Monday, March 31, 2003

Retroactive Update

I have updated my Paris trip on my February archive page.. go click on the link on the left hand side to visit the February 2003 page. Go on, click on it now and read my Paris journal. It's nice and long and filled with unnecessary details. Ha.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Quiet Weekend..

This weekend I have decided to take it easy. Okay minus Friday night when I went out with Jeff and Keith to the Sports Cafe. Apparently they have one in Toronto too (near St. Clair and Yonge?). Anyway, we went there to watch the NCAA game between UConn and Texas. It was a rather uneventful game, but the beer was flowing and the music was pumping, so why not? They have a nice little dance floor, well, should be renamed the snogging floor. Never mind the dancing, they are doing a lot more than what is intended. The music was decent (too much Britney Spears) until they started playing Ricky Martin. Ugh. Didn't get home until 4am on a night bus. Surprisingly enough, the night bus was full. FULL, at 3:00am!

Friday, March 28, 2003

Food.. Mmmm.. Tart..

I re-discovered my long lost childhood friend, fruit tarts, while shopping in Tesco one day. During my younger years, I would stop by a local bakery near my flat and buy fruit tarts to eat on my way home from church. I have not been able to find fruit tarts after moving to Canada. It must be a British thing. Anyhow, tarts are expensive - �2.50 for two. I try to rationalize it with myself: if I work until 8pm, I can go get a tart. With my kind of work schedule, it's no surprise that I eat tarts about twice a week.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

So now they have decided to close the schools in Hong Kong, quarantine the patients and anybody they have been in contact with, and begin screening airline passengers. Oh, and they have upgraded the travel advisory to suggest deferring any travel to the South Asian region. ABOUT TIME! When do these 'government officials' realize that its life they are threatening when they try to save face?

This world is truly messed up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

No More War, PLEASE!

Not as in "Please don't fight", but "Don't show me anymore of the war". Honestly I am pretty indifferent about the whole situation, but it is seriously affecting my lifestyle and I wish the telly would go back to being normal again. MTV and radio stations here have made a list of songs/music videos to ban playing during the conflict. No songs with the words 'war', 'bomb', or other potentially offensive words may be played.

Oh then there's the news flash every half an hour on the telly. Now honestly, if I wanted to follow closely I would watch the news channel. Please do not disturb my peace while I'm watching the Simpsons. Can a humble man not enjoy the telly without being rudely interrupted?

I think I am developing an anti-war stance just by being over-exposed. I see it for 14 hours at work, I don't need it anymore when I go home. Yes, 14 hours. Isn't it obvious that every war news will affect the market somehow? Guess who got the job to keep track of the news updates? ME.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Salisbury & Stonehenge

Over the weekend I visited Salisbury and Stonehenge, one of the most identified historical sights in England. On Saturday, I took the bus to Oxford and met up with Caroline, Rob, and Aleem. They are also students from my university, doing their internship in Oxford. We all had dinner together (hats off to Caroline for cooking), and watched a movie. I think I must have eaten too much, during the middle of the movie I got really sick so I quickly went to sleep.

The next morning we left bright and early for Stonehenge. With no map and barely any directional sense, we ventured off and took us an hour over our estimated time to get there. (it turns out, we took the REALLY long way) Upon arrival, we could spot the arrangement of rocks by the side of the road. I don't know if the rocks were really huge, or because the contrast between Stonehenge and the endless flat fields, Stonehenge stood out like a sore thumb. It was remarkable, how the rocks were transported from Wales to the current location, using nothing but rope and timber. Especially how well it is still preserved today. There are many theories behind the arrangement, from it being a huge calendar to a sacrificial altar. The true purpose is still a mystery, even to this day.

After spending some time taking pictures, we left Stonehenge for Salisbury. It is a town that is about fifteen minutes drive away from Stonehenge, and its cathedral claims the tallest spire in all of England. It also houses the Chapter House, where one of the remaining four Magna Carta is held. I won't waste time explaining what it is - those who have studied any western history should be familiar with its significance in history. What I must say is I am amazed at how well it has been preserved from the early 11th century.

I think I have pretty much covered most of Southern England by end of this trip. Hmm.. what to do next weekend?

Saturday, March 22, 2003

... Uh, can I have a B52 please?

I have just seen the most horrific scene - B52s bombing Baghdad. Twelve years ago, all we got to see was infra-red camera images. Now we get to see it in full colour, with sound and high resolution. At least we witnessed the advancement of communication and technology. All I can see on the screen is a sea of fire, and hear waves of explosions.

