What Does This Mean?

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I cannot say with absolute certainty that the kitchen (dining area/kitchenette) of an ESL school is any different than the equivalent room in any other office space. There are lots of objects that are common to both.  I am sure that cutlery disappears with equal frequency.  However, I have the gut feeling that it is different.

The ESL eating area is not packed with nicely co-ordinated, store bought, dishes and plates. Even calling it a ragtag collection of dishes, cups, and disappearing utensils doesn’t seem to measure up.  If I were to characterize it, I would call it a dumping ground for non-offensive kitsch from all over the world.  Often students bring us souvenirs, or departing teacher’s leave things behind that they acquired from students, or in their travels.

Today, as I was cleaning up my coffee cup I spotted the cup above in the drain rack and decided to take a look. I was a little confused by the message and I hope you can clear it up for me.

You see, I had two conflicting thoughts about the cup’s message. Does it mean:

  1.  Hey USA! Go out and discover the world around you. Go see that there is beauty beyond your boarders and ideas beyond your thinking.
  2. The world is in the USA.
  3.  Something completely different but unclear to me.

I am a big believer in travel and exploration. There is a great big world of ideas out there that we need to see and experience.  So, I am hoping it is the first idea that it is trying to get across.

I polled all the teachers I could and more than 90% thought it was the second one.

I have no idea, but I need to mull it over. I would be happy to receive your input.

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The other funny thing is that the back of the cup is written in Spanish and conveys a completely different idea–something like, we travel to change not our place but our ideas.

That’s a pretty cool thought.

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Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, coffee, ESL, gifts, souvenirs, students | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Adding a Book to the Collection

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I don’t buy a lot of books for myself. I tend to take advantage of the free library that my town has, as well as the fact that getting loans from other libraries is always possible.  In addition to that, they have e-books that I can download to my e-reader from the convenience of my own home.

However, when I was looking for a book to give my Dad as part of his Father’s day present, I came across a book I have wanted to own for some time. It was a hardcover edition of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.  I have read the book multiple times and even read the fantastic companion book Everybody Behaves Badly by Lesley Blume.  I enjoy the story and even Hemingway’s economy with words.

I purchased the book along with a collection of the works of Rene Magritte.  Just finding them at a reasonable price could be considered Today’s perfect Moment.  Making a quick decision to purchase them (I almost wrote a quick and decisive decision) was also pretty good.  Though in the end, adding them to my collection permanently is what I am settling on.

It was in the discount bin and seems to have been produced specifically for the bookstore. I guess the book is in the public domain and anyone can put out an edition.  This edition features good paper, a decent font, an integral bookmark, but very little else.  There isn’t even any biographical information or author’s photo.  Granted I don’t really need these things, but I would like a bit more.

One of my favourite book editions is the Oxford World Classics edition of the Three Musketeers. The notes and other contextual information are fantastic and enlightening.  I wish this edition were more like that.  If I could have an edition like that in hardcover, that would be awesome.

I am not unhappy with my edition, but it isn’t quite what I was expecting. I may have to search for something else.  A fantastic edition of this book must exist.

Is there a book, or book edition you really want? What’s stopping you from getting it?  Also, if you know of the best edition of this book, please share it with me.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, books, bookstore, collecting, e-book, library, reading, shopping, store | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Champions Day

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Today was the Raptor’s celebration parade. I couldn’t go, but that didn’t stop me from getting a taste of what was happening.

My bus seemed more crowded than usual. I didn’t really put two and two together until I realized, as the bus was emptying out at the terminal, that the majority of the people were wearing some kind of Raptors shirt or cap.  I was subconsciously counting them when it hit me.

In the subway station, there were lots of people milling around, looking like they had never taken a subway before. If it weren’t for the fact that it wasn’t the second week of September and I didn’t already know what was going on, I would have thought that a new school year had begun.

There was a definite upbeat mood on the subway and on the platforms. Canadians, in general, sometimes don’t talk to people not because they don’t want to, bur rather, because they don’t want to disturb someone.  There was a lot of that going on this morning on public transportation.  The only difference was the smiles on people’s faces.

I heard that the public transportation was really crowded and that some stops had to be bypassed.  I heard that some people grumbled, but what is one day of inconvenience for the Champions?  Besides, construction makes things so much worse, but that goes on unabated.

Several of my students missed class to see the parade. I don’t know how close they got because the footage I saw seemed to be a huge mass of humanity and I don’t know how anyone who didn’t camp overnight was going to see anything.

I watched some of it on TV and thought it was amazing. Sadly, I heard that it wasn’t all the perfect dream of peace and celebration.  Apparently someone got shot.  Thankfully no one died, but I would have loved if this celebration could be a positive, non riot model that other ones in the future could be modeled on.

Thank you Raptors. You brought sporting pride to the city, and you did it with quite a bit of class.  Thank you.

Posted in accomplishment, achievement, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, Canadian, championship, inconvenience, parade, police, preparation, public transportation, smile, sports, Toronto, Toronto Raptors, transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Father’s Day

It should come as no surprise that Today’s Perfect Moment comes from Father’s day. Most of the clan gathered at my father’s house, hopefully having already done the festivities with their own kids.

