Friday, December 31, 2010

The bowl runneth over

The Captain crawls out of the bowl into a dish.

I made some fried rice and while getting the hamster it's food went back to the table to find the hamster had gotten into my bowl of food. I had eaten most of it by the time the hamster crawled in.

So instead of feeding the usual peanut shaped hamster vittles I added some more fried rice to a dish and took photos as the hamster cleaned off the plate.

Finishing off the fried rice sample.

Out with the old...

...and out with the really old.

Boxes and boxes of Laserdiscs.

There are people that say that in order let something new into your life, one has to make room by getting rid of things. Weather it's letting go of something emotionally or getting rid of something physically I suppose this all makes sense. After all, getting a tank of fish is easier after you got rid of the pesky neighbour's cat. You could have both but it might prove problematic in the long run.

As 2010 comes to a close and the time do another apartment move draws near, my motivation for making that move easier has been increasing exponentially as the date approaches. This will be the tenth move since moving out of the parents place, oh, so long ago.

A few months ago (ie. When I moved in to the current apartment) I came to the realization that I had boxes of stuff that I hadn't unpacked from the last move, the move before that, and the move before that move. Some of the boxes were falling apart and I had to move the contents of the crumbly box into a new box. This is when I realized I had a C manual for version 6, 5 and 4 taking up space. If I recycled these books a while ago, along with a whole bunch of other used items, I could have saved space and the energy it took to move them.

The real back breaker as far as moving goes, and I have friends, maybe ex-friends, that will attest to this, is my laserdisc collection. These discs represent all that is unholy when getting friends to help move. It wouldn't be so bad if "we" didn't have to lug all those suckers around. The nearly 800 reflective silver record sized objects takes up about 10 boxes with the average box weighing 65 pounds (approx 30 kilos). It's a frightening thought for anyone about to move.

Moving them along a flat terrain isn't so bad if you don't have to bend down to pick them up or put them down, but I live in a place with stairs. Not just stairs but narrow stairs. Narrow enough that if you're carrying a box, you've got a 75% chance that you'll mash your fingers between carrying the box and into the wall, all while trying to squeeze up to the top hallway. Moving, yeah, hate it.

I told myself that if I had to move out to some other rental place I would unload the boxes of stuff I don't need. Today that's what I've started to do. It's always dangerous opening boxes you haven't looked in for years. There's the risk that you'll start to reminisce or decide you don't want to throw something away.

I started going through the discs to see if there were any real keepers (mistake #1). Mainly stuff that I don't have on DVD or something so rare that it would be worth keeping (along with a player - mistake #2). I have a Japanese disc of the Yamato animated series, It's number 15. I don't have any of the other volumes. There's also the Star Wars Definitive Collection. While it's a bit water damaged, thanks to some jerk I lent it to, it's the three Star Wars movies (the good ones) in CAV format, spanning nine discs, plus a hard cover book. Back in the day I paid $270 for it. $30 off regular price! You can probably get it on eBay now for $30. Ugh! If it wasn't for watching the movies 150 times, I might have been better off investing in 8 track tapes.

The Tron Box set liner notes.

In some ways I feel like one of those record collectors when CDs came out. The large packaging allowed for not only the discs but sometimes books, CDs, and liner notes. The Tron box set (which was around $180.00 at the time) had some liner notes (see above). It was all very nice looking. It also was a movie with directors commentary. This was an awesome feature for movie buffs at the time because VHS and BETA tapes only had one audio track. We take this for granted now on DVDs.

Before DVDs, cool movie people could buy laserdiscs at average record stores.

Not all laserdiscs were expensive. As you can see "The Man Called Flintstone" was $17.99. They got cheaper as the DVDs started taking their place on the store shelves. At one point i was buying them from Ken Crane's online store for $3.00 each. Some were good and some were pretty crappy. Cheaper than a rental though.

Of course collecting them for 6 years adds up. Kind of like cigarettes without the smoke. They did keep me entertained all those long sleepless nights doing visual effects work and some were great reference material that I could go over and over again to. That was worth having them right there.

