Like many of you, I spent yesterday celebrating the Christmas holiday the way it was intended to be celebrated: with lots and lots of food. And booze. And more food. And coffee. Also scotch. And pie.
And because I’m a spoiled bastard, I did all of this while barely contributing much more than my presence to the Christmas celebrations. Personally, I think the Christmas day hosts got the short end of the stick. They prepped and cooked and cleaned and served and served some more; I was chauffeured around, delivered to and fro, stuffed full of treats and coffee, and I was fed and then fed some more.
Today my waistline feels as if it has expanded into territory it hasn’t seen since a hasty retreat several years ago. While the food was definitely worth it, I’m sure a case of buyer’s remorse is going to kick in soon enough. But that’s something to worry about another day. For now, I’m going to enjoy the quiet comfort of my home, and the wee fuzzball snoozing next to me.
I’m also going to spend the day with the very comforting knowledge that I have an amazing group of friends; people who invited me into their homes, treated me as family, and shared their holiday traditions with me. So thanks again Bang, Lindsay, and Henry for an awesome Christmas brunch. And thanks Mark and Julie for a fantastic Christmas feast. I’m so very fortunate that I have you nerds in my life.
In honour of Pi Approximation Day, I thought I’d offer you this most awesomely awesome comic from Dinosaur Comics that approximately honours the approximately awesome awesomeness that is Pi Approximation Day.
Of course, I realize that I’ve offered this comic before but I enjoy the last panel far too much not to share it again.
“Failure is just success rounded down, my friend!”
Now if you don’t mind, I have some pie to rub on my face.
So those of you out there with a keen eye – and let’s be serious, that’s probably all of you – may have noticed a new addition to the blog you have come to know and love1 as Consumed By Wanderlust. Of course, I’m speaking about that fancy new button over there to the right. The one that looks like an unembiggened2 version of this picture to the left.
Well that button is going to be here for a while.
Of course, you’re probably wondering what purpose it might serve. Wonder no more. That button is your link to a massive fundraising campaign that I’m involved in with my friend Danny Williamson, two amazing senior undergraduate students Lee-Jay Cluskey-Belanger and Beni Katznelson, and a team of 30 amazingly dedicated third year Computer Science students at the University of Guelph. The goal is to raise $15000 to help fund the Farm To Fork project – a website designed to improve the quantity and quality of food that makes it to the local food banks and food pantries.
While this isn’t your typical fund-raising campaign associated with a food bank, the end result is the same. With your help, Farm To Fork will be able to improve the quality and quantity of the food that makes its way to families in need. More than just that, Farm To Fork will help maintain a constant flow of quality food; something that is desperately needed between annual food drives.
If you’re interested in donating – please click on the button to the right, or click here. The campaign runs from now until May 19th. Every dollar counts. If you aren’t able to donate, please consider passing this campaign on to as many people as you can.
Okay, so the reason I’ve been slacking with posting here in the past week or so is due in part to a rather big project that I’ve been working on with my friend Danny Williamson. Before I get into all of that, let me give you a bit of back story.
Early last year Danny and I sat down to talk. During the course of our conversation we began to discuss the idea of community problems and how we – as citizens – might be able to do something about them. We weren’t talking, for example, about how we could solve world hunger or stop global warming in the global sense. But we were talking about taking a step in the right direction in our own community. We might not be able to solve hunger on a global scale, but we could address it locally. The idea being that every step, no matter how small, was a step in the right direction.
We left the conversation energized and looking for a local issue to tackle. Eventually we met with the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship on campus. That meeting turned out to be exactly what we needed. Within an hour of chatting with them, Danny and I knew what we were going to do. Over the course of several months, and after several more meetings with the Institute, things began to take shape.
In early September (2012) I met the students in my 3rd year course – CIS3750 Systems Design and Analysis in Applications. It was then that I presented to them their course project. To my amazement, they jumped on the idea. And because of them, and all of their hard work, we are close to launching this thing.
So what exactly is this thing?
It’s called Farm To Fork. It’s an open-source website that we are aiming to launch in September of this year. The idea is to increase the quality and quantity of food being donated to the local emergency food service providers, like the food banks and food pantries. To do this, we needed to facilitate communication between those of us with the ability to donate, and those of us who collect food for those who need it most.
