Living online

It’s not a secret to anyone that I’m doing a PhD and that I hope to one day get a job as a university professor. Some of my friends in academia, when they hear I have a blog, ask if I’m not afraid my blog might be read by other academics or by a hiring committee in the future, if I’m not afraid I’m disclosing too much online.

The truth is – I’ve been online since 1996. There is nothing I can do about that. If you google me, you’ll get to page 9 before you get entries that are not related to me. So interacting with people online has been a basic part of my personality since I first discovered the internet, all those years ago. Why should I suppress that? Of course I know that if I write something here or on a discussion forum somewhere, someone might read it. Heck, even my parents or my supervisor might find it. But if I don’t want people to know about something or I don’t want my name to be associated with something, I simply don’t write about it.

So when I read Rochelle Mazaar’s brilliant post about how she feel about this very issue, I couldn’t help but write about it here as well. This passage particularly resonated with me:

Yes, anything you publish online can be seen by in-laws, employers, potential employers, potential dates, etc. But if you take that into account and think, yes, well, I struggled, I survived; why not talk about it? Isn’t it okay? If you accept that someone might take issue with you one day? Or if you know, if anyone WERE to take issue with you because of it, they aren’t someone you’d want to date/spend time with/work for?

If there’s one thing I won’t compromise on is on being true to who I am. Call me naive if you will, but no job, no matter how prestigious or high-paying or how long I worked to qualify for it, is worth denying my values and who I am as a person. What a google search or this blog  hopefully shows is that I am a person who likes engaging with the world in which I live.  And if there is a department or employer out there that has a problem with that, then I’m obviously not a good fit for them. It’s as simple as that.

Chabichou

We discovered a new place today. Chabichou is mainly a cheese shop but also serves quiches, sandwiches (grilled cheese with a choice of brie, cheddar or swiss) and tasty tarts. I had noticed it last time we cycled by and today we decided to stop for a light lunch after our market rounds. Loved the atmosphere, the cheese display, the thought of homemade butter, and the smell of fresh-baked croissants in the air. Very nice indded.

Chabichou

Cheese

Tartes aux poires

Quiche

Homemade butter

Lunch tomorrow

Curried carrot salad with quinoa and plain yogurt

Yummy homemade lunch

This was adapted from a recipe originally published in Bon Appétit and which I came across in one of my favourite food blogs. The original recipe uses carrots only but since I wanted to make it into a meal in a bowl, I decided to add some quinoa. So this is my version:

Ingredients

* 1 cup plain yogurt
* 2 large green onion, chopped
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (I probably used closer to 1/4 cup)
* juice of 1 lemon
* 3/4 to 1 teaspoon curry powder (I used closer 2 tsp)
* 4-5 small carrots, peeled, coarsely grated
* 1/4 cup dried currants
* 1 cup quinoa (I used half red and half white quinoa)

Preparation

Cook the quinoa in 2 1/2 cups of water, set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, grate the carrots, mix the first five ingredients, and once the quinoa is cool enough, mix everything in a bowl and add a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

Note: it yields enough salad for 4-6 people

Sylvester’s Cafe

GSULocated on the top of the GSU building in a little alley with the grand name of Bancroft Ave, Sylvester’s Cafe is one of U of T’s best kept secrets. When I first started my PhD, one of the first things I was told is that despite its size and central location, good food is hard to come by on campus. That certainly turned out to be true; most of the cafeterias on campus are served by Sodexo and serves fast food of the worse quality. So I ended up having to walk further away or bring my lunch from home. That was until I discovered Thérèse and her wonderful café. The menu is short, the influence is Mediterranean (Thérèse is Lebanese, raised in Egypt), and everything is made in house, with the freshest ingredients. Prices are unbeatable and portions are normal and not the over-sized amounts one encounters in most restaurants. Usually I feel guilty when I eat out for lunch since I always feel that I could have made something better-tasting and more nutritious at home but Sylvester’s is one of the few places where I can eat guilt-free.

Menu

Sylvester's

Yummy lunch
This is what I had last time I was there. Usually I have either the Mezza plate, Yum Yum 1 or 2. This one is a new dish and it’s Fava beans with lemon garlic tehina & tomato sauce, a very Lebanese dish. It was VERY good and exactly what I needed in a rainy, cold day.

Three years of blogging

As I have mentioned before, this blog originated as a way of staying in touch with family and friends during our year in Spain between April 2006 and May 2007. Writing a blog led me to read other blogs and in many ways it has become the way I stay engaged with the world outside university. Writing a thesis can be an isolating experience and not being the kind to like isolation, this has been my way of ensuring that my road towards the PhD remains a positive one.

Thank you to all of you who come by, visit, and leave comments. This blog has allowed me to meet some truly amazing people. I’ll leave you with a TED talk on blogging by one of the founders of Movable Type, one of the first blogging platforms.