I'm going to miss them.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Six Year Anniversary

This photo really has nothing to do with this blog entry other than Captain Hill was doing this while I was writing.

It's not that the number six had any significance that created the theme for this blog entry, it's that I actually noticed the anniversary and remembered to blab about it. It would have been more significant if I talked about the fifth year anniversary last year (five seems more significant for some reason to me) but I was busy at the time. Last year I was probably figuring out how to move all my stuff/junk to transfer to my current apartment.

Some things don't change. Year to year, around the month of January I always wonder how I'm going to get by. Something always throws me a curve ball (or fires a bullet) at me and every year I've managed to dodge that bullet and seem to come out for the most part unscathed (also documented, in at least the last five).

This time, this January, a few things are coming into play. While none of them seem that great at this moment, just like in previous years, things will turn out alright. This is what's going through my head right now. It's like thinking about the pain of going to the dentist to get a wisdom tooth out.

The plus side is that I'm not entirely stressed. No acid reflux. Probably because I've been in worse situations or at least similar situations before. I'm not concentrating on going to the dentist and the pain that will occur (although to be fair my dentist is pretty amazing at non pain giving work), I'm concentrating on leaving the dentist's office and being able to eat again and enjoy it. It's falling into an abyss, it's marching towards it with purpose.

Life can be compared to a model walking along a catwalk. There will be a point that the model will fall down. As a model it's easy to do, the floors are generally slippery and the designers make the model wear shoes that don't always fit her feet. This gives to a high probability, if not certainty, the model will fall.

Life is the same way. You will fall down, fail, and even get beaten down to the ground to a point you won't want to get up or not even know how. Everyone fails and there will be times that your best isn't good enough. It's a fact.

It's times like this where I think about my FAB Fashion Editor, Max Macdonald, commenting on the model that just did the banana peel slip, land on her butt, hit her head, wipe out. "It's not how they fall, It's how they recover."

Sure enough the model in question at the time, got up, threw her overly sized shoes to the end of the catwalk, and kept walking toward the camera pit. She was applauded not only by the audience by also by some of the photographers (the ones that were in between taking photos of her). She could have started sobbing or even ran away but no she stood up, with confidence, and did her job. It was definitely something inspiring to see.

To be an optimist, when one really thinks about it, being at a low point not only makes you appreciate the high points, it also shows you the person you really are and maybe more importantly where you can improve yourself.

Of course you may not feel like this is a good thing at the time. Your thought of personal betterment might be overwhelmed by the thought of being stuck in that low, dark, place. Stop thinking of the pain and concentrate more on the leaving of the dentist's office and being able to enjoy that toasted bagel with salmon lox and cream cheese.

Heck, I'm not only going into the abyss but I'm marching right in and marching right out yelling and screaming "Victory!". (insert exclamation of colorful metaphor and fist pump action here for emphasis)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Inspector Coconut Day Three

Inspector Coconut with today's paper.

13:20 - showed up at the house to take photo of Inspector Coconut with today's paper.

I didn't spend as much time at the house today as the allergies started kicking in quicker today than the other days. The cat seemed more content today that the last few. More prone to purring.

Cat food.

Adrienne's mail on the stairs.

Hilary's mail on desk.

Hey, there's another bowl full of food.

Although there was an incident in the upper hallway. While petting the cat with my foot the cat rolled over exposing it's belly. I should have paid heed to the Oatmeal as there was murder in the eyes of Coconut and not empathy as my foot became a claw pin cushion. After being released I went downstairs leaving the cat upstairs.

Inspector coconut on the top of the stairs.

Ted's mail on coffee table.

Inspector Coconut on Hilary's chair.

Before leaving the house I checked to see what the cat was up to. The subject was lying on Hilary's chair upstairs. A bit of petting and wheezing later I left the house.

14:30 - left house.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Inspector Coconut Day Two

Today's paper.

9:48 - showed up early. Between the creaky door at home and Captain Hill making noise I woke up early. Subject greeted me at the door and walked me to the food container.