Part of the solution was as simple as providing the emergency food service providers closest to where we live, with the ability to let us know what they need through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, text message, or an email. Think of it this way – how likely would you be to pick up an extra head of lettuce, a bunch of bananas, or even a bag of apples if you knew before you went shopping that the food pantry down the street needed it? I’m thinking for most of us, it’s a no-brainer.
Of course, the website will do more than just connect us with the food banks and food pantries. It will also provide communication tools for food producers (i.e. farmers) who might have produce they wish to donate.
Danny and I are confident that this is part of a better solution. While it won’t solve the hunger problem, it’s a step in the right direction. And if it works in Guelph, it may work elsewhere. And that’s a really cool thought.
Between now and launch date there are still many things to do. Of course, I will keep you posted on progress. And for those who wish to know more info, like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter (@Farm_2_Fork), or check out our blog.
Before closing out this post, it’s important to note that this wasn’t a Dan and Danny project alone. This project required collaboration with the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, the Guelph-Wellington Food Access Working Group, and 30 highly dedicated 3rd year students. This project is a testament to their ability, determination, and kick-ass-awesomeness. If you need something designed – you really should call them.
I’ve spent the better part of my day number crunching, drafting a report, thinking about a grant, and eating. Eating a lot it seems (well, a lot for me).
Okay, maybe it’s not so much that I’ve eaten a lot, maybe it’s just that I seem to have eaten nothing better than the empty Calories known as cookies and coffee. True, I also had some eggs and smoked salmon, and perhaps some chicken and shiitake mushroom soup – all very good and healthy food choices – but it feels as if I’ve eaten mainly sugar-laden balls-o-unhealthiness washed down with artificially whitened-sweetened-and-fully-caffeinated java juice. Perhaps it’s the gut rot speaking, but I’m guessing I shouldn’t have had that last cookie/coffee combo.
Sadly, I’m sitting here plugging away at the number crunching/report/grant related stuff I need to do, and all I can think about is another cookie and coffee. On the plus side, all of the cookies are gone as I know better than to buy an entire bag of them for fear that I will eat them all in one sitting. And I would. Because I’m gluttonous like that. On the negative side, I have oodles of coffee in my condo. I also have oodles of coffee cups. And a Keurig machine. This could be a lost cause.
To add insult to injury, I didn’t run this weekend either. That’s correct – mine was a weekend full of gluttony and sloth.
This marks the first weekend I haven’t stepped on the treadmill in I don’t know how long. And I feel terrible. Stuffing my face full of cookies, drinking copious amounts of coffee, sitting in front of my computer for far too long this weekend, AND not running? What the hell Gillis? What the hell? indeed. I feel a bit like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, except without the jaunty hat, sailor’s collar, and neckerchief.
Clearly tomorrow I have to get back on track. For now, I’m going to avoid another cup of coffee, and I’m also going to try to use my current post-gluttony feelings to keep me motivated this week. Because I can’t turn into Stay Puft – I just can’t pull off that outfit like he can.
Note to my readers: I may or may not be “suffering” the effects of a few beers. As such, this post will be rather limited. Should this disturb you, I suggest that you walk away from your computer, pour yourself a drink, and then another, and perhaps another. Only after that, return to this particular post.
Honestly, it’s probably best if you have a beverage before reading any of my posts.
Regardless, you’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Apparently the equation
Dan + 2 x Cask(IPA) = Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee,
where Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee = 2 beer drunk, obviously.
Anyway, I don’t have much to say at this point, other than that tonight was the first pub night of the year. And in classic pub form, I enjoyed a few beers and some deliciously delicious salt and pepper chicken wings with colleagues at the Woolwich Arrow downtown.
Honestly, I should probably go to bed, but it’s way upstairs and I’m way downstairs. I’m sure you understand my dilemma.
Instead, I think I’ll watch some movies. Or sleep. Maybe both. I’m crafty like that.
In honour of my friend Mark’s 37th birthday, we1 drove into Toronto today to wander the city. And by wander, I mean we sauntered about stopping often to sample various foodstuffs along the way. And while we walked a lot, I don’t feel that it was enough to work off the food I ate. Instead, I just kept stuffing more and more in my gullet. At least, that is how it seems to me. I guess in retrospect I only ate a half order of fries (with dijon gravy2) and a latte before heading to the African Palace for dinner.
