I felt fine all day today and then this evening I went out to dinner with a friend. Our dinner was short, lasting perhaps an hour or so before I went home. After I arrived home, I felt a sudden onset of fatigue and the chills came upon me. I’ve had enough common colds to know that this isn’t a cold. The lethargic feeling and the chills are a sign of the flu. Bleh.

It didn’t even occur to me during this break that I could get sick but now that I think about it, this is such a typical thing for this to happen to me. I finally get some extended time off, only to spend it being sick. My own “Bad Luck Brian” meme writes itself in this case.

Another friend of mine actually warned me I might get sick on the weekend. She either came down with a bad cold or flu and said it was going around quite quickly. I hadn’t heard about this at all as no other people I knew were ill. Bam! Now I’m wearing socks in bed and shivering. Maybe I should have gotten that flu shot at work when I had the chance. Oh well.

If I had to guess, I think this will knock me on my ass until probably at least Monday, just as I need to get back to work on Tuesday.


I haven’t been to work since last Thursday so I’ve been enjoying my time off since then. On most days I wake up very late in the afternoon, which shouldn’t surprise many of you. As I’m older now, I tend to wake up around 9am or 10am but I kinda force myself to stay in bed and look at the Internet. Eventually, I fall back asleep for anywhere between one to three hours. If anything, I am using this break to get well-rested.

On the weekend, I saw my family quite a bit. I had dim sum with my parents on Saturday. Of note, to get to dim sum, I rode the Evergreen extension to the Skytrain line for the first time. It was very exciting for me as I’ve watched this project progress from it’s beginnings about three years ago all the way to the opening. There’s a new station located quite close to my parents’ home and the dim sum restaurant is right across the street from another station.

On Sunday, I had turkey dinner with my immediate family and some friends. Dinner was delicious and while I didn’t overly stuff my face with food, I certainly was not shy about eating what I thought were the tastiest offerings of the evening. It may sound odd but I wound up eating a lot of chow mein and strawberry shortcake (not all at once).

I also have to mention that I’ve been cooking quite a bit (at least for me) during the break. On Friday, I picked up the sous vide machine that I wrote about here. On Saturday evening, I tried making sous vide steak. I bought the cheapest cut of beef I could find at my local Safeway. I wound up buying some top sirloin cap steaks. These were priced at $14/kg, which you can compare that to the tenderloin steaks which I saw were being sold at $44/kg. The steaks came out amazing. They were uniformly medium-rare from edge to edge, something that would be nearly impossible with a grilled or pan-fried steak. I was also shocked at how juicy it was. The sous vide method allows steaks to retain much more moisture so the meat doesn’t dry out. My steak was very tender and incredibly delicious, especially if you consider I spent less than $4 on it. Rather writing more about these steaks, look at some pictures here.

After the success of the steak, I eagerly awaited the stores to open back up so I could pick up more raw ingredients. I bought some skinless and boneless chicken breasts and a wild salmon fillet. I made two chicken breasts last night. I’ve rarely cooked white chicken meat in my time but these sous vide chicken breasts were the most moist and juicy ones I’ve ever prepared. Still, I think I could have done better. I cooked them at 145 degrees F but I think if I drop the temperature down to 140 or slightly less, they will taste even better. I have three more breasts in the fridge, so I’ll adjust the cooking accordingly.

This evening I tried making the salmon fillet with the sous vide method. I’ll admit I got a little apprehensive about ensuring the salmon was completely safe to eat. As such, I cooked it at 140 degrees F for about 90 minutes which basically pasteurizes the salmon and also would kill any parasites in it, if any were there to begin with. The salmon came out fine and was full of flavour but it was a bit too flaky and dry for my liking. Now that I think about it, the fillet was previously frozen so the odds are if any parasites were in the fillet, they would have already been killed. Next time I’ll lower the temperature closer to 130 degrees F or slightly below that. At lower temperatures, the salmon should come out juicier, less flaky, and more buttery smooth.

Beyond steak, chicken, and salmon, I have my sights set on sous vide scrambled eggs. I know it sounds odd but apparently scrambled eggs done sous vide style is amazing.