My younger sister made chicken paprikash (I am only guessing at the spelling) as this was a dish his mother made for him. She did an admirable job and it was quite tasty.

My brother regaled us with tales of current role as manager of his son’s tee ball team. I had no idea a sport meant to be stress free for the children created a ton of stress for the parents involved.

One of my older sisters was able to give me the lowdown on the trials and tribulations of an LCBO (liquor control board of Ontario) employee.  There seems to be so much that we the public have no idea about.

My young niece and nephews were all in fine form. They seemed happy for the attention and happy to play with each other.  They were both shy and camera hogs depending on the whim of the moment.

It was a warm day that we could spend outside, so we did. We spent the afternoon eating, drinking, and firing topics back and forth.  It was as funny as it was informative.  It was perfect.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, beer, celebration, comfort food, ethnic food, Father's Day, food, food blogging, gifts, presents | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Stronger and Faster

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I nervously checked the weather report before I went to sleep. I checked it again when I got up to feed the cat.  I checked it half an hour later when I actually got up.  I think I was trying to convince myself that it was okay to sleep in and miss the ride because it was going to rain.

Somehow, I was able to overcome the pull of the bed and actually get myself to the meeting point. I do need rest, but I know all to well that momentum is everything in exercise.  Missing a day can easily result in missing a week.  For my cycling, I haven’t been able to make the Tuesday rides I especially joined a different group to do.  Yeah, I have legitimate excuses, but I think I could try harder.

We had a new meeting point this week because our regular meeting point was being used as the staging area for the Newmarket Pride Parade. As I passed some of the cordoned off roads and police trucks (that seems to be the new thing) I hoped that the rain would not spoil the event.

Our new meeting point was the Newmarket Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind this being the regular meeting point.  It’s about the same distance of travel for me, but the setting is a bit more serene.

Most of the Eagles have taken possession of their new kit. It looks pretty good.  I briefly had a twinge of regret over not purchasing it, but that was hardly my fault.  (Read about it here).  One of the members called me out on it–and that is why I am not in the picture.  He might have been joking, but I had to relate the whole story again and I was less than amused.

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The ride itself was good. We had a tailwind to start off and we set a great pace.  I haven’t looked at the Strava data, but I am pretty sure I have some fast segments.  I felt stronger and obviously the training is paying off. As a group we held formation quite well until we turned back and faced a brutal headwind.  Just like the pros, our group splintered a bit.  However, we did slow down for each other as a Group C ride is not about dropping people.

One interesting thing is that on the way out, we made every light and rarely had to wait. It was incredible.  I attribute this to the luck of a new member named Liza.  I have no way of knowing for sure except that when I left the group to head home, I had to face the headwind by myself and I hit every single stoplight.  As for the headwind, I managed it okay, but I was absolutely spent by the time I got home I don’t even know how I have the energy to type this.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, cycling, cycling gear, group rides, Newmarket Eagles, Saturday morning, self improvement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Beer

I was walking toward the subway station when I spotted some young campaign women on the corner handing out something. Owing to ongoing construction and a reduction in public space thanks to additions to the building, this has been a rare sighting.  In the past I have received cookies, pizza, crackers, tennis balls, subway tokens, five dollar gift cards to the book store, a blanket that my cat adopted as his own, gardening gloves, and a very small McSteamy/McDreamy T-shirt.

As I approached them, they asked if I would like a beer. I answered yes, and they gave me one.  That’s right, free beer.  Since drinking outside is illegal (though smoking pot is okay) I wasn’t really prepared for the promotion or maybe because I was really tired and not paying as much attention to my surroundings as I should have been.  I should have said that I needed two as I do not like to drink alone.  Quite a few people did not accept the beer.  I suppose had I been charming and smiled a lot, I could have had four.

Even though the Raptors are on, I cannot give you a full beer review at this time.  I am too tired and I do not want to write something I cannot fully support.

Sometimes I have to dig deep for Today’s Perfect Moment. Sometimes, I need quite a bit of reflection before making my decision.  Today was not one of those days.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, basketball, beer, free stuff, marijuana, review, Toronto, Toronto Raptors, Yonge and Eglinton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When One Receives a Lunch

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I don’t know whether it is a universal truth, but I tend to think food made by other people–and I am not talking about restaurants, though it is sometimes the case, but also sometimes not–tastes better than food you make yourself.

Today’s Perfect Moment is a case in point. Someone offered to bring me lunch today.  Actually, they offered to bring me lunch on Tuesday, but Wednesday seemed like a better day.  After a few polite refusals (maybe I just made them in my head.  I am not really sure) I gladly accepted.

What I got were a nice assortment of stuffed peppers and stuffed eggplant. I should also remark that this is not something I would have ever made for myself, and would never have taken for lunch.  However, I can confirm what most of you already suspect, it was delicious.

I remember going for dinner at a friend’s house. He wasn’t particularly fond of his wife’s cooking and his biggest complaint was that she “didn’t put any love into the food.”  As only seems fair after a comment like that, this often led to him cooking and most people who ate it commented that he didn’t put a lot of skill into his cooking.

