Friday, March 31, 2006

Three Men and a Vest

(Photo compliments of Canada.com)

Harper: "Any big game to hunt in this part of the world?"
Fox: "Big Game?!?! I guess you are dressed to go hunting."
Bush: "I don't know why y'all are talkin' about huntin'...I once caught a fish down here...it was THIS BIG."
Harper: "That's nice, George. Why am I wearing this rugged vest if there isn't any big game to hunt?"
Fox: "I don't know You look more ready to go seal hunting than looking at Mayan ruins. How do you like my get-up?"
Bush: "You look like you own a drug cartel. Let's hope the DEA doesn't find you."

I'd like to know what Stephen Harper was thinking when he donned that vest. I mean, it's Mayan ruins, not the Serengeti. What did he think he was going to encounter, a lion? I bet his pockets were filled with survival gear. Classic.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My New Map

After wanting one for months, I finally have a world map on the wall in my room. Best part, it was free. Maybe now I can find Charles Taylor....Oh, wait, he's turned up in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Where in Africa is Charles Taylor?

The search is on for ex-Liberian dictator Charles Taylor.  He disappeared today from his home in Nigeria (48 hours after the Nigerian President said that Liberia could take custody of its former leader).  So, how exactly do you just lose someone with a record such as this guy’s?  Another puzzling fact: why was this guy allowed to live in a luxury villa while under exile?

The answer to the second question is: In 2003, President Obasanjo (Nigeria) requested that Taylor step down and take exile in Nigeria in a move to end the 14-year civil war.  But a luxury mansion?

“Well, he did commit numerous human rights violations to the point where he could be termed a dictator, but I think he still deserves to live in a mansion and be served 24/7.”

Great logic.

Reports on the matter courtesy of: AFP, Reuters, BBC, AllAfrica.com

Monday, March 27, 2006

On Tour - Botswana

Just got an email from my friend, Michaela…she describes a little bit about life in Botswana:

The job is going well, right now i am pretty much processing foreign exchange transfer (very exciting), the big difference with canada is how little the internet and computers are used; most things are done manually and there is a lot of paperwork. So the actual job is not too much fun, but the people make up for it. everyone in the department is really nice, and they love to make fun of the new canadian girl :) we are all going out this friday so im sure it will get interesting, we'll see what the afterwork crowd is like here in botswana... probably not too different from canada.

I am living a rural village that isn't part of Gaborone, its considered tribal land. I will have to send pictures, because it really is what you picture Africa to be like, dirt roads, simple structures, etc. There are goats, cattle and donkeys always roaming around, i had to manoeuvre around about 5 donkeys that were on the road the other day, they didn't want to get out of my way, so i ended up getting out of theirs! At about 5 pm all the cattle/goats wander past the balcony, it provides a nice view as I sit there after work with a beer. The flat i am living in is very nice and new and about a 10 minute walk from the main road where I pick up the minibus (called combies here). They are pretty much big vans that travel along a set route. They honk and yell at you to see if you want on, and once in, you have to yell when you want to get off. They leave when they are full and don't have any kind of a schedule, its a little different from the buses at home! i got lost on them last week as I took the wrong one home, I ended up in the middle of no where, but everyone on the bus was really nice and pointed me in the right direction, and besides I got a free tour of the countryside.......

The girl I am living with is very nice and lots of fun. She is from Botswana but spent a year in Ottawa, so she knows what it is like to come to another country. She has been very inviting and I have been hanging out lots with her group. We are going camping in a game park next weekend, Im very excited, if I can get it organized I will send pictures.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Cell Phones on Airplanes = Disaster

Check out Ben Stein’s take on cell phones in airplanes.  I’m inclined to agree with what he says – the last thing I want on the plane is some yahoo “telling his mother what he just bought that day at Costco.”

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Danish Hospitality

When in search of great ethnic food, there is no better place to look than local cultural clubs. Case in point, the Danish Canadian Club of Calgary and its monthly Brunch and Dinner buffet.

Here’s a list of what you get:

Curried herring
Marinated herring
Smoked mackerel
Kippers
Smoked salmon
Poached salmon
Egg shrimp
Seafood salad
Potato salad
Caesar salad
Ham
Salami
Pork roll
Paté
Beets
Chicken tarteletter
Pollock
Frikadeller
Pork roast
Pork sausage
Red cabbage
Potatoes
Cheese fruit dessert

From my point of view, “clubbing” has taken a whole new meaning.

Paintings




Oil paintings by Amber Murray.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

But I Don't Even Like Asparagus

If anyone is looking for a way to cook asparagus on the BBQ, I have the recipe that will lead you to the promised land (mind the bible reference):

You’ll need some asparagus stalks (with the tough bottom part removed), some fresh lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper.