Next time I order a B52, it'll be a totally different experience.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Real-time War

One of the perks of working on the trading floor is the abundance of news feed coming at you: Bloomberg, Reuters, CNBC, CNN, SkyNews, people screaming down the desk, the rest of the internet. This makes an interesting sight - who delivers the news first. Most of the time I see the headline flash across Reuters, and then CNN and CNBC follows, then I hear people scream down the desk, "Fifteen soldiers surrendered!" It is almost like being at the front lines, real-time style.

It's not necessarily a good thing, because every time I see the headlines regarding the war, it sends chills down my spine. Could this be the war that brings the world to its unfortunate end? Only time will tell.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Bend it Like Beckham.. who's Beckham?

Finished watching the two movies I rented-by-post (look at my March 18th entry). Bean was absolutely hilarious. It was the typical Bean episode, stretched to about hour and a half, and with a good ending. There's not much of a review for that since it belongs in the category with South Park, Beavis and Butthead Do America, and Scary Movie. :) Not that I have anything against those movies, in fact I love watching them.

Bend it like Beckham, on the other hand, is an excellent movie with some underlying plot. Beckham.. most people know him for being the husband of a former Spice, and a 'relatively good-looking footballer' (quoted from several girls I have asked). In fact, his status in the UK is more than just a pretty face on the pitch. He is the Wayne Gretzky of football in UK. Both women and MEN look up to him, much like how kids look up to Gretzky for hockey, regardless of gender.

The movie itself has a certain feel-good factor to it. An Indian girl, talented with skills football, was scouted by the main supporting actress, who is a member of a girls football team. Despite the parents' rejection and strong opposition, the girl joins the team and discovers that there is more to life than following what your parents tell you. Yes this kind of plotline has been done to death, but it has all the elements of a good movie: love, friendship, betrayal, girls in shorts playing football, girls in locker rooms :D.. did I just sparked your interest in the movie?

Honestly though, it has a good message behind the cheesy plotline. A glimpse into the racism issue that is deeply rooted in society today, how parents are handling homosexuality with their child, and more. I would recommend this movie for movie nights with some friends. I wonder when will the movie be released in North America?

Boss and Co-worker Breakfast, Lunch, and High Tea Menu

- Tall Americano w/ cold milk no sugar, Banana, 1.5L Bottled Water, Nutrigrain Breakfast Bar
- Regular Cafe Latte with two sugars, two orders of toast with jam
- Regular Cafe Latte no sugar, ham and cheese toastie
- Tall Cafe Latte no sugar, blueberry muffin
- Regular Cappuccino no sugar, blueberry muffin

Choice of
- �4.00 Italian sandwiches from Cafe Brera: Parma Ham with Mozzarella, Grilled Chicken with Mozzarella, Grilled Chicken with Brie
- Burger King (ugh)
- Birley's Sandwiches Hot Special (changes each day, but same menu every week)
- Soup Opera: Chicken Broth with bread and a fruit
- Sri Nam: Beef Teriyaki with rice, or BBQ Pork with rice
- Pizza Express: Margherita, American Hot
- Gourmet Pizza Company: Same as above
- Carluccio's: Pasta Con Fungi, Ravioli

Plus a fruit salad for each person. And fill up 1.5L water bottles.

High Tea:
- Tall Americano w/ cold milk no sugar
- Coca Cola (can, not bottle), Sprite (or 7up)
- Coffee, black, from the machine
- Some form of chocolate, preferably Kit Kat, but other chocolate substance acceptable

How do I know so much? If you have been buying the above for three months, you'd know them by heart too. I even know the optimal route to purchase the above meals.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003


Let's talk about one thing that I am proud of here, and it's the mail service. Royal Mail is absolutely fantastic. Granted, this is not a very big country, but the efficiency of the postal service leaves no room for criticism. So good that Blockbuster here offers rental-by-post. Similar to NetFlix in the US, it allows you to rent DVDs over the postal mail service. You order your DVD, they send it to you via post. You return it before the due date in the special envelope they provide and everything is cool. I ordered two movies on Thursday night, by Friday night I have them sitting in my flat. Isn't that wonderful?

I rented Bean and Bend it Like Beckham. Bean because I still haven't seen it and wanted to before the DVD cease to exist in any catalogues, and Bend it Like Beckham because it's a brit movie and I like football. :) I'll do a little review after I finish watching them.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! Even though today I did not drink green beer (didn't get off work in time), yesterday I went to the St. Patrick's Day parade in the city. The streets was filled with people, and many of them wore clover leaf hats and waving Ireland flags.Many festivities were happening along the riverside also. This is more fun than the usual St. Patrick's Day drinking marathon we have at home. :)

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Tales from Canterbury

This weekend I have decided to visit Canterbury at last, and it was definitely worth my trip there. Canterbury itself is not a very 'happening' town, in fact, it really fits the typical image of a small English town. Taking the train takes a little less than two hours to reach this charming small town. The remains of the old city walls are clearly seen when entering the centre of the town. Upon entering the city, the tall West Gate Tower stood before me. Passing the tower is a set of pedestrian-only streets, each lined with stores and restaurants to tempt the tourists visiting. Eating fish and chips on the street feels very different from eating in a restaurant at home!

