Here there be dragon lanterns

Can’t make it to Ontario Place? Check out these great 360 night shots of these skillfully sculpted, gigantic lanterns currently at the Toronto Chinese Lantern Festival. They’ve got tigers and pandas and life-sized pagodas, oh my. See if you can find the one shaped like the CN Tower.

Also check out shot #4 – that’s a metres-long dragon-shaped lantern constructed entirely out of teacups and saucers.

I don’t mind eels / Except as meals

Went to Bomberman’s stag on Friday (and that’s all you really need to know), and Woofer swung into TO on Saturday.

Had beef sashimi for the first time, and it was pretty good actually. That’s right, raw beef, well marbled, in thin strips. You know how beef tastes a bit gooey and stringy in the middle when you undercook your steak? It basically tastes like that.

Choice artwork: A cartoonist’s crib sheet

vanosten.gifAround 1975, Disney artist Carson Van Osten sketched the “Comic Strip Artist’s Kit”, seven large drafting sheets of tips and tricks illustrated in lead pencil. These sketches may have been lost to the sands of time, but thanks to the Internet, but Van Osten had graciously allowed his originals to be scanned and placed on Mark Kennedy’s blog.

Even if you gave up drawing Mickey Mouse in fifth grade, you might want to take a look to see what an effective visual tutorial on drawing looks like – or to appreciate some never-before-seen artwork of your favourite Disney characters.


Two of my peers and I spent the whole Wednesday at a Power Within, which was stopping by in Toronto.

I have, we could say, a __skeptic’s__ view of self-help literature, so I must admit I entered the convention centre with no particular expectations. In the end, I did enjoy the outing very much. Being able to dissect and examine the various presentation styles was worth it alone.

*Jessie Holmes* (A+ for being funny) – Our MC for the day, she started the day right with a Celine Dion impersonation (“I still love Canada, I only moved as far away as possible!”). Even sang “Love Can Move Mountains”.

*Les Brown* (A+ for delivery): The only true honest-to-God-I-make-a-living motivational speaker, Brown hit the floor running with a loud, boisterous voice, witty dialogue and interesting personal stories, mixed in with the fervour and fire of a Sunday preacher. It really wasn’t what he said – ambiguous advice and pleasantries – but how he said it. Choice quotes:

“Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality!”

“If you’re the smartest person in your group, you gotta get a better group! If you’re hanging out with nine broke men, you’re gonna be the tenth!”

*Tim Sanders* (B) – Yahoo! alumni who was here to promote his latest book, The L Factor. No, not that L; this L stands for likeability. The basic lowdown is to not treat your peers and subordinates like dirt.

*John Wood* (A, because deeds speak) – Microsoft alumni who told his tale of forming __Room to Read__, a charity that sets up libraries, schools, and female scholarships in developing nations. Oh yeah, he has a book to: Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. He got the most applause because of his actions rather than his gift of gab. He made three interesting points:

* In most places, there is no public education system, and families usually can only afford to send one of their kids to school. Wood is convinced is that this pragmatic economic response is how sexual inequality begins; the eldest son is typically the lucky child, and how can a boy not form a prejudice as he watches the girls work the fields from his classroom?
* He runs his charity like a business: donors are treated as investors and as such are given detailed monthly reports on where their money went.
* The first thing most charities buy with your money are $75,000 Land Rovers. __Room to Read__ hires local motorcyclists to transport people and material, saving money and contributing to the local economy as a result.

*Belinda Stronach, MPP* (D for being somewhat presentable) – Nervous, peered at her pages, and picked at the podium with her right hand. Good thing the podium was glass or she would have been holding a chunk of laminated particleboard by the end. Told of the two most difficult decisions of her life: leaving Magna to run for political office, and defecting to the Liberal Party. But I think the audience found it difficult to be sympathetic to this millionaire heiress.

*Michael Eisner* (B for showing a clip of Who Framed Roger Rabbit) – His credo is to obsess over details (he confusingly dubs this “micromanagement”). As evidence, he showed the opening scene of the Lion King, with a vocal soundtrack that seamlessly transitioned from English to Zulu to Korean thanks to Disney’s scrutiny in finding near-identical voices for each of the film’s localization. Unfortunately, that was it.

*Sir Richard Branson* (U for Ummmm…) – The highnote of the show turned out to be the downer. He couldn’t say three words without ummming and errrring. He’s obviously a smart man however. Some of us suspected he’s had too much Bollinger’s, or Nyquil, or both.

So do I feel the power within? Sort of. I’d like to close off this lengthy entry with Frank Tibolt’s words: “Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.”

Overheard on the conference bridge.

We were on a conference call, and as things wounded down and the callers began hanging up, two people started up a side conversation.

“Hey…I’m still on this call so you guys can keep talking,” the moderator said.

One of the speakers quicky said, “Oh, you can hang up, we’ll keep talking.”

“Are you sure?”

“Trust me!”



Apparently Dhalsim is not indicative of India

V decided to take us to Little India this weekend. It’s not exactly a pilgrimage to head off to Gerrard and Coxwell, but you need to put this into perspective. There’s this thing where people on the West side of Toronto never go to the east side, and vice versa. The border of this invisible barrier seems to be the Don Valley Parkway.

Maybe because for a western Torontonian, seeing the mighty Gardiner Expressway suddenly end with square pillars on the roadside pointing towards the sky and supporting nothing is too weird.

It was an interesting experience. If Chinatown can be said to be full of DVDs of questionable origin and Hello Kitty merchandise, Little India can be said to be comprised of stores selling you sarees and bangles. We got a box full of the sickly sweet confections known as barfi and chum-chums,which we are still nursing. And then we patronized this Indian buffet that proudly advertised 8 flavours of ice cream. I don’t think I’ve ever ate more in my life.

P.S. I did feel kinda scammed, since they actually only had 6 flavours. But the food was still pretty good.

Cha cha cha ching

A few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon, I learned the fundamentals of the tango, the cha-cha, the rhumba, and the waltz.

Being the person I am, I mentally broke down the various dances as subsets of each other. For example, the rhumba is basically the cha-cha without the middle “cha” step. The waltz is the tango two-step executed along two dimensions instead of one. (No wonder the 19th century British social elite called the waltz “indecent” and “obscene”.)

Hours later, I also learned that one could have two wills. I was attending a seminar being hosted by my financial provider on such topics as small business tax deductions and emerging markets from a variety of financial professionals, including the VP of global operations for Manulife Financial. Afterward, they also taught us how to dance. What can I say, my advisor is unique and creative.

The audience was mostly older people working as general practitioners in the fields of medicine or dentistry. Very scrupulous people. During lunch, I noticed everyone polished their plates clean. I was a rebel and left a cherry tomato behind…