ‘n’ ready? skin teeth, DY

translation: Hello, everything goes well, hope you were treated as a VIP yesterday, sure you don’t want some white rum or something trendy, smiling, DY otherwise everything wouldn’t be legal. belated birthday happies

Sometimes I don’t understand what they are saying here, especially if they are speaking fast. It all English but sounds different.


Ackee and Salted Fish Breakfast, Jamaica May 18th, 2013

18th May 2013 | 0 Comments

Its Saturday morning and we slept in! I’ve stopped taking Reactine since I’ve left my hayfever behind in Toronto.

a typical Jamaican breakast:

Jamaican breakfast

 

We decided to go out for breakfast at Fish Spot to order ackee and salted fish for breakfast. Ackee looks like scrambled eggs, onions and the salted fish. Its a very salty dish and the restaurant ran out of dumplings so we substituted festival instead. Festival is a fried donut with cornmeal and sugar and its really tasty. I enjoyed the festival more than the salted fish. I think if it was a smaller ratio of fish to ackee I may order it again.

from the fruit vendor

David wanted to buy more bananas from his favourite fruit vendor which is in a parking lot at strip mall. We could smell pineapples when you got of the car. He said that I could pick anything. I choose some fingerling bananas, some cherries, 2 large Alfonso type mangoes, 1 rose apple, 1 pear that looked like an avocado and a small pineapple. I only wanted a handful of the cherries but the vendor insisted that he top off the bag to half a pound. Some of the fruit was an experiment. The cherries turned to have a ridged pit and were rather sour, bad experiment. I guess that what they make the local cherry drink out of. The pineapple was fine, small and the crown was crooked, probably locally grown.  And what I thought was a guava is a neice?? berry.

Since food is rather cheap here, and the kitchen isn’t air conditioned and fully equipped, we are eating out a lot more. Since I spend a lot of time cooking at home, it is offset by the time going to the restaurant, ordering and driving back. There is no dishwasher here either. Howeve r, it seems to be either fish or chicken entrees that I’m picking. Cuz I’m a wimp for spices.


Emancipation Park, Kingston May 18th

18th May 2013 | 0 Comments

Finally some time off.  We drove to Emancipation Park to walk around.

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Trick was to find parking since the parkade wasn’t opened.  Like England, you can park your car in any direction. There is a famous sculpture featuring a naked couple looking at the sky, it is nicknamed Penis Park for that reason.  i am standing in front of the naughty part. Lots of families walking around. We watched some table tennis players since they have outdoor tables there. Music speakers disguised as rocks. lots of flowering yellow, pink and purple shrubs. It was nice orderly park with security guards to enforce the rules of no vending etc.  There is a jerk restaurant where you can see them shovelling wood to cook the meat.  Bumper cards and a ride.   Just a typical Saturday evening.

Emancipation Park, Kingston

Then to Sovreign Centre, mall to walk around, look at the food court and there are movie theatres upstairs.

Picked up dinner at Island Grill , a local chain. We both ordered fish in brown sauce. The fish is snapper. Instead of plain rice, its callaloo rice which I think is better. Chinese vegetables (more bok choy) instead of coleslaw and most delicious, ripe plantain. You can choose green or ripe. I think the fish is spicier here.
Back at the apartment,I tried the fresh sugarcane. Its hard work to peel back the outer skin and the juice wasn’t particularly sweet    .

highlights recap: Emancipation Park walk and      cooked ripe not green plantain, yummy!


Jamaica May 17th, 2013

17th May 2013 | 0 Comments

our rental apartment livingroom: David works at the dining table, I’m working at the coffee table. And there is a big flat screen TV.

Strathairn  Ave, Kingston

Friday: This is a working vacation for me.  I’m up 2 hours than my Toronto schedule.  I’m accompanying David to the office, lawyers and banks.  I am  using rubberstamps but not the art type but the seal type since all signed signatures need to be stamped.  All documents have to filled in by hand so everything takes longer. Banks open at 8 and close at 2 except for Fridays at 4.  We were there for so long (4 hours) that  the parking lot was locked so David had to walk back to get the security guard to unlock the gate for us.  Work stuff is rather boring so I will give more details about my meals.

We are eating breakfast in the apartment.  From the supermarket, I bought cheese, but it was New Zealand cheese.  Its not that I didn’t want local cheese but I didn’t see it.  I had local June Plum juice, which tastes faintly like a lemonade, very thick creamy consistency, best over ice and has ginger  in it.  They seem to add ginger to all the fruit drinks here, probably to cut the sugar taste.  The water is safe to drink but at the restaurants, they ask if you want bottled. I’ve been using tap water but then I also already had Twinrix shots from my trip to Japan.

