Monday, February 29, 2016

India's Taste

I had a hankering for AYCE sushi the other day. But one of my friends doesn't eat anything raw. So that was out of the question.

Instead she suggested Indian buffet which I also enjoy. Though, most of the time, for that, I usually end up across the street from my condo at Chef of India. Problem was they only have a lunch-time buffet and it was too late for that.

So she suggested India's Taste on Denison, east of Woodbine, in Markham. They offer an all-day buffet. We've gone there before. A year or two ago I believe. Back then it was more of a hole in the wall. Now, after renovations, it looks quite nice inside.

We arranged to meet at 6:30. Traffic from my place was a lot better than I expected. I arrived over 15 minutes early. Still I waited until around 6:30 before entering. I didn't want to sit by myself for too long. Luckily there was no line so I was seated right away.

They gave me a booth which was nice. It could actually seat six though there were only two of us. The seating between you and the table was a little tight, but manageable.

They have a good selection of items. I have to admit I know next to nothing about Indian cuisine. So I won't attempt to tell you what they had. Suffice to say, there was a fair bit to choose from. Like the booth we were sitting in, the buffet tables were tightly packed together too. Not a big deal. Just make sure to keep your elbows in.

Shortly after we started eating the crowds came. It was packed. Part of the problem was that my friends, Rob and Kathleen, showed up with their daughter and her ringette team after their game. Their group had at least fifteen people in it. Needless to say, the crowds spilled into the dining area.

We had a good meal. I ate too much. Again. I would have liked to have stayed a little longer to sit and relax, but we sort of felt guilty because of such a long line at the front.

Dinner was a reasonable $15.99 plus tax and tip. Cheaper than a Chinese buffet with better food.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tom's Funeral

I attended Tom's funeral on Tuesday. He was loved by so many. The room at the funeral home was packed. All the seats were filled and around 50 people had to stand at the back.

Tom was such a kind and generous person. He helped not only his friends and family, but friends of friends and complete strangers as well. One of his high school friends, Larry, spoke of a time when his mother had fallen down the stairs at her home. Tom asked if she had a railing there and Larry said, no. The next day Tom showed up at her home with a railing and installed it for her. That’s the kind of guy he was. So caring.

Larry also spoke of the time he and Tom had been driving out of out town and had been involved in a serious car accident where their car was totalled. The occupants of the other car were badly hurt, but they emerged relatively unscathed. One of their other friends, Maria, came to pick them up and drive them back to Toronto. By the time they got back into town it was around 2:30 a.m.. When Tom found out Maria had to be at the airport at 5:00 a.m. that same morning he drove her there even though he had just been involved in a bad crash and was probably still shaken. For his friends, he would do just about anything.

It’s sad that such a wonderful person was taken so early. He affected everyone he met in a positive way. That’s something we can cherish.

The guys at hockey signed a card for Florianne.

Florianne, I’m so sorry for your loss. We were all touched by Tom’s presence and , now, are terribly saddened by his passing. He will be missed. ~ Jeff Louie

It was so sad to hear of Tom’s passing and I can’t imagine your pain, but I hope that our support and prayers and knowledge of Tom’s friendship with all of us will help you through these dark times. ~ Bruce Rosenberg

Tom was a great friend & teammate. I am sorry for your loss. He will be missed. Take care & our prayers are with you. ~ Godfrey (Leung)

Condolences. ~ Andrew Pawlak

I only met Tom a few years ago playing Friday Night Hockey with him. I always remember his “big smile” while skating by the bench. He will be greatly missed. My sincere condolences. ~ Peter Stahl

I was so shocked to hear of Tom’s passing. My deepest condolences for your loss. He was a great guy and will be greatly missed. ~ Richard Cheung

Sorry to hear such sad news. Our thoughts and prayers will be there for you and your families. ~ Tim Chow, Donald Chow

A solid guy who will be sorely missed! Sincere condolences! ~ Jim Lyons

Very sad to hear of our hockey friend’s passing. We will truly miss you. My thoughts and prayers are with Tom’s family. ~ Gord Wong

So sorry to hear such sad news. Tom was a great guy and he will surely be missed. ~ Jan (Chan)

We all remember Tom and his warm, friendly smile. We will truly miss Tom. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. ~ William (Leung)

Our deepest sympathies and prayers to you. May God bring you comfort for your family. ~ Charles Snelgrove

Flo, I’m still in shock. Tom & I have played so much hockey for so long. It will never be the same. Take care ~ Larry (Hum)

Tom was a great competitor although we just met a few months ago. He was a nice guy to be around. God bless his soul. ~ Phillip Sofianos

