Thought For The Day

January 26, 2009


Welcome To The Ox!

January 26, 2009


Today is the first day of the Year of the Ox, my birth sign.  I’m looking forward to next weekend’s parade in Chinatown.

Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

January 25, 2009

In March last year I wrote a piece about the Spring basho that was headlined: “The Champ Is Back“.  It chronicled yokozuna Asashoryu’s return from a dying career to oust the upstart yokozuna Hakuho and win his 22nd Emperor’s Cup.  Last night, at the end of the Winter basho, the same story unfolded.  Asashoryu had failed to finish the last three basho and all the talk was of retirement once again.  But he came back and beat all-comers.   In a winner-take-all playoff on the final night, Asashoryu dominated the younger champion, winning easily.  Just like last year, Asashoryu punched the air in triumph as Hakuho scowled off the doryo.


It was a wonderful moment (at least for those of us who support Asa against Hakuho) and it topped a fascinating tournament.  Everyone seemed so serious this time, matches were hard fought and losses taken badly.  All the ozeki’s had winning records (other than Kotomitskui who was injured), including our guy Haramafuji who overcame a dreadful 0-4 start.

The gentle Estonian giant sekiwake Baruto was a winner, as was komusubi Kisenasato.   But the two other senior rikishi were injured in bouts with Asashoryu.   When the big guy goes for something, he really goes for it.

An absorbing tournament.  Hopefully it is a sign of a good year to come in sumo.

Small Spaces

January 25, 2009

For a decade, I have written about people living in small spaces:  a couple who live on their balcony; a street person who makes a home in a doorway, for example.  My stories, and plans for more, are filled with the ingenuity required to live in such tight spots.  But nothing I had fantasized about prepared me for the real-life inventiveness of Gary Chang in Hong Kong as told in this fascinating piece from the New York Times.

Chang has managed to cram 24 different floor plans into his tiny 344 square foot apartment.


Using shifting wall units suspended from steel tracks bolted into the ceiling, the apartment becomes all manner of spaces — kitchen, library, laundry room, dressing room, a lounge with a hammock, an enclosed dining area and a wet bar.


In the last two decades, he has renovated four times, on progressively bigger budgets as his company, Edge Design Institute, has grown. His latest effort, which took a year and cost just over $218,000, he calls the “Domestic Transformer.”

Incredible ingenuity.  I couldn’t possibly live in it, but I appreciate the design skills that have brought it about.

Vancouver’s Fog

January 20, 2009

Over the last few days, we have experienced very heavy fog.  Sometimes it lasts all day.  It makes for treacherous driving, but …


… what an incredible view!

This was apparently taken at 6am today from Cypress Mountain on Vancouver’s North Shore, looking down onto the city.  I am actively seeking the name of the photographer so that I can give proper credit (it seems to be a friend of a friend of a friend); but I did want to share this as soon as possible.


Update:   With heavy legwork by commenter Derek Miller, we can now suggest that this image is the work of Blair Kent.  It was taken about 7:30am on Sunday the 18th.  Great shot.

In Honour of Martin Luther King jr Day

January 19, 2009


A Paean To The Big Mac

January 17, 2009

Later this year I will be 60 years old.  And I have never yet eaten anything from McDonalds.  I always joke with my wife that I’ll have a Big Mac on my 100th birthday — but not before.

I hasten to note that my aversion to McDonalds has little to do with healthy eating.  I’ll demolish an A&W Teen Burger, or a couple of BK’s bacon double cheeseburgers as quick as anyone.  No, the problem with McDonalds for me is the smell.  That special McDonalds smell spreads a block each way from every McDonalds store and lingers.  I hate that.


Still, McDonalds is incredibly popular and, from this review of the Big Mac from Fast Food Critic, you’d expect it to be.  Rarely can something so formulaic and manufactured have been honoured with such praise!

I’m happy to report the burger and overall experience was great. The special sauce was creamy, distributed evenly, and as intended was the perfect complimentary flavor without overpowering the other ingredients. I had forgotten how satisfying the Big Mac really is. Growing up, it was my staple burger. Once in a blue moon, I would attempt eating two of them (keep in mind I was just a kid and eating 2 would be quite an accomplishment), but I’d only be able to handle one. The Big Mac is still the same as when I was a kid, and most of you probably remember the ingredients by singing that famous old song that’s still floating around in your head… “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”

The bun of the Big Mac has 3 pieces, and the center bread splits the burger into two sections, each with it’s own beef patty and toppings. The top of the bun is coated with sesame seeds, and all the pieces are lightly toasted. It’s a good bun, and even though it has 3 parts you never feel overwhelmed by having too much bread …

With only 1 slice of cheese (American), you might think they skimped on this burger, but that’s not the case. It’s all part of the plan, and everything is in balance. Each ingredient makes a solid contribution, blending together to create a winning combination of flavors. There’s nothing to add or cut. Just order a Big Mac, and eat it the way it was intended. You won’t need extra cheese or anything else.

Now, doesn’t that make you want to put a peg on your nose and run right out to the neighbourhood McDonalds?