For you, the dress code is casual.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Spicy Peanut Thai Chicken Wraps

So, in my attempt to be a little healthier, I'm trying to be very selective about what I buy. I examined the different tortilla/wraps offered at my local Safeway and was stunned to see a 4 gram fibre difference between the tomato wrap (1 gr) and the flax wrap (5 grams). Naturally I got the flax.

Mindfulness. Paying attention.

And supper? ROCKED. Spicy peanut Thai chicken wraps. I modified Raechel Ray's gweilo recipe, and it went something like this. (My marinade, both of them, are better than her lame use of soy sauce. I changed up the veggies and cut some oil, plus used a modified version of this too fish-saucy sauce I found on, and then proceeded to kick up all the seasoning. Is good. I have done both peanut butter and real peanuts, and if I could get a better puree of peanuts I might like it more often, but it's a totally different experience, and I think the peanut butter's pretty good when it's all natural. Better for sauces on things, but using fresh peanuts (1 cup) instead of the butter is great for a natural dip for spring rolls and stuff, and not so hot as a topping, but good on salads.)

Serves 4, eh?

Spicy Peanut Thai Chicken Wraps

1 lb chicken breast or thigh meat, boneless and skinless
juice of 3 limes
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground PC "Thai stirfry seasoning"

Combine above and allow to marinate a half-hour or so, while you prepare the sauce and the salad mixes.

(If I had had the time or inclination, I think I would've combined the lime juice and peanut oil with a 1/2 cup of cilantro and 2 stalks of (pale part only) lemongrass, a bit of garlic, a twist or two of Thai seasoning, pureed it in the blender, and let it marinate 3-4 hours or so. Would've been awesome, methinks. Next time.)


2 cups bean sprouts
1.5 cups shredded carrot
2 bunches chopped green onions
1 cup chopped basil
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Combine and mix well.

Spicy Peanut Sauce:
(modified from

1 cup chunky peanut butter, preferably all natural
3/4 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
2 cloves garlic
2-4 tablespoons water, depending on the consistency you'd like
1.5 teaspoons tamarind paste*
juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Puree together in blender till yer happy-happy. If you want it thinner, add more water, or even more lime juice for that extra citric zing, which I love madly. It takes, like, 2 minutes to make and probably keeps for weeks. So fucking good, and only takes a tablespoon or two to really make your wrap sing.**

Take your mixed salad and toss well. For each wrap, sit 1 handful of salad on a tea towel or paper towel to drain as you grill the chicken and prepare the wrap itself.

Take a wrap, lay it out. If you want to warm it in a frying pan, knock yourself out. 15 seconds or less. Smear about 1 tablespoon of the peanut sauce around the inside of the 10-inch wrap, leaving a 1-2 inch border outside. Pile your veggies in the centre. Slice grilled chicken and put your chicken on top of the veggies. Drizzle with another tablespoon or so of peanut sauce. Roll your wrap the way you roll a wrap. Google instructions. :P

Oh, and the original recipe called for 1 cup or two of sliced cucumber, which I hate, and I instead used some mixed greens and extra herb. MmMm.

I could probably make it more sophisticated with some snap peas, red and yellow pepper, and possibly some slivers of sweet onion or something. Hmm. Will try more veggies in it. Shredded cabbage, possibly.

Tasty good stuff. I'd totally make that again. Easy, cheap, and healthy comfort food. I betcha I could make that for a date, too. Totally guy kinda food. Duly noted.

And mangia. Enjoy.

*Tamarind Paste: I had a really hard time finding this but oh my god does it take it to another level. I eventually found tamarind paste in the East Indian foods section of Canadian Superstore, and it was about $2.25 for 400 ml, which will last forever, considering this recipe uses 8 ml. Mine's called tamarind concentrate, but I suspect it's the same deal. I bet you could throw a tamarind in there, though, if you had the real deal around. Really gives it this rich twist that it sorely lacks without. I found it about a week after I made the original sauce and marvelled over the complexity it brought the sauce. OOH! A notion: tamarind-lime marinade of some sort for chicken... OOOh. That's a little project to try! I wonder! If you can find this stuff, go there! I shall report on my endeavours.

**I've used homemade peanut sauce for salad dressing bases, and will do so again. 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon peanut sauce, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey. Combine and use on funky salad with bean sprouts in addition to regular greens and grilled chicken and peanuts and lots of peppers and grated carrot. You could also add a hint of fresh grated ginger and that'd be nice.

The Last of the Temptations

Okay. Let's get one thing straight: I appreciate gifts. Gifts are wonderful. I love generosity. I also love food. And I'm overweight.

Giving me food at Christmas is like telling a recovering junkie that it's okay to do heroin at Christmas because it's "only once a year". I mean, come on. So, naturally, I have loved the food baskets I've received this Christmas, but whew. Glad that's over with.

Food at Christmas, wow. It's been a bit of a weird Christmas. I've been really conscious of my mom not being here, and how weird it's been since her death, but I haven't been that sad about it. It just is. My brother's only now, nine years later, starting to deal with her loss so it's strange being around his delayed reaction with my my "just kinda there" calm reality about it all. Having him around that long was weirdly surreal. We haven't hung out for 48 hours together since I lived in the Yukon, 1994. And it WAS nice having really decadent, rich food to share with him since he lives a pretty austere (re: broke) life and all.

