May 20, 2007

Investment Tip

Here's a pretty solid investment tip for you: check with me to see when I plan to visit Canada, then buy lots of Canadian dollars. In response to me buying a plane ticket to Toronto for next weekend, the Loonie hit a 30-year high.

Bonnie and I will be in Toronto from May 26 to 29, then in Montreal from May 29 to June 2. I told Bonnie I was a big shot in Canada, so my Canadian readers, plan a ticker tape parade for my arrival or have some Mounties meet us at the airport or something.

11:05 | Canada , Travel | Comments (0)

February 27, 2007

Springfield, OR

Here are a few street names in Portland, Oregon:


Bart Simpson

I think not.

21:51 | Entertainment , Travel | Comments (2)

January 28, 2007

I Don't Know, I'm Just The Bartender

I was in Portland this past weekend to see the Rat City (Seattle) Rollergirls play the Rose City (Portland) Rollers. It was a good game, Rose City gave the Seattle teams a run for their money. After the game, a few of us went to get a drink at the B-Side bar. In trying to order a beer, I somehow annoyed the bartender.

Bartender: "What can I get you?"
Me: (looking at the taps) "Um... what's that Roots beer?"
Bartender: "That's the Festivus."
Me: "What's that like?"
Bartender: "I don't know... I don't drink beer!"

Someone should teach this guy Sales 101: When a customer asks you what a certain product is like, you say it's great and recommend he order two.

22:59 | Travel | Comments (1)

January 4, 2007

Watch That Slice

One of the things I got to do in Toronto that I can't do in Seattle is get some good authentic Italian food. My Mom made her trademark lasagna, I went out for a veal sandwich and my Zia made cannelloni for Christmas dinner. But perhaps the most memorable was when my brother took me out for pizza.

Matt lives around the corner from Vesuvio's, a pizzeria that's been a Toronto fixture for decades. Behind the counter were two grizzled old Italian men, working the dough with their hands. I order a slice of veggie and a Brio Chinotto to wash it down. I took a bite and was blown away at how good this pizza was. Seattle's pizza scene doesn't compare. As I chewed my first bite, I examined the slice. Thin crust, a perfect amount of sauce, lots of vegetables, and... what vegetable is that? Why, it was a slice of pepperoni!

Veggie Pizza

The pizza (pepperoni and all) was delicious, and I would recommend it to any pizza lover visiting Toronto. Vegetarians be sure to check your slice before biting.

23:30 | Travel | Comments (2)

December 29, 2006

Wrapping Up My Trip

I fly back to Seattle tomorrow, ending another Christmas visit in Southern Ontario. I had a great time seeing friends and family (thanks again to everyone for hosting and coming out to see me). I got to see a little more of Toronto thanks to my brother who has a place in the Junction near Malta Village (I didn't even know Toronto has a Maltese population, let alone one large enough to necessitate their own village). I also spent a lot of my time eating, and I fear this distended belly of mine won't go away anytime soon (yes, the poutine was delicious).

My flight home should be enjoyable, thanks to all the DVDs I got for Christmas (Family Guy, SCTV, The Ben Stiller Show, Fargo). I'm sad to leave, but will be glad to get back to Seattle to spend New Year's with Bonnie and my Seattle friends.

17:24 | Travel | Comments (1)

December 18, 2006

Blogging in Toronto

Well, I made it to Toronto, finally. The crazy windstorms that hit Seattle on Thursday knocked out power to much of the Puget Sound area, and affecting the runway lights at Sea-Tac airport. We didn't leave Seattle until after 2:00am. My flight was delayed by two hours, which made me miss my connection in Chicago. Luckily, for once I wasn't screwed by an airline. I went to the customer service desk, swiped my credit card at a kiosk, and received a boarding pass for the next flight to Toronto (and a window seat to boot). Keep it up and I'll overlook the fact that you made the emergency exit seats "upgrades".

I'm sitting in a wifi-enabled Toronto coffee shop right now, blogging from my Macbook. (How did I get along so long without a laptop?)

