Sunday, May 31, 2009

Holly Cow! It Is Going Up...

Based on this article -> Loonie up 4 cents against U.S. dollar in week from CBC is not a good sign, the Canadian currency is going up really fast!!!!... And economist predicts it will go up to reach parity with the US dollar by end of the year. If you plan to head to Canada anytime end of the year, do yourself a favor and exchange NOW... Come to think of it, we should be changing soon. The last time we changed, the exchange rate was RM3.01 to a Loonie (CAD$1). That was about slightly less than a month back. Now it is RM3.19....

Not good, not good at all...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cooking: The Love Hate Affair (But mostly L-O-V-E)

Today, we both got back from the lab but did not head home. Infact we walked a little further, made a pit-stop to Shoppers, and then we pop into Fenwick Place to meet up with another student who was selling to use some used stuff. Apparently, there's a classifieds service provided by the University's online portal which allows students / staff to advertise anything they like - even inquring for services ads are sometimes pasted up as well. The fact is, my Mrs managed to contact this student (who incidentally was from China). She sold to us a couple stuff like the clothes basket, 3-hole puncher, files, hangers and waste paper basket. It was ok. Roughly all in all about CAD 35. Which if we had gotten first hand would have more than double that. Its a common culture here (even one that foreigners have learn to easily embrace) - that is the culture of selling and buying used stuff. You see, the kind of stuff made here are pretty much of a higher standard than back home (most of them I would say - thought not everything), and so, its pretty much ok to purchase used items, like clothes, furniture, stationaries, cutleries, cars, etc. There's a famous online portal here that helps facility the trade of selling used items - over here it is called Kijiji. Go google it and see what I mean.

Anyhow, that's not the whole point. Back to the title of this post, what was suppose to be written about is this love-hate relationship we have with "Cooking". Though it has been 1 month of being away from home, we have managed to survive. Most importantly surviving on our own. Yes, our own cooking mostly.

It is indeed a love-hate relationship we have with the kitchen. You love it, but hate the time spend in the process of getting the food on the plate - because mind you, its not just all the apron and waving of the ladel and stuff like that in the kitchen, - but it is also the planning, the research (googling recipes and cooking videos), walking to supermarkets, purchasing the goods, planning (I can't stress this more - because there's just so much 2 person can eat, what more buying too many greens and then ending up not being able to cook it in time), and also the preparation of the raw materials like chopping onions (oh boy, these guys are big and they made you cry more than Asian onions), the garlic, washing the french beans....etc.

The way I am going makes it makes it sound horrible - doesn't it? Well, its a lot of work to be done but it is indeed something refreshing and something to take our minds away from work and studies. Infact, we've learn to love it. And its all good. Coupled with the fact that we don't have cable TV or a car, makes us want to do more creative things. So "Cooking" has become somewhat a combination of art and science to us. A place where we can put our detective minds to work asking though questions like:
  • What's the best way to cut the chicken?
  • What's the right fire to cook the bacon?
  • How many bacons should you cook to make a decent bacon bits?
  • How long can you keep your bacon bits?
  • How can you keep your veg and which time of storage is best to keep its freshness?
  • What would make a swell pasta?
  • What's the best seasoning for a potato salad?
  • What goes best with your cup of coffee on a boring misty and foggy weekend?
  • How bout using pesto sauce for seasoning?
  • Would course salt be better than fine salt in this?
  • and the list goes on and on...
"Cooking" - I can say, is nothing more than a way of life. And so its encompasses more than just art and science (which I choose to believe). -- It is like a religion. Woah!!!!

Living the "Cooking" process has broaden our minds to the endless possibilities that may eventually end up at the bottom of our bellies. But it is NOT the getting there that's important but it is being present in every moment - be it in the kitchen, the supermarket, the bathroom (thinking of the next recipe while showering), etc that makes it a worthwhile experience, don't you think so? At least both of us do....

Have a nice day now....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mirror Mirror On The Wall...