And oh what a dinner – vegetable samosas and a platter full of delicious Ethiopian cuisine, followed by fresh roasted Ethiopian coffee.
After so much gluttony, I currently find myself somewhere between oh-so-full and painfully-full. I really should have known better. Don’t misunderstand – I don’t think that I should have eaten less3, I simply mean that I should have worn my eating pants.
Despite the pantal-distension, the gluttony was well worth it. Better still, the company was fantastic and the day was filled with much laughter.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pass out on the couch while watching a movie. Because why stop at gluttony when I can throw in sloth for good measure.
1 We being me, Mark, and Julie.
2 Holy hell why haven’t I ever had gravy and dijon mustard together before? Deliciously delicious.
3 Not only does my Goofy training demand the Calories, but I’m a light eater at the best of times.
It started with a visit to the Guelph Farmer’s market with my friend Greg, then continued with a vegging session with the wee fuzzball (which may or may not have included an hour long nap on the couch), and was topped off with dinner at Baker Street Station with Dr. Julie and Dr. Mark.
Earlier today – we’ll say 5:30pm – I ventured down to the Baker Street Cafe because 1) it was rainy and chilly and I wanted some sort of comfort food, 2) I love the Baker Street Cafe and all of the tasty things they make, and 3) I had planned to meet up with friends around 8:30pm so figured I might as well head there early and work until said meeting1.
While sitting there, enjoying some wings and a pint whilst working on a simulation study for a paper that I’m hoping to submit in the very near future, I couldn’t help but overhear some people who were sitting next to me2.
What caught my ear, initially, was a conversation about politics and the destruction of several key Canadianenvironmental laws by the current government; specifically the Canadian Fisheries Act. Given that the simulation study I was working on was related to impacts on fish populations, you can understand why I suddenly perked up.
But then the conversation took an interesting turn. You see, one of the oh-so-loud individuals ordered the Steak and Ale Pasty. On taking the first bite, they couldn’t help but express as loudly as possible their dissatisfaction.
It’s too salty.
It’s too dry.
It needs gravy.
This isn’t a pie.
It was one complaint after another.
Now I’ve never had a Pasty before – at least, not that I recall – and on hearing his complaints I couldn’t help but imagine that something called a Pasty wasn’t going to be dripping or oozing with saucy goodness. It’s a freaking Pasty – the name screams dry. Of course, I might be wrong – maybe they are supposed to be dripping with saucy goodness. But the comments that followed ended my wonderings about the saucy nature of Pasties3.
You know, I’ve traveled all over England. Everywhere I went I sampled the Pasty. I never liked it there. I really don’t know why I ordered it here. Regardless, I’m quite disappointed with this. Normally the food here is so much better.
You’ve tried this culinary delight in numerous places, never liking it anywhere you’ve tried it because, for example, you don’t like mixing potatoes and pastry4 (which is a standard pasty component as far as I understand). And yet, on this particular day you opt to try it and expect a different result?
Am I missing something here?
Fortunately, after the individual received his bill I realized that he was just a spectacular cranky-bastard. The food was not to blame. He was. How do I know this- other than the obvious? The waitress opted to reduce his bill by 50% because he didn’t like his food5. She didn’t make a deal out of this, she simply presented him and his companion with a reduced bill. His reaction: I can’t believe she didn’t even tell me that they reduced my bill by 50%. The least they could have done was let me know that they were doing that.
Anyway, I guess the moral of the story is this: douchebags are everywhere.
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing my friends Lorna and Rick – correction, Dr. Lorna1 and Dr. Rick – become Dr. Lorna and Dr. Rick, married couple. While both of them looked absolutely fantastic – she stunningly breathtakingly beautiful, he tall and handsome – the best part would have to have been the way they both lit up when they looked at each other.
The ceremony was short, included some tears, but was filled mostly with laughter and fun. Kudos to the couple for dropping an awesome high-five when the vows were completed.
The reception was held at Hernder Estate Winery, and it was absolutely beautiful; great atmosphere, fantastic food, and of course some delicious wines to sample. Thirty different types to be exact. And sample we did. I particularly enjoyed the Riesling, but there were some reds that seemed to be popular at our table as well.