Anyway, I'm staying with my brother for a few days and have time to hang out. Drop me a line.

18:10 | Travel | Comments (1)

December 9, 2006

Ontario For Xmas

Once again I'll be Ontario for Christmas this year. I'll be arriving on December 16, and leaving on the December 30 to spend New Year's in Seattle with Bonnie and friends. So send me an email if you want to meet up in Toronto for food and drinks!

While I'm back, I will try to indulge in all the wonderfully Canadian foodstuffs I can't get in Seattle, including (but not limited to):

16:09 | Travel | Comments (8)

July 18, 2006

Broke Even (Not Broke, Even) In Vegas

I got back from Vegas safe, unmarried and not broke. I won $135 on blackjack on Friday night and slowly lost it over the next two days, essentially breaking even. I stuck with blackjack mostly, but tried Pai Gow Poker (a great way to make $20 last an hour) and craps. It took me a couple rounds to figure out the jist of craps, but I think I can summarize it like this: you put money on the table, someone rolls dice, and then they take your money away. I'm a quick learner, and after dropping $40, realized I could skip the first step and save myself a lot of grief.

We stayed at the fabulous Tropicana Hotel on the strip, with an excellent view of the MGM Grand's video billboard advertising a Howie Mandel show. Between those ads and the ads for Carrot Top, it became clear that Vegas is the place where bad comedians go to die.

It was 115°F (46°C) the whole weekend, so we spent a good chunk of Saturday at the pool, drinking weak fruity drinks from plastic football-shaped jugs. We caught a "rock" show that night (note to producers of "Erocktica": the song "It's Getting Hot In Here" is not rock).

Sadly most of the fine establishments we patronized didn't allow photographs to be taken (I'm talking about the casinos, what were you thinking?), so I didn't end up taking many photos all weekend.

Overall, a great weekend of booze, gambling, my first steak dinner of 2006, and most importantly, no trips to the desert to bury a dead hooker.

07:20 | Travel | Comments (3)

July 13, 2006

100 Dollars On Black

Tomorrow I hop on a plane and leave overcast Seattle for fabulous Las Vegas to celebrate the last shreds of Shawn's bachelorhood. As some of my long-time readers (namely, my mom) may remember, I last took a trip to Vegas three years ago, and I'm expecting this experience to be a little more wild (despite the fact Siegfried and Roy are no longer performing).

Assuming I haven't hawked my plane ticket home, or drunkenly got married to a half-silicone waitress in a drive-thru chapel, I'll have a full report and photos early next week.

22:20 | Travel | Comments (1)

May 23, 2006

Back In Seattle

First off, I want to thank everyone who offered condolences and kind words about my grandmother's death. I appreciated them very much. The funeral was very nice, and it was great to see my friends and family (although I wish the circumstances were better). Once again, I was a pall bearer, and escorted Nonna's coffin down the same hallways I escorted Nonno's three years earlier. Once again, it was an honour, but it doesn't get any easier the second time. They will live on in our hearts and memories.

I'm back safe and sound in Seattle, although it was touch and go for a while. My visa expired in March of this year, and the lawyers here applied for an extension, which was approved just days before I found out I needed to leave the country. So I flew to Toronto with no documentation that I was allowed back in the US. Luckily the lawyers couriered the papers to me before my return flight. Despite being fully documented, the US Customs officer gave me a hard time about the way I filled out my customs form. I answered the question "Is this trip for business?" with a "No", since I figured I was going home to my place of residence. I didn't consider the fact I'd be working when I got there as the main reason for my trip to the US. Apparently this guy did, and referred me to an Immigration Officer, but not before insensitively grilling me on the details of my grandmother's death.

Thanks again to my parents for their hospitality; to my brother Matt for letting me crash on his couch and getting me out for karaoke (his rendition of Domo Arigato, Mr Roboto beat my Shock the Monkey hands down); to my sister for seeing me off at the gate; to Dav, Amit and Amy for inviting me out to the cottage (under other circumstances, I would have jumped at the opportunity); and to Bonnie for picking me up at the airport at the ungodly hour of 2:30am.

