Monday, November 22, 2004

Wok With Yim, part 2

Chicken fajitas (serving 3).

1 lb of chicken breasts, cut into strips.
small red onion, diced
two medium tomatoes, diced
small can of pitted black olives
1/4 head of Romaine lettuce, shredded
2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated
1 package of soft tortillia shells (flour or corn)

Seasonings: chilli powder (about 1/2-1 tsp), tobasco sauce, louisiana hot sauce, worchestershire, fresh cracked pepper, all to taste.

Optional toppings: pickled jalapenos, sour cream, salsa.

I love these types of do-it-yourself recipes where the diner gets to choose what they stuff in their own tortilla shell. They go based on what they like the most or least and they can't complain if someone put too much of whatever in it because they're the ones that they are the ones that assembled it.

This is a really easy recipe as the only thing you're really doing is slicing up vegetables and seasoning then cooking meat. Even that part isn't that hard -- slice chicken into strips, season. Fry onions until slightly brown/translucent, then add meat (being that it's chicken, you don't wanna mess around and serve it slightly raw). Warm up flour or corn tortillias by layering them with moist paper towels and then microwave on high for 30-40 seconds.

Assembly is left up to the diner. I like to go tortillia --> chicken --> cheese --> lettuce --> tomato --> olive --> jalapeno --> salsa --> sour cream --> FOLD.

This was also my first time experimenting with corn tortillias, which I had to get as my sister just discovered that she's allergic to wheat and gluten. I don't actually like soft corn tortillias because they have a bit of a gritty texture to them. Taste, I don't mind so much. But, we still did have a package of flour tortillias.

Lots of variations on this one. You can substitute beef for chicken if you wish.

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Friday, November 19, 2004


Good night, best in a long time / A new friend turned me onto an old favourite /
Nothing better than a dealer who's high / Be high, convince them to buy

What's my drug of choice? / Well what have you got? /
I don't go broke / and I do it a lot."

-"Junkhead" by Alice in Chains, from the album Dirt (1992)

In a previous blog, I mentioned how this month is both video gamer heaven and productivity hell, due to the number of high-profile video games (read: the ones that I really want to play) that are hitting the shelves. Video games and I have a nasty history together, with Doom 2 (or more appropriately, my inability to stop playing it) being one of the reasons why I ended up not getting initial acceptance into UBC upon graduating high school, or that one time when I managed to piss away an entire day playing nothing but Diablo 2.

Video game addiction has become a bit of a hot button topic for educators, parents, psychologists, and more recently, advertisers as well. We joke about it all the time, but there is still a significant amount of controversy surrounding it. Sure, video games can promote problem solving skills, increased hand-eye-coordination, and faster reflexes. But then, they can also suck away hours that could be spent doing more productive or beneficial tasks.

Plus, they are a significant hinderance on a person's social life, even if a person the type isn't already the bookish unsociable type. Everquest, one particularly addictive on-line game, has spawned a whole bunch of "Everquest Widow" support groups, consisting of girlfriends and wives that are being neglected by their Everquest addicted significant others (the game has also been called "EverCrack" by its detractors).

It seems that video game companies are completely aware of the anti-social and addictive properties of their games, as their recent ad campaigns are starting to reflect. A recent ad for EA Sports depicts a young man and a young woman are on a date and like a true gentleman, he holds open a taxi door for her. As she enters, he closes the door and slaps the hood of the taxi, signalling for to leave. We see that he's looking at a bus shelter ad for the new NHL 2005 game.

Another recent ad shows a distraught teenage girl admitting she bought something for her boyfriend that's caused him to withdraw from friends and family. The commercial is shot to resemble an anti-drug commercial, but we soon realize that she's actually talking about the latest Metroid game for Nintendo.

Sure, I regret the all-day benders I've had on Diablo 2 and Doom, the endless hours I've spent on Need for Speed Underground when I clearly should've been studying, or the days whittled away on Tetris. You know you're in really deep trouble when you close your eyes and you can still see those damn blocks falling down.

