Thursday 31 March 2011

Happy birthday, Gord!

It's Gord's birthday today. Alas, I'm spending the day in Montreal at a workshop and won't get home 'til this evening.

Who does he share his birthday with?
  • 1971 Ewan McGregor, born in Scottish, actor, Trainspotting
  • 1959 Angus Young, born in Glascow, Scotland, rock guitarist, AC/DC-Highway to Hell
  • 1948 Al Gore, born in Washington D.C., Senator-D-Tennessee, 1985 - 1992, 45th Vice President 1993 - 2000
  • 1948 Rhea Perlman, born in Brooklyn, actress, Zena-Taxi, Carla-Cheers
  • 1946 Al Nichol, born in Winston Salem, North Carolina, rock guitarist and vocalist, Turtles
  • 1946 Gabe Kaplan, born in Brooklyn, New York, comedian/actor, Welcome Back Kotter
  • 1943 Christopher Walken, born in Astoria Queens, actor, Deer Hunter
  • 1935 Herb Alpert, bandleader/trumpeteer, Tijuana Brass, CEO, A&M
  • 1934 Richard Chamberlain, born in Beverly Hills, California, actor, Dr. Kildare
  • 1933 Shirley Jones, born in Smithton, Pennsylvania, actress, Partridge Family
  • 1929 Liz Claiborne, fashion designer
  • 1928 Gordie Howe, born in Floral, Saskatchewan, NHL right wing, Detroit Red Wings

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Casa De Matéo, Old Montreal, QC

My colleague, Steve, who is also an Education Advisor from Toronto, and I took a walk to Old Montreal looking for a restaurant for supper.

We decided on a Mexican restaurant called Casa De Matéo in Old Montreal.

Tortilla chips and salsa are complimentary.

The salsa was tasty but the heat snuck up on you.

We split a litre of sangria.

It was tasty but it was full of bitter lemon and lime rinds. The straw was too big to filter them out. We both had Burritos Oaxaqueños (Two soft flour tortillas rolled around a tasty blend of spicy beef, traditional beans, melted cheese and tangy sauce. Served with rice).

They were tasty and filling ... the "tangy" sauce was quite spicy. It was two chillis out of three on their scale.

And here are me and Steve ...

It seems to be an authentic Mexican restaurant. The food was good, the servers friendly and the service leisurely.

Casa de Mateo on Urbanspoon

My home away from home in Montreal

I flew to Montreal this afternoon. I have a social media workshop tomorrow to attend ... hopefully it's interesting. Here's my hotel room ... yep, two double beds just for me!

I'm not crazy about this hotel.

It's close to our Montreal office where the workshop will be tomorrow ... and it's only for one night (I fly home tomorrow evening). Otherwise I wouldn't stay here.

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Book ~ "Deadly Little Secrets" (2010) Jeanne Adams

From Amazon ~ Security expert Gates Bromley's number one priority is protecting art collector Dav Gianikopolis. But when he joins forces with CIA Agent Ana Burton tracing several pieces of stolen art, Gates is distracted by the leggy brunette who stirs up the raciest thoughts. After botching an operation that cost her colleagues' lives, Ana has been reassigned to cold cases. When news gets out that she's reopened a case involving stolen art and five brutal murders, Ana is almost killed. Seeking comfort in Gates' strong embrace is easy but surrendering trust to the sexiest man she's ever known isn't - unless Gates can show her that an attraction this hot is worth all the risks. But first he'll have to stop a killer who's bent on keeping the past buried.

I found this book very confusing.

I didn't understand about the botched operation in Rome that had Ana assigned to the cold cases pending the inquiry. It seemed like this was a book in a series and I missed the first one so didn't know the history. I've since checked and this is a stand alone book ... so the author didn't do a good job to let me know what had happened in the past.

I also didn't understand what the plot was about the art thefts ... I've finished the book and I still don't know what happened or why or who the bad guys are and why they did it.

A crazy woman killed Gates' family years ago. Why? I don't know. Was she still stalking him? If so, why? I don't know.

There were a lot of characters in this book and it was hard to keep everyone straight ... so I didn't.

After all the build-up towards the end, it just ended. I was hoping that all would be revealed to me and I'd get what was happening. But it didn't.

Gates and Ana meet, go through all this turmoil with people getting killed, shot or disappear and attempts on their own lives which doesn't really phase them, and a couple weeks later they are married and have a happy ending. I don't think so.

Can you tell I wouldn't recommend this book? You're probably wondering why I kept reading it. I did enjoy the writing style ... just not the story or the characters. I kept hoping it would get better.

Monday 28 March 2011

Jack Astor's Bar & Grill, Toronto ON (Front Street)

I had supper with my good pals, the Chillin' Chicks ... Deb, Franca and Liz tonight. We've known each other since the mid 1990s (we worked together).

