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Seven and a half years. So much in between.

Livejournal has been great, and has served me well. But too much has changed since I first joined it. I'd been tempted to leave before, particularly when they started having ads. I've always resisted ads. Never liked it then, still don't like it now, but I mostly got used to it.

Then sometime earlier this year I began noticing full-page ads. Annoying ones that would overlay an entire page and autoplay video ads. Without my consent. This bugged me, but I put up with it. I had too much social history and investment in this site already.

And then the site went down for four days.

delightt.wordpress.com is the new address. It's still a little rough, but I nailed it down in a hurry. I'll put more work into it next week once I've submitted my complete first draft. For now this will have to do.

I'll still be maintaining this account - livejournal has been a fairly successful social media, even though it isn't quite considered as such. But it does for me what facebook and twitter does (and now, google+), as well, keeping me in touch with circles of friends that I will never be able to let go of. I'll still be here to read my friends-list and to comment.

I will not be porting my posts over to livejournal. Please do follow my blog over at wordpress. You can pick up a feed for your reader, or link me in a blogroll. Do leave me a message if you've done the same, as well, so I can add you to my feeds or links.

Thanks for reading and following me here all these years!
24 July 2011 @ 02:58 pm
Since it's gotten increasingly hot in the apartment, we've tried to stay away from cooking as much as possible. Even with the fan blowing out the kitchen window, standing in front of the stove when the oven or an element is on is unbearable. And then when you're done it's too hot to eat.

I suppose we could eat sandwiches and salads everyday, but as much as I love raw veggies, it tends to get old quick when they become a staple. As for sandwiches, there's been a bit of a shift, again. It's too hot to bake, but we've not got back into the habit of buying bread, so we've been stuck a little bit.

The main thing we're working on this summer is trying to grill most of our meals. A few weeks ago J brought the empty gas tank over 1km down the street and exchanged it for a new, full one and carried it home. The thing weighed a ton, so I'm really, really grateful that he did it. His arms and shoulders ached mightily the next day, poor thing.

Since then I've been researching new things to grill. Meat is expensive for us, so we've been looking into less meaty options. For belly-filling starches, we've been grilling sweet potatoes quite regularly (we rediscovered regular potatoes last week, after not having done them for a long time, and it was incredible, LOL). Frozen burgers are a no-brainer, fast and convenient, but they're not the healthiest, and you have to remember to buy buns. We'll have to start making our own burgers eventually.

We like corn, too, but it's still early in the season and most of the corn available is small, and you don't often find the good, sweet ones yet. We also scored a nice selection of steak, sausages, and chops from The Pork Shoppe at Stratford, ON, but those are expensive and saved for more special events than just everyday eating (which really seems to have become a chore).

Amazing things we have discovered to grill:
1. Tofu. Firm or extra firm, sliced into slabs, marinated (in oyster sauce is yummy), and a thin coating of olive oil. Almost like it's fried - crispy outside, molten inside.

2. Cauliflower. Either you get a big one and slice the middle into ¾" slabs, brush with olive oil, and grill like steaks; or chop an entire small head into florets, pack onto a foil (open-top) with oil and seasoning (fish sauce makes this strangely good), and grill until soft.

3. Yellow zucchini, halved lengthwise, brush with oil, spread minced garlic on open side.

Other good things to do in the grill when you don't want to heat up the kitchen:
4. Not new, but stuffed peppers. Stuffed with leftover rice, cheese, leftover veggies, whatever's left in too small quantities for an entire meal.

5. Mushrooms, any way. Like potatoes - sweet, regular, any way you like it. Haven't tried yams yet, but I might once I find good ones.

6. Roast vegetables in the casserole.

7. Leftover rice with vegetables (long beans, etc) in the casserole.

8. Vegetables you're bored with. Carrots, asparagus (ok, not bored with this, but), etc.

9. Make baba ganoush. Grill eggplants till completely soft (or the skin bursts, like they did last night), discard the stem and skin, add tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, roasted garlic (some salt, paprika, whatever, we didn't), blend, refrigerate at least 3 hours.

We've been trying to figure out a way to do eggs on the grill. I think an easy way to do this would be to crack them into little ramekins on the grill, but we don't have ramekins. Other suggestions welcome.

Summer's really great for all the fresh, yummy veggies we have available, but the cheapo supermarkets we most regularly hit up don't often have the best stuff, or a very good selection. We'll have to make an effort to go further out to get better veggies. The fruits are unparalleled this season though. The blueberries have been awesome (I had yogurt with blueberries for breakfast yesterday, so good), and the stone fruits are really coming in. J's been making a lot of smoothies as well (frozen berries, fresh fruit like bananas, soy milk, plain yogurt, touch of honey).

