Tag Archives: Montreal

So Many Places, So Little Time

Sounds about right.

I have a mad case of wanderlust this eve.

I know, I know – that’s really not a big surprise. We all know that I’m pretty much always one with the wanderlust. Regardless, I started chatting about potential Christmas trips with my brother and now I can’t get it out of my mind. The problem is that there are just so may places to go. And not enough time. Or money.

Anyway, my options (at least as far as I can tell) are as follows:

I’m leaning heavily towards NYC given what’s happened there in the past few days/weeks. Also, because I love NYC. But visiting Chicago would give me the opportunity to visit my friend Ben, and also explore another city that I love. And then there are those other cities that I’ve never visited – Seattle and Boston to be specific. Perhaps I should visit them?

Wherever I decide to go, I know that the adventure is going to be a blast. In the meantime, if you have a preferred destination – let me know in the comments.

GPS Or Naming Fail?

The newly minted Mr. and Mrs., sharing their first dance as bride and groom.

So as I wrote yesterday, last night I attended the wedding of my friends Erin and John. And I will repeat what I wrote yesterday – the wedding was fantastic.

The most important and amazing thing about the weekend was the opportunity it afforded to be able to spend time with friends that so rarely are able to get together under one roof at the same time. It’s not for lack of want, it’s just a reality of busy schedules, family commitments, work, and the like. The fact that some of the group now live in Ottawa and Montreal also limits the time we can all spend together.

Last night, however, was a perfect opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate something awesome. The bride of course was beautiful, and the groom, well he didn’t look too bad either.

The day wasn’t without its glitches. Fortunately, these had nothing to do with the bride or groom, and a lot to do with GPS.

Let me explain. The wedding ceremony was scheduled to take place at 3:30pm at 29 Queenston Street, Queenston, Ontario1. Matt and I left the hotel at 2:55 with the Google Map knowledge that it would take us 15-20 minutes to get to the chapel barring traffic.

Now, let me show you what Google presented to us when I asked it for directions from our hotel in Niagara falls to the address listed above:

Everything looking kosher, we set off for the church. On arrival however, we quickly realized that something was wrong. Very wrong. While we did see a church, the parking lot was empty. The time, 3:20.

I want to marry this cake. Sadly it was full of dairy evil, so I could only admire it from a distance. Stupid dairy, coming between me and my one true love.

I double checked that the address I had entered was correct. No problems there. And yet, clearly, we were not at the destination we needed to be.

What the frick Google? What the frick?

We tried to call our friends, but of course they all had their phones off or on vibrate as the ceremony was only minutes away from starting. We quickly jumped to the website to learn that the chapel shared land with the Laura Secord Homestead.

Entering the Laura Secord Homestead into Google we discovered, much to our horror, that there was in fact a town called Queenston. Google had sent us to a neighbourhood of St. Catherines known as Queenston. Strangely enough, both the town and the neighbourhood had streets named Queenston. And strangely enough, both had addresses of 29 Queenston Street. And even more amazing, the Google directions sent us to a church in both cases2.


At this point, Google informed us that we would need 22 minutes to get to where we were meant to be. As we were about to take off, we quickly identified another invitee who had made the same mistake as us. After running up to her car3, we had her follow us. She was clearly distraught and upset that we were all likely going to miss the ceremony.

The traditional Bride dances with 6 foot banana dance. So beautiful. Excuse me, I think I must have something in my eye.

On the drive there, both Matt and I discussed the probability of making it in time. It didn’t seem likely. We left the wrong address at about 3:28. Given that all weddings start late, we figured we’d have 10 minutes of grace. Assuming the wedding would last 30 minutes, and assuming all things worked out perfectly, we’d arrive at 3:50 with about 15 to 20 minutes left in the ceremony.

The good news: we arrived around 3:50. The bad news, and this came as no surprise given Erin’s organizational mastery, the wedding not only started on time, it lasted 20 minutes. We arrived seconds after the bride and groom were whisked away.

Fortunately, our friends shared in the humour of the situation4. From there, we returned to the hotel to freshen up and then head off to the reception.

As I wrote yesterday, the reception was amazing, the food was spectacular, and spending time with my friends was priceless. Thanks to Matt for driving all weekend. Thanks to Rob and Marina for getting me home today. And thanks to everyone for making last night such an awesome night.