Take that however you want, but my lunch tasted good. It also ended with a wonderful dessert of one sliver of a kitkat–eaten the proper way.  My lunch companion, and preparer of the meal, perhaps in an attempt to push my buttons, ate the last two sticks of a kitkat by biting into both sticks at once–I know, completely the wrong way.

After reading this post, I don’t want you to think that I am a terrible cook. I am no Iron Chef, but I can make a few edible things.  When it comes to lunch at work, I prefer my low carb option of salad with chicken, or my high carb option of a delicious and lovingly made sandwich.

I may have to do some rethinking.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, comfort food, cooking, eating, efficiency, ethnic food, food, food blogging, kit kat, lunch, sandwich | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Connection Magic

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I have a confession to make. I don’t use any transportation apps.  I commute every work day without checking to see if the bus is coming.  I expect it to come around the same time every day and leave my house accordingly.  Sometimes, I end  up waiting five or more minutes, sometimes I have to sprint for the bus, and very occasionally, I miss it completely.  I just don’t check my phone before I leave.

With that in mind, I have to tell you about Today’s Perfect Moment. When I left work (early for a change) I knew I had a rather longer commute than usual.  I had a follow up appointment and decided to continue on the bus to the destination rather than stop, get my car, and pay for parking.  On paper, this was a no-brainer.  It meant continuing on my normal bus for a few extra minutes and taking one other bus the rest of the way.

When changing from one transport to another, there is usually wait time involved. Whenever I normally finish work, I get on the subway (after negotiating a three-street-cross as opposed to one until the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown is done) and have to transfer to a bus at Finch station.  Sometimes I can wait fifteen minutes for a bus–sometimes longer if it is late at night and I have stayed late to go out for drinks with my best friends Chris and Brian.  Adding another bus transfer could mean waiting.

That’s where Today’s Perfect Moment comes in. You see, I hit every connection almost perfectly.  Nearing the subway, all the lights in my three-street-cross turned green as I approached them.  The subway arrived just as I got to the platform level.  When I emerged from the underground to take the bus, it was there waiting for me.  When I transferred to the final bus, it too arrived just after I got off my first bus.  I made it to my appointment with lots of time to spare.

I hit every connection perfectly. Speaking as someone who has often had to wait around for a long time for bus, trains, planes, and rides to and from baseball games, hitting every connection feels great.  It feels like the system is working for you and not against you.  It feels like the universe is in line.  If that isn’t a Perfect Moment, I do not know what is.

I wasn’t as lucky on my way back, but that is to be expected.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bus, commuting, organization, phone apps, public transportation, subway, trains, Viva, York Region | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rain on my Awning

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It should come as no surprise that weather is fickle. However, based on the fact that my students complain about it as much as they do, and that they spend an inordinate amount of time telling me that the weather is very predictable in their countries–they use words like absolutely and definitely, but I just can’t bring myself to write that down–perhaps this is a surprise.

As for weather consistency, that isn’t the way things work in my part of Canada, and probably in all parts of the Great White North.  I can see my students’ point.  If I cannot accept weather as a consistent, why would they accept it as completely inconsistent?

What has sparked this rumination? The beautiful summer day that was Sunday, has given way to a rainy Monday.  Yes, there are moments of sunshine, and moments when the wind isn’t so chilly.

As for me, I accept it as it is. I listen as the rain drops make unclear music on my awning.  With the window open to take advantage of the slightly less chilly weather, I can hear it as clearly as the birds chirping.  It’s almost rhythmic sounds lulling me to sleep.  The landscape, so green now, is getting a good scrub.  On a day when I didn’t have to work, it certainly is Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in acceptance, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, complaints, rain, rant, weather | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We the North

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The TV is all about the Raptors today. Basketball fever has well and truly taken hold of Toronto, and likely Canada.  Tonight the Raptor have a chance at the championship.

I am not a huge basketball fan, but I have enjoyed the ride like many other bandwagon jumpers. I haven’t watched many of the games–often tuning in late to see how it ends, but I have enjoyed what I have seen.

It has also been nice to see how basketball fandom is represented in Toronto.  It has a wider, more demographically diverse appeal than hockey.  It also seems to bring out a louder crowd.

Much of the non game discussion has centred around these things. Of course, it has also created a cry for a second Canadian NBA team.  Since we already had one and lost it, I don’t know if and when market conditions will favour us getting another one.  Also, when they analyze the TV ratings south of the border, where the lucrative TV contracts come from, we might not fare so well.  However, if it helps grow the game north of the border, that is a good thing.

When the team started, I was living in Japan.  I came home at Christmas and snagged a T-shirt (which I still have) featuring a cute dinosaur figure.  I have to say the evolution of the clawed basketball and the incredible “We the North” slogan has been incredible.  I don’t know if there is a better slogan anywhere.

For all the fans who were there at the beginning, this popularity might make them a bit upset, but they should enjoy it and not worry.  After all, growing the fan-base was always the intention.  Getting a winner on the court was always the intention.  Getting more and more people involved was always the intention.

Go Raptors! We the North!

Posted in adversity, appreciation, Aspirations, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, authentic, basketball, NBA, sports, Toronto, Toronto Raptors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments