Thursday, April 4, 2013

Balance in the Force

Thursday April 4, 11:41 p.m.

Well, there's been a switch in tonight's fortunes with our sports teams. The Blue Jays finally won one after losing the first two games of the season to the Cleveland Indians. They pulled off a victory 10-8; so their bats were finally firing on all cylinders although the pitching was a bit off. Just down the block, the Leafs couldn't quite catch up with the Flyers, and perhaps in worse news, Lupul may be off injured again.

Got whomped with another major translation assignment again which will probably take me into next week. And I gotta do some more changes on Saturday. When it rains, it pours.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Wednesday April 4, 11:57 a.m.

Yes, it's that time of year when all Canadians seriously talk about a topic that is enormously near and dear to our hearts on a day that is sunny but still retains that not unappealing tang of chill in the air. Right now, folks across The Great White North are glued to their I-Phones, tablets and even those ancient devices known as television sets to glean as much information as they can about the day's proceedings.

Yes, it's the NHL Trading Deadline Day...

Right from 8 a.m. EDT, TSN and Sportscentre started their days with various sportscasters, former NHL players and former NHL general managers gabbing away about what trades have been done and what trades may be pulled off in the next several hours. I think in Toronto today, people are quite smitten not only to find out if the Leafs are able to grab a veteran playoff-seasoned goalie from either Calgary or Vancouver, but also just to forget the lousy results to the Blue Jays home opener last night (Mr. Arencibia, how does it feel to be the first one in the doghouse this year? Nope, not fair....he was on the receiving end of Dickey knucklers[trying not to giggle here]).

Last year, I caught my first experience of the big day and wasn't all that impressed since not all that much happened. But I've realized from all the tweets coming in on the screen that folks are just happy to see and hear the talking heads talking about trades; any trades that do come in are icing on the cake. And if that one blockbuster trade comes in? Manna from Heaven!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Blue Jays are Back!

Tuesday April 2, 12:15 p.m.

Well, I don't think I've heard so much talk about the Blue Jays than has occurred in the past number of months. All these new players like R.A. Dickey, Melky Cabrera and the rest along with the veterans such as Arencibia and Batista. Now, after the previous season of disappointment, everyone here is just gabbing away about a possible World Series victory. Hmmm.....way too early to talk about that, in my opinion. I just heard the president of the Blue Jays himself say "You can't buy chemistry." And we have yet to see that with the so-called New Look Jays....although in several hours, we'll all get that opportunity when they take on the Indians tonight down at the Rogers Centre. At this point, I'll be grateful if they win the home opener and then eventually get into the post-season.

It's hard for me to believe that after the Jays won that dramatic 1993 World Series, they never got back into the playoffs. It was in 1994 that I went off to Japan for my long stint there, so my connection with the Bluebirds became very tenuous; I'd thought that the team had made it into October at least a couple of times. But it's been a very long drought for them. I still remember that night when the Jays took it all at Skydome. I was in a bar just north of Summerhill on Yonge with a lot of my friends when the up-and-down Game 6 unfolded like a Hollywood movie in front of our eyes. Me and the folks in the bar were suffering and exulting on every run and out. But that 9th inning was one for my life....when Joe Carter hit that home run, everyone lost it. I haven't had that feeling of joy shake my bones since that moment. And then I saw the other bars and taverns just vomit the customers onto Yonge St as car horns blared like trumpets. By the time, we got down to Yonge and Bloor, the streets were as packed as rush hour subways. At one point, we got scared that we were going to be crushed to death so we ended up taking refuge at a donut shop for an hour or two before things calmed down....relatively speaking.

We all tiredly separated around 2 a.m in the morning. I had to walk all the way east to Broadview and Danforth before I could actually hail a taxi to get home.  But those were happy days in Toronto. I wonder if the 2013 Jays will bring that joy back in October.

This is the commercial that played immediately after the Jays clinched it all. I never heard a whole bar sing a Coke jingle before.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Weekend

Sunday March 31, 8:58 p.m.

Hard to believe that we're almost into April, and there is still the threat of snow tomorrow. And the weekend was so mild, too. Maybe April Fool's is coming a bit early this year. Hey, this is of wacky weather!