And of course, congratulations to John and Erin.

Oh, and as for you Google Maps – I guess that you are forgiven. I mean, how are you to know that two places could have the same address and be only 22 minutes away from each other?

1 An address that will forever be etched in my memory.

2 Although technically the church we drove to was actually numbered 33. Twenty-nine Queenston was next door.

3 And likely scaring the sweet bejebus out of her.

4 Especially since Greg and Marla apparently typed in the address wrong (using road instead of street)5.

5 That error sent them to Private Eyes 2, which just so happens to be a strip club. Clearly not the typical place for a wedding ceremony.

Idempotent, Not Impotent.

If Jon were idempotent, then if we multiplied Jon with Jon, we'd end up with Jon. Math is fun!

Remember that time I went to Montreal just a few days ago? Well, as I had mentioned, it wasn’t all just fun, food, and sampling the fine fares of a most excellent city. It was also a time to get my nerd on by writing grant applications, and by chatting with Dr. Steph about the subdistribution hazard function in survival analysis. I know, exciting stuff for sure.

But dear readers, those weren’t the only nerdly things to occur on my trip. You see, whilst perusing the streets of Montreal my friend Jon asked if he could request that I post a particular blog entry. Hells ya, I replied. Okay, maybe I simply nodded my head or said sure. The point is I don’t remember what I did, but I do know that I was absolutely game for a blog request.

Jon and Kathy, or in mathematical terms, Awesome times 2. (Note, I may have stolen this picture from Jon's facebook page. Stolen pictures are the best kind of pictures.)

After Jon asked the question, I had assumed that he’d request a blog entry about Montreal, or perhaps one of the other adventures we had been on together. Or maybe he wanted to see a blog about the Big-Chairs from the night before. Whatever it was, I was unprepared for his reply.

What do you want me to write about, Jon? I asked.

I want to know what Idempotent means to a mathematician. 

Of course, hearing this I immediately had a few reactions. First, I was a bit dumbfounded. Idempotent? Jon’s nerd bar was clearly raised by about 1ooo percent. Second, I couldn’t help but wonder How does Jon know about idempotency? I mean, as far as I know this isn’t a common word. Jon’s intrigue factor may have also just increased 1000 fold. Well played Jon. Finally, I thought SQUEEEEEEEEE! Someone wanting me to write about math? That is FREAKING AWESOME.

Anyway, what the hell is idempotency? Simply put, something that is idempotent doesn’t change when applied to itself. Wait. What? It’s probably easiest to understand this when we think of an example.

Consider the number 1. We know that 1\times 1=1. That is, when we multiply 1 by itself, it doesn’t change. In this case, 1 is idempotent. But that’s a little boring, so how about we try this one on for size. Consider the following 2\times 2 matrix

\left[    \begin{array}{cc}    1 & 1\\    0 & 0    \end{array}    \right].

This is apparently an idempotent matrix. How so? Well, first we need a bit of a refresher on matrix multiplication, because although it is straightforward, it’s not quite the same as multiplying 2 numbers together and recording the product. Anyway, assuming we can multiply 2 matrices together (and I’m not going to get into when we can’t right now), then we’d have

\left[    \begin{array}{cc}    a & b\\    c & d    \end{array}    \right]\times    \left[    \begin{array}{cc}    e & f\\    g & h    \end{array}    \right]=    \left[    \begin{array}{cc}    a\times e+b\times g & a\times f + b\times h\\    c\times e + d\times g & c\times f + d\times h    \end{array}    \right]    .

So, for a matrix to have the idempotent property, we would need

\left[    \begin{array}{cc}    a & b\\    c & d    \end{array}    \right]\times    \left[    \begin{array}{cc}    a & b\\    c & d    \end{array}    \right]=    \left[    \begin{array}{cc}    a^{2} + bc & ab + bd\\    ac+ cd & bc+d^{2}    \end{array}    \right]    ,

to hold true. This means that we have a system of 4 equations in 4 unknowns. Specifically, the elements a,\ b,\ c,\ \mathrm{and}\ d must be selected so that all of the following equations are satisfied:

  • a^{2}+bc=a,
  • ab+bd=b,
  • ac+cd=c, and
  • bc+d^{2}=d.
Jon, on the swing, pondering idempotentcy. (Note: this picture was also stolen from facebook, and we know how I feel about stolen pictures).

