In this blog, I often mention Skytrain which is the automated rapid transit system here in Vancouver. Now consisting of three lines, the original line, called Expo, opened for business in 1986.

In the 27 subsequent years, the city of Vancouver has changed considerably and video above is visible proof of those changes. The video shows you two separate pieces of footage taken the front of a Skytrain car originating at the Waterfront station on the Expo line. The left is from 1986 and the right is from this year or thereabouts. It’s amazing to see how many buildings didn’t exist in 1986. The landscape was very different back then. What’s not very different, unfortunately, are the stations themselves. The majority of the Expo line stations look very dated now. There was this unified design that called for painted metal in all the stations, with white and green being the predominant colours. The look is very much 1980s. The video stops at New Westminster station because back then that was the terminus station.

Vancouver seemed like a more simple town back then.


Smells delicious!

I mentioned previously that one of the goals I had with my time off was to learn to create new culinary creations that I wasn’t capable of previously. I’ve documented my initial experimentation with a slow cooker but my next dish was something a little bit more ambitious. I’ve always been a big fan of Greek food. In particular, I like the Greek style of cooking meat. Whenever I go to a Greek restaurant, I almost always get the roast lamb. Greek style roasted lamb is so delicious. The meat is tender and flavourful, and is usually cooked in this rich and tasty broth. I was extremely excited to make this myself as it’s one of my favourites.

Not knowing what to do first, I had to start with a recipe. There were lots to choose from on the Internet. Some seemed a bit too complicated, so I tossed those out. I settled on a recipe from a person of Greek descent and a fellow Canadian to boot. The list of ingredients wasn’t too exotic. It’s interesting to note though that I had to buy fresh herbs for the first time in my life. The toughest thing to buy was the actual leg of lamb itself. Most meat departments at supermarkets have only lamb chops at best and getting a leg of lamb appeared to be a difficult exercise. I lucked out at the Safeway below my apartment when they suddenly put two legs on sale. It might have been one leg cut in half though, as each part was only about 1 kg or 2.2 lb in size. It didn’t matter to me though as for this experiment, I was only feeding myself.

With all the ingredients and cooking implements in place, I started following the recipe. It was all pretty straightforward. Once I got the lamb into the oven, I realized I was going to baste meat for the first time, a personal culinary milestone. It took about three hours in total to cook the lamb, so it’s definitely not something you just make quickly. Once ready, I was also very careful to let the lamb rest. Letting meat rest was something I discovered while I was reading the recipe for the first time. Essentially, you need to let large cuts of meat to sit and cool down slightly before you slice into the meat. Not doing so leads to the juices of the meat draining away, leaving it too dry. To be extra careful, I let the lamb rest for over 20 minutes.

Once it was ready to eat, I didn’t really have a plan, I just started cutting off hunks of meat and put it onto my plate. I also spooned up all the juicy goodness in the roaster and covered the meat with it. My first impression was that it smelled great and luckily that carried over to the taste. All the spices, herbs, olive oil, and lemon juice made it absolutely delicious. I know the recipe called for the juice of two lemons but since I liked my lamb a bit more tart, I added an extra lemon. This perhaps was a mistake as it was bordering on a bit too much. It didn’t ruin the lamb at all but something to think of next time. My other observation is that while some of the meat was very tender and juicy, there were some bits that seemed a bit tougher and drier. I’m still not sure why that was as I had cooked it long enough that the meat was falling off the bone. I can only think of a few things that I could change to prevent this next time. I could baste the meat more often to ensure it remains moist. I could reduce the cooking time. The recipe listed a three-hour cooking time for about a 6 lb leg and I had about a 2.2 lb leg. Here’s the interesting thing though. All the lamb that was left over was extremely tender and soft when I re-heated it the next day. I am uncertain if the re-application of heat to get it hot again, led to more tenderness.

In summary, I’d classify this experiment as a success. I ate all the lamb by myself in about a day. It was indeed very tasty. As you can see above, it looked great too (click to embiggen). I’d definitely will make the lamb again. The only thing that would give me pause is the cost of the lamb. It cost me about $25 for the lamb meat which is up there in terms cuts of meat. I’d like to see if Costco is cheaper or something. In any case, looking forward to the next time!

E3 2013

This week, the video game industry’s largest conference started in Los Angeles. E3 is by far the biggest spectacle in gaming. I’ve been in the industry now for about ten years combined and I’ve yet to make it down to LA for E3. I should just bite the bullet and go next year no matter who I might be working for.

This year, there seems to be a lot of my friends and colleagues at E3. At least two of them were part of the main press conferences. In the video above from the EA presentation, you can see Bryan from Garden Warfare and James from Need for Speed Rivals, show off their games. I had the pleasure of working with both of them on previous games. Good job gentlemen!


Feed me!

