The Logical Philosopher

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

World Travels: Paris, Toronto, NYC

 I expected to never visit again.

I expected to have a few months off.

I expected to not to have to travel anymore.

But, as the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns, said:

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

In September I took a short contract with a company, which is based in Paris... which ended up including a trip back to Paris for a few days.  Although I spent most of my time in meeting rooms, I had one morning on the weekend to do some exploring. I discovered a lovely area in the 5th arrondissement, Rue Mouffetard, which probably what Rue Cler was like before Rick Steeves wrecked it for the locals.  For those who read this site looking for Rue Cler tips - my tip is, after visiting Rue Cler 5 or 6 times, go to Rue Mouffetard instead.

In November I was in Toronto for a meeting, and took the opportunity to make a weekend trip down to New York City with two friends.   Aiming for a culinary experience, with every restaurant checked it would meet a high Zagat score, we took time to visit Babbo, ACME, Lavo, Beau Marchais, Mission Chinese, and Pure Thai.  Everything was amazing, except for the service at Beau Marchais!

I convinced my fellow travelers to deviate from the plan and take another trip over to Sullvian Street Bakery, to experience where the root of the NY Times no-knead bread I make at home comes from.  I also picked up Jim Lahey's new My Pizza book from the bakery while we were there, so look for some pizza this Christmas holidays if you visit.

Sprinkled somewhere between meals we took some time to walk the High Line, and see parts of the west side from up above.

I have more pictures to post, and will hopefully get to them when I have another break!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The news of my death has been greatly exaggerated....

I can't believe I haven't posted since February... When I left my job I was all like "Holy crap, look at all the time I will have to blog!"  Now, after 8 months off I am all like "Holy crap, I'm so busy I need a vacation from my vacation so I can blog!".

I'm supposed to be taking a break. In reality, I have:

- Gone to Disneyland.
- Gone to Hornby Island.

- Gone into my office to study for my Patent Agent Exam
- Gone to Hornby Island again
- Gone to Vancouver
- Gone to Hornby Island again, again.
- Gone into my office again to continue to study for my Patent Agent Exam.
- Gone to Toronto
- Gone into my office again to (again) continue to study for my Patent Agent Exam.

Seems like a short list, but in all the 8 months I don't ever recall having more than a few days in the past few months to just lounge around. It seemed like the amount of case law I memorized was inversely proportional to my days off....

On my Hornby Island vacation, I took the time to build a small shed.  By "small" I mean big enough to be a "man-cave" (as my neighbor calls it), and by "shed" I mean, well, I'm not sure what I mean. What I don't mean is a shed to store stuff for the kids, or the wife, or basically anything but tools and a Foosball table.


(And my thanks to Doug for helping get the roof up + ensuring I had a good staple gun to get the shingles on!)

Now that I am back in town, I'll aim for some regular blog updates... I hope. Lots of changes in life, but seemingly no time to contemplate or write about them online.....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Beginnings

Well, I resigned from my job last week.

"It's like Halley is the Godfather Part Two. That was an incredible movie, might be better than the original, all right? But no matter how much you love The Godfather Part Two, you still have to see the original to understand and appreciate the sequel"

- John Cusak's character, Jonathan Trager, in the movie Serendipity

I started 14 years ago as employee #201 in a small Victoria based technology company, and I leave as employee #125,000 (give or take a few) of a global fortune 500 company.

Along the way I have had more experiences than I ever imagined I would have when I started. I have traveled the world multiple times over, traversing England, France, India, Indonesia and selected cities (both good and bad!) across the USA and Canada. I had to figure out how to prepare for presentations from scratch while on 12 hour airplane rides in coach, do conference calls at 2am on a windy country road in the back of tuk-tuk's, and more importantly, how to pack for a 2 week business trip with only 1 carry-on suitcase. Sorting my "travel suitcase" this week gave me currency in about 7 varieties, and almost enough to stock a game of monopoly for the kids.

I met a lot of great people all over the world, and wouldn't trade the past 14 years for anything. LP-ette and the kids, on the other hand, are looking forward to me being home and taking a family vacation that does not involve me being on blackberries, apples or any other sort of technical fruit.

So what next, you ask?

Last September I signed up to write some legal exams in 9 weeks, which will consume all of my time, so my first order of business next week is to pack my truck (and dog!) and head away for a studying sabbatical on Hornby Island. I am looking forward to the cold and wet, my body warmed by statutes, regulations and applicable Supreme Court of Canada case law.

After that, who knows, but I am sure my Godfather Part Two will be more of an adventure than Godfather Part One.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The beginnings of a mycophile

We were able to get away for the long weekend back to Hornby, a brief rest from the frantic pace of smart phones and home renovations.

The arrival was marked with a change in the weather, a thick black line moving across the horizon which departed the same time as our ferry, bringing 3 foot swells along with it. By late evening the clouds had blown off and revealed a waning gibbous moon, illuminating the field for Riley to fetch his toys in. Unfortunately the cold proved to be too much so we retreated inside to read by the heaters.