We met at Jack Astor's on Front Street ... I had the Chicken Parmigiana (Fresh chicken breast, lightly breaded and topped with smoked partly-skimmed Mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. Served with whole wheat spaghetti, tossed in a roasted garlic-basil tomato sauce).

It was good and I ate it all!

It was fun to catch up (there's so much going on!) as we hadn't see each other in a couple months.

Here we are ... Franca, Deb, Liz and I.

Friday 25 March 2011

Rough life being a kitty!

I worked from home today.

I had a couple webinars to conduct and it's easier to do them in the quietness of home. Plus after all the travelling I did this week, it was nice to chill at home while working.

No surprise that KC and Morgan sleep during the day.

When I went to the spare room earlier, Morgan was snoozing on the back of the futon in the sun. Smart boy! I attracted his attention when I tried to sneak in to take his picture.

Later, I found him snoozing in our bed.

Rough life!

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Network Bar & Grill, London, ON

Oddly there isn't a restaurant in the hotel where I'm staying nor is there a grocery store nearby to make something in the suite's kitchenette.

From 5pm to 7pm, though, the hotel has a free "reception" ... basically all you can eat supper. Tonight's meal was boneless chicken breast smothered in a mushroom sauce and salad. I'm not a fan of mushrooms or salad so I went next door to another hotel's restaurant, Network Bar & Grill.

I ordered pork chops and mashed potatoes.

They looked and tasted like they were made by your mom. Nothing fancy ... good if you are looking for comfort food. My only complaint is that it could have been hotter (it must have been sitting for a while). Definitely not worth $21!

For dessert, my server recommended the chocolate lava cake.

It was okay, not great ... I suspect the cake was microwaved.

After my scary drive to London, I must say that my beer tasted good!

My home away from home in London

The enrolment seminar I'm conducting is at 8am tomorrow ... which means I have to be there about 7:30am to set up. So I'm staying at a hotel near the client's office.

Here's the hotel the travel agent booked me in ... it's a suite! And just $135/night!

Doesn't that bed look comfy?! It's too bad I'm only here for a night!

Scary drive to London

I had to conduct an enrolment seminar in Oakville (about a half hour drive) at 1pm.

With the snow, it wasn't too bad getting there.

I have a seminar to conduct for the same client in their London office (about three hours from home) first thing tomorrow morning. Rather than getting up early and be on the road about 4:30am (I'm sooooo not a morning person!), I kept going and am spending the night in London.

The weather had gotten worse when I was ready to head to London.

The 403 was slow going and got worse ... for a while I was only driving 10km/hour. Twice I had to brake and I spun sideways. Scary!

When I turned north towards Hamilton on the 403, I was right behind the snowplows for a long time.

Then the snowplows turned off and we were on our own again. Eeek!

As soon as I hit Brantford on the 403, the highway miraculously cleared and I was able to drive 80km/hour.

The 401 was pretty clear too.

What should have taken me about an hour and a half took me over two nervewracking hours.

Last snow of the season?

After spending the last four days in beautiful British Columbia, it was quite a shock to wake up this morning here at home in Toronto to this ...

I have to drive to Oakville this morning (about 30 minutes away on a good day) and then on to London (another couple hours) ... I hope the highways won't be too bad.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Book ~ "And Then There Were None" (1939) Agatha Christie

From Wikipedia ~ Eight people of different social classes have been invited to a mansion on the fictional Indian Island, which is based upon Burgh Island off the coast of Devon. Upon arriving, they are told that their hosts, a Mr. and Mrs. U.N. Owen (Ulick Norman Owen and Una Nancy Owen ), are currently away, but that the guests will be attended to by Thomas and Ethel Rogers. Each guest finds in his or her room an odd bit of bric-a-brac and a framed copy of the nursery rhyme "Ten Little Indians" hanging on the wall.

Before dinner that evening, the guests notice ten Indian figurines on the dining room table. During the meal, a gramophone record plays, accusing each of the ten of murder. Each guest acknowledges an awareness of (and, in some cases, involvement with) the deaths of the persons mentioned but denies either malice and/or legal culpability.

The guests realize they have been tricked into coming to the island but find that they cannot leave; the boat which regularly delivers supplies has stopped arriving. They are murdered one by one, each murder paralleling a verse of the nursery rhyme, with one of the ten figurines being removed after each murder.

With my love of mysteries, would you believe that I've never read an Agatha Christie novel?!

I have And Then There Were None on my Kobo. I had a four hour flight from Kelowna to Toronto ahead of me today so thought I'd check it out.

I started reading it at the airport. To be honest, I knew it had been written many many years ago and I wasn't expecting to like it as I figured it would be dated (the writing and the plot). But I was surprised to discover that I got sucked into it right away. I finished the last few pages in the limo from the airport to home.

I enjoyed it. I was quite puzzled at the end and didn't know "who dunnit". When all was revealed, I bought it.

I'll be checking out more of her novels.