Imaginary me (the weather does this to you):
Mirror mirror on the wall,

What's the weather like tomorrow and the rest of the week?

Just because you ask, I'm giving you a bonus 1 sunny day amongst whole streak of cloudy and rainy days... Enjoy it!!!

Imaginary me:
What? That's not even a full sunny day. Looks like a possibility of "frost" on Wednesday.

Take it or leave it!

Imaginary me:
I'm taking it. Better than nothin' this part of the world...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New Blog On Technology

Ok, here's the thing I am tech geek. I just can't help it. So there's a part of me that can't stop but to show off my technical prowess. And lately, that side of me keeps on spilling into this blog. So being a purist and upon having receive some good advice around me, I've decided to separate the two.

Technical stories will now be posted into my technical blog, while this blog will maintain its focus in sharing the experiences that my wife and I have in our adventure staying overseas here in Canada. So, if you can spare the techno-babbel, and some times (un)-wise crack of jokes, head over to my new tech blog which I've titled as "Techno-4-pho-bia" or type into your browser's address box.

Trip To Staples

Did we say that stationaries are expensive. Well they are! At the university's book shop, and even at Walmart itself. We never thought that we come to say this, but we're in desperate need for stationary supplies. Especially files and folders to help sort our mounting pieces of papers, documents and notes. Without them, its all clutter here and there. But our first visit to the university's book shop came with a suprise. We found out that there was no (none at all) files with 2 rings sold. So being the type that would not make a hasty decision, we went to Walmarts and lo-behold, we ended up with nothing because why? There were no files and folders with 2 rings sold.

We then decided that we have no choice but to give in to the fact that files here are 3 rings and that we should just proceed with buying the necessary suplies. But the price was way way expensive. Imagine a simply thin file with 3 rings cost a minimum of CAD 6. Times that by 3 it would be RM 18. But here's the thing, even if you don't convert it is still expensive because you could get the same type in Malaysia for below RM 6. Let's not get to the 3-hole puncher. That's another killer.

That's the reason why, come this weekend, we decided to take matters into our hands and since we were told that Staples would have a better selection of things for stationary supplies, we though, heck yea, let's go to Staples. Anyhow to cut the long story short, we did not buy anything. The fact of the matter is, the stationaries are expensive here - period. We will simply be using our slide-in folders rather than the ring ones and wait until Fall sales arrives (that's when summer ends and students prepare to head back to school).

Below are some photos our trip to Staples on Saturday. Along the way, we pass by Public Gardens from another angel, the Museum of Natural History and Citadel. We also visited another shopping mall called Scotia Square.

Here was our walking path -> here.

5 minutes into the walk and we are nearing Public Gardens.

bus stop infront of PG

Fences along the Public Garden, to the left hand side is the cemetery.

Fence again

People picnicking at the Gardens. It was a fine weather that day.

Beautiful view of the garden.

Benches at the garden

Back entrance to the garden

The museum



Mooseheads - its the stadium where they play ice hockey. If I'm not mistaken, Mooseheads is the name of the team too.

Scotia Square

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Doing The Unthinkable

We got our new additional laptop last week Friday. Yes its a Dell and not a Asus or HP or Lenovo(Thinkpad). Being so used to Thinkpads, we finally gave in to Dell eventually. But I would say this though, Dell has come a long way and their laptops are just as good and as though as Thinkpads.

Anyway, back to the topic - anyone who has gotten a new laptop would savour it and get straight to adding on their favourite softwares and start using away. But I did the unthinkable. At first I was rather skeptical and a bit afraid of what the outcome would be given that I am not too familiar with Dell laptops. So after some investigating online, I summon enough courage to reformat the all NEW laptop. For all who aren't familiar with computer terms, reformat means to get rid of whatever software is existing in it and replace it with a new one - well sort of, you get the idea.