After lunch I went to the cathedral - the main purpose of the visit. It truly lives up to the name and hype that has been given to it. As the centre of the Church of England, it preserves a sacred aura on the grounds and inside the cathedral itself. The cathedral itself has been burned down several times, and rebuilt several times. Once inside the cathedral, the different styles of architecture is clearly seen in the design of the ceiling, to the layering of bricks. Unfortunately a lot of the historical stained glass windows were destroyed by Henry VIII or during the crusade which swept Europe. I also stayed for the evensong service, and the choir was absolutely astounding. I closed my eyes, and it was as if I was transported back into the 12th centuries when the clergies would sing and contemplate the wisdom in the Bible in the nave.

Before leaving Canterbury, I noticed that there was a Winnie the Pooh Shop - so I went and took pictures for Evelyn since she loves Pooh. (to which she says, "I love everything that's round".. ugh) Also I ate at the Old Weavers House, and had the BEST treacle pudding I have had. (I have only had three in my lifetime thus far, but hey, it's just a comparative statement)

Saturday, March 15, 2003


Ooooh I feel sick. Came home from having a couple of drinks with the boss, feeling a bit light headed while cooking my instant noodles that Evelyn brought over. Of course, I forgot to check the label on the fish balls I bought last week. Bad move. Turns out they are one day past the "Good Until" date.

So I just spent the past two hours blowing chunks and heaving over the toilet. Eww.

Friday, March 14, 2003

At Vatican, St Peter loses his keys

More links.. hehehe.. clickable now for those too lazy to cut and paste!

That's just too funny.. oh Reuters, where do you find these stories? :)

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Does anybody remember who Elizabeth Smart was? She is a 12 year old girl who was kidnapped from her own bedroom in Salt Lake City about nine months ago. Well, miracles do happen.

Elizabeth Smart found alive

We need more of this kind of miracle in our world today.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Funny Quote

"Give a man fire, and he'll be warm for a day; set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life."

Ha! Now I must set someone on fire...
Dammit, I lost some comments while migrating my blog.. ugh.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Trip to Oxford

Returned from Oxford after touring the city for half a day. Now I completely understand why there is a difference between Oxford and Waterloo. It's not the ability of the students (in fact, I think we have some damn smart people in Waterloo), but the resources they are given. First of all, Oxford has 39 colleges. Each college houses an average of 200 students. Colleges have their own tutors, own halls, dorms, chapel/church, and a whole team of administrative staff. Oxford has their own museums.

Of course, that also means a much bigger price tag for the students at Oxford. At the rate my tuition is going, I'll be matching their annual fees with 1/10th of what the students at Oxford gets.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Hockey Night in... London :P

Last night I went to a hockey game with Jeff, his girlfriend Jo, and some of his other friends. For one thing, I was surprised by the turn out - the arena was pretty filled. Of course it's nothing compared to watching a Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre, but it was good to hear the boards slamming, pucks contacting the sticks and the near-fight moments. Some people were wearing Leafs jerseys (BTW, go Leafs go), some wore Team Canada jerseys, and some London Knights jerseys. The worst part of the whole experience were 'pirates' who brought the England football hooligans into hockey. Nobody sings and chants they know where your girlfriend lives back home, except for the "Come on ref, get off your knees, you're blowing the game" chants when they make a bad call. Oh the event was sponsored by Sleeman's, and since Jeff's friend works for the London Knights, we all got free drinks (Sleeman's, naturally).

Then we proceeded to a bar called "Puzzle Pub". As the name suggests, it's filled with puzzles. Tania would love this place for the brick-sized Jenga pieces, when stacked up came to my shoulders. The floors shook every time the tower fell. They also have a huge Connect-Four board, with red and yellow pieces the size of small pizzas. Foosball table (which they call table football here), and pool tables adds to the collection. Had a little too much to drink, felt pretty sick when I got home. It was an extremely fun night though, and Jo was pretty cool to hang out with. Must be because Jeff has 'educated' her on Canadian-related knowledge. :)

Right now I'm in Oxford, in an internet cafe. I can never seem to escape from one when I'm here in England. It's more like I cannot stop going to them. I officially declare myself an addict. They should have Internet Anonymous or something. I'd be president. :P Just came back from a walking tour of Oxford, visited a couple of colleges at the University of Oxford, and learnt about the history of the renowned town. It is truly a student town, as cheap eateries and pubs line the main streets and near colleges. Hopefully upload some pictures when I get a chance. :)