Monday 21 March 2011

Book ~ "Bury Me in a Borrowed Suit" (2010) Troy Anderson

From ~ Whitey Keller bides his time at his job at Red Light Video, a seedy porn shop where he mans the register alongside a misfit crew of employees, consisting of an over-the-hill punk rocker, an alcoholic manager, and an autistic, cigar-smoking, baseball-obsessed janitor.

I had downloaded this free ebook onto my Kobo so didn't have high hopes for it ... but it turns out that I really enjoyed it.

The description from Smashwords doesn't do it justice ... you also get to know Whitey's friends including Jason, the drug dealer; Sarah, Whitey's girlfriend, whose brother committed suicide and his bedroom door has been locked since; Scott, a fella who goes into the porn shop to try and seduce Whitey on a regular basis; Sam, Whitey's friend who lies a lot; Bob, Whitey's widowed grandfather.

It's a wacky story as Whitey tries to find himself while he's working in a porn shop and figure out what he wants to do with his life. I enjoyed the writing style and it's quite funny. There are some grammatical errors but you should overlook them since it's free.

You can download it for free here.

Milestone's Grill & Bar, Kelowna, BC

I didn't feel like pub grub or fast food for supper tonight so went to the Milestones near my hotel.

It wasn't overly busy yet I had to wait awhile until someone brought me a menu and took my drink order.

I was at a table for two and the other side of the table was dirty ... someone must have had a glass of red wine before me. My server, though nice, didn't clean it ... I guess he didn't notice. Since it was on the other side of the table, I let it go.

Looking at the menu, the prime rib caught my eye. I passed on the veggies so they gave me extra garlic mashed potatoes.

The steak was good but really fatty. I know prime rib is supposed to have some fat but about a third of it was big fatty fat (covered by au jus) that I cut off and pushed to the side.

My server dropped off a steak knife and a couple forks and knife wrapped in a napkin. The knife had something green and dried up on it. Yuck! I didn't need it to put it on the other side of the table, on top of the wine stains. I gave the rest of my cutlery a good cleaning.

As I was eating, not once did my server come over to see how everything was. When I was finished, my plate sat on the table for a while before he came and took it away. I pointed out the crusty knife and he came back with a coupon for free appetizers ... which can only be used in Kelowna.

So not a great experience. Given the calibre of Milestones, I'm surprised at the lack of service, crusty silverware and fatty prime rib.

Milestones Kelowna on Urbanspoon

Okanagan Lake, Kelowna, BC

I conducted three enrolment seminars today.

After the last one, I headed downtown to check it out.

I parked by City Park and sat by Okanagan Lake for a while recharging my batteries ... such a lovely view.

Then I walked along the beach.

There were lots of people out and about walking ... it was a nice day for it.

Sunday 20 March 2011

Mickie's Pub, Kelowna, BC

Time for supper and I didn't want to go too far ... so I went to Micki's Pub since it was within walking distance of my hotel.

The layout of the pub is cool because there are smaller spaces on different levels.

I felt like pub grub so ordered a pound of hot wings and and a side order of fries.

The wings were small but there were a lot of them ... I'd rather have less of them and have them bigger since they tend to be juicier. There were a lot of carrots. Had I known the wing dish was so big, I wouldn't have ordered the fries (I left most of them).

After I ate, I moved to another table that had a big armchair so I could read, sip my beer and be comfy cozy.

Mickie's Pub on Urbanspoon

Kelowna, BC

I am conducting three enrolment seminars tomorrow in Kelowna and flew in this afternoon from Vancouver.

The car rental agency gave me a hybrid car. It's more complicated than driving a regular car. You have to put the square thing that acts as the key in a slot. Then you press on the brake and hit the big round "power" button" next to the steering wheel to get it going. When you want to shift gears, you press on the brake and hit the rectangular "P" button and shift with the little knob just below it.

I practiced a few times before I pulled out of the lot!

It was a lovely drive to my hotel as the mountains were on my left.

And here's my hotel room ... two beds just for me!

Since Gord loves blogging about different beer, I always bring him back beer when I go away. I went to Liquor Town and got him some local beer.

In Ontario, we are governed by the LCBO (Liquor Licensing Board of Ontario) ... Ontario doesn't allow such independent liquor stores.

Saturday 19 March 2011

White Spot, Burnaby, BC

We picked up Sam, Leanne's husband, and went to the White Spot in Burnaby (they live in Burnaby) for supper.

I hadn't eaten since 9am Toronto time (6am Vancouver time) and was STARVING!

I had the Legendary Buger (traditional 6 ounce beef burger with their signature Triple “O” sauce and tomato) and fries ... yum!

I'm not a fan of cole slaw so put it on a saucer.

I had the Hot Fudge Brownie (chocolate fudge brownie topped with creamy vanilla ice cream and triple thick hot fudge sauce) for dessert.

It was okay ... I ate it all!

Here are Leanne, Sam, Marron and Shirley when we left.