The whole thing is because I wanted to install 2 Operating System on to 1 machine and the laptop actually only came with a single partition on a 320 GB hard drive. That means that should one Operating System fail, it would most likely affect the other if they were all on the same partition. Therefore the most logical thing to do was to create a new partition and have each Operating Systems installed on separate partitions. Besides, I hated the default factory configurations that Dell provided (they simply installed too many unnecessary software and were simply on trial only), so it was good opportunity to reformat the machine and at the same time create the necessary partitions on the hard drive.

And so within 2 days of laborous installation and configuration (especially with device drivers for both OSes), I've successfully installed Windows XP with Service Pack 3 and also Ubuntu 8.10 64bit on to this baby. We haven't got a name for it yet, so still thinking...

Goin2Canada's Blog Browsing Guide

Earlier on, I mentioned here, that I will author some simple blog guide for those who are just trying out to go online and read up our blog yet aren't to sure how to go about browsing it. Well here goes. Hope you could benefit from this.

At the bottom most of this blog, after the very last article, you'lkl see the link "Older Posts"

On the right hand side of the blog are some navigation features and their purposes are explain below.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Went To Staples

So we went to check out Staples today. The nearest one was about 2.2 KM away from our place.

View Larger Map

Anyhow it was good day for a stroll and we did so. Walked that far to Staples but along way, saw that the trees were already in full bloom and not like before which were pretty much barren.

Will post up the pictures here in a bit...
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Blogging with Flock

I'm switching over to Flock for blogging because it is overall easier to manage - especially when I have to many accounts with too many services (picasa / flickr / facebook / youtube / etc. etc.)

I have used it before but kind drop it from my choice of browser when Google's Chrome came into the picture.

I have also been habouring on the thought of setting up another blog specifically to express my technical side rather than mixing it up here with our accounts of being here in Canada.

On another note, if you have been following the blog and are wondering why there are no pictures of us, well, that's kind-a-like the central theme to it. We intend to keep it quiet. I suppose only those who knows it per say would really know who we are. For now, we are kind of happy with it that way. We may decide to reveal our appearance down the road although we may not necessarily announce it.

On the matter of comments, I've set it to moderated. And that's the case for now. I am leaning on removing that setting to all comments to come through without prior approval - although we'll keep a close look out at what's being posted from time to time.

Lastly, we're aware of some of the folks not being particularly familiar with the use of technology and may require some assistance. Therefore I'm planning to write a piece to explain on how to browse through the blog e.g. looking for past articles, filtering through tags, etc etc.. That way you could benefit and use this knowledge I'll impart when you reading other blogs as well....

So stay tune and watch this space...
Blogged with the Flock Browser

New Toy -- Pls Suggest A Name

Behold the new laptop... It is really huge because it has a 17'' screen (which is good for watching movies since we don't have a TV or cable, but we compensate that with the wonders of virtual sharing if you know what I mean).

As in all things close to you, there is name, care to suggest one for this?

Btw, I'm still working on getting the Ubuntu drivers fix. Right now we're going out to Staples to look for stationary. It is a GREAT weather here in Halifax (for the pass 3 days already). Cross our fingers and hope today stays the same.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wubi - Ubuntu Installer for Windows

Just got our all new laptop from Dell. It's a 17' in Vostro 1720 (Thx YK, WL, & TC). Currently installing Ubuntu on it using Wubi. Earlier on reformatted, because it only came in a single partition. Now I've got it to on 3 partitions so that 1 is for WinXP SP3, another for Ubuntu Linux and the other as a repository.
Wubi - Ubuntu Installer for Windows
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sir Paul is Coming To Halifax

Sir Paul's coming to Halifax and will be performing at Halifax Commons. Read the news
here and here.

Mum, guess you need not come :) cause you've already seen him live in Genting right? Best seats too, unlike here, it would be jam pack with standing fans - 60,000!!!!

Moving Into The 4th Week

Ok here goes, crunching fingers and streching out my arms, and I am somewhat please with our accomplishments this past 3 weeks, although there's an ever growing thought that a definite heavy load is starting to set its weight on us - the path to completing our PhD begins.