Given all of the liquid courage, the party went late into the eve. The dance floor was full, the music was fantastic; at some point glow sticks made their way onto the dance floor. The party was definitely worthy of a wedding celebration.
And then I woke up this morning. Blargh. While I wasn’t terribly hungover, I was definitely feeling the effects of drinking too much. I was sluggish, my stomach was doing a most unfortunate dance, and my muscles were rather sore. Oh, and then there was the dehydration. I couldn’t drink enough water this morning.
Fortunately the weather was amazing, so after lazing in bed for an hour or so hoping my hangover away, I got up, had a really hot shower, and then got ready for my day. My mission – head into Toronto before coming home to Guelph2. The purpose of my mission – there was none. I was just going to store my bags at the bus station and wander about. And that, dear readers, is what I did.
I arrived in Toronto shortly before 2pm, ate some food, drank some more water, then got myself a walking coffee. A walking coffee, for those not in the know, is any coffee that you get to go, for the purposes of strolling a city on a beautiful day such as today. And today was a walking coffee kind of day.
I had no particular goal in mind, no particular thing I wanted to see. I simply wanted to wander and people watch3 and perhaps just breathe in as much of the beautiful autumn air as I could. To be honest, with every breath in I started feeling more and more human and less and less like the hungover zombie I was. Every exhale seemed to remove a tiny bit of the poisons I’d pumped into my system the night before.
It truly was a fantastic day to wander around Toronto.
And now I’m home and relaxing with the wee fuzzball – thinking how full my weekend was. I really am a lucky bastard.
2 As there is no direct bus route from St. Catharine‘s to Guelph. Unless you call driving to Toronto first direct.
3 People such as the preachers and prophets preaching about Jesus or Islam or any number of other religious views. I believe on one corner there were three separate groups for Jesus, and I’m not quite sure they were all preaching the same thing. When asked if I wanted a pamphlet about Christ – which I turned down – I was promptly told that I was going to burn in hell. I simply smiled – chuckled actually – and carried on my way.
To be honest, I was thinking about Baker Street pretty much all day because I knew that they were launching their new menu this eve. If you know me even a little, you’ll know that I’ve been a giant fan of the Station since I first sampled their onion rings. So freaking good.
My distraction with all things Baker Street was multiplied as a result of mentions yesterday on the Twitter and the Instagram – both which offered me an early glimpse of the menu. So ya, I was pretty much preoccupied with visions of Dill Pickle Wings, Muscovy Duck, and Butter Chicken Curry (to name a few). In case you were curious, I had the Muscovy Duck and it was incredible. Each bite like a chorus of delicious little angels dancing on my tongue.
The best part about dinner – aside from the dancing delicious angel-y goodness – was that it gave me some time to stop and breathe. It was definitely something I needed to do. As I mentioned earlier, today was exhausting. Sadly this wasn’t from lack of sleep (although I’m sure that was a contributing factor), nor was it associated with the pain of writing grant applications. Today I allowed someone to get under my skin; and in a large way. After a particular encounter I returned to my office frustrated, angry, annoyed, and tense. Instead of breathing, I kept replaying the situation over in my head. Instead of letting go, I just held on – imagining various should-have-said-this responses that would have successfully made my point while at the same time leaving the source of my stress writhing at the pointy end of my cleverly quick and in-your-face wit.
Sadly, replaying the story and imagining responses did nothing to relieve me of my stress. To the contrary, I felt worse. The cycle of replaying and imagining only reinforced my level of angst and discomfort. All because I allowed someone else to dictate my experience.
Fortunately, stopping to eat was the best thing I could have done. Savouring a delicious meal, each and every bite of it, helped me turn off my brain, helped me focus on the here and now, helped me realize that I was wasting my energy getting worked up over someone who should have zero effect on my life.
Now I’m home – sated, relaxed, breathing, and more than ready to work for a few more hours. I’m not saying I will work for a few more hours, but in theory I’m saying I could.
This afternoon I sat around and did a lot of nothing – despite my best intentions to finally sort through the pile of stuff that now calls my living room its home. To be honest, I just didn’t feel like dealing with it. I’ll do it tomorrow1.