It's my first year in three or four years for having a tree up, too. It's felt kind of odd going there again, all the decorations we'd do together. I remember my last Christmas with her and I came home all sad and disappointed when I saw the tree already up. She thought she was being nice and surprising me. Wow, to have that moment back. I don't regret a lot, but I do regret that. I've thought about it a few times this week and have this haunted, empty feeling every time. I'll be over it soon. I've just never thought about it once in all those years, so. It's good to deal and move on.

I'm kind of bizarrely conscious of this Christmas. Something about it feels different. Like something's coming down the pipes. I could never have foreseen the year I just had, nor the one before it. I'm beginning to think this life thing comes with a lot of surprises all the time, and that it might be hard and tough at times, but it's always interesting. I'm wanting to be the one doing the surprising for a change. And I'm just aware of how much everything is before me rather than behind me. Perspective being what it is and all. It's exciting and daunting and intimidating and mystifying and inspiring.

And weird. :)

And back to the food. Bought a magazine yesterday, new, called Eating Clean. First ever edition of it, too. Great stuff. I've been trying to use yoga (which I hadn't done in 10 or 12 days till this morning) to be more mindful of my present. The magazine, in addition to great unique recipes, has lots of great articles, including one on the Yoga of Eating, in which it discusses mindfullness and presence during eating. Totally what I need to be doing. Appreciating every single bite, and being aware of the food choices I'm enjoying.

Today's a shopping day, as is tomorrow, and I plan to have a number of recipes in mind as I do my shopping. Like curried butternut squash and apple soup, lentil salad with cranberries and pecans, (both from this new mag) and Thai chicken veggie wraps. And I'll look for a few other ideas, too. It'd be nice to do a bunch of cooking tonight and tomorrow so I can just focus on eating well while getting back into the swing of work.

It's time to focus now, and with this season almost behind us and the new year here, there's a world of inspiration out there to be had. I'm looking forward to the challenge, and I'm grateful everyone else will be all "I have to lose weight" for three weeks at least. I'll just need to outlast them all.

After all "it's only once a year" and I have 360 days before I reckon with that again. Yay routine. :)

From Movies to the Great Panini Lament

I've done a foolish thing and started a good movie too close to midnight and now I have to call it a night and save the rest for morning. I'm going to work two half days this weekend, and then I'll be back in Wednesday. The Christmas break is going by too quickly, but working two days in it isn't helping. Must start accruing my vacation pay for just such instances in the future. Tsk.

The movie is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which I've been meaning to see for over a year now. It goes on the list of not-Christmas Christmas movies to watch on Christmas eve. (They occur at Christmas but are not about Christmas. IE: Gremlins was this year's show. Die Hard, Bridget Jones' Diary. And now KKBB and Go are also candidates. Cool.) Fucking funny so far.

Val Kilmer's always been a huge disappointment. I always expected so much from him and he's my kind of rugged guy, but it's nice to see him live up to potential for a change. He's really someone Tarantino needs to rescue. When he's not doing sappy roles like The Saint, he actually can turn on some edge. Just keep him away from accents, please. I mean, come on, he's Icepick from Top Gun!

In other news, found a new book that I can't remember the title of, written by three fancy Euro chefs with all nicely organized facts and tricks for cooking. You know, how adding raw potato to an overly salted sauce will extract salt from the sauce without changing the flavour of the soup.

Trouble is, turns out I know about 75% of the stuff, but it's a $50 book I got for $5, so that's liveable. Now I'm thinking I'll loan it to my brother or give it to him. He's really keen to learn how to cook and we're now embarking on a bimonthly cooking lesson chez moi where I'll teach him a recipe or two in a night. I think spring rolls, oriental salad, and peanut sauce are next on the horizon.

Speaking of food. The Griddler. I don't know why, but I am so far sucking at using it. Everything's been all right but nothing's been wowzas. This bothers me. I want something wicked cool. My cooking game is off. How dare my cooking game be off? But the French toast on Christmas day was pretty killer. :) Baguette and cinnamon sugar? How could it not be? But nothing since. My paninis are entirely forgettable.

Well, I'll show that Griddler yet, dammit. I know I'm a panini genius deep down inside. I'm thinking basil and roasted peppers and proscuitto or something. Must visit my local deli tomorrow and sweet talk the man for suggestions. Artichoke hearts... I dunno. Need better mayo and I need more of my all-time favourite sandwich mustard, sweet Russian vodka mustard. Oh ho.

And maybe it's time to make tomato soup. Little decadent sandwiches with light (no cream) tomato soup. (Little = small/half sandwiches. Definitely less cheese than I've been doing, too. Less cheese means less squooshing of toppings. Thin line between perfect and messy.)

Hmm... arugula? Caramelized onions. What is the secret ingredient, the recipe for success? Maybe the classic basil, tomato, and mozza sandwich, but it's a pretty boring go... I'm not keen on bland.

I shall sleep on it. Dreaming fitfully of dancing paninis, sing-song mocking me in my inability to get a good basic melty sandwich working. Cheddar, turkey, tomato was a squooshy flop. The basic cheese sandwich seemed boring, too. Mozza with Tuscan ham and hot mustard was a travesty. Mozza is boring. What was I thinking? I need Guiness cheddar and smoked turkey, I bet. Something zippy.

Pfft. Yeah, well. I'll show that Griddler. Dancing paninis with sing-song mocks coming right up. Sigh. I feel so small in my panini pathos. Sigh. (Snicker.)