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Great, I cannot publish this blog because the server is down. But when you read this, the server would be back up. What a useless post. :)
I have moved into the 'let's just get it over with' mode lately. Work no longer frustrates me as often as it did in the first two months. Now the attitude has become "Oh well, it's been worse than this before." Just have to keep reminding myself that I wanted the job, I chose the job, and I was once excited about the job. Plus I'm not home, and that's the biggest bonus. Well, I miss being at *home*, but at least I am not stuck in Toronto and actually out here to experience the world.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Course registration day - how fun is that. First I couldn't get into a class that I absolutely must get into, and then I still cannot decide what to take for my extra class. On top of that I only have a certain number of hours to do my registration (due to the time difference), which makes registering for classes so much more difficult.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Walking down the street today seemed a bit empty, and then I realized it was the Worthington Cup final today - Liverpool v. Manchester United. Oxford Street seemed a little less crowded today, and even Chinatown was a little less packed than usual. Didn�t do too much today, just spent a lazy afternoon wandering the streets. Have to start figuring out where I am going for the next couple of weekends still!

Sunday, March 02, 2003


This weekend I have decided to stick to London and take it easy for a weekend. I started the day with a nice breakfast at Caf� Italia. On my way to the ticket machine at the tube station, I noticed a sign that says there might be delays this weekend because of machine upgrades so that �Oyster� can be implemented. I asked the ticket kiosk what �Oyster� was, and they said it was a new ticketing system that has a smartcard built in. Readers from Hong Kong should know exactly what I am talking about, as they call it �Octopus� there. All these sea creatures: Octopus, Oyster, what�s next, Shrimp and Lobster? How about Mussels?

After laughing to myself of the silly name of Oyster, I decided to visit Harrod�s, the famous department store in London. It was opened in the late 1800�s, and used to be the place where the rich would buy their groceries and household goods. Now they just sell things much more expensive than other stores. Of course, who could forget that the owner�s son is the person with Princess Diana on the night of her death? One word to describe Harrod�s is - HUGE. They give out maps to patrons, just so they won�t get lost. You can find almost anything in the store, from cheese to chocolate (stop drooling), fragrances, designer clothing, electronics, etc. The most spectacular sight of all was the Egyptian escalator located in the centre of the store. At the bottom of these escalators was a small memorial of Diana with her engagement ring and the glass she last drank from before she was in the tragic car accident. Since I cannot even afford to visit the washroom (it costs �1 just to go), I left promptly after taking several photos.

My next stop is Convent Garden, a street lined with market stalls and street performers. To my surprise, I stumbled upon the Canada Shop, where they sell Canadian products that is not normally sold in the UK! I saw lots of Canadian flags, Crispy Crunch, Reese Peanut Butter Cups, Jolly Ranchers, Mr. Big, Wunderbar, and A&W Root Beer! They also have a lot of hockey related memorabilia and even advertisements for a local hockey team. Makes me proud to be a Canadian! :)

Convent Garden was really dynamic and lively, as many street performers gather tourists and locals alike to watch them. This one woman was singing opera to a few tables enjoying their lunch, while this comedian was juggling and performing tricks. On the market side, they have arts and crafts, clothing, and other sorts of �junk� that your mother would yell at you for buying. (�What are you going to do with that?�)

I went to Wagamama for lunch. This Japanese noodle bar is a pioneer in London, and the coolest thing is that they use wireless internet to take orders. Each wait staff is equipped with an iPaq that has the PCMCIA sleeve with a wireless network card, and they send their orders to the kitchen by sending messages through the wireless network. Now how cool is that? Okay, call me a geek, but I�d like to see any restaurant in Toronto do that now. You know, I actually thought about doing that as my fourth year project, thank goodness that I didn�t (otherwise it would have been boring).

Spent the rest of the day running and hiding from the rain. It started pouring around 2:00pm and was intermittent throughout the day.

Oh one more thing. On my way home, I was sitting across from two people who were traveling together. The girl spoke perfect English, while the bloke spoke English with a heavy Chinese accent. (they are both Chinese) The funniest thing was the girl would go on asking the bloke for an opinion (eg. Did you like the movie?) and the bloke would reply (eg. Yes). The girl would then rebut his opinion (eg. I didn�t think it was that good), then the bloke would step back with his opinion (eg. Actually I don�t think it was very good either). Obviously the bloke is after the girl. You had to be there.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Two months - today marks the last day of the first two months I'm away from home. During these two months I have had my share of homesickness in the beginning, the exploration, the blood and sweat at work, and lots of culture shock. Looking forward to the next two months of adventure. I vow to stop being such an outsider and be the most outgoing self.. I don't know why I didn't start earlier. :)

Anyway, Paris update will come sometime this weekend. I'm staying in London - time for a little rest. Besides, I overspent on the trip to Paris so now I'm a little tight on cash. Hahaha.