Instead I sat around, snuggling with Elliot, and watching the show Departures on my trusty computer (which I’ve embedded below – should you not know what I’m talking about). I made a point of chatting with my parents2 as I won’t be heading home for the big Gillis family Thanksgiving turkey.
At some point I sent a quick text to a friend to see how he was spending the weekend. During the course of our conversation I mentioned that I wasn’t going to head home, so instead was going to go buy myself a pie and eat the entire thing – much like the pilgrims would have done3. Whilst LOL’ing my witty text, I happily discovered that my half-dozen bag-o-delicious-tasty-farmers’-market-donuts were actually a half-dozen plus one.
If you weren’t aware, free donuts taste way better than regular old pay-for-donut donuts. That’s a rule, you should write it down. I’ve purposely saved the extra donut for eating last4 because I want to savour the anticipation of the tastier donut.
So if you are keeping score, today was suddenly +1 donut. Could this have been the makings of the best day ever? You betcha.
Because, dear readers, it wasn’t shortly long after that when I received a message from a friend. Apparently said friend just so happened to have baked me a pie. Even better, said friend was on his way over to deliver said pie.
It’s like the Universe heard my declaration of spending tomorrow eating pie and thought it would intercede so that I might not have to even venture out of the house to obtain a pie for said Thanksgiving day gorging.
And then, before I knew it, said friend was at my door with an apple cranberry crumble topped pie. And it was still warm. I tried to remain cool, calm, and collected – far be it from me to let my friend know how truly giddy I was. But seriously, I’m sure it was obvious. Fresh pie. Still warm. Delivered to my door. How could I not be giddy?
Today’s score: +1 donut, +1 pie5. Clearly the best day ever. And clearly my list of things to be thankful for just grew by several items.
1 You know, tomorrow, the same day that most people begin their diet, start that exercise regime, or put off whatever could be done today.
2 Because I’m the best son ever; and this is why my parents are going to drop off a big tray of date squares and leftover turkey goodness on Monday. Hint Hint. Ha! I’m an ass.
3 Assuming the pilgrims were as lazy and gluttonous in the area of pie as I am.
After a rather successful day of professoring in my office on campus1, I have opted to continue the job of professoring at home. What exactly does that mean? Well, it means that I have a large pile of grading to do, so instead of working in my office where there was a major deficiency of food and tasty beverages, I have moved home where sadly there was also a major deficiency of food and tasty beverages.
But fear not dear readers. You’ll notice that I wrote that there was a major deficiency of food and tasty beverages in my home. You see, today I went for groceries! While this wouldn’t normally be something that I’d write about2, today’s trip to the local Metro was noteworthy because it has been well over a month since I’ve made the trek for foodstuffs. In fact, the last time I bought foodstuffs would have been prior to my condo flooding on August 14.
So as I mentioned I headed to Metro, and holy hell I went to town; eggplant, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, parsnip, sweet potato, turnip, beans, onions, peppers, and garlic – oh my! So many veggies. So much colour. So good in my belly. Well, at least they will be once they finish cooking.
That’s right, dear readers, I’m also cooking. I couldn’t contain the excitement that came from buying fresh produce – I had to cook. This is something that hasn’t happened in a long time. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time that I actually used the stove. Seriously. Most of my meals of late have been eaten at a restaurant. Prior to the flood, I survived on english muffins and tuna, plus raw fruits and veggies. Cooking was too much of a chore.
But not today. Today was all about chopping and slicing and dicing and frying and stewing and spicing and taste-testing and taste-testing some more. And every moment of the experience felt great. My poor cutting board has probably been wondering why I’ve been neglecting it, my knives have likely getting stabby over lack of use3, and my pots and pans have likely been thinking they’ve been locked away in the cupboards forever, never to see the light of day again4. Fortunately for all of them, that changed tonight.
Of course, you’re probably wondering what I cooked. To be honest, I don’t know what to call it. I had intended to make chili but realized once I was home that I had no chili powder and no tomatoes. The result – a concoction of ground pork and ground turkey, plus a cornucopia of veggies – isn’t necessarily pretty, but it tastes pretty damn good. Hearty. Wholesome. Home cooked. While it’s definitely not five star restaurant fare, my belly is full. I am the picture of content.