Technically I’m supposed to work one more day tomorrow and then I’m on break until the 3rd of January. The studio has been pretty empty all week however. Just today, my manager left before noon and said he was starting his holidays immediately. I have no pressing tasks at work, no deadlines to meet. Usually we have refreshments, snacks, and some alcohol on Fridays but that’s been cancelled. Food services is closing at 2pm, so you can’t even get a coffee or a snack after that. There’s a lot of reasons to either leave early tomorrow or not even show up.

As such, I’m probably not going to bother going to work tomorrow. I might work from home for a few hours but even that might be stretching it in terms of productivity. It’s actually been quite treacherous trying to get to work since last Sunday. Many of the sidewalks leading to the studio have not been plowed or shoveled, leading to snow being piled on nearly a foot deep. It’s an uneven and icy mess.

I am looking forward to this break.


Last weekend I bought a thermal immersion circulator designed to cook food via the sous vide method. Just a few years ago, such devices would cost hundreds of dollars but as the sous vide technique has become more popular, many manufacturers have found ways to decrease the cost. The device I purchased is most certainly a starter model but it only set me back $129 + plus tax. I already have a large pot and water is basically free. I do need to get some suitable plastic bags to cook the food in. More on that later.

You can get some amazing results with the sous vide method. My primary recipes to begin with will involve chicken breast, steaks, fish, and scrambled eggs. Because the immersion circulator heats the water to the exact temperature you set it for, it allows your ingredients to be cooked at that temperature throughout. A steak cooked via the sous vide method will never be tough and dry on the outside because you cooked it too long. Many recipes, however, call for a finishing step, usually a quick sear in a hot grill or pan to caramelize or crisp up the surface of your meat or fish.

Though most recipes are very simple to follow, the technique isn’t exactly idiot-proof. Since sous vide cooking is done at temperatures much lower than normal (eg. 60 degrees Celsius for chicken), food safety is a concern. You must cook the food for a sufficient amount of time to ensure things are safe. In addition, the plastic bags that are placed in the water bath are of a concern as well. Though the bags are in water that never boils, even elevated temperatures and long cooking times can cause chemicals to leech from the bag into your food, if you’re not using the right type of bag. Some people swear that Ziploc bags are safe enough for such cooking but the company who make Ziploc bags have said they do not recommend people use them for sous vide. Now they could be just covering their butts from a legal standpoint which I would understand. Nevertheless, some bags are better than others for this type of cooking.

My immersion circulator is currently sitting in a post office half a block from my apartment. I’ll be picking it up after work. With the holiday break coming up, it’ll be a good opportunity for me to try some new recipes!


I had an inkling I wouldn’t make it to work today when last night the rains that were supposed to come and wash away the snow didn’t arrive. Instead, it continued to snow and that new snow fell on top of the snow that still was here even after more than a week. Snow in Vancouver is an oddity but for snow to linger on the ground is even stranger.

When I woke up I saw the streets were lined with another fresh sheet of white. A quick look on social media showed the morning commute was a mess. I rely on the train and a bus to get to work and both were delayed to differing degrees. Usually the train is more dependable than the bus because the weather affects the trains less. Then just as I was about to get up to get dressed, I saw a report that police had shot a man with a sharp weapon in one of the train stations. They had to close the station and more importantly, stop the trains from going to that station in either direction. What was minor delays in the train system would now be significant delays.

On the bus front, the GPS map of the route I need to take showed no buses going in the direction towards work. Going in the other direction were four buses all stuck in the same place on the map, near the base of a steep hill. So even if I could get to the bus, there would be none to take. I could only imagine the line up that was forming for the buses that weren’t coming.

As I contemplated what to do, I was relieved to know that I could at least work from home using VPN. Alas, even that wasn’t going to work today. I checked my work e-mail with my phone and the power had been knocked out at the studio for a short while. It was back on now but that meant my computer at work would have shut down and it wouldn’t have powered back on automatically. It needed to be on so I could connect to it remotely. Someone had to physically push the power button on my computer to bring it back up. Unfortunately, with the holiday vacation starting for some co-workers, others stuck in traffic, or like me stuck at home, I didn’t know who made it into work so I could ask them to press that one button.