The heat broke yesterday evening while we were sitting down to dinner out on the back deck. We had just acquired a patio umbrella to provide some shade from the relentless sun this week, and it proved useful as the thunderstorm finally rolled in. We braved it for a good 10 minutes or so before retreating back indoors, though - the umbrella's a wee bit too small for big storms.

Now that it's cool, am gonna go sit on the back deck and write some.
feelin': chipperchipper
23 July 2011 @ 11:44 am
No pictures lately. I've been doing like the cat - too hot, just lay around. It already takes so much effort to be productive and get work and writing done. Extra stuff is unnecessary.

Monday's beach volleyball was good, but playing in the humidity was just disgusting. Having already divested myself of as much clothing as possible while still appearing relatively decent (for the beach), being able to sweat freely was good, but the lack of air movement (except when you're moving, yourself) meant sticky, and sticky meant irrevocably sandy.

For the rest of the week, working at the cool libraries was a welcome relief, but the problem is getting to these places. Getting on my bike even at 10am in the morning when the heat is already at 28°c and up, on the warm, muggy urban streets means that I arrive at the freezing libraries soaked in sweat. Recipe for disaster.

Just being in the apartment is miserable. Getting home every evening, on the way up the stairs we can feel the air getting warmer. Opening the door always feels like I'm entering the confines of a clothes dryer in the middle of the cycle (it, oddly enough, even occasionally smells like laundry in here).

Wednesday evening we had a brief respite in the form of free tickets (offered by my darling advisor) to the TFC game. It started at 8pm, just as the sun was getting low in the sky, and the stadium by the lake made it a very pleasant evening. However, the bike ride home got us all heated up, and by the time we got home we were a pair of soppy, melting popsicles all over again.

On Thursday morning, the day of the "big heat" - 38°c max forecast at Pearson - which would turn out to be ~40°c downtown amidst the tarmac and concrete (and probably also not enough trees), Gale called to ask if we'd like to go up to the Richmond Hill House to get away from the heat. She was also concerned about the cat, who had been restlessly and listlessly laying splayed out on the floor as much as possible, moving to a new spot every 15 minutes or so when she'd warmed it up too much. We did put her in the tub filled with an inch of cold water the other day, which helped, but was ultimately a short-term solution. Kitty was too hot to even beg for breakfast. We accepted Gale's offer immediately, and she agreed to come down right away to pick us up. J had a free ticket to the Jays game that afternoon though, with JR, so he came up later in the day.

Kitty was upset at being stuffed unceremoniously into her cage, but once we arrived at the big, air-conditioned house, she perked up right away and was back to being her usual perky, curious, beggy self (we were having chicken for lunch). I settled down to write in the kitchen, Roger was watching golf, and Gale had gone out to teach a class. Kitty was napping comfortably in the chair next to me, and things were going pretty well until the power went out later in the afternoon.

It always makes me laugh when the power goes out here. Brownouts will always remind me of my little stint in Ho Chi Minh City.

Anyway. The brief respite was good. J and I came back downtown for our Friday night softball game, but decided to leave Kitty in the big house for a nice, cool holiday. Life, and summer!, goes on, and I miss the cat, but at least she's living it up.
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feelin': hothot
21 July 2011 @ 10:14 am
It's hot.

It's really, really hot.
feelin': hothot
17 July 2011 @ 01:21 pm
Chapter 3

3.1 Research is hard.
feelin': amusedamused
07 July 2011 @ 01:05 pm
Summer, despite what it ostensibly means in the North Americas, is typically a season where busy just gets busier. People start talking about "summer reading", which just annoys me (when I'm already in a foul mood), or amuses me (when I'm in one of those readily and easily amused moods), because, really, what in the world has changed so much that you only read during the summer?

So I'm not working (read: making money) this summer - it doesn't mean I'm on vacation (though I can't quite tell you for sure what "vacation" actually means anymore). My waking moments are filled with writing (and trying to write), my thoughts are occupied by job applications for the fall. My main emotion is occupied by futility. But you don't come here to read about that.

Conditions here - mostly hot. Unrelenting heat. Particularly in our apartment. You'd have read about this last year, on how we moved into this top floor apartment with its cosy little sloping ceilings and the wonderful way it traps heat in the summer. The mornings are cool. It's the evenings, when you lay in bed under that sloping ceiling, and the air is stifling. When you head to the washroom and the kitchen, it's oddly, but wonderfully cool, for these rooms face the northeast, where the breeze generally enters.

