Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bulletin

Point form notes today, because I've been a little occupied of late with that whole "real life" thing.  Plus I've had the head cold of doom come to visit, and am still recovering/suffering from the lack of oxygen.

-I ran 21km the other day, and did it 11 minutes faster than last time finishing in 2h11min.

-Since then, I've been dealing with a little achilles tendinosis.  This is why (even to do a little timing-test) it's not a good idea to make a sudden increase in mileage.  Now I've got to baby the darned thing until it stops hurting and feeling like it's creaking. :(

-Abs.  Thankfully the achilles tendon is in no way related to the abdominal muscles.  I'm going to take pictures on Monday or Tuesday and compare them to see if my solid month of doing 100 crunches a day has made any noticeable difference.  I suspect it may have.

-I recently finished reading Memoirs of a Geisha.  I feel like I should have gotten around to reading that sooner, but wow - *excellent* writing.  I also polished off Dune.  Another one I've felt for a long time like I already should have read (in fact, I raided my mother's library on my last visit to Canada and pilfered a pile of books that fall into the "why haven't I read this yet?" category.)  Dune is good.  I won't say it's an extraordinary work of genius, because I've read other Sci-Fi works that I found to be far more impressive.  This said, it was good enough that I'll get around to reading the next book in the trilogy when I'm able to pilfer it from mother, and who knows, maybe then I'll feel the world Frank Herbert creates is more impressive.

-In the meantime I've begun perusing a book I purchased in Toronto, which has a large section on chocolate sculpting.  It gives me braingasms and the intense desire to finish creating a proper chocolate workspace here.
  
-Completely out of left field, and contrary to finishing a workspace here, I applied for an amazing (chocolate) job which is far enough away that I'd have to move if I got it.  I think that since I'm far away from where the job is, and that there are likely a bunch of other more-qualified candidates who'll apply, my chances are slim, but I had to take my chance nonetheless.  I'd have kicked myself for not trying.  It'd be such a good opportunity and it fit so well with my interests that even boyfriend was not fussed at all about the distance it'd put between us and was totally like "go for it, and if you get it, we'll make it work."  And then we figured out exactly how we'd do that, and it works, and it seems everyone is fine with it.  So now that I've said my little prayer into the void about it, crossed my fingers and sent off my cv and words to the effect that I'd be over the moon to work there, I'll promptly try really hard to forget about it (while checking my email daily,) so that if I hear nothing at all from them, my little heart won't feel broken.

-I got older the other day.  33.  For my birthday I drank much too much sangria.  Much too much.


And there you have it.  I have run out of brainpower, as the head-cold of doom has only allowed me clear thinking in very short bursts due to oxygen deprivation.  Now to bed for a nap.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chocolate School was Chocolatey.

Callebaut Academy in Wieze, Belgium.  Every morning I would exit our shuttle-taxi just at the gates of the factory and inhale deeply.  During the walk from the gates into the academy I made like Charlie Bucket, inhaling as much of that deliciously scented air as I could.  The smell was so rich in the air there that one could almost be tricked into thinking they'd just swallowed the last gulp of a cup of deliciously thick hot chocolate.  It was the perfect way to begin the day.

Three days under the watchful eye and clear explanations of the incomparable Phillippe Vancayseele were well worth it.  I learned, refined my techniques, and met some interesting people too.  I've always thought that it's largely the quality of the teacher that makes the quality of the course, and can I just stress that if you come here (Belgium) for a course at Callebaut that you will be in good hands if you are learning from this man.

Phillippe Vancayseele

Class was a whirlwind of theory, practical exercises and demonstrations.  I won't bore you by geeking out too much about it and instead I'll just show you a few pictures.

Isn't he odd?  The "dragonfish" I made during a 3D hollow moulding exercise.

The loot: Boxes filled with layer upon layer of my pralines/truffles.

I hadn't realized it at the time, but everything we made was exactly what we walked out with at the end of the course.  The timing couldn't have been better really, since Mother's day fell on the weekend following the conclusion of the course.  It was the perfect win-win scenario: Mother's day gifts were suddenly all dealt with, and I'd found the perfect way to move temptation out of my house!  I didn't gift dragonfish though, because I'm not sure how I feel about gifting someone with an odd creature such as him.  In the end I figured the safest place to keep him would be my belly, and so that's where I decided to put him.  heh.  Good thing I'm all caught up on my ab-work.

And THAT is my brief account of chocolate school.
Theeee end.

(For now...)

(...Because I'm totally hoping to go back and take another class there.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sharing: One of my favourite poems.

crickets...
then
thunder

                  - Larry Wiggin

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Stephen Harper = *headdesk*

Canada had an election recently and like many Canadians (but not enough) I am truly dismayed at the outcome.  It's like having your own people elect the devil, and it worries me greatly.  After seeing what Stephen Harper has pulled or tried to pull with a minority government now he's finally got the majority he'd so hoped for.  He'll probably use it like a wrecking ball to tear down as many of the things that I think make Canada great as possible.  This piece in the Guardian has done a decent job of summing it up, and since I'm still in a kind of shocked grief over the election, I'll let them do the talking.

http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/03/canada-stephen-harper-american-politics?cat-commentisfree&type=article

Friday, May 6, 2011

I hate the TEC.

The bus drivers here in Liège are on strike, again.

It's a wildcat strike, again.

Do you want to know why all the bus-drivers have decided not to drive their buses?  Because another bus driver was found by a judge to be at fault for his actions when he hit another motorist and hurt them while he was working.  This, rightfully was considered a "faute grave", meaning he could be fired for it.

In my eyes, if you go on strike to support someone who has already been found guilty of a serious fault, it is the same as saying "If I had committed a serious error while on the job, one that hurt someone else and demonstrated an extreme lack of attention to professionalism while working, I would expect to keep my job and not be punished."

It is ridiculous that all the bus drivers in the Liège region are not driving, and will not be driving for FOUR DAYS because of this.  Not only this but they did not follow procedure in giving the public advance notice about the strike, so now they are ALL, (not only in their show of solidarity with their guilty colleague but also in striking without notifying the public,) being grossly unprofessional.  It hurts the image of the TEC (the public transport company), it hurts the students who can't get to school, it hurts the workers who can't get to work, and it hurts the economy.  Who wins?  Nobody.  Everyone loses.  It is the most pointless strike ever.

All this to try and protect someone a judge has already found guilty.
This was not the intended purpose of socialism and the labour movement, and judging by the comments left on the websites of local newspapers covering the matter, most of the (non bus-driving) natives of the region are as disgusted as I am by the stupidity of it all.

More about my chocolate course soon... (I'm uploading photos and video from it onto my computer now!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

The air smells of chocolate here.

Ok, so now that it's finally started and hasn't evaporated into thin air, I can tell you.  It's true it's not done yet, but since I've started it, it's feeling very real and I'm too excited not to share.

I'm at the Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Weize, Belgium.  Today was the first day of my course, and it was AWESOME, as in: I've already learned a few things I should have known better about, and I've done one or two things that were completely new to me, and today is only the first day.  The course is packed with information and practical work, led by a top notch teacher and chocolatier, and I am basically in chocolate scented heaven.

I'll tell you about it more soon.  I'm a bit brain-dead after trying to sponge up as much knowledge and technique as possible today, and I have a thumb blister to attend to.  Gotta rest up, stay sharp, and make sure my camera batteries are juiced (you know, in case I actually have a second tomorrow to take a picture along the way.)

Chitika