18:41 | Travel | Comments (1)

December 19, 2005

Random Thoughts In Toronto

Blogging this from an Internet cafe on Queen St while I wait for my brother to get off work and join me for some Korean BBQ. I'm staying at his apartment in the West end for a few days before doing the family thing at my parents' place in Brampton.

The flights here were fine, slight delays but thankfully uneventful.

The temperature has been overing just below freezing all day today. I've become so aclimatized to Seattle weather, that cold, dry Toronto feels so unfamiliar, not to mention the hard mounds of sand-encrusted snow and ice on sidewalks.

That's it for now. Time for some sweet sweet bulgogi.

14:03 | Travel | Comments (1)

September 25, 2005

...Back In The USA (For A While)

Yes, I'm back in Seattle. I encountered almost no trouble at all at US Immigration. The only small problem was that the blank I-94 cards weren't on the table where the immigration officer said they would be, so I asked the guy at the ticket counter who gave me an I-94W, but that was quickly remedied.

We had a good time in Vancouver. Ate some Indian food and some sushi. Saw Science World and a book festival.

Now that I have my I-94, I can proceed to the next step in acquiring a new passport: getting a guarantor to sign my application, then send off the application and my birth certificate to Québec for processing. That means no leaving the country until my new passport arrives (since I won't have any proof of citizenship... kind of nerve wracking actually).

23:32 | Travel | Comments (0)

September 23, 2005

Off To Canada...

Tomorrow I head out to the Great White North to spend the weekend in Vancouver. On Sunday I'll be coming back, and will hopefully get across the border with some replacement visa documents (that can only be obtained at border crossings). I'll be sure to give you all an update when I get back to my apartment, so if there's no entry by Monday, chances are my lack of passport presented a problem.

If anyone knows of any cheap hotels in Vancouver (just in case), let me know.

16:46 | Travel | Comments (0)

September 14, 2005

Must Leave Country

Ah, the joys of losing one's passport in a foreign country. To replace my I-94 card (a card that is stapled to my passport indicating my work status, date of entry, etc) which was lost along with my passport, I need to visit US Immigration by leaving the country, then coming back, all the while crossing my fingers that I'll be let back in.

So that means I'm planning a trip to beautiful Vancouver, BC next weekend, and who knows, maybe I'll be staying there a while... at least Timmy will be there to make me feel better.

07:38 | Travel | Comments (1)

July 17, 2005

Lasso The Blazing Head

A couple of weekends ago, T, Amanda and I met up with Pete in Vancouver.

We checked out the Aquarium, Chinatown, Granville Island and ate a lot of good food (including a Japanese-Tapas fusion restaurant's foie gras and unagi).

But my favourite sight was at the Templeton restaurant for breakfast. We were seated at a table which was decorated with old Wonder Woman comic panels. I took a picture of my favourite one: Wonder Woman trying to lasso a comet:

Wonder Woman lassoing a comet

10:04 | Travel

June 6, 2005

Black Tie Wedding

We just got back yesterday from a 3-day trip to Norfolk (pronouced Naw-fuck), Virginia as guests to Teresa's friend's wedding. It was a black tie affair, and very impressive. I had a blast, and will be posting stories and photos soon.

22:57 | Travel | Comments (2)

May 31, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend

Last weekend was Memorial Day here in the US. T and I spend our three-day weekend driving down the Oregon Coast. I'll post photos as soon as I sort through the 140 I took of Pacific waves crashing onto rocky cliffs, tide pools full of sea anemones, sand dunes bordered by evergreens and more!

22:56 | Travel | Comments (1)

January 24, 2005

Int'l Teriyaki

Walking around downtown Toronto with my brother this Christmas, I got to see parts of Toronto I never spent time in before. I was particularly impressed with Portuguese Village. Here in Seattle, we have a deceptively-named "International District" which is very multicultural... as long as the cultures are East Asian. Toronto's various ethnic districts seriously impressed me, and reminded me that although Seattle has a kick-ass Little Japan, there's sadly no Little Italy.