And let's take a moment to bow our heads at the news that Netscape Navigator is officially on the do-not-resuscitate list. No further support is to be given for the browser, which has a pathetic .6% share of the market (of which the abovementioned bro is one). Most of the workers now deign Firefox as the best browser to use, since most of them are now working there. Yay Firefox. Come over to the light side, followers of the dark IE realm. Use a real browser. Boo, hiss. Sleep tight, Netscape. You'll always have the prettiest logo.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

And Another One Down... Another One Bites the Dust.

Benazir Bhutto? Assassinated? Oh, I'm shocked. The return of Bhutto was supposed to be a "heavily" protected return, yet reporters wrote of virtually no security around her car when stormed by people. There have been repeated reports of a lack of protection provided Bhutto. Musharraff got exactly what he'd wanted.

I ain't shocked, but I'm certainly saddened.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

We Loves the Christmas!

I got a Griddler! I got a Griddler! [sing-song moded off] A panini press, a griddle, a grill, a contact grill! All in one! Yay, GayBoy! My favouritest pressie in a long, long time!

I get to go to bed with Griddler dreams in my head... dreams of a griddle breakfast on Christmas day, starring French toast and bacon and French press java. Bliss!

And for supper... panini with homemade bread I now feel ridicously motivated to make. :)

YAY! A Griddler! Tee hee hee.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ho Ho HO!

Wow, Robert Duvall does an okay German accent. A little over the top, but it's working, more or less.

I've just discovered that The Eagle is Landed is playing on History Channel, so I'll not-watch watch it as I make my breakdast and prepare for Christmas dinner. Bread cubes are toasting for my stuffing, which I think I'll kick up with sundried cranberries in it this year... Whee!

Wow, The Eagle is Landed is kind of like M*A*S*H without the funnies, I guess. Sutherland, Duvall... Holy military movie cast in the '70s redux, Batman! Suicide is painless... it brings on many--- [record scratching]

All right then. What's on the menu, you ask? Looks like mojitos (heh heh... the sunny weather has us feeling inspired), my "bread and butter" stuffing that now has cranberries going in it, and, OOH, maybe walnuts! A 15-pounds turkey (Ihopetofuckinggodhasthawedintime) and way-too-decadent mashed potatoes with a touch of cream cheese, roasted garlic, and caramelized shallots, then for veggies, caramelized carrots and broccoli with garlic and cashews. We're having bread because someone thinks it's necessary, and dessert is out of my hands. It won't be too insane tonight. I mean, there's no brown sugar sweet potatoes or anything like that. All the fat's in the gravy and the potatoes and the stuffing. The carrots and broccoli are pretty tame.

Still, not far off the "average Christmas meal is 4,000 calories" prediction I read recently. What the fuck, it's once a year. Okay, there's no WAY this is hitting 4,000 calories. 4,000 calories is more like my step-mom's "Got a defibrillator with that?" holiday insanity meal. Dear god, is it.

Boxing Day, things change.

Tonight, though... gluttony! I'm pulling out the good dishes and everything. The mojitos are a little out of place with the meal, though, so, I don't know. Maybe mojitos AND wine... ha.

Now, to make a little brekkie for the chef du jour.

Merry Christmas, good peoples, and god bless us everyone. My card I made last year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Notions from a Sickie

Ith it me or ith it shtuffy in here? Oh, it's me.

Okay, so, at least I'm consistent. Once again, I'm sick at Christmas. I think I'll be all right.

I've allowed my home to look like a crack den AGAIN, so cleaning has been hell. I've been too busy, and when I should've been cleaning last Sunday, I was hungover and making a bigger mess while making homemade granola for gifts. 
I tend to let the crack den happen when I'm feeling burdened and stressed. Well, I'm getting over it. I decided not to pursue the self-employed angle with my last job -- it was spreading my resources too thin. I quit that this week and it's taken a lot of the edge off my life. Yay me. I'll miss the money but right now life isn't about money, it's about becoming content with myself on every level. I can make the money work with what I'm earning now.

Last night I was riding the bus home when I realized something huge. I've been thinking of a new theme for a series of columns for my blog, but I've realized that fleshing it out bigger and using it as a theme for my life as a whole will allow me enough meat for a book. Like, 300 pages or more of a book. Obviously I'm not going to tell you what I want it to be about, but I feel good about it.

So last night I wrote the first page. And I read it afterwards, and I laughed. Nice. :)

It'll be a book I finally think I can pull off on my terms, my way, with my attitude intact on every page. I've been waiting for a project like this that I can really own, but the right topic was eluding me a long-ass time.

What a great place to be at during Christmas, my annual time to reflect on the year past and plan for the year forward. COOL.

Friday, December 21, 2007

You'll take what for oil?

That evil demonic spawn of Satan, Hugo Chavez, is at it again.

He has proposed that poorer neighbour-states of theirs (that'd be those in proximity of Venezuela) can pay for oil with things like bananas and other produce. Cuba, for instance, sends medical services, like doctors to provide care, to Venezuela for their oil. Wow. The commies are in it together!

The nerve of that commie. Or whatever the hell he is. It's all the same anyhow, right? Or should I say left? I mean, what would happen if people started doing insane things like paying for much-needed natural resources with renewable resources of their own? Ridiculous. The thought! Fuckin' socialism or something!

