New mitts and gloves!

Shopping in Montreal is always fun and this time I decided to pick up a new pair of mitts. I don’t really wear gloves in the winter here in Canada because they never really work; once you split your fingers, they freeze! So mitts are the way to go… But I couldn’t resist the very colourful mis-matched gloves I found at the Musée de Beaux-Arts’ shop…


Aren’t they cool?


A message by George Carlin

Alan forwarded me this today. I don’t forward emails I get but I liked the text and thought I would share it here. The moral of the story is: take your time, enjoy life, smell the roses.

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete…

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Back from Montreal

Things I love about Montreal:

  1. The endless number of independent cafés where I can have a decent espresso-based coffee that doesn’t come in half-litre sizes
  2. The food, ah the food… it is hard to explain. Toronto has countless restaurants, many of which are very good. But in Montreal food just seem to taste better, have a certain je-ne-sais-quois… It’s all in the little details – they add herbs to home fries, breakfast plates often come with copious amounts of fresh fruit, and presentation is rarely neglected…
  3. Speaking French. I first took French lessons when I was 15 years old and fell in love with the language. Even though I lived my life mostly in English when I lived in Montreal, I enjoyed hearing French on a daily basis…
  4. The weather – it was colder but whiter and brighter. I love it.
  5. The shopping – sooo many affordable independent boutiques!

The weekend felt rushed; there was much to see and many people to visit! We took our friend Janine so some of the time was spent taking her to different parts of the city. I also took the opportunity to meet some online friends for the first time (Stella and Pancha, I had an AMAZING time!) and reconnect with another online friend, who took us to sample one of the best poutines in the province (thank you, Fachin!).

I promise I’ll upload some pictures soon enough although I have to warn you that this time I didn’t really take that many pictures…

Here are some of the pictures:

Montreal December

What kind of accent do you have?

Try it out:

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)Northern You have a Northern accent. That could either be the Chicago/Detroit/Cleveland/Buffalo accent (easily recognizable) or the Western New England accent that news networks go for. Personality Test Results
Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

Update: as you’ll see in the comments, it makes sense that I can across as from the Northern States or at least neutral since I did first learn English living in Washington state. But I was a bit bummed. I wanted to be Canadian! So I did the test once more and this is what I got:

Yay!!! I did the test again and I came out CANADIAN!!! I’m sooooooooo happy :)))




What American accent do you have?
Created by Xavier on



Canada. You probably get irritated when British people and Europeans think you’re from the States, but over here we wouldn’t make a mistake like that.

If you’re not Canadian, you’re either a Minnesotan, or you’re a Westerner who over-thought some of the questions on the quiz.

Take this quiz now – it’s easy!


We’re going to start with “cot” and “caught.” When you say those words do they sound the same or different?

Hehehe, I had been moaning for a bit about the test results and when I got this one today, Alan said “finally!”…. hehehe

That calls for this video (picture me doing a little dance around the room singing the song):

Weekend in Montreal

Yeay! We are going to Montreal this weekend! This will be my last break before marking crunch begins next week… We will be staying with a friend in the Plateau and I simply cannot wait. Although the weather doesn’t seem the best…

Oh well… haven’t seen the white stuff in quite some time so it should be fun still ;)

Thank you to my friend Fachin for leading me to a much better weather forecast:


Since we’ll be in Quebec, I guess I’ll go for the French forecast ;)

Lightsaber battle

I missed this one… about 2,000 people got together on Bloor street, in front of the ROM’s Crystal, to do battle with fluorescent cardboard tubes posing as lightsabers. Apparently it was completely crazy but everybody seems to have had a great time. You can see lots of pictures here. No, I wasn’t there. Unfortunately! I would have loved to have taken some pictures of this fun event:

copyright End User (

Photo by End User.

Winter is here…

Maybe that’s why I felt so wistful about Barcelona earlier this week. It might be the approaching winter. Yesterday I felt my face burn from the cold for the first time this season – a feeling we never really had in Barcelona – and this morning we woke up to barely 1 C. Soon we will be below zero… Can’t wait for the snow!

Here’s one of my Fall pictures:


Finally! A desk of my own…

When we left for Barcelona, we moved all our furniture into storage and vacated our apartment here in Toronto. To minimize the cost of storage, Alan and I cleaned up our apartment and got rid of anything we didn’t really want to keep. One of the things that went was an Ikea table that I used as a desk. I figured I didn’t really need a desk since I do most of my work in my carrel anyway. That reasoning turned out to be a bit flawed. Every once in a while I bring a bit of work done and we end up having all sorts of papers and books on the dining table, the coffee table, the couch… The place is a real mess! So we decided that it was about time I got my own desk.