Since I'm neither religious nor a huge eater of chocolate anymore, Easter doesn't have that much meaning for me. And since I work almost exclusively at home now, the long weekend didn't really have that oomph. Still, since it was a holiday weekend, our family went out for good ol' Fish n' Chips. But because the Catholics are indeed keeping to tradition and not eating any red meat, the Fish n' Chips places were doing volume business; I think one owner remarked that Good Friday is the busiest day of the year for them. My family hit The Olde York, a venerable old place, on Saturday evening. And sure enough, Good Friday was spilling over into Good Saturday. We had to wait for about 30 minutes before we could get a table, but the service was absolutely friendly and unruffled despite the hungry hordes, and we all splurged for the Halibut. Of course, that fish is the most delicious (and not surprisingly, the fattiest one); whenever I've gone there in the past, I've gone for the more inexpensive but drier Haddock but since I was eschewing the chowder and the dessert, I decided to go for the gusto. Wasn't disappointed.

Got back home to see the Leafs trounce the Senators columnist for "The Toronto Star" has all but anointed the team into Playoff Nirvana. I'm not quite ready to make that pronouncement myself, but it's nice to hear such happy thoughts this year compared to the horror that was on the ice this time last year.

Then, I saw the start of the 2nd half of Season 7 of "Doctor Who" with a new companion and a slightly new outfit for the Time Lord. Apparently, the reviews have been somewhat mixed for "The Bells of St. John". I'm more in the middle of the pack. It was nice to see Matt Smith happy and madly eccentric, especially after that horrid swan song episode to the Ponds, and the accompanying travelogue to London reminded me of "Skyfall". However, the episode didn't have quite the oomph I had been expecting for the 11th Doctor, especially after all of the accolades that the Xmas Special had gotten (still haven't had the chance to watch it). Hopefully, things will be going ever upwards.

Unfortunately, there has been another shooting at another major shopping mall in Toronto in as many years. The Toronto news channels were all fixated on Yorkdale Mall for the rest of the night after some sort of altercation; from the sounds of the victim's and the instigators' names, it may be a Vietnamese gang issue. Just another way that Toronto seems to be resembling more like an American metropolis....creaking transit system and urban crime.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fun and Games in T.O.

Tuesday March 26, 11:53 a.m.

Well, it's come to the point that whenever Mayor Rob Ford's name pops up in a broadcast, Torontonians' eyes roll to the back of the head with the dependence of an involuntary reflex. And so, the latest in the 2-year series of The Perils of Rob has "The Toronto Star" splashing this exclusive on the front page about allegations of alcohol abuse. Of course, the triumvirate of the Ford Brothers and Deputy Mayor Holyday immediately put up their shields and fired some warning phaser shots almost immediately after the news got out.

At this point, after all of the sturm und drang that has followed Rob Ford for the past couple of years with the court stuff and the recent accusation by a former election rival of sexual assault, it'll probably take even more than today's headline to have this news last beyond the better part of this week. Confidential sources are one thing, but I think it'll take some big names and absolute hand-in-the-cookie-jar proof to even dislodge anything. We've just gotten so inured to all of the bread and circuses.

And what about The Leafs? They took three out of four points from the Boston Bruins. Yep, the Buds aren't exactly great at shootouts but since once the game is at that stage, both teams are gonna come away with something, so it's not such a terrible thing to lose, aside from the pride aspect. But the big thing here is that not a lot of fans had expected Phaneuf, Kadri and company to get anything from the Bruins considering the past couple of years, so three points is pretty darn good.

Took that needed hour's walk today. Nope, not that cold but the winds are out there. I actually got a rare Monday off from translation. I got a heads-up last week from one of my colleagues that things could be a bit slower than usual for the next week or so since Japan is entering the final week of the fiscal calendar. Plus, April is the reset month for a lot of everything over there so the normal course of things will be disrupted for a bit. A lot of corporate parties for welcoming and saying goodbye will be in order for the next several weeks leading up to Golden Week.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Back to Anime and Foodie Sunday

Monday March 25, 1:28 p.m.

Been a while but with all of the translation, Mr. Moriya's return and yesterday being another outing with The Anime King, there wasn't much time for blogging. As for my Skype student, he had a good business trip to Australia for the better part of a week; his fluency certainly showed it. And he didn't have to contend with hay fever over there....something that is plaguing Japan right now as it usually does this time of year.