Saturday kept the wind and waves from the north but also brought clear sky and a hike around Helliwell. Wet and damp weather revealed 6 different types of mushrooms, a curiosity for Haley who is used to seeing them just in the store. I don't know much about mushrooms, but I looked up a particularly bulbous red and white spotted mushroom - an Amanita Muscaria - and found it is deadly if eaten. Who know such death was innocently living on a well worn walking path? Perhaps this is my year to get a mushroom book and turn into a mycophile.

By Sunday the storm had moved to a South-Easterly, so an excursion to do some storm-watching on big Tribune was on our list to do. Last winter the storms brought in a massive piece of driftwood, and the past few months have added a layer of algae which glowed greed against the white spray of the surf. In the calmer sections of the bay the cold water also brought a crystal clear blue water, giving us a view into the depths we don't normally have in the summer.

This was the last trip I remember where we forgot our camera, which was unfortunate given some of the unique sights we saw: Smurf-like mushrooms, clear ocean views and red-sky sunsets.

I'm not sure when our next break will be. December brings a rest for the holidays, and hopefully time to finish the hatch on the kayak. It also brings 3 more trips: India, England and Toronto, all packed into 11 days. I do have a day off in India this trip as I arrive over a weekend, so we'll see what excursions I can get up to.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Made in Iceland

I totally want to visit Iceland after this....

MADE IN ICELAND from Klara Harden on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

30 Cups of Concord Grapes...

I came home to sour grapes.


With the wet weather we have been having, the last bit of sun needed to turn the grapes on the vines into sweet concord fruit never did appear. But, as they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I did not have lemons, but had grapes, so set about making some concord grape jelly on the weekend.

Haley and I took to the vines and picked about five gallons of grapes. If we had have picked them about 3 weeks ago I suspect there would have been about ten gallons, but between the birds and Haley, there were many portions of the vines that were bare.

I have canned before, making jam, but never jelly. Finicky at the best of times, jelly needs the right mix of pectin, sugar and fruit syrup. Pulling out the canning cookbooks gave me a few tips, but it also gave me three recipes that were contradictory in cooking time. One said boil hard for 10 minutes, another boil slowly for 35 and yet another said to only boil for a minute. With 30 cups of grapes I was going to have to make at least three batches, so would have time to try them all.


We set about destemming all the grapes. A few of the recipes said to squish out the seeds and separate them for cooking, but that was quickly abandoned given the volume of fruit and the limited patience of a 7 year old.

Next we crushed the grapes, loosening the seeds, and slowly boiling for about 15 minutes. This gave a mash mixture I was able to strain, and the remaining skin and seeds were separated from the juice. I think if I had a smaller batch to make, or had larger grapes (Haley and the birds seemed to have eaten all the larger ones) I would have separated the seeds and the skins, like the Hungry Moose did, as my leftover mix did not have the deep purple concord color I was hoping for.

Three batches gave me room to play with the recipe, and as concord grapes are low in pectin naturally, I added more lemon juice and sugar than I usually do with the strawberry jam we often make. I roughly followed the Epicurious recipe, to get the lemon juice ratio, but using our Clearly Delicious canning book, followed these plans:

2 1/4 cups of grape juice
2 1/3 cups of sugar
juice of 2 lemons (6 tbl spoons)

We gave the mix a medium boil for about 15-20 minutes, but in all three batches, even one I added pectin to and lowered the sugar content, I could not get the jelly to set on a frozen plate. We hoped for the best and simply moved on to canning the jars, finally boiling them for 10 minutes to seal the lids.


I did leave some jelly on the counter and it had set by the morning, but in one of the batches I was not so lucky. Some was still fairly liquid, so I am going to reboil it and add more pectin and lemon juice. If not, I have a large batch of grape syrup to use for desserts!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Perdu dans la traduction...

Let's see.... Been home for 6 weeks and managed to fit in 5 trips:

1) New Mexico: Was cooler than expected. No really, it is not as hot as Mexico. I also found out the local golf course puts 30 million gallons of water on the greens a day. 30 million!

2) Seattle: It rained. The original Starbucks in Pike Place market was very busy, but I recommend the french patisserie, Le Panier, which is two doors down.

3) Fresno: Worst. Airport. Ever. Actually, the worst airport is LAX, which I need to go through, so Fresno is tarred with the same brush. My facebook status update was as follows: "I renew my statement that LAX sucks. TSA closed the line we were in because he had to go on his break. 50 of us waiting for the next agent to show and check our boarding passes."

4) Hornby Island: For a Thanksgiving weekend I drank Blueberry Beer. All was well.

5) Paris: Love it, but maybe that is because I am here on an expense account. In fact I am in France now, where the fashion is high and my french language skills are low. So far I have tried to order bread (getting a glass of wine in return, which was not rejected of course) and a latte (getting a hot glass of milk instead). I found this video on what a English sounds like to a non-speaker. This is totally what I feel like this week:

Souhaitez moi bonne chance sur le retour à la maison...