Our decision to set foot on this foreign land didn't come easy. It was mixed with lots of emotional and mental challenges. Along the way, we have on numerous occasions, talked, discussed, rationalized, argued and make up, countless of times. We've also planned, estimated, calculated, thought, consulted, seek and have all the things you could have thought of done, to make this a reality. And now, we are finally here.

Then of course, we have to face a new set of challenges here itself - like getting use to the weather, the culture, the banking system (oh, don't let me get started on the banking system - I guess I'll blog about it another day), etc etc. You see, the cycle didn't stop at the 2nd paragraph. Infact, it just started. And we have asked ourselves this seemingly nagging question, especially when we ease our bodies while sinking into our all Canadian queen sized mattress - "Was is it all worth it?". "Why this?". "Couldn't it be somewhere closer to home?". So tempting are these thoughts, just wondering and lurking at the darkest of corners, waiting to be entertained by our surrendering and day's end's forlorn minds. Of course our scoreboard is clean, we've not given up. If there should be any result, it is definitely not nil on our end. This adventure would either make us or break us. And we choose to make it through - and make it a worthwhile experience as we log our experiences down on this little blog we created here.

I/We hope that one day we will be able to look back and read this thinking - "It was all worth-it!!". And also, we could not have done it all without the support of our family members, close friends, and some suprisingly unexpected guardian angels (if I could say it so). Thank you for all your support and encouragement. It meant alot to us.

MSI Health Card

Ye ha... Finally, something off our minds... We can now heave a sigh of relief because we just received our health cards from the provincial government's health department.

Public Gardens @ Halifax

Just some shots we took when visiting Public Gardens last week.

The flowers are just starting to bloom but the leaves haven't really covered all of the trees yet. Some are still a lil' late but I suppose by next month it would really be more beautiful than this. So we'll be going back again then one more time and will give you a lil' before and after.

TGIF In A Bottle

Back home, TGIF or Thank Goodness Its Friday's is just a mere restaurant. Well of course its franchised from the states I guess. But here you can find them in a bottle. We went to a liquor store to just take a peek at some of the booze (not that we drank any). But yea, peeking the boozie...

This one's called Mudslide.

Some ol' Photos

Finally managed to get the photos out of my Samsung Telus phone. Here are some a wee bit ol' shots that we took during the 1st week.

Here's a few taken at the bus stop.

As you can see the bus stop is just next to Saint Mary's University (SMU).

Inglish St. where the bus stop is.

On our back from Darmouth, before boarding the Metro bus

Sunday, May 17, 2009

High Speed Internet At Its BEST

Holly Cow! That's pure braven speed. My net connection is so fast here in North America. I'm getting a BLAZING download speed of up to 270 Kb/s at peak and on average 180 Kb/s. A 1.3 Gb file now can be completely downloaded in a day's time if the connection is left on.

Oh well, its definitely a better alternative than to go to the cinemas. Which cost the same price back home dollar per dollar. CAD 9 per ticket which is RM 27 just for a show. I can save a whole lot more now.

Sunday Breakfast With Bagel & Yogurt

Yea... Today's spread consist of premium bagel (topped with all the seeds you can get) - cut into 2 peices and buttered. The meal also includes yogurt mixed with cereal and berries (blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry). Last but not least - a cup of coffee (a must have!).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fiddlehead aka Paku

Over here, paku / pako is called fiddlehead. And they are only harvested in early spring. We had the opportunity to buy some from Atlantic supermarket.

Here's what we did with it.

We boiled it. And ate it with melted butter. Yum...

Ok ok, it wasn't really that fantastic. But at least we tried it. Anyhow, loved the baked haddock fish we did.

Out of the oven


Shy fish hiding behind the greens....

Pray hard that tomorrow won't rain, so that we can walk to Swiss Chalet for lunch.