I didn’t know Tom for very long, but I knew that he was a great guy. And I know that he was gone too soon. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. ~ Dror Golan

We enjoyed playing with Tom. A great competitor and gentleman. God bless. ~ Harry (Mark)

Tom, he was a great friend and teammate. You’ll be sorely missed. ~ Tom Loo

It’s so sad to hear of Tom’s passing. He was always so nice and gave me a lot of tips on renos. You’ll be missed. ~ Wai Chong

I’m still in disbelief. Tom and I usually sat next to each other in the dressing room and I already miss him badly. ~ Wesley Mark

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Dim Sum at Legend Chinese Restaurant

My family and I went to Dim Sum at Legend Chinese Restaurant on Yonge, north of Steeles, in Thornhill last Friday. I suppose it may have been a Chinese New Year gathering. We all had the day off (me because I don't work on Fridays and my nephews, probably because of a P.A. Day for the Family Day long weekend).

I've been to different restaurants at this strip mall before - the Red Lobster and another spicy Korean BBQ wings restaurant, but it was my first time at Legend Chinese Restaurant. My sister had been there in the past with co-workers when she used to work in the area.

It's a stylish restaurant with quality tablecloths and nice looking furniture. A step up from many of the places I normally go to. The food was good as well. Not a huge variety, but the typical dim sum standards like shrimp har gow, pork shu mai, fried turnip cake and beef rice noodle. We also ordered a few dessert items - mango pudding, black sesame-filled balls and egg tarts with lovely, flaky crust. It was all very tasty.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Tom Chan, 1965-2016

I received terrible, terrible news late Wednesday night. An e-mail from one of the guys from our Friday Night Hockey group, Larry Hum, told us another friend, Tom Chan, had suddenly passed away.

Tom had just returned from a week long trip to Jamaica at the end of January. He was supposed to return to hockey on Friday, February 12th, but e-mailed me Thursday evening saying he was too sick to play this week. What I didn't know at the time was that he had been admitted to Mt. Sinai Hospital that same day.

Less than a week later (on Wednesday, February 17th) we were informed of his passing. I believe it was very sudden and very unexpected. Because earlier that same day Tom asked Florianne to e-mail me saying he's out for hockey this week. Just over six hours later we were told of his death.


I met Tom through ice hockey. I'm not exactly sure when, but it was quite a few years ago. I don't even know exactly who in the group he knew. So many guys have come and gone over the two and a half decades we've played. All I know was that he was a really good guy.

Over the years he's invited me to his home where he and Florianne would host many lovely dinner parties. There would be ones for Christmas or Chinese New Years or one of many other special occasions. Tom was a great chef. He'd always prepare a number of wonderful dishes.

He was also a world traveler. Before his trip to Jamaica he was in Iceland late last year. And in prior years he traveled to Mexico, Asia and Europe with all Florianne and other friends. I'd always enjoy looking through his photos on Facebook.

For work he renovated old homes. I didn't know too much about this side of him. Though he had me photograph one project he completed, a semi on Baldwin, just east of Spadina. It was really amazing. Such a beautiful place. He really was a multi-faceted, multi-talented guy.

Taken far too young, he will be missed. Good-bye, my friend.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The times... They are a-Changin'

This is a photo of my public school, Mallow Road P.S. This is the path I walked down every day from age 5 to 11 (kindergarten to grade 6). These are the fields where we played British Bulldog and which were flooded in the winter so we could skate and play hockey.

All this will be gone in due time. The entire area is fenced off now. The Toronto District School Board sold the property to a developer to raise much needed funds. A short-sighted plan as deemed by many.

The development proposal is for 10-four storey townhomes fronting The Donway East; a centre block of 16-four storey semis on a new public street; and 12-three storey and 1-two storey detached homes fronting onto the new road and backing onto the existing residential neighbourhood to the south and east.

A part of many people's childhoods will soon be gone.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Little Accident

It finally happened. After many, many years of uneventful activities (which included weekly outings to the local arena in winter), my mother actually sustained an injury serious enough to require being put in a cast. Last Saturday she fell while skating and broke her wrist.

I got the call the next morning when I was getting ready to meet up with my friends for lunch. My mother phoned to tell me the news. After she fell she had called my sister to ask her to take her to the hospital. She would be required to wear a cast for six weeks.

Thank goodness the pain was limited to the evening of the accident. The awkwardness of wearing the cast is the worst thing so far. It seriously limits her ability to pick up and hold things. I'm sure that's for the best. It'll give her wrist a better chance of healing properly.