Anyway, if we apply the normal matrix multiplication to our matrix, we can see that it is idempotent. That is, the matrix times itself is itself:

\left[    \begin{array}{cc}    1 & 1\\    0 & 0    \end{array}    \right]\times    \left[    \begin{array}{cc}    1 & 1\\    0 & 0    \end{array}    \right] =    \left[    \begin{array}{cc}    1 & 1\\    0 & 0    \end{array}    \right].

Cool! Note that idempotentcy isn’t a characteristic of all matrices. Only a special type of matrix can claim to be idempotent.

So there you have it Jon (and dear readers). Idempotent, not to be confused with impotent, is a rather cool little characteristic from a mathematical point of view.

Thanks for the question Jon; you are a good and nerdly man. Furthermore, dear readers, feel free to offer me any other ideas for blog entries (perhaps in the comments section). I shall do my best to address all those that I can.

Péché De Gourmandise Tastes So Good!

Steph and me being, well, Steph and me.

Monday in Montreal was fantastic. Steph and I woke relatively early in order to work on a project that we hope we’ll be able to submit for peer review and publication in the very near future.

Amazingly, the apartment we were staying in just so happened to have a blackboard. Clearly, the gods of math and stats wanted us to work. And we did. After some initial discussion regarding the general project outline, Steph gave me a bit of a refresher on survival analysis. You see, while Steph and I both have PhDs in Statistics, she focussed on survival analysis, while I focussed on spatial analysis. Thankfully, having worked together for so long, and having taken an interest in each other’s work, we aren’t complete n00bs when it comes to what the other is doing.

But enough about that nerdery.

Following a morning full of getting our nerd on, Steph, Jamie, Kathy, Jon and I headed out for lunch. After a short adventure on the Metro, we made our way to Limon, a most awesome Mexican restaurant.

My glass is no longer empty. Hurrah!

Given that the weather was sunny and beautiful, we had hoped to have lunch on the patio. However, being full we opted for an indoor sit down and a pitcher of sangria for which to drown our sorrows. Appetizers and mains were ordered, and we then past the time chatting and laughing, as per usual. Having a small appetite still, my appetizer was shared with Jon – calamari. Simple, but delicious. It also came with a sauce, but it looked to be full of dairy so I bypassed that. I also may have stolen a few of Steph’s corn chips and guacamole. And can we talk about the guac? Holy cripes on a cracker that stuff was AWESOME. Refreshing and light, just enough garlic, and so good it may have demanded that I steal more. Demanded I say.

At first I was torn with what to order for lunch, as everything looked so good. But then something jumped out at me and everything else faded from memory. The attention-grabbing foodstuff was, in fact, ceviche camarones; shrimp, cooked with lime juice, and served with cilantro and oh so refreshing. It was also served on avocado (which in my opinion was a brilliant way to serve it) with corn chips. I definitely squeed when I tried it. It was light, and refreshing. The citrus and cilantro complementing each other perfectly. I think it may have also had a slight sprinkling of sea salt on top, but that might have been the salt flavouring from the corn chips. Regardless, the combination of flavours was excellent. My taste buds and my belly were very happy.

Patron XO Cafe. You should buy this. DO IT.

After lunch, Jamie recommended that I try the Patron XO Cafe on ice. It’s tequila, but with coffee flavours infused within it. If you like Kahlua or Tia Maria, I guarantee you will like this. In fact, I enjoyed this so much that I immediately jumped on the LCBO website to figure out if they carry it. And they do! As for Jamie, she gets +1000000 interweb points for that recommendation.

We wandered the city following lunch so that we might walk off some of the food that we just ate. We all felt painfully full. We also headed to the market so that necessary supplies could be picked up. Supplies such as cheese and fruit.