The weirdest thing I saw in Toronto's Portuguese Village was the unfortunately-named "Spic and Span Laundry". You would think that the owners would at least get their ethnic slurs straight.

22:40 | Travel | Comments (1)

January 3, 2005

A Return To Normalcy

Happy 2005 everyone!

Tomorrow I go back to work after two and a half weeks of vacation (ok, I did work from home today, but I stayed in my pyjamas until 2pm so it still felt like vacation).

December 17th until the 30th, I was in Southern Ontario visiting my family. My big (actually, it's quite small) Christmas gift this year was an iTrip FM transmitter for my iPod. Since I don't spend much time in the car I've rigged my alarm clock radio to wake me up to my own music. There are still some kinks to work out (waking up to Beethoven's 1st Symphony is not conducive to getting up on time), but I think this situation may just work. Anything to not wake up to morning personalities.

I spent my last week in Ontario staying in downtown Toronto at my brother's place. He took me out for some great food (including Ethiopian), and a trip to the AGO. It was also great to see friends and family I've neglected the past year.

I was back in my apartment for one night before heading off to Whidbey Island, to spend New Year's in a cabin with eight nine (sorry T) other people.

It was a great holiday, and I'll post some pics soon.

20:04 | Travel

December 19, 2004

First Weekend Back

Spent the weekend in fabulous Niagara Falls, Ontario with my family, and family friends. We stayed at the Embassy Suites, and got a fabulous view of the falls. We even stopped at the casino, where my brother won $150, and I stopped after losing $10. Walking passed the wax museums and Serial Killer tours on Clifton Hill, the city struck me like Las Vegas, only without the class.

I had a great time and am now back at my parents' place. I spent a few hours cleaning the last of the spyware and viruses off their computer, and am waiting until a technician comes tomorrow to look at the DSL connection. Until then, I'm on dial-up (the horror!), so blogging will relegated to the wee hours of the night, lest I tie up the phone lines and my parents miss important calls.

I'll probably be downtown visiting my brother tomorrow, and getting reacquainted with Toronto. Hopefully it will be a little warmer than the -20°C it was today.

20:46 | Travel

December 16, 2004

Best Laid Plans

And we thought we were so clever. Last night I packed up for my holiday trip home, knowing that I wouldn't have time to go home from work. The plan was to pack, load up T's car, then have her pick me up from work, grab a bite on the way to the airport then catch my flight. Sounds like a good plan, eh?

I woke up this morning (after one more snooze than usual), and groggily made myself some coffee. It was only after I the caffeine had made its way into my brain did I realize my luggage was still sitting in the bedroom. We had taken all this care to pack up the night before, but didn't put the luggage in the car.

New plan: I stay home and catch a shuttle to the airport. T could pick up food on the way to the airport, we would eat, then I would catch my flight. After a quick call to T and the office, I arranged to work from home (ah, the wonders of the Internet age), and we're set for our romantic good bye meal under the flight departures monitors.

I'll try to keep updating over the next two weeks. Happy holidays!

15:31 | Travel

December 2, 2004

Home Again, Home Again

I will be in Southern Ontario visiting my family from December 17 until December 30. Send me an email if you want to get together/party/shower me with gifts.

08:10 | Travel

November 11, 2004

Going Ape In Mexico

I'll be on blogging holiday for the next week as I celebrate the marriage of good friends Mark and Amy on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.

Not invited to the ceremony is Mark's former fiancée whom he left brokenhearted at the altar.

08:15 | Travel | Comments (1)

March 12, 2004

Gone Fishing

Gone to the San Juan islands for the weekend. I'll be back Monday with photos. No empty promises for write-ups this time.

08:00 | Travel

February 9, 2004

Monster Island Is Actually A Peninsula

Got back to Seattle last night from a weekend away on the Olympic Peninsula. I'll write up an account and post photos some time this week. Mountains, old-growth rainforest, glacial waters, Pacific Ocean, and killer beach logs (you'll see).