She's already had the cast changed once. The new one is a little less cumbersome, so that's good. Here's hoping for a full and complete recovery.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

DMCI Mini Reunion

Our friend, Wayne and his daughter, came into town for a bouldering competition this Saturday. She had tied for first in a local competition and, along with seven others, earned the chance to compete here next weekend.

It's been 15 years since Wayne was in town. He's been in Vancouver since graduating from university over 25 years ago. So, when I found out he was coming, I hastily got a few high school classmates together for lunch.

Besides through Facebook, I don't have much contact with a lot of my friends from back then. It's sad this is the only way we keep in touch I know. Facebook is a useful tool though. It's how I managed to arrange for us to meet up.

The only friend who still lives in the immediate area (Don Mills) is Manuel. Brian is out east in Whitby and Jay is downtown. I'm in midtown Toronto. My parents still live in Don Mills. Still in the same house my sister and I grew up in.

We met at the Jack Astor's at the Shops at Don Mills. Even though I hadn't seen most of the guys in 5-15 years we pretty much knew what everyone else was up to (through Facebook). Though Manuel isn't in touch with us on FB, so it was a big surprise when he said he got married last year.

After lunch we went over to the high school for a look around and to snap a few more photos. It was Wayne's daughter's first visit to Toronto. Before lunch he showed her around the old neighbourhood and to see his old house (by our old public school).

It was great meeting up. Hopefully it won't be so long until we see each other again.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Prime Minister Trudeau Speaks pt. 2 - The Questions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently did a one-on-one with 10 ordinary Canadians in his office in Ottawa facilitated by Peter Mansbridge and the CBC.

People had ten minutes each to sit with him and talk about whatever was on their mind. Here's what they asked him.


Nikki Fraser, a 25-year-old youth worker from Kamloops, B.C., asks Trudeau how he plans to keep indigenous women safe.

The Prime Minister reiterated what we've already heard about the Inquest to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women that his government is undertaking. Unlike the previous government, his party seems to respect indigenous rights and seems to want to work with them to improve their situation. It's something all Canadians should feel compelled to do. Like African Americans in the U.S., they're still being discriminated against. 

Danny Strilchuk, a 30-year-old oilfield worker from Edmonton, asks Trudeau if there is anything to give him hope for the future in Alberta and how he will generate jobs.

Prime Minister Trudeau talked about infrastructure investment. That's all he really could do. There are things that are out of his control, namely the pricing of oil. You can't heavily invest in a sector if you don't know if it will be viable in the future or not. Danny asked him if he should stay in the oil field or not. That's not a question that can be answered either. He may need to find other work in the meantime. Even if it means leaving Alberta. After all, many Canadians traveled to Alberta during the oil boom. It might be time to leave to go wherever the jobs are now.

Neil Piercey, 58, formerly worked in manufacturing but now delivers fruit in London, Ont. He asks Trudeau how he plans to help people who have lost their jobs in manufacturing and are struggling to survive.

This is a similar question to Danny's (above). Many manufacturing jobs have left Ontario for more competitive markets. The government may be able to provide financial incentives to companies to open up shop here, but there's only so much you can do. Different levels of government have thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at the automotive manufacturing sector. How long can you do this to keep something afloat? Maybe it's time to look for another line of work. 

Larry Audlaluk, 65, is a hunter and leader from Grise Fiord, Nunavut. He asks the prime minister about the government's plan to deal with the direct impact climate change has on Canadians in the North.

I think Larry's actual question had more to do with the sovereignty of the Northwest Passage and Canada's claim to it. Now that climate change is threatening to open it up more to shipping (because there will be less ice blocking the route), Larry is worried about international shipping going through and the impact it might have on the peoples and environment up there. Trudeau would like to build more ships to patrol the waterways to prove our claim to the area.

Gary Mauris, 47, of Vancouver is president of Dominion Lending Centres. He asks Trudeau about the impact tax cuts to the wealthiest Canadians will have on the economy.

This is incorrect - He actually asked about how raising taxes on the wealthy (to pay for tax cuts to the middle class) will affect their (the wealthy business owners) ability to create jobs. Though it's only income tax to the wealthy that is being raised I believe, not corporate/business tax. So raising personal taxes of the wealthy shouldn't affect their ability to create jobs, should it? Trudeau stated that tax cuts to the middle class was more important. More people would have more money to spend to keep the economy going. You'd be helping a lot of people by penalize a few rich ones. Fine by me.

Jihane El Atifi, 29, is a Montrealer who works with refugees. She asks Trudeau how he's working to integrate Canadian newcomers, and why there is no black representation in Cabinet.