I've slowly taken steps to curb this. Having recently purchased Half-Life 2, I made a point of doing up a to-do list of things that really need to be done first, and then taping it to the box that the discs come in. As it stands, the to-do list taunts me from the bookshelf.

On the list:
-Finish two major papers
-Study for grammar quiz
-Clean house before mom comes back from vacation
-Dust shelves
-Do dishes

I probably wouldn't have to do this if I purchased Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2 (which comes out on the 20th, as far as I know). While the game is "addictive," most people can't actually play it for more than thirty minutes straight, because it's so physically intensive. Play a more passively physical game like Half-Life 2 and before you know it, the entire week will have passed.

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Monday, November 15, 2004

Wok with Yim

As Mom is off in Hong Kong, I've been forced to channel my inner Stephen Yan, Julia Child, and annoying New York-based TV chef that says "BAM" a lot. Not that I mind, as I actually enjoy cooking (I also have a container full of Banana Chocolate Chip muffins that I made before the weekend). I'm repeatedly told that the ladies love a man who can cook. I have yet to take advantage of this.

Anywho, my latest venture:

3-Bean Atomic Chili (okay, not really my "latest" venture, as I do make it a lot, but considering that the ingredients are different every time...)

-3 lbs of lean ground beef
-4 cups of dried beans (kidney, pinto, black-eye)
-2 cans of diced tomatoes (cheaper than the fresh ones)
-2 carrots (for some odd reason, a 5 pound bag is cheaper than a 3 pound bag...I asked the produce clerk why and he couldn't tell me)
-2 stalks of celery
-1 green pepper
-1 cup of frozen corn (again, cheaper than fresh)
-1 small red onion
-1/4 lb mushrooms

-Soy sauce, black pepper, Dave's Insanity sauce, crushed chillies, chili powder, tobasco sauce, louisiana hot sauce, and paint thinner (just kidding on that last part).

-soak all beans in water overnight
-season meat with whatever you can find (because I do this without any planning, it tastes different every time I make it)
-slice all vegetables
-fry onions with about 1tsp of vegetable oil until transparent, add meat, cook until brown. Remove from heat and place aside.
-Throw everything else into the pot. Add water until everything is juuuuuust covered, bring to boil.
-Add meat, stir, boil for a few more minutes, and set stove to low heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally.
-Add seasonings to taste.
-Allow to thicken and serve. Simmer time will vary, but should be allowed to simmer for several hours at least.

Unfortunately, I didn't really keep concious tabs as to how much Louisiana and Dave's Insanity Sauce I was adding (I gave it a few good shakes), so now the chilli doesn't have any flavour, but it's hot enough to burn through stomach lining. Yesterday's Satay-stir fry chicken and vegetables was much better.

But on the plus side, it means that I won't have to cook for the next week or two.

And remember. If Yim can cook, so can you.

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Thursday, November 11, 2004

In response to yesterday's blog, Debbie notes and asks:

"just out of curiousity, what is your opinion on Catholicism as a moral code that is commonly perceived as 'one that dictates that we act ethically for promise of reward or fear of punishment'?

i'm not trying to insinuate anything; just want to know what you think."

Unfortunately, this is a really huge topic for me that can't be explained in a few sentences, as it's something that I don't fully understand myself. That, and every time the topic of religion is brought up, it opens up a huge can of worms in a lot of people. In most cases, it's simply best to agree to disagree.

But, I actually adapted the idea from an Einstein quote:

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to berestrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

This actually makes complete sense to me, especially since my own views of religion have changed significantly over the years. I mean, I was born and raised Catholic, was an altar boy, and even went to Catholic school (hence, the whole thing about girls in Catholic school uniforms holds no sway for me...but I digress).

However, I'm not practicing Catholic anymore because the church and I disagree on a lot of controversial issues, like same-sex marriages, stem cell research, and birth control. And if that wasn't good enough, you have the Pope, the world's moral religious authority, telling the people of impoverished third world nations not to use condoms as they are ineffective in preventing the spread of AIDS/HIV.