Yesterday, we went to the Coconut Marketing board.   It is a small building.  David was asked to bring back some coconut drops which is sugar ginger coconut pieces.  It was the only item that I liked there.  I ordered a small bottle of coconut water which is okay to try but not to buy again.


White House, Jamaica May 16th, 2013

16th May 2013 | 0 Comments

First day at office. It is in a new building at the University of West Indies (UWI) Car pass to get on to campus. Sign in at lobby, record laptop ID, get visitors badge, pass security, pass receptionist, lots and lots of security checks. Meet staff.

 

White House, Kingston

Went for lunch at the White House restaurant which is a big white house featuring Chinese food. I asked if the curried chicken was spicy so she gave a me a small dish of it. Yes it was tasty but spicy. I chose the fried chicken instead and was asked light or dark meat.  The chicken was battered with a light tomato sauce, it reminded of Hong Kong style pork chops.    David ordered curried goat,  beef soup, and stewed vegetables that were green beans and carrots.   We chose to sit inside because its cooler and it open terraced.  Some of the tables were wood and some were plastic patio but all with cloth table clothes.  There was a huge downpour that didn’t last long.

Back to the lawyers.

 

Dinner at Fish Pot.  I ordered the grilled shrimp skewers this time.  Each shrimp had a piece of green pepper next to it.  Pumpkin rice has tiny pieces of pumpkin in it and gives the rice a yellow tinge of colour.  David had a large fish tea which is soup.

After dinner, there is a TV in the livingroom and the bedroom.  Satellite stations.  We watched Mindgames which has a lot of stars like LL Cool J, Tommy Lee Smith.  It is a psychological thriller, unique deaths, red herrings and a surprise ending.  And Moneyball


goats in Jamaica May 15 & 16th, 2013

15th May 2013 | 0 Comments

Although it was Eric’s birthday, he drove me to the airport for my flight. We left at 7:30am and I got there after 8:30am since traffic was heavy, possibly due to an accident. There was a fire truck on route. We went on Lakeshore and then onto the Gardiner.

Which only left me 15 minutes in the Maple Leaf lounge. I grabbed a hardboiled egg, croissant, pastry of some sort, toast for breakfast.

executive travel

Look.my feet barely touch that wall. And that composition book is my travel journal.

Since it was cheaper to book executive class, I was in the front row. I had an empty side beside me so I had lots of room, legwise and sidewise. I had so much leg room that my feet couldn’t reach the front and there is a nice big arm rest too. Negative, I couldn’t read the screen well. And there is so much service being in executive class, hot towels, dish of fresh nuts, breakfast menu options, real cloth napkins, china, glass and silverware. This is not my first time in executive. JAL, returning from Mexico to Vancouver, our connecting flight was late but since I looked like I was going to cry, we were thrown onto the plane into first class, circa 1978. So this my second time and its going to spoil me now.

I watched Django Unchained and it was really good, a lot like a spaghetti western with gore and humor, typical of Quentin Tarantino. He has a cameo in it. The flight attendant came by with Miss Vickie chips and Lindt chocolate bars and more offers of drinks.

Once off the plane, the air smelt different, not just ocean air but tropical ocean air. This is divine since I could see the smog over Toronto when we left.


Ottawa, April 4-5th, 2013

5th April 2013 | 0 Comments

Thursday morning, leave Toronto.

We drove to Ottawa and stayed at the Lord Elgin hotel which is downtown.  So downtown that we opted for Valet parking.

Lord Elgin hotel, Ottawa

room is traditional with a tulip theme.

room inside Lord Elgin hotel

You are offered a $5 incentive  to spend in the hotel if you decline housekeeping.  Since we were only staying overnight, we didn’t use it.

view from hotel room, Ottawa

The view from our hotel room.

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We walked by the Rideau Canal.

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Oscar Peterson statue on the way to the National Gallery.

Oscar Peterson, Ottawa

 

This is a big memorial piece, you walk through it.

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Outside the National Gallery, free on Thursdays evening.

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The Maman sculpture is outside the museum.

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There is an inside terrace which is actually considered artwork so I snuck a photo.

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Overlooking the terrace

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After this closed, we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Byward Market  .

Friday morning at  Staples and then to a print shop.

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Off to make a delivery.

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Japanese sushi lunch in Chinatown.

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This is a view of the gate from inside the restaurant.

Processed our visas at the Vietnamese Embassy.  They were very fast, 1/2 hour. Cash only.

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Stopped for gas in Port Colbourne and Greek dinner.

 

Stopped by  Bowmanville, watched a hockey game where S.B.’s son played.  Unfortunately they lost.

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Home, Friday night.