Without any other options, I just went back to bed. Hours later, I got a hold of one co-worker who miraculously made it into work. He was able to power up my computer so I could at least get a tiny bit of work done before the end of the day.

The rains finally came this evening so while I don’t expect a perfect commute tomorrow, I think at least I’ll be able to make it into work.


I checked my mailbox this week and I saw that an unsolicited letter had come from a realtor. These letters are not new to me now. They know I own my place and like a cold call, they write me a short form letter wondering if I’m looking to sell my place. They also mention that apartments of my size and type in this area are hot commodities. It’s easy to do comparisons on my block because the particular layout of my apartment is nearly identical on every floor of not just my building but two other buildings on this block. So in my building, there’s about 30 units of the one I live in, 32 units next door, and about 35 units next door to that one. Apparently the one-bedroom type I own is a hot seller.

Normally, these letters don’t have any concrete data to back it up, but the letter this week had actual numbers, and in this case, it was listing price and actual selling price. I had to read those two numbers several times to ensure I hadn’t got it wrong. The unit next door was listed at $359,000 but sold at $352,000. That’s crazy. About a year ago, I stopped looking at the listing prices for my apartment type and layout. People were listing at or just slightly above $300,000. Even at that price, I would have realized a healthy profit on my own apartment. I bought mine well below $300,000. I stopped looking at the numbers because I wasn’t even thinking about selling so these theoretical selling prices had no real meaning to me.

Fast-forward to this week. Somewhere during the year, the listing price jumped up another $50K. To ensure this wasn’t some odd anomaly, I fired up the real estate listings for this block. Two other units were listed at $350,000. So this is where we’re at now. Crazy indeed. If I may be honest for a second, while I enjoy living in my apartment, it’s not worth $350,000. As crazy as the prices are now, I’m still not thinking about selling. If I did, where would I move to in this market?


On the short walk from my bus stop at work to the studio is a 20m patch of sidewalk that I’ve affectionately called the “death trap”. It’s 20m of glistening, slick, and deadly ice. Somehow that stretch of side walk got covered in melted snow, what some would call water, which then froze in the frigid temperatures. This must have been repeated time and again as the ice is nearly half an inch thick in that stretch.

To make it even better, the ice is located on an incline. When going to work, you walk uphill, so it’s easier to ensure your footing before taking a step. Traversing that death trap in the morning is still risky but at least it feels more safe than going downhill. Trying to walk down an icy hill is way worse and you’re more prone to slipping. It was so icy that I decided I wouldn’t even try to attempt it. Instead, for last week or so, I’ve been taking another bus home, located at a different bus stop. This stop is located on even ground and is just in front of the studio. It takes me to another train station and adds on another 10 to 15 minutes to my commute. I feel that is a fair trade as I don’t have to negotiate that death trap.

Today, however, I did not have the luxury of such a diversion. I had to meet a friend for dinner downtown and I needed to get home first in the quickest way possible. I decided I had to face my fears and try to carefully navigate the death trap. As I approached the danger area, bare concrete turned into a shiny and slick sheet of ice without any transition. I gingerly took my first step on the ice to gain some footing… and I immediately felt my foot slipping from underneath me. I was going down and I needed to react fast. My first instinct was to just lay my body down as quickly as possible so I spread my contact along my butt, back, and hands possibly, preventing just my tailbone or my head from hitting the sidewalk. I did a pretty good job whether by design or luck. My hands took most of the fall. I instantly felt the hard and cold ice on my palms. I was alive. It took me a second to get back up and assess if I had broken anything. I had not. I wasn’t going to risk walking on the ice anymore. Where the sidewalk ends it slopes up steeply away from the road and all the snow had been pushed up there. It would take longer but I decided to walk in the deep snow, along the sloped edge. I had to lean to the right to compensate for the sloped ground but at least I had traction. It took a while but I was able to get to the bottom of the hill without any more incidents.

When I got home, I thought I was done with any more injuries but I was wrong. After taking a pre-dinner shower, I was drying my genitals and the rest of my body in the bathtub. Somehow, the bottle of body wash I was using, slipped off the edge of the tub and fell onto my left pinkie toe, cutting it. The cut was minor but it was deep enough to draw blood and required a bandage.

I’m considering working from home tomorrow and also not showering.