Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I just saw Ex_Machina with one of my friends. I had a 2-for-1 movie coupon from my sister that was expiring soon, so we decided to use it.

I have to say, I haven't really been keeping up with the latest releases. I saw an ad or two for this movie and checked the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and it came quite highly recommended.

I didn't know much about the plot either. But that's a good thing. I find, now-a-days, that commercials and trailers reveal far too much about a film before you even get to the theatre. That completely ruins things. I like to be surprised.

The movie is a science fiction thriller of the interaction between three characters - two humans, Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) and Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) and an intensely beautiful A.I., Ava, (Alicia Vikander) created by Bateman.

It's set in Batemen's gorgeous home/research centre on a stunning, but nameless island. He's the eccentric genius behind a highly successful internet company and Ava is his new project. Caleb, a programmer at the company, has been called in to "run tests".

There are twists and there are turns. You never know who to fully trust. And that could mean the difference between life and death, and freedom and imprisonment.

There are no explosions, no mayhem, no chase scenes or million dollar special effects. Instead the characters talk. They interact together intelligently. And that's wonderfully refreshing.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

CAA = 10% off at The GAP

As I mentioned in my previous post, my friend and I went tent shopping recently. Our last stop was at Vaughn Mills mall. While there we also perused many of the other retail stores.

Normally I don't like doing that because I always end up seeing something I want. That happened again at The GAP. There were a pair of light shorts and light pants great for summer hiking.

The shorts were regular $40 with a 60% off discount and the pants $55 with a 40% off discount. I bought 2 pairs of shorts for $16 each (after the discount) and one pair of pants for $33 (after the discount).

While standing in line to pay I noticed a customer ahead of me who had her CAA card out at the cash. She presented it to the cashier for some sort of discount I assumed.

When it was my turn I asked what it was about. The cashier said that if you show your CAA card you receive an extra 10% off your purchase which is great.

What wasn't great was that I didn't bring my CAA card. Since I didn't drive I brought my slimmed down wallet with my three basic cards - driver's licence, health card and VISA card.

I asked if I could come back with my CAA card later and still receive the discount. The girl said, yes. So I did that the following Monday and received a further $7.35 savings.

The lady behind me noticed and asked what it was all about. When she found out you could save an extra 10% with your CAA card she produced hers too.

So, now you know.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tent Shopping

My friend and I went shopping for camping gear on Saturday. We're planning a trip out west during the summer.

We checked out a number of stores around town starting with Atmosphere at the Shops at Don Mills. From there we went to Tent City at Steeles and Dufferin; SAIL near 400 and 7 in Vaughan; and back to Atmosphere at Vaughn Mills mall.

At first I was looking for a 4-man tent (which we would actually sleep three people in). But the majority of 4-man tents we looked at at Atmosphere were in the 11-12 pound range. Not bad for car camping, but too heavy for back country.

The 3-man tents were in the 6 pound range. Much better for toting around long distances. So I resigned myself to getting one of those instead.

Atmosphere had The North Face - Talus 3 on sale for $199.99 (reg. $299.99). The floor size is 63" x 89" and it's 46" tall inside. It has 2-doors and 2-vestibules and comes with an all important footprint (to help keep the bottom of the tent dry). It's fly/floor waterproofness is 1200/3000 mm. It comes in at 6 pounds 1 ounce.

We checked out the Eureka! - Taron 3 at Tent City and SAIL. It's also a very good tent of similar dimensions - 66" x 88" and 46" tall inside. It also has 2-doors and 2-vestibules and comes in at 6 pounds 4 ounces, but doesn't come with a footprint. It's fly/floor waterproofness is 1800/3000 mm.

The front vestibule on the Taron 3 is great. It's extra-large to hold your packs and shoes. But it doesn't come with a footprint. With the 15% off sale at SAIL it came in at $195.50.

With both sales finishing in the next 1-2 days I couldn't decide on which one to get. So I bought both. I'll take a closer look at home and pick one and return the other.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Amaya - The Indian Room (Round 2)

After going to the Amaya The Indian Room the first time I was impressed enough to go again. Though, the $40 Groupon I bought for $20 was added incentive.

Learning my lesson from our first visit I made early reservations for 5:30 on Saturday. The last time I went with my friends we had 7:00 p.m. reservations, but were asked if we could push them back to 8:30 (though we weren't actually seated until around 9:00).

I asked my friend to meet me at my condo at 5:00 which would give us plenty of time to drive over and find parking. I must admit I totally lost track of time during the day. When my friend called me to say she was downstairs at my condo I was still over at my parents' house thinning out the lilac bushes in the backyard.

Needless to say I rushed home as quickly as possible making it there by around 5:20. I dropped my friend off at the restaurant at around 5:30 and went to look for street parking. So we were pretty much on time I'd say. Though I wasn't in so much of a relaxed state upon my arrival.

The restaurant wasn't full. In fact, besides us, there were only two or three other tables taken. I overestimated how busy they'd be I guess. Perhaps a 6:00 p.m. reservation would have sufficed. Next time then... I still have one more Groupon to use.