Coat the stalks in the above ingredients and place on a hot grill.  Give about 20 minutes for cooking – rotating periodically.  The key is just to watch the asparagus and cook it to your specific preferences.

More grilling tips to come….

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Much Better

I’m amazed at how much different two events can be.  You may remember my pal, Fred, who was completely disinterested in people going overseas - that event was aimed at rich oil companies.  Tonight’s event was completely different – it was all about water preservation in parts of the world where people are without clean water.

Not only were people interested in the action plan we (well, not me…I came late) came up with, but they were actually quite impressed that I had been away.  One lady in particular was fascinated with the intricacies of the Indian culture.

The highlight of the night was definitely talking about rural Mongolian toilet issues (and toilet issues in general) with a Canadian senator.

Botswana

Just had an abbreviated MSN conversation with Michaela – my friend doing and AIESEC traineeship in Botswana. It sounds like she’s getting settled in and really enjoying the people. Most of the work she is doing (at a bank) is done on paper and not on a computer…a thought so foreign to most of us. She does promise to send out a massive email soon, which I promise to post right here. For the time being, here’s a little info about Botswana compliments of the CIA Factbook:

Capital – Gabarone
Borders – Namibia (to the west), South Africa (to the south), Zimbabwe (to the east)
Population – 1,640,115
Population Growth Rate – 0% (The population seems to be declining)
Language – Mainly Setswana
Independence Day – September 30th, 1966
Head of State – President Festus G. Mogae (since 1998)
GDP per capita (PPP) - $10,100
Industries – Diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, livestock processing, textiles

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's -10 and Snowing...Great Day for a BBQ

“Only in Canada will you find a crazy dude willing to BBQ in -10 degree weather.” –Some Foreigner

No pictures for a week or so, because my camera is being fixed, so I’ll try to use imagery to re-create my BBQ’ing process.

It starts out with the lighting of the grill.  I must point out that the unit is out the door and around to the back of the house, so it requires a lot of running back and forth.  Inside, I put my meat/veggies on skewers (the meat had been marinating all day in a lime juice/chilli marinade) and get them ready for a good heating blasting.  

The next part is crucial: running from my house to the grill without a jacket on (I’m not that smart), while trying not to trip.  There is a corner involved and, I swear, if it ever gets icy, it could get dangerous.  Provided all goes well, I put the skewers on the grill and run back to the house.

After a few minutes, I run back outside to rotate the skewers and then dart back into the house – trying to lose as little body heat as possible.  I repeat this process a couple of times until it’s time to bring everything in.

Do the neighbours think I’m crazy?  Probably.  Would I do anything for grilled <insert meat or vegetable here>?  Absolutely.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Speed Skating


Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick heading to the line in the 1500m

Shani Davis' World Record


Well, another world record fell today. This time it was Shani Davis in the 1500m. A couple things I forgot to point out yesterday:

I finally saw Steve Armitage up close. This guy can make watching paint dry exciting.

I also saw Catriona Lemay-Doan pretty close as well.

Mr. Cinquatta's socks were a blue-grey type of mix...matched his suit. Honestly, though, he probably could've afforded better shoes - they seemed a bit old and worn.

Note the orange eyelashes on this Dutch fan

The Dutch fans are prepared with the mid-event cheese and meat

Sven Kramer and Enrico Fabris rounding the corner

Cindy Klassen warming up

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Day at the Oval

Went and watched the World All-around Speed Skating Championships today.  Among the highlights were:

The crazy Dutch fans – It’s amazing that these people travel all the way from Holland to support their speed skaters.  Impossible to miss, too…decked out in full orange.

The Norwegian fans – Anytime you see Norwegians in the traditional red, white, and blue colours with their Viking hats on, you know it’s a good day.  One guy bought a beer, turned to the camera, and said, “Illegal doping.”

Cindy Klassen’s World Record – She destroyed her own record in the 3000m by two and a half seconds…the crowd was going crazy.

Octavio Cinquatta – I made eye contact with the head of the International Skating Union and I now know what kind of shoes and socks the guy wears…he was hangin’ with the Italian broadcast crew that was stationed right behind us.

I’m bringing my camera tomorrow, so hopefully there’ll be some good pics to post.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Ahh...Grilling.

Now that's what I'm talkin' about.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Without a Trace

Did anyone notice the Commonwealth Games kicking off in Melbourne today?  Or how about the Paralympic Games in Turin?  The World Baseball Classic?

If the answers to any or all of these questions are “No,” chances are you either don’t watch enough TV or the TV coverage is just that bad.  Call it an “Olympic Hangover” or an “I don’t care about any other sporting events because the World Cup is coming up in June” attitude if you want, but I remember when the Commonwealth Games used to be a big deal.  