This is a good question. Many newcomers with professional degrees from other countries can't get their qualifications here. Trudeau said that this is something the federal government has to work on with the provinces and their specific professional colleges. They all have to work together as quickly as possible so doctors and engineers etc. from other countries don't end up driving cabs or serving you your morning coffee any longer. Instead they could be filling much needed holes in high demand job sectors.

Jenna Fray, 31, a social worker from Ajax, Ont., asks Trudeau what he's doing to help middle-class families like hers.

Well there's the middle class tax breaks and additional money for people with children that's tax-free. But, I think Jenna wanted more. She asked about childcare for her toddler too. Trudeau wouldn't commit to anything there. Peter Manbridge asked about free childcare like they have in Quebec. Look, we're in dire straits right now (economically-speaking). You can't expect a handout for everything. If you're not financially sound, maybe you shouldn't be having children until you are.

Yvonne Jacobs, 71, is a retired nurse in St. John's, N.L. She asks Justin what can he do to improve health care for seniors and for everyone else in Canada.

I believe Trudeau said his government is looking into providing services to let seniors live at home into their golden years instead of taking up expensive beds in hospital. I think you need to strike a balance where you can help the greatest number of people while still being fiscally responsible. This might involve opening more subsidized assisted-living facilities for the elderly perhaps?... I don't know. 

Charlotte Kiddell, 24, is an undergraduate student from Halifax. She asks Trudeau about his plan for graduating students in bleak economic times and how he plans to tackle student debt.

Peter Mansbridge brought up the question of free post-secondary education for everyone. Again, money doesn't grow on trees. I don't have a problem with subsidizing post-secondary education (even heavily). Higher education is important for sure. Though I think it should be geared towards industries/sectors that are in demand (like tech or healthcare or whatever). Charlotte was taking English and something else in university. So I don't know what her job prospects will be like when she graduates. People have to take responsibility for themselves concerning their decisions in this respect I think. Another argument against completely free post-secondary education that I've heard (and agree with) is that there's less incentive to try to do well if you haven't invested anything of your own in it.

Maulik Doshi, 30, works in e-commerce in Regina. He asks Trudeau what he's doing to enforce national security and keep up the fight against ISIS and prevent radicalization of Canadians.

Maulik questioned why Canada is taking its six fighter jets out of their current combat role against ISIS while other countries are still sending theirs. Trudeau said they're focussing on training local soldiers/militia to fight ISIS on the ground instead. Personally, I think we should still supply our jets, but I'm still okay with the training mission too. As for preventing radicalization of young Canadians, I'm not sure that's the government's job. Trudeau also spoke about balancing the rights and freedoms of Canadians against its security with respect to surveillance.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Prime Minister Trudeau Speaks pt. 1

Tonight, on CBC, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opened his office to 10 regular Canadians and entertained their questions about whatever they had on their minds. The ten had no particular political affiliation and were selected by the CBC.

The questions, like the people and where they resided, were diverse and varied. Of course most of their concerns had to do with money (either relating to rising costs of living, cost of education, jobs or retirement etc.). But there were also questions about indigenous issues, Canada's stance on terrorism (both here and abroad) and sovereignty in the north.

As the CBC News panelists said after the show, this was a risky endeavour to undertake. As the Prime Minister you're putting yourself out there with no guarantee of showing well. I believe he did as good a job as any under the circumstances.

Some people were looking for answers to specific problems (like the oil-patch worker from Alberta or manufacturing plant worker from London, Ontario). Trudeau, of course, couldn't give them reassurances on their individual issues. He could only state his government's policies concerning those in similar circumstances. I believe his answers left those two dissatisfied.

I'm not sure what people expect from government (this or any other). They're not there to solve all your problems. People have to take personal responsibility as well. If you can't find a job in your specific sector because of global forces beyond anyone's control then you may have to reassess your employment strategies. If you expect the government to throw good money after bad to resurrect a dead or dying sector then you're beyond foolish.

Of course other people had good questions and Trudeau did his best to answer them. Others seemed to badger him if they didn't get the answer they wanted. Look, you asked a question and he answered. Repeatedly stating you don't agree with him won't make him change his response.

The majority of questions came down to what people could get from the government (which all comes down to a question of money). This concerned funding for daycare, elderly home care, education, jobs etc.

I'm not sure if people watch the news, but the economy is tanking (both ours and many others around the world). There isn't an endless fountain of money flowing from a magic well somewhere. You have to be realistic. The government will do the best it can for the greatest number of people with what it has. That might not be what you want to hear, but that's real life.