Sometime in the late summer or early fall of 2009, I bought some Electrasol dishwasher tablets because I had my new apartment and would be using a dishwasher for the first time. I bought 100 tablets from a discount supermarket chain. After the novelty of having a dishwasher wore off, I did not use it very often at all. I would find that it didn’t make sense to use a single tablet for just a few dishes and cutlery, so I would just hand wash my stuff. For it to be economical, I’d have to wait for several days worth of dishes to accumulate before using the dishwasher was a good idea. Often, I couldn’t stand having dirty dishes just sit there that long, so it would be just hand washed. At times, more than a month would go by between me turning on the dishwasher. Sometimes I’d use it just to make sure none of the motors would get rusty.

In the last year or so, I’ve used my dishwasher more often. I must be either getting lazy or just making a much larger mess in a short amount of time. Last week, I reached a milestone, as I used up the last detergent tab from that purchase in 2009. One hundred dishwasher loads cleaned in my apartment. It took very close to four years to reach that. It took so long that the company changed the name of the detergent while I was going through the 100 tablets. Electrasol is now called Finish for some reason.

Forging ahead, I bought 110 new tablets from Cascade last week. I didn’t change companies because I was unhappy with Electrasol, it’s just that Cascade was on sale and it was a great deal. The Cascade tablets are even easier to use. The Electrasol tablets were packaged in plastic packaging that you had to remove before plopping it into your dishwasher. The Cascade ones have a water-soluble shell that keeps all the stuff together until the water melts it away during the wash cycle.

And that’s your post about dishwasher tablets.


Soldiers running...

I just came back from standing around the perimeter of a movie set for about two hours. I’m super tired and my legs are kinda sore. Next year’s summer blockbuster Godzilla has been filming just blocks away from my home for the last three evenings.

On this particular evening I decided to watch the filming. After I got there, I saw them film a group of soldiers run up a street. The whole take lasted about ten seconds or so but they did it over and over again. The time in between takes was several minutes long, so it was a lot of waiting just to see a tiny bit of running. Once that was done, they repositioned some lights and the camera. They again had some soldiers run up the street but this time not as far. Once again they did this over and over again, with lots of waiting in between takes.

Once that shot was done, they move the set around again and I waited some more. Once they were ready again, they filmed the soldiers running in from all different directions where they gathered in one spot. It appeared that some of them were looking at something on the ground, as they took a knee. From my perspective, they were filming things backwards as chronologically, they’d probably run in to re-group, stop to take orders, and then head up the street.

I was told this was second unit footage which means there’s a good chance everything I waited for two hours to see will probably get cut. I’ll be lucky to even see this stuff on the deleted scenes on the Blu-ray. In any case, two hours of watching was enough for me, so I went home. I’m really looking forward to seeing my neighbourhood in the movie next summer!


So this afternoon I had a leisurely lunch with my ex-PopCap co-workers. I hadn’t seen almost all of them since that last fateful day when the studio got shut down. It was great to hear what everyone was doing now. Some people were still very much enjoying the time off, while others were ready to start looking for the next job. It was also a beautiful day to spend on a restaurant patio.

Anyways, I get home around 3:30pm or so. As usual, I took the train back. Now you have to understand that the train platform connects with an entry door to my apartment building. Also along the platform are retail businesses. The business right next to the entry door is a clothing alterations place. I’ve patronized this place several times to get my jeans hemmed and they do a great job. It’s run by a nice European woman who is very friendly. It doesn’t seem to be that busy all the time but I’d say that 98% of their customers are women.

I get to the entry door and I’m fishing for my security fob in my pocket. Since the door is so close to the alterations shop, I can’t help but look into the floor to ceiling windows that makeup the storefront. Usually, I see nothing and then go inside the building. Today though, oh my was today different. I gazed into the shop just in time to see a young and fit woman bending over slightly and facing away from me. In the next second, it was very clear to me that she was in shape as she pulled down her black skirt or pants (I really couldn’t tell), exposing a beautiful and tight backside. It was a work of art. She wasn’t fully exposed though as she was wearing a skin-tight pair of boy cut panties (warning lingerie) that left very little to the imagination. Now if you’re wondering if I knew the name of that type of underwear before today, yeah I did, and I’m proud to say it. I’m not the only guy that is knowledgeable in that area.

So I’m just stunned by what I see. For a split second, I’m not even sure what to do. Part of me just wants to continue standing there and just keep staring. Wait, maybe I should just go inside the shop? Why? Why would I do that? That would make me look like a perv. Then again, why the hell was this woman undressing in the front of the store in full view of the public? I’ve been inside there and there are two dressing rooms ready for use. After another second or two of stunned silence, I get my fob out (tee-hee) and buzz myself (tee-hee) in. As I walk towards the elevator, I’m just shaking my head at what I just saw. Then on the way up to my apartment, I realize I actually have a pair of jeans that still need to be hemmed! Perhaps I should go right back downstairs with them and use it as my opportunity to find out what the hell is going on down there. Unfortunately, once I got home, I made a drink and then started watching YouTube videos and the store closed on me.

Despite the copious amounts of Internet porn available to everyone and that I live just a block away from a strip joint, random nudity is the best nudity because it’s unexpected. It’s like finding a $20 in your pocket but even better. That was the best part of my day. Hey, who needs their clothes altered? I can come along with you to this place I know.