Just like last time, dinner was great. We decided to try some new dishes. We got Lasooni Cauliflower  ($8.00) as a starter along with Coastal Fish Curry ($16.00) and Punjabi Chicken (($16.00) as mains. We also got one order of Basmati Rice ($3.00) and one piece of plain Roti ($2.50).

The cauliflower dish was on the sweet side. I liked it. It was different. I thought the fish curry was quite tasty. The Punjabi Chicken was too spicy for my tastes (though the server only rated it medium spicy). Next time I'd get two orders of rice. I think it's a better value than the one piece of plain Roti.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

How to be Happy

Now I don't claim to have all the answers in the never-ending quest for happiness. But one thing I believe contributes greatly towards achieving that goal is having meaningful relationships with others. This could include good friends and/or family (parents, your partner, children, etc.) among others.

Let's face it... we all need times of solitude where we step back and recharge our batteries. But too much of it really sucks. And being surrounded by strangers in the hectic downtown core doesn't cut it. You can still be lonely in a large city if you haven't made any significant connections.

I know individuals who live in group homes. They're surrounded by people most of the day. But are they happy? Most of the time, no. Because these people are just that - people, not friends. So they're lonely, bored and unhappy.

If you're alone in a new city I'd suggest finding groups of like-minded individuals to hang out with. There are all manner of groups that do different activities (e.g. badminton, hiking, painting or even table games). Seek them out and become a member.

You can also do volunteer work. There is no end to the organizations that would appreciate whatever skills you can bring to the table. And, as a bonus, you'll get to meet new people.

If you're religious you can go to a church, mosque or synagogue to worship and fellowship with other believers. As well, according to some published data, regular church attendance can add years to your life. Another added benefit!

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and be happy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mud Hike

Emily organized a short hike for us on Good Friday. It was just me, her and her friend, Avinash. We went to Seaton Trail in Pickering. I believe it was the first time there for all of us.

It was a grey day. The temperatures actually weren't that bad topping off at over 10C. It had rained a bit the day before, so I was thinking the trails might not be so good. Unfortunately I was right.

I expected mud, but besides that, many of the trails were covered with water and ice. A bad combination anyway you look at it. So we were either weaving our way through piles of muck or treading lightly over slippery patches of ice for a good part of our hike.

There were many times that all of us nearly fell. Avinash was the only one to go down. He fell fairly heavily on a slick patch of ice on uneven ground. It was mostly his pride that was wounded though. And his butt got wet.

It wasn't all bad. There were dry patches here and there. We got about 6 kilometres in in a 2-hour stretch. It took us a long time because we were taking pictures and we had to be extremely careful hiking in certain parts.

As well as the trail they have a large fenced in off-leash dog park there. A lot of people brought their dogs out to play. But not all of them stopped to stoop and scoop on the path between the parking lot and the off-leash area. So you had to be careful not to step on any poo bombs along the way.

After the hike I walked another 6.5 kilometres from my place downtown to meet Lawrence for dinner. We went to Sushi & Bento on Dundas at University for all-you-can-eat sushi. I think I earned it after all that walking, don't you?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Friday Night Hockey - Over for Another Year

We finished our Friday Night Hockey last week at Goulding Arena. We played 25 games in the past 6 months missing only the Boxing Day week.

As usual there was some drama involved. Right before the season started we lost one of our goalies, Dave, who had knee problems. It's been an ongoing issue for him over the past two or three seasons. I only found out he couldn't play a week or two before we were due to start, so I was in sort of a bind.

One of our goalies, Rob, had committed to playing every week. But, our other goalie, Godfrey, could only play every other week. So, right off the bat, I was scrambling to find a replacement every other Friday. Luckily we had a number of back ups in Donald, Caitlin and Benson who were willing to fill in when they were available.

The goalie problem was solved when Rob found Lance (another goalie he played with on occasion). Lance didn't live too far away and loved playing net. He was a dependable backup opposite Godfrey. That was until the very end of the season when his car gave up the ghost. Then he needed a ride (which I happily provided) to get to the game.

Another big change was when, part way through the season, I let Gord and Jan pick the teams. After that initial game Gord picked the teams from that point on. But, not only did he pick the teams, they suggested a best 2-out-of-3 tournament. So, instead of changing teams from week we played a short series.

We even bought a small scoreboard and kept stats (on who scored). Gord set up a simple website and posted all the info there along with everyone's photos (which I took one week). We even had a few videos that one of the subs, Eddie, made whenever he came out to play.

It upped the competitive spirit between teams. I think it made everyone try harder. At least initially it did. Forwards skated back a little more often trying to help their defence. It was great.

We also saw a few people returning from a year or two away. It was good to see old familiar faces again. And some of the guys started bringing out their kids to fill in from time to time. They were fast. All us old timers had a tough time chasing them down.

So the game is evolving which is good. Hopefully things will go relatively smoothly next year.