This weekend, and the days leading up to it, was yet another activity-filled one. On Thursday we found ourselves on our annual visit to Stratford, ON. We dropped by the Pork Shop, picked up lots of pork to grill, had a picnic by the river, walked the main street, and caught the production of Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare's first and most violent play. The production itself was awfully good. Having previously seen West Side Story and Evita in the previous years, and leaving Stratford in wonder, Titus Andronicus saw me exit with a faint feeling of horror. I'd consider that a play quite well done.

Yellow finch feeding at the Richmond Hill house, Wednesday
(ISO too high for a sunny day)

Friday early morning, J left for a weekend in Montreal with the guys. An entire weekend without J! What could I possibly get up to? I did some work, went for a run.

Saturday, I biked out to the local Gabby's (on Parliament) with some readings, and selected a seat at the bar right in front of a TV to watch the Blue Jays play the Phillies at home (I didn't want to go to the game alone). Roy Halladay was pitching against the Jays, and we'd been waiting for his return for two years. Jays lost, but it was a really good game. Roy pitched a complete game; Jays' reliever Rauch charged the ump at the plate, and was ejected from the game, along with manager Farrell. Quite the show. Loved it. Sometimes you just gotta stand up for yourself, and your team.

Then I headed over to E&A's for dinner. Mealtimes there go on for about 5 hours. Late into the night we all headed back downtown to walk up and down Church Street, where the Pride celebrations had been more-or-less taking place all week. It was a wee bit of a street party, washed out slightly by the sudden summer thunderstorm. Fun bit of ogling, many speedo-clad bodies, bare bums and breasts.

Sunday E&A had invited me to march with them in the Pride parade with the Liberal party. Now I consider myself quite liberal, and I like some of the Liberal party politics, but not all of it (small l liberal vs. big L Liberal). Still, I'd never attended a Pride event, much less the main parade itself, which is a pretty major thing in the city, and what better way to experience Pride than from within the parade?

It was Fun! Capital F Fun. I wisely slathered on the sunscreen, wore a hat and sunglasses, and it was hot as heck with nary a cloud in the blue, blue sky, and we were out the entire afternoon, standing in the street, walking, waving placards and throwing beads at the crowd, dodging water gun sprays. My feet were killing me when I finally got home (and J had also returned home from Montreal), and I had probably seen more naked bodies on Church St than I ever will in a lifetime. But it was great. I was hesitant about waving Liberal party placards, but I thought, some progress is still progress. And I'd totally do it again.

Didn't bring my camera, though. Too many super-soakers on the route.

Well, back to work. And job applications.
feelin': workingwriting
27 June 2011 @ 01:28 pm
The saddest part about the summer solstice is that because it's the longest day, for the rest of the season the days will be getting shorter. I really love that it's bright at 5.30am and still sunny at 9pm. I want it to be like this all year.

Otherwise, summer is great. One of my favourite things is grilling our meals outside. Except we just ran out of gas in the propane tank.

what summer meals are made of

Except this actually wasn't grilled on the barbecue. We did this in the oven because we were out of gas.

The baking debacle (sorry, thymia) happened because I had the worst timing. Canadapost was rolling out strikes across the country, but they hadn't gotten to Toronto yet when I decided to send cookies to Rhode Island. The strike rolled into Toronto the day I baked. I was still optimistic, thinking it might only last a day in the city before moving on. Who knew they would close down completely the day after. I ended up giving most of these away and bringing them to softball, because having these around at home would be detrimental to my health.

choc chip shortbread cookies & ginger cookies, nothing you haven't seen before

I'll do up another batch to mail out when the strike ends.

Recently realising that I do a lot of thinking on the bog, without writing implements, we realised how constructive we could be with a whiteboard marker in the bathroom, since sitting down you face the glass shower wall.

this is also considered constructive

That work of art (portrait of kitty on the shower) was done by J, naturally. I can't draw to save my life.

And since you've been so good to read all this way, I give you Kitty sprawl.

hangin' tough
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feelin': amusedamused
26 June 2011 @ 11:28 pm
It's been nonstop this weekend, and I'm liking it - particularly because I sleep well. Ran 4.5k on Thursday (and then walking out 5k to meet JR and a couple others for dinner); softball Friday; softball Saturday; pickup court volleyball today; beach volleyball tomorrow.

JW/RL sent out a last minute "pickup volleyball at St Lawrence community centre at 1pm!" message at about 11am this morning. I distinctly prefer court volleyball to beach volleyball, so I was raring to go, even though J had caught the message before I saw it and replied that he wasn't going (he's deep into Zelda - Wind Waker and was planning to spend the entire day on it). But my enthusiasm got him off the couch.