If you think about it, international sports fans could’ve been in for a year to remember:

Winter Olympics
Winter Paralympics
Commonwealth Games
World Baseball Classic
World Cup of Soccer
Tour de France (it’ll actually be interesting without Lance)
Might be a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup
NHL Playoffs
And no doubt a host of other events I’m likely missing

In any case, North American coverage of these events is pathetic (save for the NHL Playoffs and golf events).  Let’s hope there is at least some coverage of the Commonwealth Games and the rest of the events get decent coverage as well.  Maybe that’s a lot to ask, but I’m really looking forward to Le Tour this year now that it’s actually a race among mortals.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

What Will They Leave Out Next?

In an obvious case of learning from past successes, the house on the corner that donated such artifacts as a fully-working BBQ and green shelving unit has taken another step in the charitable hierarchy.

While on my way to school this afternoon, I spotted a white shelving unit/cabinet stood at the same corner with the same “Free” tag attached.  Seeing absolutely no use for such a monstrosity, I continued on my way.  On the way home, the shelf had vanished.  I came to the conclusion that items left here were now a hot commodity and that it might be worth staking out the location to ensure first dibs.

To take the next step in the charitable hierarchy, this house would have to leave a couch or possible an armchair.  And I was just thinking how nice a chair would look in the corner of my living room.

North of the Border

One has to respect a man that puts one of his kidneys up as collateral in order to finance the production of a play.  According to the Reuters report, North Korean refugee Jung Sung-san did this in order to continue creating a play depicting real life in North Korean prisons.  He had been an inmate at one of the “notorious political prisons of the North,” but was lucky to escape after serving only 3 months there.  He was sent to prison after listening to a South Korean radio broadcast.

Anyone in Seoul or going to Seoul within the next 20 days should go check this play out.  If I had the necessary funds and time, I might just head over there myself.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Experiment Night in the Kitchen


It's become a common occurence in my kitchen to just throw random stuff together in the hope that it turns into something half-decent.

Tonight I had the following:

Yoghurt
Chicken
Gnocchi
Onions
A Red Pepper
Serrano Chiles
Parmasean Cheese

What I ended up with was a pepper stuffed with a chicken/onion/spicy yoghurt mixture on a bed of gnocchi covered by the rest of the spicy yoghurt mixture.

The pepper and the filling was excellent, but the sauce that went over the gnocchi was a bit sour for my liking. Next time I'll make a white sauce.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

The New Grill

Here's the fine looking piece of grilling ecstacy. Some might say that it looks like it just survived a nuclear firestorm, others might deem it "rustic." Irregardless, this is one beast I didn't mind meeting in an alleyway.
Open Offer: You bring the meat, I supply the grill.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ya, eh?

Most of you have probably met a Canadian (a polite, non-confrontational one, no doubt) or two in your day.  Some of you have probably made fun of how Canadians say, “eh?” after pretty much ever sentence.  A typical conversation between a Canadian and foreigner goes something like this:

Canadian – “It’s pretty hot, eh?”

Foreigner – “Ya, EH?

Canadian – “Oh, is that what I say?  Thanks for that.”

I read an article the other day that said Canadians use “eh?” to look for confirmation.  Instead of saying, “The weather is bad,” we say, “The weather is bad, eh?”  There is obviously some inkling of doubt within us that forces the “eh?” usage.  Ironically, how we confirm one’s statement is to say, “Ya, eh?”  Only this time it’s not someone mocking us, but rather someone who makes us feel smarter.

Friday, March 10, 2006

New Blogs

Some new blogs have appeared in the right-hand column:

Dody in Egypt – Creator of nomadlife

Adam in Chicago – One of my bosses while I worked in India

AIESEC Calgary – Brand new local committee blog I have setup.

Enjoy.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mongolian First

The first kidney transplant in Mongolian history was performed on March 7th in Ulaanbaatar.  It took 10 hours to complete and the woman seems to be doing fine.  The best part of it all is that the operation was done for free after citizens were able to raise enough money.  -UB Post

Great story.

In other more horrifying news, the rich keep getting richer.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

How to Boost Morale

The Canadian troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan have just received a huge morale boost from the company that brought you such horrible commercials depicting Canadians going overseas and then writing/calling their parents saying, “I really miss my Tim Hortons coffee, please send me some.”  Truth be told, Canada has the most donut shops per capita so if there is a concentration of Canadians somewhere else in the world, why not setup shop there?  There’s also the fact that a majority of Canadians do like Tim’s.  It’s just me that is against it, apparently.  I bet the Army guys are happy.

I’m fully against franchises going to other parts of the world, so I’m sticking to that in this case.  Whether or not Afghanis have access to Timmy’s, I have no idea, but I’m worried Kabul might by the next target of the evil coffee/donut monster.    