Eventually we made our way to the Latin Quarter and ultimately to the Sainte Elisabeth pub, which has one of the best, most unique patios I’ve been on in a long while. We sat there for a few hours chatting, laughing, and drinking a few pints, all while surrounded on all sides by the high walls of the whatever-the-building-used-to-be. I think it was probably a factory or old apartment building, but I’m honestly not sure. The walls were almost overgrown with ivy, making them appear alive. Ever time a breeze came through, the walls would respond as if they were breathing. Amazing. The walls also served to keep out the noises of the city, creating a rather sheltered spot for which to enjoy the day, and the company.

This wine surprised me. At first, I wasn't a huge fan, but it went so well with my venison that I'd definitely get it again.

There was a quick return back to the apartment where we enjoyed some bad TV together, and then we were off again. This time for a late dinner at La Salle a Manger. In a word – unfreakingbelievalable. Dinner was amazing. It started with an appetizer of oysters and some sparkling wine, followed by a sweet bun stuffed with pulled duck. My main was venison steak with mixed veggies, and that was paired with a very light red wine. On its own, I wasn’t overly impressed with the wine, but served with the venison and it suddenly changed. It was light, but the perfect accent for the richness of the meat. Honestly, it was the best meal I’ve had in a long time, and I highly recommend anyone that is in Montreal to check this place out. The service was great, the environment was awesome. I’m going to make sure to return when I’m next visiting the city.

Once dinner ended, we sauntered back to the apartment, very full, and very happy. Steph and I stayed up chatting until the wee hours of the morning which is why my early morning wake up to fly home was less than awesome. Regardless, it was so worth getting to spend time in an awesome city, with great friends, great food, and most importantly, a chance to see both Rick and Steph in one weekend. Amazing!

Thanks Rick and Steph for an awesome visit. And thank you Kathy, Jamie and Jon for introducing me to so many great new restaurants. Hopefully next time I won’t have to leave so early.

Note: I believe that péché de gourmandise translates to the sin of gluttony

Très Bien Montréal. Très Very Bien.

The Doctors in Montreal.

This morning I awoke around 3:30am. I know, I threw up a little in my mouth when I wrote 3:30am too. But such is the life of this intrepid explorer. Okay, maybe not so much intrepid explorer as wanderlusting nerd. POH-TATE-OH, PO-TOT-OH.

Why, pray tell, did you wake up at the ungodliest of ungodly hours, when there are so many godly hours for which you could have woken? you ask. Well, today was the day I had to say au revoir to Montréal. T’was a sad parting, but I made sure to let Montréal down easy. I also reassured her that I would not be gone long. How can one be gone from such an amazingly vibrant city? It’s not possible I says. Not possible.

Back to the story at hand. When last we spoke, nigh on 3 days ago, I had just finished a most excellent Friday night of gallivanting with my dear friend Rick. When I awoke on Saturday at the reasonable hour of whatever-it-was, I was a bit parched, and perhaps a bit on the hung-over side; a sign that the night before was just as fun as I had remembered (thanks Mr. Rick). But, being the up-and-at-em sort of fellow that I am, I got up and headed out for some hangover cure-all; Starbucks.

Since I had Ville-de-Montréal all to myself (Rick had other obligations, and Dr. Steph wasn’t arriving until Sunday eve, and Dr. Beth was at home), I struck out on an extended walk. I toured Rue Sainte-Catherine and all of its lovely stores (Hugo Boss, I’m looking at you). I also spent an extended period down by the water, wandering Old Montréal. I opted to have lunch at Les 3 Brasseurs, which of course had to include a beer. Hair of the dog if you will. Following lunch, I returned to my room for a bit of a nap. Apparently the late hour from the night before followed by an extended walk demanded a rest.

That night I returned to Les 3 Brasseurs for a bottle of La Belle Province, a very tasty 750 ml bottle of heaven. And by heaven, I mean delicious amber beer. It’s 7% by volume, so of course, I was a bit toasted by the time the bottle was done. I wandered the streets some more and then returned to my room for a relatively early night.

Sunday was a day of work. And by that, I mean I spent the day in various locations writing up one of the 2 grants that I have been working on. Thrilling, I know. The day started weighing on me, what with the grant writing, and how grant writing can suck the life out of you like a Dementor. Thankfully, Dr. Steph, Jamie, Kathy and Jon arrived just in the nick of time. I haven’t seen Steph in far too long, so of course there was much catching up to do, as well as much hugging, and general shenanigans.