There were four others at the CC, and they were all decidedly more skilled than the four of us. We played 4s in what felt like a huge court, and had a really good time. It was a good, hard workout, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to work on skills. Most of the regulars were friendly and quite keen to coach skills and run little drills, so it made for a great afternoon.

I'm not really enjoying the spring beach volleyball league as much, most because our team was placed in the wrong division (we registered for recreational and were pushed up into open category). It's not fun getting smashed every week, and I'm sure it's quite boring for the more advanced teams as well. I'm still deciding on writing to the league to get a refund, as we're not getting what we're paying for (it's egregious to sign up for recreational but end up having to play competitive opponents every week), but it's been over 8 weeks and I think my complain deadline has passed.

Further, some of our teammates just.. aren't.. very .. good. It's not even a matter of basic skills. It's pretty much a question of.. I don't know. Maybe it is skills. It's just hard and frustrating to play with people who don't take well to instruction, and who don't seem to be able to move. It's super weird that there are people who just want to turn up, stand in the corner of the court, and not want to improve their game. I just don't get it.

We will be switching leagues for the summer season. I hope it'll be better.

mm. To bed, I think.
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feelin': sleepysleepy
24 June 2011 @ 04:59 pm
I am  
incredibly bored with this chapter. I know ennui is a really stupid disruption to the writing, but it's one of those things where I've read so much about the topic that I don't really know why I'm writing about it anymore. I know I need to provide context and background, and part of the problem is that the field is just so. ridonkulously. big. But I feel like throwing whatever I have right now all out the window and writing:

Chapter 2
Please see Wang (1991), Pan (1999), Ma & Cartier (2003), and then read Wang (1981), Reid (1996), and Suryadinata (1995, 1997, 2004), and you'll have the general idea.

Chapter 3

zzz. Really. This chapter is fodder for a course on Chinese migration history.

About an hour ago I picked up my guitar. It was a bit out of tune. I tuned it, but not without breaking a string. It's been a long time. So long, in fact, that when I put it down, there was a fine sheen of dust on my fingers.


I can imagine clouds of dust puffing up as each string is plucked.

A really funny thing happened this week. On the way from one library to another on the UofT campus, I was trying to avoid walking under all the birds waiting patiently on the electrical wires overhead (this is a pretty real hazard). I was pushing J to walk further in on the sidewalk when a red-winged blackbird, probably annoyed at my attempts to thwart its aim on our heads, dropped down from wires behind J and swooped over his head, almost scratching his bald pate in the process. It was hysterically funny.

Wednesday evening the two fellows who live in the ground floor apartment of the house invited us over for a bbq dinner. They're really nice and sweet, and have a crazy, large, rambunctious dog that's like a cross between a black lab and a great dane or something. It was really fun. Their apartment is a lot nicer than ours (the finish is much higher quality), but their rent is also twice ours.

Anyway. Enough random stuff, and back to writing.
feelin': workingworking
14 June 2011 @ 03:52 pm
A couple of weeks ago.. no, actually it began even further back. It must've been after we got back from Seattle, way back in April. The bread I'd been baking regularly since December had started to fail. I wasn't sure what it was. The dough wasn't coming together into that smooth, silky feel on the first knead, and it wasn't really rising, either. It also kept tearing rather than stretching, so it may have been rising a little bit, but it would soon collapse, long before the 1-hour rising time.

Anyway, I tried it a couple more times, convinced that maybe it was the yeast, or perhaps I wasn't kneading it enough, or maybe it was the rising temperature, each time getting a little bit more depressed. I don't know why anybody would do this, but I tend to take it personally when my baking screws up.

It was befuddling, because I'd not changed anything at all about the recipe. If you follow the same recipe every week, how could it possibly go so wrong when previously it'd gone so right?

Anyway. The last batch I baked, I went out and bought a better brand of butter (we'd been buying store-brand), and I used less whole wheat flour (I usually use 2½ cups each white and brown. This time I used 1 cup brown). It ... worked. It wasn't as crappy as the previous few loaves, but it was definitely an improvement.

I think it has partly to do with the environment. Since getting back from Seattle we've had the windows open more, and the apartment is noticeably drier (also, cooler when it's not super hot out). I'm pretty sure this has affected the baking somewhat.

I just put together a batch of shortbread chocolate chip cookies. The first tray just came out, and... there's something wrong with it. It's not bad, but it's not the same, even though I'm still using the same recipe. I'm not really sure what's going on here. And I'm not very happy about it.

Yesterday's sunset.

I'm trying to remember to practice taking photos. Also, this camera lens is really dirty.
feelin': confusedconfused