As for the Catholic system of punishment and reward, I would agree that it is certainly a powerful motivator for some people. But for people that don't believe in the notion of heaven and hell, what is there to motivate moral and ethical behaviour? Upbringing would have to do with it, and chances are that a punishment and reward system was incorporated. Draw crayons on the wall? No TV for a week. Get an A on your report card? You get to go see a movie.

But it's not always effective. We have individuals that are supposedly driven by God, but end up doing some really horrible things. We have children being abused in residential schools by Catholic priests, abortion doctors being shot by snipers, holy wars, crusades, and inquisitions. And then you got the televangelists. Don't get me started on televangelists.

I guess what I'm saying is that subscribing to a religious moral code does not necessarily make you better or more ethical than the next person. The percentage of priests that molest children is probably proportional to the number of child molesters among the regular non-denominational population.

As for myself? Despite my beliefs, there's a good possibility that any moral and ethical behaviour I partake in will have no immediate or long-term benefits. I am well aware of this. But, while I'm around, I might as well make the best out of it. Why do I do it? I dunno. I guess it's just the way I was brough up.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Do you believe in Karma?

I haven't quite made up my mind yet. I prefer to live by my own moral code, rather than one that dictates that we act ethically for promise of reward or fear of punishment. But then, there are things around me that make me think.

-An acquaintance relayed a story where his older brother helped a blind man cross the street. "I'm going to have such a good day!" he says, implying that some good will come of his actions. He ends up losing his wallet, containing about $300 in cash.

-Rachel Davis, 23, attempts to intervene when a man is being beaten up outside of a nightclub. She is shot and killed. The shooter happens to be the man she is attempting to aid.

-Sohan Gill, 77, is involved in a hit and run incident. It is estimated that fifteen vehicles pass him by before anyone helps him.

I agree, this world is a really crappy place. However, I see it as a serious sickness of society when people are unwilling to intervene when things happen around them. People don't want to get involved because it's not their business. Or, people don't want to get involved because they don't want to get blamed.

You break a person's ribs while performing CPR, you can get sued. You don't perform CPR because you think you'll break the person's ribs, you'll be charged under some sort of Good Samaritan law.

Me? I returned a wallet to someone on Monday night, having picked it up at the Scott Road Skytrain station. I went to the wrong house first (the address was partially rubbed off the driver's license, so I misread the "8" as a "3"), but eventually found it (I took a detour for nothing, when it was actually 5km from where I live). I arrive at the residence and the wallet owner isn't home, but her brother is. I hand it off and go along my way.

So, does the good deed go unpunished? Does the nice guy finish last? Let's see.

-Tuesday, 16:00: A class that no one really feels like attending is spontaneously cancelled. Good thing.
-16:02. There is a malfunction on the Skytrain, which means the trip takes longer. Bad thing.
-16:03. The second I get on the Skytrain, it actually starts moving. Good thing.
-16:04. I'm forced to disembark at Scott Road Station, wait about ten minutes for another Skytrain to arrive. Bad thing.

Eh, Karma's a sham. It's all about perception.

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Sunday, November 07, 2004

Crunch time at school is supposedly over, as the much trumped-up "Week 9" where all our assignments were all due at once has since been finished. Honestly, I was expecting a lot more, as I only pulled one all-nighter. And that was two weeks before. That was also the same week I discovered the joys of Red Bull ®. Nothing like the feeling of rapid heart beat, twitching fingers, and dodgy eye movement, and then trying to sleep afterwards and getting only about five minutes of intermittent sleep.

However, there still has much work to be completed. As I write this, a rhetorical studies essay (Communications 1118) still needs to be written and the related materials still have to be reviewed, so an outline can be formulated. The desire to slack off is strong in this one.