It really is amazing how fortunate I am to be able to do something as simple as cook for myself in the comfort and safety of my own home. I need to remember that.
1 Which included catching up on emails that I missed on Friday (you may recall that I was at the Ontario University Fair all day), grading, setting up a quiz, grading some more, reviewing a poster, grading, providing comments on another document, grading, drinking coffee, and oh yeah – grading.
2 Unless I somehow bought the most amazing product ever.
3 Ha! Stabby! I kill me.
4 You know, if cutting boards and knives and pots and pans did things like think, and cry, and fear the darkness of the cupboards.
Oh Summer, it’s like we were just getting started. The warm nights together, the walks along the beach, the strolls through the parks, the patios, the fresh fruit and veggies, the short pants and tees, the condensation dripping down our beers as sweat dripped down our backs – so many wonderful things that we shared together.
But I’m not naive. We both knew this was coming. It was obvious. The chill in the air was the first sign that something was changing between us. Our time together, while fantastic, was growing shorter. Our days were clearly numbered.
And now here we are. You’re leaving in just over a day and we’re left behind with only our memories together. Bittersweet doesn’t adequately describe the current state of affairs.
It’s true. I love summer. Being the constantly freezing type of person that I am, the humidity and heat associated with the season is a thing of beauty. So you’ll understand that when summer ends I’m just a little sad. Don’t get me wrong – I love autumn. The colour, the crispness, the freshness of the air, the smells, the harvest, the pumpkin pie. Everything about autumn is fantastic, and it always makes me feel the need to spend time with friends and family; enjoying the simple pleasures of good music, good food, good drink, and good conversation.
But autumn is not quite summer – so you’ll forgive me for mourning the end of the current season. It’s not that I’m not happy to see the amazing display that is autumn, it’s just that I’m that sad that summer is coming to a close.
Don’t worry though folks, I’ll rebound from this loss. I’m pretty sure that mourning ends the minute pumpkin pie touches my lips1.
1 P.S. Mom – that’s a hint. I love pumpkin pie. Just sayin’. Oh, and while were listing things that I love, I should probably mention date squares. Cuz I love those too.
After a rather lazy start to the day which included lounging in bed and doing pretty much nothing all morning, I headed over to the house to visit the wee fuzzball. He’s doing well in case you were curious. We hung out in my room for a bit, him softly purring next to me as I scratched behind his ears.
It was pretty much a perfect way to start my Sunday.
Afterwards I met up with my brother and the newest addition to his family – a 3 month old black german shepherd puppy. Holy freaking cute. And holy freaking well-behaved. He doesn’t bark. He doesn’t bite or nip. He doesn’t jump. I think he spends all of his available energy on looking cute and being awesome. He’s probably the best puppy in the history of puppies.
To round out my Sunday I had planned to go for a run – a very much-needed run given that the Toronto Waterfront Marathon is only 4 weeks away and I have so much training to do between now and then.
Despite knowing that I needed to run, Aidan and I opted to jump in the truck and introduce his new black fuzzball to my parents, and as it turned out, my Granny and my Aunt. Both are visiting my parents for the week so it was the perfect opportunity to visit. I don’t get to see either of them nearly often enough, so heading to my parents to see everyone and get a home cooked meal pretty much trumped any other plans. Especially when one considers that I’ve basically been eating out since the flood in mid August.
Because I’m crafty and such I had my brother drop me off both at the condo and my hotel before we headed out so that I could pick up a few things. Specifically, running shoes, running shorts, and several weeks worth of laundry. And thus began my most excellent visit my parents, aunt, granny, brother, sister-in-law, and nieces, while going for a run because I need the training, and eating a home cooked meal because oh-my-god I needed a home cooked meal, and doing my laundry because oh-my-god I had almost nothing left to wear, Sunday of awesomeness.
Multitasking for the win!
It felt great to get out and run (even though I didn’t run as long as I had initially intended), and it was even better to spend some time with my family. The night, of course, was filled with great food1, great drinks2, and a lot of laughter. It was just what I needed.
I think I’m now ready to take on the coming week.
1 Mmmmm lamb and roast beets, carrots, and potatoes.