I know some of you participate in composting, either doing the whole process yourself or taking part in a municipal food scraps program. Some cities started food scraps programs years ago for single-family dwellings but have been slower to roll them out for multi-family complexes. The municipality that I live in has just implemented a city-wide food scraps recycling program for apartment complexes and other similar type buildings.

I was given a few instructional pamphlets and a plastic bin, very much like the bin you see in the video above. The goal is not for everyone living in an apartment to start making nutrient rich soil on their balconies, though there’s nothing to stop you from doing that. The intended goal is to remove and separate food waste from all the other garbage going into landfills. Food waste can be composted and converted into soil for various uses. Less garbage then goes to the landfill and takes up less space. As with almost anything, if there wasn’t a financial benefit to this, people wouldn’t be doing it. Putting less material into landfills saves money.

It’s been quite easy to dump my food waste into the bin. It came with a free biodegradable bin liner bag which was convenient. The only tricky part is to get the liner bag to stay open to dump your scraps into. Once you close it, the way the creases have been folded, it wants to stay closed so re-opening it is a bit of a pain. I was told you can just use old newspapers to fold into a liner for your bin and that’s what the young lady in the video above is showing us how to do.

Once the bin is full, I’m supposed to bring the scraps down to the garbage room where there will be special containers to accept all the scraps from all the residents. The bin liner bag is convenient since you can just pull it out of the bin like a brown paper lunch bag and take it with you. The newspaper liners seem to be a bit more work since they don’t have a top to them. I suppose I’d have to bring the whole bin with me to the garbage room and then dump the liner at that time.

So yeah, look at me! Friend of the environment! Captain Planet must be so proud!


As I mentioned in my previous post, I walked a scenic 12 km yesterday. I didn’t think it would be that taxing as I’d been walking up to 6 km previously without any ill effects. In fact, I felt great after doing those 6 km treks. Now, I understand that 12 km is double my previous distances but when I wrote yesterday’s post, I was a tad tired but doing ok.

I woke up this morning and it was a different story. I got up and felt “bleh” almost immediately. I think the best way to describe it was like having a hangover. I had a bit of a headache, didn’t have any appetite, and just wanted to sit and do nothing. I just tried to drink as much water as I could. The whole late morning and early afternoon passed in a fog of mental haziness. Around 3pm, I felt fatigued enough to require a nap which I quickly fell asleep into.

The nap did me some good as I began to feel somewhat normal again after waking up. I was still pounding the water back though and even now, I’m still rehydrating.

It’s clear to me that I did not drink enough water during and after my trek. I think that was my biggest and only mistake really. None of my muscles ached or were stiff today, so I don’t think from an exertion standpoint I took it too far. I simply just didn’t re-hydrate properly. The odd thing is, I didn’t really sweat all that much during the three hours I was out there.

It’s a good thing I didn’t have anything to do today because I was basically useless for most of the day. Well, a lesson learned for next time.


As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve endeavoured to walk a large portion of the Central Valley Greenway. I’ve walked a small portion of it previously but today I decided to go much further. I started the walk relatively late in the day at approximately 3pm which I meant I probably had no chance of walking the whole thing but chances were daylight wasn’t going to be the limiting factor.

The new portion of the walk was the “greenest” so far. Off of North Road, the trail followed the Brunette River where signs indicated that fish like trout and salmon could be found in the water way. There was water to my left and lots of foliage to the right. The trail then gave way to the Burnaby Lake area where there was plenty of opportunities to commune with nature. In one area, a whole bunch of Canadian Geese and their goslings were just sitting right off to the side of the trail. People were walking by them in close proximity but the geese didn’t seem to care at all. In another area by the water there were all sorts of geese, ducks, and other water fowl gathered. Some people were feeding the birds bread crumbs. Pushing on, I traveled the length of the lake. Once at the end, the trail splits into two: another trail that loops around the lake and the continuation of the Central Valley Greenway. I took the Greenway trail and turned north.

It was here that I had my first opportunity to jump on the Skytrain and get my ass home. The Greenway passes right by the Sperling station. The alternative was to go another 4.5 km, which would take me to Gilmour station and close to the border with proper Vancouver city limits. I could have pressed on but I felt like I had made enough progress for one day. I hopped on a train and went home.

I used an app on my phone to track my progress on the walk. You can see the summary of my adventure in the image above. As you can see, I walked a respectable 12 km in under three hours. The numbers you see next to the km markers at the split times. On average, it takes me between 10 to 12 minutes to walk a km. The ninth km appeared to take the longest because that’s where I stopped the longest to look at the birds. I probably should have paused the app but it’s not a big deal.

I walked half the Central Valley Greenway today which I enjoyed. Going forward, I’m not sure what I should do next. One option is to take the train to where I left off and finish the back half of the walk. Another option is to just walk the whole thing, from start to finish. That’s the more hardcore option. If I went that route, I’d realistically need about seven hours to complete it. I wouldn’t want to start it any later than 1pm.

Well, let’s see how I feel tomorrow when I wake up.