07:28 | Travel

December 29, 2003

Headin' South

Well my short vacation in Canada is over. I leave Tuesday morning to spend New Year's with Teresa in her native Virginia. I'll get to visit Washington DC and possibly get harassed by an air marshal on my way there.

It was great to see everyone while I was home (including fellow bloggers Ian, Dave and Ryan), and I apologize to those I didn't get to see (including fellow bloggers Rew, Pete and Rafi).

If you don't hear from me before then, have a happy New Year.

21:16 | Travel | Comments (3)

December 24, 2003

The Sweet Smell Of Salted Roads

I managed to sneak away from a fridge full of nog and 24 hours of A Christmas Story jot down a quick entry.

The flight home was (thankfully) uneventful. The flight to Pittsburg was overbooked, so they offered a free ticket to anyone willing to get bumped to another flight. I would have been all over that, except for the fact that the ticket was only good for domestic flights. Plus, who knows when I could be able to get connected to Toronto?

I caught a connecting flight in Pittsburg, where I sat beside the same person from the first flight. He's a Microsoft employee, a Waterloo grad, and his name is Chris. Freaky, eh?

It's been nice hanging out with family and friends, doing good deeds and drinking coffee. I'm a little disappointed with the lack of snow here. If I wanted rain, I'd have stayed in Seattle. Hopefully we'll get a white Christmas, for no other reason than consistency; I've enjoyed a white Christmas every year I can remember, even in Japan.

17:34 | Travel | Comments (1)

November 4, 2003

Weekend At Home

Got back to my apartment about 10:30 Sunday night, where I proceeded to have my first full night of uninterrupted sleep all weekend. The flights were blissfully uneventful, including my 6am to 9am layover in Detroit airport.

Friday night I went to my brother's place for a Halloween party. He was dressed as Vincent Van Gogh, complete with bandaged head and a bloody plastic ear he kept in his pocket. My costume? Well, it wasn't politically correct, and potentially offensive, so you can email me if you really want to know. I would hate to have certain defamation leagues shutting down my site.

Saturday night was Rick and Vanessa's wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony held at The McMichael Art Collection. We danced and drank surrounded by native, Inuit, and Group of Seven masterpieces. Everyone had a great time.

Unfortunately I didn't get to do everything I wanted to, or see everyone I promised to (sorry Ian, Rew), but it was good to see those I did.

07:09 | Travel

January 25, 2003

Aviation and Transportation Security

My luggage arrived at my doorstep at around 10:30 last night, a little dirty, but thankfully in one piece. God only knows what horrors it has seen deep in the bowels of the O'Hare airport baggage center.

On my way to Seattle, I had locked my bag with one of those tiny useless locks the luggage came with. When I collected my bag in Seattle, the lock was gone, and the zipper fastened with a plastic tie. When I got to my hotel, I cut the tie and found a pamphlet inside, from my good friends at US Customs. It quoted Section 110(b) of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, which gave customs inspectors the right to inspect luggage and relieved them of liability if your lock happened to get cut off in the process.

I have no problem with this law (most likely passed after Sept 11), but I can't help wonder why the inspectors had to cut the lock off. You would think they would each have a key to use, since these locks all take the same key (the lock mechanism is so simple that staring hard enough at it would cause it to pop open). They didn't even give the lock back, not that I'm that upset.

Maybe next time I go flying, I'll pack my bag full of those paper snakes you get in the fake peanut brittle cans, and give the inspectors a little treat. They'll be so pleased, they'll have a special treat for me too: a full body-cavity search!

00:00 | Travel

April 26, 2002

Room For One More

I fly out tomorrow. I was feeling pretty confident until I watched the Twilight Zone last night. It was about a woman who had a recurring dream about a nurse luring her into the morgue and saying "Room for one more, honey." The woman then had to take a flight somewhere and when she was about to board the plane, the stewardess said "Room for one more, honey." The woman then screamed and ran away before the plane took off. The woman watched from the airport window as the plane took off and promptly blew up.

Not that I'm worried or anything.

00:00 | Travel