To celebrate their arrival, and the 2 year anniversary of Steph’s Ph.D. defence, we opened up a bottle of champagne, and may also have had some delicious cupcakes, and then another bottle of wine – this time a Riesling. It was an awesome feast. But, one cannot survive on cupcakes and booze alone, so off we went in search of food.

Dinner was found about 25 minutes away (by foot), at a tapas and paella restaurant called Sala Rosa. Much was ordered. If I remember correctly, this included the chorizo frito, aceitunas, rapini con ajillo, patatitas fritas con romero, ensalada de espárrago y champinón, plato anti-pasto, and the paella de pollo y mariscos (but they were actually out of pollo). The meal was fantastic, and was washed down with several rounds of sangria. Jon and I topped it all off with a very nice glass of scotch.

After wandering home, Steph and I stayed up chatting for a bit before hitting the hay. All said, it was an awesome ending to a very draining day of grant writing.

Anyway, this post is verging on too long, so I’ll leave the final full day of adventuring for later.

I miss you already Montréal. I miss you long time.

Bonjour Montreal

After a long day, longer flight, and getting stuck in traffic, I am rewarded with a beer with Mr. Rick.

Remember that time I decided to take a trip every month for an entire year? Yeah, while I’m still doing that. W00t!

Yesterday I departed YYZ (also known as Toronto Pearson Airport) for the 10th time. That is, I started my 10th trip in 9 months. That’s right folks, I’m ahead of schedule. Does this mean I’ll slack off next month? Hells no. Next month I’m heading to Victoria to give an invited talk at the GEOMed conference of Awesome. And I believe the month after that I’m going to be heading to New York with Dr. Gerarda and Dr. Steph, hopefully to see The Book of Mormon. It shall also be filled with excellent food, tasty beverages, and lots of laughs.

Is that weird? I mean, is it weird that I think about new adventures even as I sit at an airport, watching planes load and unload, planning to head out on my current adventure? Apparently my wanderlust is just that strong. I’m not sure that I really mind though.

Back to the story at hand. My current adventure is a short trip to Montreal. I had planned to meet up with Dr. Steph on Sunday to work on a few papers, and was going to stay until Wednesday, however, the Fates conspired against me and I’ve been forced to cut the trip short in order to be home in time for a meeting on Tuesday. Thankfully, the Fates also decided that I should be rewarded for attending this meeting on Tuesday, and thus provided me the perfect excuse to fly to Montreal on Friday, instead of Sunday.

A view of the city from the plane.

What pray tell is this perfect excuse? Only that Mr. Rick (whom you’ll remember as the man who played the part of my hero when I smashed my face, and also the part of fellow adventurer while I dove out of a plane, climbed several mountains, and poked the lava, or even perhaps for this), had a meeting there on Friday. That’s right, he’s in Montreal too.

So, while the Fates have conspired to cut my trip short, they have also granted me with more than just some much-needed Dr. Steph time. They have given me some Mr. Rick time. And hanging out with those two nerds for the weekend sounds like a fair price to pay.

Getting here was a bit of an adventure; meetings that ran late meant I had to rush home to pack (with only about 35 minutes until Red Car picked me up), only to realize that I lost my glasses at the school; back to the school to do a quick search (thanks Dom for driving my sorry ass all over the place); no luck, return home; find glasses attached to my school bag (what the what?); board Red Car; head to the airport; board flight; flight delayed 50+ minutes for some odd reason (apparently only 1 runway was available at YUL); leave Toronto; land in Montreal (a.k.a. YUL); flight again delayed at the terminal for 20+ minutes (the gate wasn’t free because some silly WestJet flight was in our way – what’s up with that WestJet? I thought we were friends?); finally leave the plane to wait for 20+ minutes for a cab (really, another line?); traffic; more traffic; even more traffic (good lord I’m never going to get there); and finally, finally, I arrive at my hotel.

My view from our dinner table, minus the smoking man who really shouldn't have been smoking

And right at the moment I arrived at my hotel, Rick sent a text asking how soon I would arrive. You see, Rick being Rick, he had wandered over to my hotel from his hotel in order to facilitate our adventure, so he had been standing in the relative cold for probably 20 minutes or so. He’s just efficient and crazy like that. This means that as my cab drove up, the first sight I saw was my friend, my hero, my fellow adventurer, and the man who did this standing there with a big goofy grin on his face. And suddenly the crazy trip didn’t matter at all.