It was a 3-week absence for The Anime King since he had his own business trip to conduct in Chicago. He was rather disappointed in the food selection although he did say the famed Deep-Dish Pizza was the one highlight. Still, he was grateful to be back in Toronto.

Our Sunday started off with a visit to Eggsmart. I actually went for a new item on the menu which was this plate of Hash Browns using Montreal corned beef and very roughly chopped onion and potatoes. I guess I could say it was a very raw version of the breakfast staple. Nothing like the stuff at Sunset Grill. It was quite good, though, and very filling. And I'm always appreciative for bottomless cups of coffee.

Had our first period of anime involving a couple of movies and some eps from the Precure franchise and then the usual bawdy episode of "Ixion". We took a brief break by heading to the nearest Second Cup. I went for the Poppy Seed Lemon Cake with a thick slap of icing on top. It was actually surprisingly light despite the appearance. The King and I spoke a bit about any future trips over to Japan. I can't see myself heading over there any earlier than Spring 2014; gotta save up the money. The Anime Bishop called up suddenly and said he would be joining us for dinner.

Came back to hear some soundtrack stuff before we watched the 2000 anime of "Blood: The Last Vampire". It had that gritty animation style which reminded me of "Akira", but the voice acting was pretty subpar...frankly, almost as if this had been a high school project. So it was somewhat surprising to hear that Saya was voiced by actress Yuki Kudo from movies like "Memoirs of a Geisha". It was too bad since I think it could've come off quite well.

The Bishop arrived just in the last few minutes of "Blood". And then we were off to a place called Hot Spicy Spicy. We hadn't been there in perhaps 18 months. My first time to the place was just shortly after my exodus home. It's a larger version of the down-to-earth Chinese eateries over downtown, and the portions are quite generous. I had the Mushu Pork on Rice; nothing surpremely spectacular but it fit the bill quite nicely. The conversation between the King and the Bishop went a bit deep into electronics, not my strong suit at all so I was able to focus on dinner. However, we were able to connect a bit more when it came to headphones.

The Bishop ordered a side dish of dumplings. They were quite big so I had one of them. As soon as I took a bite, the package just shot a phaser of meat juice about a metre away. Gotta say that it's been a while I've something like that. But the Japanese gyoza aren't quite as large as these dumplings were. The three of us are still thinking about getting that big get-together of the Court for dinner sometime in the next number of weeks, but with a number of the group now fully-grounded family men, it could be difficult.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Telecommuting and Proud of It!

Wednesday March 20, 10:52 a.m.

Monday night was apparently a hellish one for TTC least, more so than usual. Satan must've been stoking the fires a little harder. It seemed to be a perfect storm of emergency buzzers (one for a fight that broke out on a subway...odd, it's not even the weekend) and one dangerous incident in which the doors suddenly opened on a moving packed subway. The response from the TTC was interesting, though. The top brass, including a pale-looking CEO Andy Byford, went on video to publicly apologize for the lousy service. That struck me as a very Japanese thing to do....mind you, he didn't bow deeply, but still, it was a good thing. Commuters were understandably only fairly charitable to the apology....after decades of lousy service, it's gonna take more than a mea culpa to fix things between The Better Way and the unhappy customers.

When I saw that transportation disaster happen on TV, I just thanked my circumstances that I now work from home. Yup, I'm a grateful telecommuter. Since I tap on my computer all day as a translator, I now just leave my home only to either take that needed walk or go downtown because I want to, not because I have to. There was that big news in business in which some of the large companies such as Yahoo or Google (not sure which) recently rescinded the telecommuting policy and forced all employees to return to the ship and batten down the hatches...perhaps nervous that some of those formerly far-flung employees were taking advantage of working at home or at the nearest Starbucks.

To be honest, there are some people who are just not made out to be telecommuters. The temptations are too great: easy access to regular TV and no access by the powers-that-be to look over your shoulder. It's like being back at university. Some students study better by being at the campus library. Some workers are more productive being in the cubicles. As for me, I seem to be able to exercise far more discipline when it comes to my translating work than when it comes to my weight. If I get an assignment, I get at it until it's done. Mind you, my interest in TV has waned down to a nub and frankly I like my job.

Still, it seems as if this sudden switch in the trend of telecommuting is very localized. According to a newspaper article, people being given sanction to work in the comfort of their homes is still alive and well and probably will not be reversed unless the economy really tanks.