Heh. Bet George Bush is havin' a fuckin' aneurysm. Poor Georgie. He should see if Chavez' PR guy's up for hire.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gifts and Idiocy, in that order

I wanna send mad props to the weather gods that have made this the warmest, best weather for the Christmas season ever for a scooter-riding girl like me. Today, for example, it's 9:36 and I've already gotten the second last of my Christmas gifts! Ran out, and now I'm back!

I'm eating brekkie now -- granola and coffee -- before I head off for the last major gift purchase. (I'm not including my nephew's MC Escher poster or book, since I'll get that after Christmas -- I'm not seeing him till the New Year now. Handy.)

The BAD news is, I appear to be getting a cold. If it's just a cold, cool. If it gets worse, someone's gonna have to answer for this!


And now for an ass-kicking. What the fuck was Time thinking? Putin? Man of the Year? WHOA.

For bringing stability to Russia... well, yeah, you know, when you imprison dissidents and have more journalists dying on your watch than any recent leader, including at least a couple very, very disturbing and controversial murders, oh, and throw the odd armed force at a Chechyen rebellion or something, yeah, stability's a little easier to come by. Go figger.

Putin! Man of the Year!

As far as legally-elected dictators go, you could do a lot worse than Putin -- that's for damn sure. That he has such popularity and acclaim is definitely a testimony to how good his fiscal and social governing platform's working. It's just that he's also splitting hairs and taking Russia back to pre-Glasnost mentalities. I'm not so down with that, and think Time has no business lauding it.

Communism isn't really something I take huge issue with. Capitalism has its flaws, too. My disdain for this is not about that. It's about oppression and literally taking liberties through governance. Not cool. And if that's what Putin needs to do to take charge in a country known for its corruption and its organized crime, then so be it. I sort of understand using the iron fist to quell the madness of Russian society. Freedoms and constitutions are always easier to enforce on paper than in reality, and I think every government has skeletons hiding in its closets, but Putin's skels are hanging out in the living room with triple highballs of vodka, for crying out loud.

For Time to laud it and claim him the Man of the Year? Wow. Talk about your slow news years, eh?

Oh, and John McCain's a fucking moron for suggesting General Petraeus get the award because of "success" he's having in Iraq. Here's a fucking clue: You don't go launching wars unless you KNOW you're going to have success. That was the first thing the US fucked up. To then, after almost four years of fucking it up, start having "some" success and claim it's a time to celebrate that success because it's a greatly anticipated development (like, 4 years of anticipation) is moronic. Jesus. That'd be like me getting hired for a job, doing it merely adequately, and then getting praised as being the best employee ever. Yeah. I don't think so.

I guess it's only in American government (or any gov, really) service where adequacy is considered performing "above and beyond". Must be nice. This private sector work thing can be a grind when one's actually expected to yield results.


Off I go to acquire the last of my Christmas gifts! Then to work, which is fine but such an inconvenience when life's bustling as much as it is right now! Then, this weekend, I need to clean my house, set up my tree and do the big-ass food shopping at the Superstore (which actually won't be much, thanks to all the snacks and other foods I've received already as gifts... yay).

It's a lot of work I have yet to do, but I don't need to worry about gifts. Just my crack-den apartment. Fun. And, like, four loads of laundry.

I better not be getting sicker!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Put DOWN the Knife, MISS.

Okay, so you missed out on all my hangover fun, but don't worry -- I was there in person and didn't miss a thing. Ow.

I have dubbed it The Worst Hangover Since Baker and The 40 Ounces.


I just wanted to send a big "what the FUCK" out to the school that has suspended a kid 'cos she pulled out a steak knife at school -- in the cafeteria, to cut a steak.

Holy fuckin' Al Quaeda, Batman! Suspend that bitch! And, well, thank god they're watching the shop, because that's EXACTLY what they did.

She's ten. TEN. What's she gonna do, go all Jeffrey Dahmer on someone? "GIVE ME BACK MY POKEMON or I'll carve you like the fattened pig you are, beyotch!" Shit, man.

She's TEN.

Not only is she suspended... she's facing a FELONY CHARGE! Motherfucker! Does anyone-- anyone-- have common sense anymore? Jesus! An old friend said there was nothing common about sense, but, rather, it was rare. Yeah, no shit, Sherlock.

Obviously it's wholly extinct in Marion County's school system. Go, Florida. Way to combat school violence. Never again will a sirloin face such fears.

Wow. I'm glad I was a kid in the '70s/80s.

Oh, and in case you think I'm creative enough to be making this shit up, here's the sordid tale.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WOOT, Indeed

I should really be doing a full yoga routine this morning but I'm bagged after not being able to sleep until late. So, a few stretches and select poses, and some Pink Floyd for the mood. Two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl, year after year.

Methinks I'll be having a heady day today.

I originally signed in just to say, though, that it appears all is finally well with the literary universe. Webster's has included "woot" (more accurately, "w00t") as the word that best sums up 2007. I'll refrain about what that says about people at large if they've decided that, out of more than one million words, the words that best sums us up is woot. Wow. How... succinct. Woot... says it all. Or does it? Oy vey. Anyhow. The Oxford can only be so far behind now. Woot, indeed. Acceptable at last.Why they would specifically reference the w00t version and not use it, since it's a little weird and gamey, as an alternative spelling. 'cos, y'know, sounds an awful lot like woot when ya go saying it.

Okay, die, Pixies. Die. We are not in the mood for Caribou. ITunes off.

Time to pretend I have a job or something.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Come ON! Stop with the Spam Recipes! Christ!

WHY does my rotating header thingie of story headlines at the top of my Gmail page keep showing Spam recipes?