Truth be told, by the time Rick and I finally met up last night, I was tired and ready for bed. But clearly we had shenanigan-ing to get up to. And so we did. It definitely involved almost having dinner with a smoking man who clearly was suffering from something that probably wasn’t being helped by smoking. It definitely involved a highly inappropriate gift. It definitely involved a random karaoke bar. It definitely involved wandering and chatting and some tasty beverages. Most importantly, it definitely involved laughing, and chatting, and catching up, and a lot more laughing. A most awesome way to end a day that was a bit on the questionable side.

But I’ll leave all that for another post. Especially since it’s a beautiful day outside and I really shouldn’t be sitting here poking away at the keyboard.

20000 Reasons To Smile Like An Idiot

On May 19, 2011, Consumed By Wanderlust hit 10,000 page views. At that time, I was amazed at the number of people reading and commenting on my blog.

Well folks, today marks another monumental step for this blog. Today is the day that I hit 20,000 page views. Twenty freaking thousand! That’s incredible. If only each of those views came with a dollar; we could have a wicked awesome party. And who doesn’t want to celebrate 20,000 views?

How am I actually going to celebrate? Well, I’m going to have a bit of a nap (as I was up quite late last night working), then maybe a run, followed by a tea and some food, and then bed. Sweet, sweet, bed. Yes, I’m just that much of a party animal. Oh, and I might also be going to Montreal tomorrow night (where might also be clearly means am), but I’ll leave that particular adventure-in-the-making for another post.

As with my previous milestone of 10,000 page views, I offer you some random facts and statistics about Consumed By Wanderlust. The blog was created on January 19th, but it didn’t go ‘live’ until January 27th. Working from the 19th of January, that means the blog has been chugging along for 239 days. In that time I’ve had 20,000+ views. That’s an average of almost 84 views per day.  Sweet!

I’ve also had 926 comments, with Follow Up III: Dissertation Haiku being the most commented post. Of course, the comments on that particular post consist of a back-and-forth Haiku-off between myself and a friend. Check it out, it’s actually pretty hilarious.

How do the views break down by month and post? I’m glad you asked. And because you’ve asked so nicely, I present to you a tabled summary of number-stuffs and nerdery. Enjoy.

Month Number of Posts Number of Days Number of Views Views Per Day Views Per Post Posts Per Day
January 11 12 477 37 43 0.92
February 28 28 1909 68 68 1.00
March 34 31 3313 107 97 1.10
April 29 30 2532 84 87 0.97
May 28 31 2988 96 107 0.90
June 22 30 2547 85 116 0.73
July 22 31 2029 65 92 0.71
August 26 31 2815 91 108 0.84
September 10 15 1377 82 138 0.67
  • The busiest day on the blog (with 300 views) was August 29. On that day I published Naughty 6 Squared Birthday To Me.
  • The second busiest day of the blog (with 237 views so far) is today. Crazy!
  • Total blog posts = 210 (including this one, but excluding those prior to January 19th, which are posts that were imported from an older blog that I once had a long time ago).
  • Average number of views per day = 84.
  • Average number of views per post = 95.
  • Average number of posts per day = 0.88.
What else can I tell you? How about this – the top search term that brings people to my blog (from Google, for example) is sad baby or some variant of that. Seriously. A quick calculation suggests that about 400 people have found my blog because of this. I’m not sure what to make of that. A close second is pi, with about 350ish people having found my blog due to that search.

Anyway, thank you all for reading and for commenting. I am constantly amazed and honoured at how many of you do. You’ve definitely made this blog a joy to write, and it makes me smile every day. Sort of like this:

I am the happy idiot dog. You are the helping hands that make me smile like an idiot.

Consider yourselves the helping hands that make me smile.

Oh, and don’t worry folks. I’m not planning on updating you with every 10,000 page views. Perhaps the next time you’ll hear about this is when I hit the 40,000 mark. And maybe after that, 80,000. Are you sensing a trend?

Happy reading all y’all. Here’s to the next 20,000 views!