Since we wanted to put it in the living room, I wanted a desk with a glass top. Our coffee table has a glass top and I didn’t want to take away too much of the feeling of space in the living room. After a bit of browsing, I found the perfect desk at Structube:


Now all I need is the chair to go with it…

PS: we used Autoshare for the first time to pick up the desk. We went on the web, placed a reservation, walked outside, crossed the street, took the car, drove to the store and brought the car back within 40 minutes. For one hour it costs about 10$ (after taxes and all). No gas costs. We were very happy with it!

Longing for Barcelona…

It’s 3 pm and I should really be reading about Galileo Galilei for next week’s tutorial or perusing some fourteenth-century documents for the first chapter of my thesis; instead, I’m at a café near the library having just finished lunch (!) and now enjoying an nice espresso with a bit of hot milk with a tiny cookie, just large enough to add subtle contrast to the coffee. I’ve been in a classroom since 9 AM jumping from tutorial to tutorial and my eyes can’t really focus on a written page right now. This week was harder for me than for the students in many way. They had no reading to do for this week’s tutorial. I, on the other hand, had read and comment their proposals for the final essay – which they handed in last week – and then come up with handouts and design a workshop on how to research and write a proper history essay. Hopefully, some of them will take what I said at heart or will at least take a look at the handouts I distributed.

But enough of my babbling about work, after all, this is the wrong blog for that. I meant to talk about Barcelona and Toronto.

All this sitting-around-in-cafes-sipping-espressos-and-having-lunch-at-two-o’clock business reminded me of the life I had in Barcelona. It was nice. I woke up around 7 every morning, got ready, and Alan and I would leave the apartment around 8-8:30 and stop at the bar at the corner of our street to have coffee (picture beside) and often a small bocadillo, a cheese or cold cut sandwich served in a thin baguette bread, with some olive oil and tomato. Some days I would go to the gym before hitting the archives and in those days we would leave the house around 6:30 and have our coffee at a bakery near the gym. In both places – the bar and the bakery – we became one of the regulars pretty quickly and we never even had to order our coffees. At the bar, Kiko and Paco always knew what kind of coffee we preferred and had them ready by the time we sat down at the bar


I would make it to the archives around 9:00-9:30 and would work until around 1 pm or so. In the summer, when the archives closed at 2, I would have a short break around 11 for a coffee and not really stop for lunch but during the rest of the year, I’d take my hour lunch break at a nearby bakery. I’d leave the archives around 5:30 or so, Alan and I would have dinner shortly after I got home and we would then go out for a bit of a stroll around Gracia. In the summer we would stop for the best gelatto in town, in the winter we would go for coffee or a hot chocolate. On weekends we would either meet friends for ten-hour lunches, go to the beach, go hiking, or simply check out some nearby town. We were always meeting friends for endless chats.

I don’t know what it is. I like my life in Canada, I’m busy, I have lots of good friends, we go out frequently, but I often miss our Barcelona life. Maybe it was the nearly perfect weather that kept our spirits up. Maybe it was the fact that although we were busy, life seemed to go on at a slightly slower pace. Also, doing different things every weekend made us feel like somehow our life was more meaningful.

But I also think I’m in that phase after you move from one country to another in which you romanticize the life you left behind and forget the negative things. I don’t really remember now how uncomfortable I felt reading all the negative press about immigration and the way immigrants were perceived, how hard and how long my friends had to work to earn very modest salaries, the bureaucracy that often made daily life complicated, how disconnected I felt to my department here in Toronto…

But nothing like a few days there over Christmas to make me feel refreshed again. Can’t wait!!!

Let’s hope someone listens

From the CBC site:

Plan for future that doesn’t rely on car, cities told
Friday, November 9, 2007 | 8:34 AM ET

Towns and cities must start planning ahead for a future where the car is a thing of the past and a first step toward that reality would be creating more public transit for communities, says a new report by the Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

Municipalities must be forward-thinking enough to address their current needs without saddling future leaders with problems that are difficult to fix, said institute president Wayne Caldwell.

He said there must be an emphasis on building transportation networks and curbing problems with urban sprawl, which is contributing to obesity and has the potential to reduce life expectancy for future generations.

“We need to look at the opportunities to focus on building transit … realizing that the things that have driven us in the past, particularly related to the automobile, are things of the past,” Caldwell said.

“It’s not to say that automobiles won’t be important in the future, but I think we all have an awareness and appreciation of the increasing energy costs and the congestion that flows out of that and the need to do things differently in the future.”

Institute president-elect Sue Cumming said communities should work to make everyday life more pedestrian-friendly so people can go about their lives without having to rely on cars.

The report, entitled “Healthy Communities, Sustainable Communities,” suggests about 2.4 million Ontario residents live in areas where they have few options for transportation beyond a car because that’s just the way many communities have been designed.

The report also suggests fewer children are likely to walk to school today compared to past generations and that has an effect on their health.

“In terms of our children’s abilities to live a long and full life, that is now at risk,” Cumming said.

The Ontario Professional Planners Institute’s more than 2,700 members work for governments, private industry and academic institutions.