12:42 - found the subject at the top of the stair case.

12:45 - went to pet subject. Subject curled up and started purring.

13:26 - went back to check on subject. Subject was in a playful mood. Started batting the camera with it's paw.

Stayed around to program and nap on the couch.

16:20 - left house

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Inspector Coconut Day One

Inspector Coconut with today's Toronto Star

14:00 - subject seemed happy to see a human enter it's dwelling. Like most cats, Inspector Coconut started purring when I approached the food bag. The cat food measuring cup seems to have disappeared. Had to eyeball food amount.

"Why are you not petting me?"

Note: Subject requires petting to eat. Experimented with petting and non-petting while subject ingested food. Petting really does encourage subject to eat.

17:00 - woke up from napping on the couch. Sun's gone down. Located subject in window. I think the subject misses the people in the house. Subject was meowing that "I miss people" meow.

18:00 - after working a bit on the laptop I noticed that the cat had disappeared. After an exhaustive search around the house found the subject sleeping under the covers of this bed...

note to other cat carer: look under sheets if subject goes missing

18:30 - left the house.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pirogie Night in Canada

My first homemade perogie.

I've been craving perogies (pirogies) for the last little while. I saw a sign that had "Pirogie Night in Canada" on it a while ago and for the life of me can't seem to find the photo I took of it. But obviously it stuck and it got me to research various perogie recipes online. After a bit of experimenting, the recipe below is what I've come up with.

When broken down the perogie is basically mashed potato in a dough wrapper. You can buy them at a grocery store for only a few dollars a bag. Should you be located in the world where these things don't come easily, or you want to make them yourself from scratch to fully appreciate them read on for my recipe in this blog entry.

The last few days I've been perfecting my technique on the creation of pirogies. This got me out today looking for a cookie cutter that would allow me to cut dough to the size of a dumping mold I got a few years ago.

NOTE: You don't need a dumpling mold or a specific cookie cutter.

You can use a cup or glass as the cookie cutter and your hands to fold the dough wrapper. However, since I'm a fan of food automation and like the idea that making food can take less time than actually eating the food I use a cookie cutter and mold. Part of that could also be that I just like kitchen gadgets.

The dumpling mold and the cookie cutter.

To help avoid confusion I've broken down my recipe into two sections, the wrapper dough and the filling. When shopping for ingredients make sure you look at both lists otherwise you may forget some food items and have to go out again.

Also it helps to have some kind of automated mixer perhaps with a J hook specifically for dough. You can mix with a wooden spoon in a bowl but it'll take some work.

Gear Used
  • frying pan (for onions, and cooking pirogies)
  • pot (that can hold at least 5 potatoes, for cooking potatoes and/or boiling perogies)
  • mixing bowl (for making dough)
  • bowl (for holding cheese, can later be used to hold mashed potato mixture)
  • container (for refrigerating dough)
  • container (for made dumplings)
  • mixer (for dough) or wooden spoon
  • knife (for cutting potatoes, cheese)
  • measuring cup
  • cheese shredder
  • cutting board
  • cookie cutter
  • dumpling mold

The Wrapper: Ingredients
  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of sour cream

cut up the 1/2 cup of butter into small chunks
place all ingredients in bowl and mix.
Place dough mixture into the refrigerator to let butter harden (could be 30 minutes or over night or while you are making the filling).

The results of the mixed ingredients should look something like this

The Filling: Ingredients
  • 5 potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 1/2 cup of cheese (does not have to be cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter (or to taste)

take cheese and shred into a bowl.

cut up the onions.
place in a frying pan with butter.
cook until onions are translucent.

Wash potatoes, peel them, then chop them up into small cubes (1 cm cubed is good).
Place in pot, add water so the potato cubes are submerged.
Place on stove and cook until potatoes become soft.
Drain out water.
Mash potatoes.

add the bowl of cheese and the frying pan of onions.
mix on low heat until cheese is melted.

Altogether now

Cutting the dumpling wrapper.