Spam, which writer Paul Theroux once wondered if perhaps the fatty, porky taste of it was something a little too akin to human flesh since it was so popular with Pacific Islanders who had once been cannibals. Spam, which was once considered something wonderful to give a girl on a date, instead of flowers, during the Korean famine.


Like I'm ever, ever, ever going to be a) ballsy enough, or b) stupid enough, to open me up a can of SPAM? No offense if you're one of the weird number that likes this factory-packed tin of meat, of course.

But I ain't eatin' no motherfuckin' Spam, man. And at the top of the no-motherfuckin'-way list of recipes is "Golden Spam Skillet Casserole." Cardboard sounds more appetizing. At least there's no gelatin or grease. WOW. Weird world.

SPAM. The original Mystery Meat.

There ya go. An ADHD posting for ya.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mm, I'm Stuffed!

Well, I've lost 5 lbs this week because I deserve to. I've been pretty well-behaved, all things considered, and was thrilled to see the scale today. Tonight was a bad thing because it was the family dinner for the holidays.

But that's all right because the only thing I had seconds of was the ham. And all I ate besides dinner today was one egg and one piece of dry toast. I had small portions of everything, and didn't finish everything on my plate, except the ham. I was very, very good, considering I could've probably had a bit more than I did, but it's all good, considering how bad it could have been!

I'm going out for breakfast in the morning, then to the gym. I'll come home, and in the afternoon sometime, go get some makings for food. I'm planning to make Southwestern Green Chili with Chicken (which has the Mexican supergrain, quinoa, in it) as my staple to eat this week, and think I'll get the fixings for an Asian chicken salad or two, plus one casserole. Some eggs and soy milk for granola, and I'll be set for another week, and a low-fat one.

Something clicked this week and I get what I have to do now to lose weight... obviously, if I've lost five pounds this week. Focusing on my fitness and weightloss are main priorities in life right now. Period. Everything else will follow. I just want to kickstart this, then maintain and find a healthy balance. I pray I'm able to maintain this good weightloss for a couple weeks, then I'll have to increase my calories slightly because this is too much to lose so quickly, on a regular basis. I'll have to find the right balance. What a struggle.

The soup this week will be slightly heavier in calories than the one I ate this week... French onion sans bread and cheese. This one's heavy on the cilantro and peppers and beans. Should be pretty wicked and also a more balanced food source. From my beloved (so beloved) Daily Soup Cookbook, which I will soon need to replace as the pages are coming out.

The folks gave me turkey and other foods for the holiday dinner this year, which is sweet, since they knew my bro was coming over here and, as always, GayBoy, for our Christmas eve not-Christmassy Christmas movie (ie: Die Hard, Gremlins, etc.) Movies that take place at Christmas, but aren't about it. Fun, fun. Oh, and food and booze.

I think we're thinking of doing Mojitos this Christmas, too, now that we've discovered where to buy the elusive specialty cane syrup for them. (Freezer section of T&T market!) Vive le mojitos!

Oh, I'm so stiff yet not from yoga every day this week. Gym tomorrow. I see muscle relaxants in my future tomorrow night. And the chiropractor on Monday. Oh ho! EXCITING. No, really. I could stand to be well-adjusted again.

Yeah, I Don't Think So: Romanticized Racism

You know, I love a whole bunch of people even though they do things I disagree with to the core of my being.

For instance one of those forwards that arrived in my inbox from a family member today. Here, instead of trying to explain it, I'll excerpt some for you. Basically it's a rant against immigrants, one that claims today's immigrant is full of selfishness and has no interest in being Canadians, they just want free money and a handout. Uh, okay. But here you go, a bit about the "good" immigrant back then, and the "bad" immigrant now. Their words, not mine.
Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills, craftsmanship and desire they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity. Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. Canadians fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Sweden, and so many other places. None of these first generation Canadians ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Canadians fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan. They were defending the Freedom as one people. When we liberated France, no one in those villages was looking for the Ukrainian-Canadian or the German-Canadian or the Irish-Canadian. The people of France saw only Canadians.

And here we are in 2007 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes a Canadian passport and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I'm sorry, that's not what being a Canadian all is about. Canadians have been very open-hearted and open- minded regarding immigrants, whether they were fleeing poverty, dictatorship, persecution, or whatever else makes us think of those aforementioned immigrants who truly did ADOPT our country, and our flag and our morals and our customs.

Sounds great, right? Heart-tugging, go Canada, all for one, one for all, yada yada, right?

Except for the small matter that we're in an entirely different world now. Those immigrants came to a Canada that didn't have unemployment insurance or welfare or even a medical system... yet. Those immigrants came to a country half-way across the world that didn't have the internet, or television, or cable, or even easy access to phones. It was the time of telegraphs and mail sent by freighters across oceans.

When you left your home, you came to another world where you literally had to sink or swim. When you came, going home was not an option. Necessity being the mother of all things, you're goddamned right they felt they had to do everything in their powers to fit in. If they didn't, it was also a world where blacks down south would be lynched and Jews were being murdered by the millions an ocean away, and Japanese were interned in concentration camps-- oh, sorry, prison camps-- here in Canada. People were being sterilized because they were mentally handicapped in Alberta. You think they were gonna wear their heritage proudly? They were SCARED. Naturally they said they were Canadian. Immigrants today are Canadians, too. They're just also what they were born into this world as... Indian or Chinese or Jamaican.

But go ahead. Romanticize yer past. If these people with these notions of what a "Canadian" is moved anywhere else, ever, they'd still be Canadian. They'd just be a hypocrite, too.

Here in Vancouver, in 2007, our city has maybe 45% white folk left in it, maybe less than that now. We've had an Asian invasion and we've got an incredible mix of Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian, Korean, etc, immigrants that make this city pretty damned metropolitan now.

And, you know what? I absolutely find myself irate and racist against Asians sometimes. Yes, I do. I liked the good old days of living in a mostly white world, and I'd be lying if I didn't say sometimes it was easier. But then I'm also really proud to live in a city that's managed to mix so many cultures together and that has so many different ethnic pockets here. And I'm loving learning about all the cultures that are around me, I love feeling like I belong to a WORLD and not just a city.

And while I have my days when I get sick of being surrounded by people yammering in Mandarin or Punjabi, I'm proud as hell that my country's the most multicultural country on the planet.

These narrow-minded people who look only at the outside of this situation don't realize that today's immigrant is doing exactly what the early immigrants did -- they're using any means necessary to gain a foothold in this new country, and they're doing it to succeed. The old immigrants came with nothing, the writer says. Some new immigrants are now, too. The rules of the games are different. Now we have a social system in place to help people, so naturally they try to use it to their advantage. You think the people a hundred years ago would have been morally superior and said, "oh, no, we're not Canadian enough to use the system yet... let's give it a few years." Fuck no. They'd have jumped at the chance. Look at those who did anything they could to grab a parcel of land being given away by the government in settlement days. Who had their hands out then, huh? What's different about that?

Christ. Think about it. Same thing, different era.

Immigrants today come with more money. There's internet and long-distance telephone, and there's already culture pockets everywhere so that they have a piece of home in this new world of theirs.

And what's wrong with that? Trudeau set the stage for who we are as a nation when he encouraged the rest of the world to see us as a place that wanted to have open doors. And that's great. That's worked.

But now it's time Canada redefine itself once again. We've let all these people come here, and now we've made it impossible for them to work here. Our licensing for nurses and other technical careers like engineering, where we have employee shortages, makes it practically impossible for people who've been trained as professionals as doctors, teachers, nurses, and so forth, to get into a career here. Here in BC we have a drastic labour shortage and it's hurting us in a big way. That's why we NEED immigration to work for us.

So, these modern immigrants are stuck driving cabs, being janitors, and whatever the fuck else they can get by on, all because they believed the myth of Canada offering an open door and opportunity for all who come. Many of them arrive feeling they've been duped when they go to practice medicine or get a job using their degrees, because they find it impossible to get anything at all. Then they're made to need the social system that others are irate they're using.

I want my Canada to be a fair and open place. I want it to offer opportunity to everyone. I want investors from other countries to come and build businesses here in Canada. I want people's skills to be used in full, because I'm tired of nurse shortages at hospitals and doctors from India driving cabs here. I want the red tape to finally catch up with the times and allow these people to contribute to making Canada a better place. It's not their fault. (Most of 'em, anyhow.)

Our system isn't working like it needs to, so immigration is a drain. It's a problem. But it's only SOME of the immigrants who are taking advantage of things. I know, were the situations reversed, I might try to get a leg up, too, so do I hold it against them? No. You do what you gotta do. 

I've also taught ESL to Asian families who've proudly shown me pictures of their naturalization ceremonies, where they became Canadian, and the mom's crying, the kids are beaming, the dad's grinning ear to ear. I've had an 8-year-old Asian boy start sniffling and choking up as he said "Becoming Canadian is the best thing ever!" Then he cried. 

So don't fucking tell me they're all here stealing from us. They're doing what our government has made possible for them to do. Besides, I read a Vancouver Sun study the other day where they said that it turns out daughters of immigrants are twice as likely to be successful professionals than their longtime Canadian peers. They may take, but they inevitably give back, too.

I hate racism that pretends to be nationalism. Y'know? Trouble is, I think we all feel some of that sometimes. This city of mine's changing far faster than anybody could have wanted, and sometimes the past feels pretty romantic. The reality is, the past is just out-of-date. Like Ovaltine and the Little Rascals, the world's moved on and yesteryear wouldn't cut it this year. We're in a different world. Of course there's a different kind of immigrant. But that's who we are. A country of immigrants, and every new wave adds a new dimension to the Canadian flag. It's a wicked thing, and it's a unique thing. It's Canada. That's who we are. And our past will always, always be there. Hockey will always be here. But let's keep going where we're going.

You want assimilation? Move to the fucking United States. This is Canada. Get with the program. Cultural mosaic, people, for better or worse.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The World of Crafts

Y'know, I was thinking how it might be fun to conjure a new hobby...

I like to make stuff with my hands. Cookin', paintin', refinishin'... trouble is, everything I do is messy, and I live in a small apartment with no real workspace. So, I need a fixin' hobby that uses creativity, precision, and resourcefulness, that isn't messy, doesn't require a large work area, and doesn't need me having to buy more than, say, seven tools to accomplish.

So, a-ha: lamps! I could make custom lamps. Start taking a boo around all the old shops and finding vases I can turn into somethin' funky now and then, for kicks.


I had a moment this morning. The great purge must continue. It's time to get rid of more shit. I'm burdened by memories of my mother's life kind of everywhere, and knick-knacks from a past I'd like to believe is better than it really was, and I'm just tired of the clutter. I'm tired of feeling confined.

Which is good. It means I'm finally realizing I can disconnect my feeling for the person from the supposed importance of the thing. Things. Silly, silly things. Sort of. If they weren't all I had left of people, places, and things from yesteryear.

...Funny. Sitting here, taking a couple mouthfuls of my French-Canadian Onion Soup (my recipe; 1/2 cup of rye, 3/4 cup of wine... heh, heh. Cures what ails ya. In a batch, people, not a bowl.), a thought occured to me. Another little project, and one to aid ridding clutter.

(This is great. When needing a drink: Soupybooze. With carmelized onions. When it's below freezing out. Some kinda digression, but... All done with soupybooze, so.)

But take things that sort of mean something to me, not aesthetically shazam or anything, just average little shit that holds significance. Like this heart-shaped box I have of my mothers that still smells of her baby powder inside after eight years. Every year or so, I open it, inhale, and put it away again with a smile. But do I really need to go there? And it's red cardboard with gold leaf on it, something you'd get for a buck at the Loonie Store or something. So. Things like that. Mementoes.

...Take them, and photograph them, and print 'em all off, and make a really, really good collage of it, poster-size, drymount it, and frame it for the washroom or something. And Sally-Ann all the newly memorialized items that are causing me to go bonkers these days.

I swear to god, I'm having fantasies about living in a wide-open loft with sixteen foot cielings and 1,400 square feet. Ahh, how nice my furnishings would be there. They're nice here, but in a place like that, whoo! Appreciation from afar. Fabulous. But that ain't gonna happen. Rent's on the uppity-up these days in town, and I'm not willing to fork over $900 or more for a meagre place in average parts of town, or into the thousands for nice neighbourhoods and a den or second bedroom. No. I'll keep my $686.80 apartment with heat and hot water included, since it's so purty and my neighbourhood's getting freakishly gentrified, and there's a 4% per annum max rent raise, thank you... and I'll get rid of some clutter.

And when the Olympics roll into town in 2010 and rent's gone right through the roof, I'll be paying $743 a year, and will have the skytrain just a kilometre from home. Sweet.

And less clutter. I will purge. It's a guttin', kids. And I get a photography craft out of it. Sweet!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Curse You, Writer's Strike and ReRunland, on This Lazy Night

Oh, KVOS TV12. How low you have sunk.

I mean, really...

Airing Throw Momma From the Train. [shudder]

It's been 20 years. 1987. 2007. Do the math. Hollywood releases how many movies per year? Surely, if you really wrack your mind, you can conjure something a smidge, um, oh, better? Something that doesn't feel like the cinematic equivalent of nails on a blackboard? Come ON.

There's no shortness in irony that it opens with Billy Crystal being a hack writer trapped in writer's block at a desk, stuck on the sentence "The night was..."

And produced by Steven Speilberg and Oprah Winfrey? No wonder I don't trust her taste in movies. Wild Hogs? [shudder] William H. Macy deserves better.

[Rant mode off.]

Okay, maybe I'm being elitist and the movie doesn't completely suck, but hey. I was 14 and couldn't believe I'd spent my money on it. 14, and highly opinionated. And not altogether flush with cash, of course. So, (movie + money = bad) wasn't an acceptable outcome.

Now Goonies... there's a movie.


It's, like, 15 minutes later and I'm watching a senior citizen's Fight Club battle, and reading this:

“[T]his much maligned four-letter word has no intrinsic meaning,” Randazza writes. “Fuck [can] play a role as a figurative term, for example, ‘to fuck’ can also mean ‘to deceive.’ It is a word of force that can assist us in our expressions of joy when used as an infix, as in ‘abso-fucking-lutely’. ‘Fuck’ helps us express rage when we scream ‘fuck you’ at a football referee, or at a motorist who has just cut us off in traffic. ‘Fuck’ can help us express pain, as it is quite frequently the first thing out of most men’s mouths when they strike their thumb (accidentally) with a hammer. ‘Fuck’ is a vehicle for our disappointment, when we see that our report card is not as good as we had hoped, or when our significant other is late for dinner, or leaves us
altogether. ‘Fuck’ is an old friend, who can always make us laugh.”

He quotes from the movie Wedding Crashers: “‘This girl’s fit for a strait-jacket. I mean she’s fucked three ways to the weekend. But you know what, Father? I dig it!’”

“If I didn’t use ‘fuck’ liberally,” Randazza says of his argument, “I’d be conceding the fucking argument [that the word isn’t used in proper settings]."

Randazza is Orlando attorney, Marc Randazza, launching a defense for his client's attempt to trademark the name "Fucking Machines", which is a whole other can of worms I ain't getting into. Oh, and that can of worms can be found here.

Yoga with Steff

I'm so bagged this morning! I could sleep till noon, easy.

Nonetheless, I'm about to try a third day in a row of yoga to kickstart my day. I'm hoping I'm motivated enough to swing into the gym tonight and do a cardio routine. Then, yoga in the morning, and ditto again Friday, with a Friday night visit to the gym, and possibly another gym visit Saturday morning before the family Christmas -- the folks are heading Stateside for the holidays... which gives me a wide-open door to do the sleeping I want to do. :)

I've done 40 minute yoga sessions the last couple days, but I'm mellowing with 20 today. It's nice to go online and choose the routine that works best for me. I know it's only $10 a month, but I'm getting it for free since I'll blog once a week about it on the other board. Just a line or two here or there and a link. Ah, it's free, and I get some business PR out of it. I probably wouldn't do the yoga if I had to go and write out a cheque and mail it in, being creditcardless and all. I know, lazy. Oh well.