Read the full report here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

My Summer is Now Complete

"So what did you do today?"

"Not much. Wheeled an abandoned BBQ from an alley way to my house, but that's about it?"

"What? You wheeled a BBQ? How far?"

"Umm...a kilometre maybe."

"If that isn't white trash, I don't know what is. Does the thing work?"

"As far as I know...it's bit rusty, but I have no doubt it'll get the job done."

"That's sweet...did it come with a tank?"

"Yep, and it's good for 5 more years. Even better, gas was still in it."

"How did you find it?"

"I walked past it on my way home from class. I sign on the shelves next to it said "Free."

"Did it ever occur to you that the BBQ wasn't part of that deal?"

"Not really. I figured if someone started shooting at us, we'd know what was up."

"Well then...happy grillin'."

Explosions

Just read that there were bombings at two separate locations in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.  One of them was at a Hindu temple and the other was at the train station.  According to reports, one bomb went off in a train car and the other just outside a ticket counter.  12 people are reported dead and many more wounded. –CTV.ca

This gives me the chills because I was at that train station just over two months ago.  I remember sitting in the second class waiting room watching Indian TV.  Some guy came up to me and said, “Aren’t you cold, Sir?”  I had been wearing shorts at the time.

I guess this is no different than hearing about Indian bus accidents and then proceeding to ride the bus.  You really can’t let events like this stop you from going places…especially a place like Varanasi – Hinduism’s holiest city.

Temporary Banner

I am waiting on a whole new design from Johanna in Germany, but I’m told that she is in the process of moving.  In the meantime, I figured I’d throw up a new banner containing four pictures from my recent adventures.  Can’t wait for the new design, though (hint hint, nudge nudge, Johanna).

Monday, March 06, 2006

Win a Medal, Get a Car

“MOSCOW (AP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the country's Olympic medallists Monday, and then told them that they will each be given a new car.” –TSN.ca

Definitely a great deal for the athletes, but there’s a bit more to it:

“The men will get a Toyota Land Cruiser, while the women will receive a Lexus.”

I’m sorry, but I’d rather have the Lexus than the Land Cruiser. Granted, might is probably right on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg, but a Lexus would look so much better driving through town than a ubiquitous Land Cruiser.

Who plans to pay for the 22 cars and trucks? Not the Russian Government, but wealthy businessmen.

Although I don’t wholeheartedly agree with these gift ideas, I do wonder when Canada’s rich are going to step up and make similar offerings.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Bon Voyage

A good friend of mine is off to Botswana on an AIESEC traineeship tomorrow.  I won’t lie…I’m jealous.  I’ve been trying to convince her to set up a blog, but the goings been a bit tough so far.  I wish her the best of luck and I will post information about what she’s doing if she sends it to me (provided she doesn’t in fact create a blog).

Счастливого пути, Michaela.

Friday, March 03, 2006

"You Want More Spicy, Sir"

I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been craving spicy food.  So much so that I went to Safeway and bought 43 cents worth (got me about 10) of Serrano peppers.  Apparently I didn’t get enough spicy food in India.  Didn’t I write a post to do with how much I hated eating spicy food at every meal of the day?  Now I put the peppers in everything…things they have no right being put in.  For example, alfredo sauce is not suppose to be spicy.

I guess you could say my taste buds just aren’t excited by aromatic flavours…if it’s not spicy, don’t even bother eating it.  My mouth must feel like Simon Cowell after a brutal American Idol performance…*yawn*

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

In the News

Three interesting, yet unrelated stories caught my attention today:

The first involves a treatment for HIV/AIDS developed by an Iranian professor in Uganda.  Apparently this new drug/herb, Khomein, can cure HIV/AIDS, TB, and cancer.  It is being tested as we speak, but the results won’t be released for another couple of weeks. –AllAfrica.com

Staying in Africa, the Zimbabwe cricket team lost 6 wickets for 4 runs against Kenya.  The significance is in that Zimbabwe was one of the top 10 cricket-playing nations in the world.  That is until the national federation all but shut the program down.  Needless to say, a loss to a second-tier nation like Kenya is not exactly prestigious. –BBC Cricket

Finally, Uruguay is looking like an awfully good destination at the moment.  According to reports, it has become the first South American destination to ban smoking in public areas.  Granted, taking a whiff of the local second-hand smoke does make you feel right at home in the country, but this is good news overall.  –BBC Americas

New Link

If you focus your attention to the link list in the right-hand column, you’ll notice a new link: Benjamin in Germany.  Ben was a co-worker of mine in Chandigarh and he has titled his blog “Bloggin Benjamin.”  Apparently there is no relation between that name and mine.