Take the wrapper dough out of the refrigerator.
Use a rolling pin to flatten. If dough is sticking to everything lightly add more flour to surface of dough.
Cut out dough circles using the cookie cutter (or cup).
Place a teaspoon (or approx 1 inch ball) of filling into wrapper and seal.
Repeat until you're out of filling or wrapper dough.

You should get something like this.

The time consuming part is now done. Now the easy part, the cooking of the perogies. There are two methods.

Method 1: Boiling

The first method is to boil the perogies in water. You know when they're done when they float up to the surface. I have not actually done this so you're on your own here.

Method 2: Pan Fry

I love crunchy food so this is the cooking method I've selected. Add butter to the frying pan until it's melted, then add the perogies until they're brown on both sides. (it took about 7 minutes per side on my stove top). You'll note that the perogie side being cooked becomes hard (but not black) and crunchy when it's done. When it is, flip over and repeat until the other side is the same.


I like sour cream on my perogies with chopped chives maybe even bacon and more fried onions. I've also eaten them with mayonnaise when there was no sour cream to be found. I realize this borderlines eating like a college student, but you've got to do what you've got to do.

Friday, December 17, 2010

TRON Legacy

Greetings Program!

This week has been pretty terrible. No work and the job I had booked Thursday, today, was cancelled at the last minute. On top of that, I had passed up a paying photo gig that fell into my lap after I was booked for today's cancelled gig. I couldn't do both so I had to decline. So a big 'boo' to that.

The highlight today, of this week, was meeting up with some friends from Hamilton to see Tron Legacy. They drove into Toronto (this was good because I had used the last of the change in my change jar to buy the movie ticket).

Without wrecking or giving away anything I have to say that this movie made my week. For about two hours I was reintroduced to a world that had been upgraded, while still reminiscent of the old one introduced to us back in 1982. The Tron of yesteryear had reinforced the computer animation programmer in me (pre Amiga days) and ultimately resulted in getting into visual effects. It was a nice two hour escape.

This fan is AWESOME!!!!

What was really awesome was seeing this fan in a homemade suit (I liked the fact that the slurpee was color coordinated with the lit blue stripes). It's been a while since I've been at a Premiere where someone was dressed up. The last movie was probably the Phantom Menace. After that nothing. Geeks are awesome! Being surrounded by them you could feel the giddiness fill the room when the game warriors showed... I'll stop there.

So Tron... YES!! and hooray for (geeky) friends!!!

I say "Go see the movie."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Space Pod One

The hamster habitat (aka Space Station One)

Up until now I hadn't really taken the time to photograph the hamster in her environment. That is I've taken photos with bad tungsten low level lighting but no photos that were crisp with nice lighting. I wanted a photo to show people what the configuration of the cage was as well as the cage itself.

I transported the hamster and her habitrail to the basement where I set up some black material as a backdrop (It really makes the cage look like it's in space). Then with the limited space I positioned the lights and took some photos. What follows are the results...

"I smell a raisin."

"Uh, hey hello... food bowl... empty... could you get on that?"

Captain Hill in her sleeping pod.

Sitting in the food bowl.

In the observation deck.

until next time...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Olive Oil

I recorded Dolores giving a speech about olive oil at the Spoke club the other night using my fuji W1. Since then I burnt the video clip to CD and today I finally met up with her to give her the file. As a thank you she gave me a bottle of Full Moon olive oil from Spain. It's ranked some where in the top 13 out of 100 olive oils that were submitted in the Swiss gourmet food show. I say one of the top 13 because Dolores entered a few different olive oils and they all made it within the top 13, So Full Moon could have been 1, it could have been 13, or somewhere in between.

It was quite a nice gift and while I'm thinking about how to use the olive oil properly I thought I'd take photos of the bottle. It's square and cool looking. After all you can't just throw the olive oil into a stir fry or salad that mixes flavours. At least not the first time you try it. You've got to have a dish where you can actually savour the flavour and taste it by itself.

Someone had suggested pouring some of the olive oil on a plate and then tasting in on a nice piece of freshly baked french bread. Yes, that sounds quite yummy.