My body was sooooo sore last night. I'm probably looking at a continuing week or so of total pain and inflammation, but some of the areas hurting are ones I never have problems with, because they're never getting worked out. So, this all-over pain is a sign of things getting better, right? Or if I keep telling myself that... heh heh.

Ahh, soon I'll be strong like bull! 

The thing I like the best about the yoga is two-fold: 1) it's both a stretch and a workout, and 2) I need to be wholly conscious, so it's making me more aware of things in life, too, which is highly useful in all areas of life. Very good stuff.

Anyhow. I'm really just trying to psych myself up to do what I loathe to do... the workout. Time to get cracking.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Good Start to the Week

I'm finally getting onto the yoga kick I've wanted to start for awhile. I am NOT going to yoga classes. I'll simply never attend, and when I do, I'll be too self-conscious to get shit right, so, no, no classes.

I signed up with an online gig, My Yoga Online, and I'm now able to choose from a couple dozen routines aimed at my level in yoga, pilates, and meditation... and it's unlimited at $9.95 a month. They even have yoga at work... so, nifty shit. Really.

I'm tired of being stiff all the time, so it's the perfect antidote to all my other exercise. Wicked.

Anyhow. That's the start of my day, a 35-minute routine this morning, and I feel a little more alert, a little more loose. Still stiff and sore, but after hiking a box of new casserole dishes back from Canadian Tire in the snow and rain yesterday, I should certainly be stiff and sore. :) Yoga should be one of the best things I could do for my body, given how many catastrophic muscle injuries I've suffered before now. Limber me up, baby!

Now... I need to face the evil non-stop Pineapple Express tropical rainstorm we're gonna have all day today and tomorrow. Wind and rain warnings, but I'm a pedestrian today. I haven't bought my bus pass yet, but I'll get it later today. Walking a block and paying an extra $2.25 for a bus this morning versus nine blocks to buy the bus pass and save the surplus $2.25... FUCK that! In this rain? Oh, ho. I think not.

I am at one with financial waste in favour of only getting a little wet. Sigh. Just finish this coffee here, then off into the wet wonder named Vancouver.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sweet Dreams of The Griddler

I have never wanted something for my kitchen as much as I now want the Griddler.

I. Want. The. Griddler.

Two words: Homemade panini.

There ain't a fucking restaurant in this city with a mustard collection like mine! I love panini, but not wild about normal sandwiches. Panini, though... crispy, cheesy, wondrous goodness. With my mustards. Things like "cilantro and lemongrass", "sweet vodka", burgundy, grainy, etc. It really changes things up nicely.

And a grill. And a double griddle. And an open grill, which means doing kebabs and tandoori inside year round. Fuckin' a!

I am getting this thing for myself. A treat. Something to get me going in the right direction with food. Soups and sandwiches. Grilled foods. Very little oil.

I could get back into making homemade bread again. Still no butter, but my homemade bread would rock for paninis. And soup. Mm-mm! And winter's just getting started.

Tonight I did something radical and healthy-ish. I made an attempt at recreating the Noodle Box's Spicy Peanut with Chicken at home. It was pretty decent. I think I need to try making my own peanut sauce, though, one from peanut butter. I think that'll make all the difference in the world.

As I figure it, though, I got it pretty close: baby bok choy, green onions, ginger, lots of cilantro, bean sprouts, peanuts, etc. Next time I add red chilis and the homemade peanut sauce. This could be a really nice meal to have more often. Nice. Once I hammer down a recipe, I'll share it. :)

And thus the great Asian cooking education of Steff begins. A bold new era. Gonna introduce myself to some Vietnamese cooking soon. Gonna have to prowl for a good book.

Anyhow. It's 3:23am. I've been tired after a long week. I had a little triumph today after kinda breaking my iPOD when I was installing the new battery I bought yesterday. Officially on my third battery. Woohoo. But I didn't break it. I decided my day was of too weird a mix of energies to try fucking with the iPOD a second time, and I figured I'd tackle it today (Saturday, that is) after a good night's sleep. As I suspected, it was apparently something to do with the audio output that wiggled loose yesterday, a port thingie near the top of the motherboard. It took three tries to fix it in properly, since there's no way to clearly see how good of contact you've made with the port.

Despite that, I got it! Woohoo. I love being a self-sufficient gal. How cool izzat?

But I would much more love being a self-sufficient gal with a Griddler. Uh-huh! Maybe next paycheque. It'd be cool, get me a Griddler then go down to Commercial Drive on the holidays and get stocked up on great sandwich options. Two words: Rosemary ham. Yep.

Shit. Now I'm hungry. See, I was explaining how tired I was and that I'd had a full but mellow day, and fell asleep on the couch at 9pm. I woke up at 1:30 and I've been up watching TV and cleaning house since then. Now it's 3:30 and I gotta hit the sack. Up tomorrow to take a snowy stroll to Canadian Tire and a music shop with the irrepressible GayBoy.

But I want a snack. I'd fork someone to death for a panini right now, I swear to god. Sigh. If only I had a Griddler. I have... wait for it... granola. Or, ooh! Leftover funky Spicy Peanut... Mm. Enter choice! Who needs to go to bed? It's a day off... I can nap. Yeah. I'm staying up. How fun.