This is going to get worse, as all of the sequels to the big video games come out this month. Halo 2 (probably gonna give this a miss because I prefer to play First Person Shooters on PC), Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2, Need for Speed Underground 2, and Half-Life 2 all come out within the next few weeks. During the crunch weeks, I've been pretty good about avoiding video games and television (before the weekend, I managed to avoid watching television for about two weeks), but I'm starting to realize what is giving video games their strong appeal: instant gratification.

For the most part, I could probably hold off until December, when I can really, really slack off. But it does lead to the questions as to why video games hold such a strong hold. Sure, November is gaming heaven for some people. But it's also gaming hell for people who are trying to get work done.

Sadly, it's really tough to find anything that can translate in a work and school environment into an instant gratification award. That is, unless your work just happens to involve the sale of illegal mind-altering substances.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

There's never a damn phone booth when you need one!

I finally got my friend to send me photos from Halloween party I attended last Saturday. I seriously lack imagination when it comes to Halloween costumes, usually choosing to dig through the closet. This was probably the first Halloween I dressed up as something different, as I have the tendency to recycle costumes throughout the years.

The clothing for these could easily be worn on an average day with no one really paying any mind if it was worn in any other combination

1994, 1995, 1996: Eric Draven from The Crow (black turtleneck, black pants, black wig, makeup. In 1996, I didn't have to wear a wig)

1997, 1998: N/A. Didn't do anything, no need to dress up

1999, 2000, 2003: Agent Smith from The Matrix / Agent from Men in Black / any Chow Yun-Fat character from a John Woo gangster movie / Mr. Orange from Reservoir Dogs (black suit and tie that has been in my closet forever, plus whatever accessories)

2001, 2002: Waldo from the Where is Waldo book series (red-and-white striped shirt that I found in my closet one day, plus a red-and-white toque, and a walking stick that I covered in red and white material).

I guess that means I'll be dressing up like Clark Kent next year (Superman logo t-shirt with shirt and tie over it, plus Daily Planet press pass).

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

"Jump higher!"
"Tuck your knees in faster!"
"Land on the balls of your feet, not your heels!"
"Don't jump back, jump straight up!"
"C'mon, you only got three more!"

Following Monday's Capoeira class, I found myself breaking out the crash mat and practicing backflips. Having resolved to do at least ten of them after every class, it is something I wish to improve at. The mechanics are quite simple, although difficult to execute if it's something that you have never done before. It's even harder if you are afraid that you are going to land on your head.

But, the mechanics are as follows:

1: Jump really high, making sure that you're jumping straight up while raising your arms.
2: Tuck your knees towards your chest. The motion of doing so causes your body to rotate.
3: Land.

This all happens really fast, so it's not particularly easy to break down into steps. A more simple definition? Just do it.

As I am doing so, I am beckoned from across the room. All the students who were taking the previous class are shouting from across the room. "I've got some advice for you too," one of my fellow students announces. After finishing my practice session, I walk over to her and ask. "Oh, I actually can't do those," she admits, "Everyone else was shouting out advice."

If you've noticed, people are the most prone to give out advice and their own opinions when they are most likely the least qualified. What is even worse is that people are prone to solicit advice and opinions from those that are unqualified as well. If you've ever been in a room with a bunch of people and something goes wrong with the computer, you can be assured that everyone is going to be calling out the things one would usually do. "Run a virus scan!" "Hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE!" "De-frag the hard drive!" "Update the video drivers!"

One could probably dedicate a whole scholarly study to this phenomeon. We see it in our lives all the time. People who can't sort out their own personal lives will be solicited for advice (I know I am), celebrities are consulted for their "expertise" on political matters (are any of them trained?), and if something goes wrong with the VCR at a party, at least one person will be telling the host to adjust the tracking, even if it's clearly a problem with the connections.

Me, I just like helping people. However, I really wonder what kind of "help" I'm providing at times.

And as for my Capoeira class? We all cheer each other on, so it's not such a big deal when we start giving unqualified advice. We all like pushing each other harder so we all can progress. Like I keep saying, in my group, when you pull off the impossible moves, everybody cheers. When you screw them up really badly, everybody cheers LOUDER.

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