Monday, February 28, 2011

Can't you wait a few seconds?

My new desktop's motherboard came with some software. One of the motherboard features that could be enabled was "BIOS Quickboot". The potential time savings were staggering...

Smart6 QuickBoot time savings

Monstrous new desktop

It has five fans!

You may remember that my gaming laptop died recently. I hadn't anticipated buying another one for several months, as I was looking into options for a 4-GPU system and had been quoted C$4000 for it. More research revealed that I would probably not want even two graphic cards for a while, and by then I'd probably be getting whatever was on the market at the time. So I settled for just one GPU and capped it at 1 GB because benchmarks show that 2 GB doesn't give you a lot more bang for your buck.

The desktop recommended by local North Vancouver, BC, Canada outfit Global Express Communication included a Gigabyte X58A-UD5 motherboard (which has curious innovations like a backup BIOS); a massive Lancool case that hums with five fans and has practically no screws involved in opening it or adding cards and drives; Intel i7 CPU at 3.2 GHz (not overclocked); and XFX Radeon HD 5770 graphic card (1 out of 3 possible on the motherboard).


Except for having gone cheap with a less-than-1TB hard drive, Windows 7 scored the desktop as having a Windows Experience Index of 7.4 out of 7.9. Total price under C$1500 -- and GEC delivered it right to my home!

Gourmet Vegan Dinner at Joe Fortes


Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House on Urbanspoon

Yes, you read right: Joe Fortes. That bastion of steak and seafood actually turned out a 4-course gourmet vegan dinner for Earthsave's Vancouver Meatless Meetup dine out event.

Our four-course was...

Roasted Red Pepper Puree, truffle gnocchi
*
Artisan Greens, champagne vinaigrette, sea salt
*
Smoked Portobello steak, crushed potato, grilled asparagus, pickled red cabbage, fresno chile sauce
*
Vegan Chocolate Mousse fresh berries

Our table was started off with unlimited bowls of baguette slices, and small plates of olive oil and balsamic vinegar reduction sauce (which makes it sweet, like an oyster sauce).

The roasted red pepper puree tasted remarkably like Campbell's Tomato Soup. The salad ("artisan greens") was okay -- Your basic small salad with a delicate vinaigrette. So far, ho hum.

There was a remarkably long wait before the mushroom steaks finally came to the table. Happily, it was worth the wait. Curiously, although the large portobellos were juicy and delicious, the asparagus seemed to impress our table the most. They had been grilled very nicely, no longer tough but also not too tender; and dressed in a very delicious sauce. Even professed asparagus haters at the table were converted.

The Vegan Chocolate Mousse was very smooth, thicker for the use of avocado, but without any avocado flavour. The berries had just a touch of liqueur to make it a bit more interesting.

Overall, not bad for a menu pieced together at the last minute because The Helm was having hiccups (staff on strike). The four-course prix fixe came to $43, which included tax and tip, drinks extra.

Some at our table had a coffee to finish, and here was the first real error in the entire evening -- real milk. A bit of a no-no for a vegan table. The person who organized the dinner had worked at Joe Fortes before, and she explained that the restaurant did not normally stock soy milk, so it was probably just an oversight as the plates of milk and sugar were prepared en masse each day and the servers were probably on full autopilot when they brought them out to go with the coffee.

In case all you non-vegans are wondering what the big deal is about milk, it was explained to me that veal is a byproduct of dairy.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

When men are wallets

Honest to God, this is a real Plenty of Fish ad (woman seeks man...)

real PoF ad - I like men with money


To be fair, she probably has $$$ too. Whether she'll use any of her own, though, remains to be seen.

Dido after too long a time

I've been horribly focussed lately with computer games, first finishing up Star Wars: Empire At War on Hard Difficulty, and now working on Battle for Middle Earth, Evil Campaign, struggling through Hard Difficulty with the forces of Sauron and Mordor.

I was stuck in Emyn Aren with a bunch of orcs and hulking Mumakil but without a good strategy for tackling the map. So I forced myself to slow down and work on something else instead, like responding to my realtor's request for a letter of reference, which I was only too glad to do because she really was super-nice in helping me find an investment property.

I chanced to look at Yahoo.ca's trending topics and clicked on Dido. Now there was a name that I hadn't looked up in a long time. I remembered, of course, those ear worms of her earlier albums like White Flag and Here With Me but just hadn't stopped to listen in a very long time.

Helpfully, there is a little player widget on her official website, which sometimes includes the music video of the song. If you're in Canada, Sony Music Entertainment blocks some videos on the official Dido Youtube Channel ("This video contains content from Sony Music Entertainment. It is not available in your country.") but some same videos are not blocked on her website, such as Here With Me.

Still, no big loss because I personally didn't find the videos particularly inspiring... But that VOICE! Something between sensual lounge singer and angelic choir with that slight echo you get from acoustics in a cathedral. Or something like that.
Sure, some of the songs sound kind of samey -- but there's a warmth and allure in that voice that makes you just want to stay and curl up and listen and wish it could wrap arms around you and be reassuringly there like a loyal lover as you drift into sleep.
It makes me nostalgic... for something... I can't put my finger on it.

Anyway, go listen to it!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Comfort food at Burgoo (North Vancouver)


Burgoo (Lonsdale) on Urbanspoon

Dropped by Burgoo in North Vancouver (Lonsdale, next to Quattro and The District) on Thursday evening for a light dinner. It looks quiet from the outside, but was quite busy in the inside. The waitress at my table suggested Mondays and Wednesdays might be quieter days, but it was chancy.

For just a light dinner, I ordered the Wild Mushroom Pate ($8) and Pacific Chowder ($8 for a full portion, $6 for a half portion).
The Mushroom Pate was a cold dish, a mound of finely chopped mushroom rather than the traditional slice cut from a slab held together by broth jelly.
It was't super-mushroomy tasting, and it came with a bowl of thinly sliced baguette that I thought could have been a bit less toasted and maybe more freshly prepared (i.e. warm). It was crispier than a biscuit, and that always makes taking half-bites (which you had to do because of the size of the slice) tricky because it can fall apart on you. A slightly less toasted one, with maybe a bit of chewiness left in it, would make it more comfortable. In any case, this is a trivial quibble.
The portion was good enough to share as a starter between two or maybe three people. Remember to use a generous gob of pate because you'll probably run out of baguette otherwise.

The Pacific Chowder was more soup than chowder or stew. It's listed as a "soup", so really I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that what came to the table was about two-thirds soup and one third chunky ingredients. Definitely use the lemon wedge as it is bland otherwise.
I also tried pepper (which you can freshly grind yourself from the grinder at every table), and this worked best when dusted on top each time you take a spoonful, rather than trying to grind a teaspoon into the soup to add taste and a bit of heat.
Because it's not so much chowder or stew than soup, the large bowl isn't as daunting as it looks and probably won't do you if you are looking for even a light dinner, unless you eat like a bird.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

99 cent Meatball Dinner

Just saw this on an Ikea flyer on Tuesday, February 15th -- 10 meatballs, mashed potatoes, and sauce for 99 cents!

Offer on from February 17th to 20th at IKEA (they have two locations in BC: Coquitlam and Richmond).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day 2011

Happy Singles Awareness Day, everybody!

Yellow snow at Brockton Point

Went snowshoeing for the very first time together, thanks to a dear friend who's been trying to get me out there forever and had an extra pair of snowshoes handy.

On the way up Brockton Point (at Mount Seymour) I noticed patches of snow were yellow.

I clued in much later when I noticed the trail seemed popular with dog owners.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cher

After some of the recent heartbreaks I've seen among my friends, I was coincidentally reminded of "Believe" by Cher when a friend of a friend posted the video on Facebook.
Dug up a few of her songs on the theme... Say what you want about the facelifts, but she's an awesome entertainer with a distinctive and alluring voice.



Funny how the regular sailors are so much more uninhibited in their enthusiasm than the officers...



Love this video. In the latter half, Cher has fabulous, lush, wavy black hair -- looks like Wonder Woman.
Casting for the protagonist was also interesting -- Not taking the easy way out with a miniskirted hottie, but a tougher-looking shorter gal with strong eastern European features.
And in terms of storytelling -- her friend throwing up her hands at the end just says so much.



Sad video for a nice song. Could have had Cher's deep and striking voice come more strongly over the video. And although the Flashdance / Dirty Dancing rehearsals certainly make it hard to turn away, they could have tried a bit harder to make a more relevant video.