November 2007 Archives

The 200$ challenge

| | Comments (0)

I have 210$ (actually approximately $150, considering that I need to buy a bus pass) to live with for the next two weeks. This is because of my feeling that living on credit is the worse thing that can happen to someone in terms of personal finances. Therefore, once I got my pay yesterday, I paid my cellphone bill, and rent, and set money aside for mutual funds (markets in Asia went down), and had early Christmas gifts (unconscious of what I was doing, as it was Buy Nothing Day, and I was trying hard to be observant for once).

So, I am left with about $10/day. I guess that a lot of the money goes into restaurants, and spendings for outings.

The funnest part of living downtown is probably doing the supermarket. Because I am living to eat, every trip to the local grocery story (Supermarché PA slowly imposed itself as a personal favourite) is like a voyage to the land of wonders. I understand that savings are usually made on big extravagant purchases (on a latest iPod, say) than on stuff like groceries, and it is the nature of extravagant purchases to be unpredictable... In any case, I am a bargain hunter. Last week, I found that pineapples were 2$/each, which seems unbelievably low (but then, I never bought a pineapple myself before), and that Emmental cheese was noticeably cheaper than its usual supermarket price (for bargains on cheese, and not just the Kraft kind, go to Costco!).

Another favourite buy is bread from Première Moisson. Not just any kind, because a baguette is markedly more expensive there (proportional to its quality, we'd all agree on that), but rather the "carré blanc" variety. Sold at PA, but only sliced at actual bakery locations. The carré blanc is $2.65, a competitive price against commercial white breads of the POM, Weston brands, not as large, from the volume point of view, but it is surely heavier, denser (and of greater quality, arguably). It is a lot cheaper than the $3-4 breads of multi-grain omega-3 whatever types.

And then, I definitely like the instant noodles + Chinese vegetable + egg / Chinese cold cut meat combo. A portion of roasted pork for $5 in Chinatown can be good for three individual meals, including a lunch.

Speaking of lunch (and breakfast), packing your own is probably the single most valuable money saver. How about a pair of toasts for around $1, when you can get the whole loaf for just 2 or 3 times that price, and a trivial amount for spread?

Expozine 2007 + etc

| | Comments (1)

Expozine 2007

Have not blogged in half a week, but I doing it here to publicize Expozine, a small press, comic and zine fair. It is going to be at the Église Saint-Enfant-Jésus, on the corner of Laurier and St-Dominique. Will be there to help man the Spacing Montreal kiosk.

Unrelatedly, but not quite so, I was very tempted to buy this month's Urbania, a really cool hipster magazine. Radio-Canadian Émilie Dubreuil wrote an article criticizing life in Montreal without knowing French. It is bizarre, but such is the reality of hipster ghetto, the Plateau (ironic). There are those trying, and those not trying too much. For some reason, many friends/acquaintances who don't speak much French all very much like Jean Leloup and Ariane Moffatt (who are two of my fave local artists - even have the latter's "L'autre Gala de l'ADISQ" poster, w/ an excellent pic by John Londono).

Ok, I'm going for a walk to the supermarket, munching on a bar of dark chocolate bar.

Mencoder really does miracles. After showing how to rip streams last week, now comes a script to rip the audio from a music video DVD:

# Script to rip the audio of DVDs (useful for music videos!)


if [ $# -ne 5 ]
    echo "Usage: [AID] [TITLE] [START CHAPTER] [END] [SUBDIR]"
    exit 1
    mkdir -p ${OUTDIR}
    for i in `seq ${3} ${4}`
       TRACKNO=`printf %02d $i`
       mencoder -v dvd://${2} -aid ${1} -chapter ${i}-${i} \
       -o ${OUTDIR}/track${TRACKNO}.${ACODEC} -ovc copy -oac lavc \
       -lavcopts abitrate=${ABITRATE}:acodec=${ACODEC} -of rawaudio

Download it:

My Little Airport, PixelToy, 草地音樂同學會, and 開始!

  • My Little Airport - We Can't Stop Smoking In The Vicious And Blue Summer (Better than the second album "I was too nervous")
  • PixelToy - O...Oh (The only one I listened to in full so far, and very energetic, as expected from them, with even more guitars and beat than the first album)
  • Start ! (Sampler released in 2005, by Silent Agreement, a Taiwan-based indie label)
  • Grassland Music (2007 sampler, also from Silent Agreement - it is a low-low $6US on Yesasia!)

Macaroni aux quatre fromages

| | Comments (0)

Macaroni au fromage

Melt butter, and mix in flour and milk. Then, mix into some cooked macaroni. Then, throw in your four kinds of cheeses (mine were a Rosenborg, Jarlsberg, Coulommiers, and Parmesan), and gratin with grated Parmesan.


Radio-Canada Nouveaux Médias is rebranded Radio-Canada Internet et Services Numériques, and Geneviève Rossier, interim first director for the past two months, since taking over from Yann Paquet and Jean-François Rioux (interim), was officially crowned as its new directrice générale. Ms Rossier has been with Radio-Canada since 1984, and might be best remembered by the general public as a reporter for SRC Information.

From what was previously a "first director" top dog position at the New Medias, the bearer of the internet general director title is now on par with its radio, television, comm, sales, etc, counterparts.

Cooking for grads and professionals

| | Comments (0)

I really liked recipes on Karen's "Cooking for Undergraduates" series, having again tried her linguine carbonara recipe a couple of weeks back, one of those dishes that are easier than they seem. Not with actual fresh Parmigiano Reggiano.

Yesterday night, I made a borscht based on the family recipe:


We always made this beet-based soup, and forgot the origin of it (such that for the longest time, I thought it was Chinese, or French, as my father learned to cook from the family's cook). Having it was especially heartwarming, as November sank in. Typically, we did it with beets, carrots, leeks, potatoes, and a big beef marrow with the meat and cartilage around it. The idea of the soup came from the fact that I did not know how to use the tomatoes in the bottom drawer, thus my recipe would contain a number of tomatoes. Because PA was out of beef shank, I had to substitute it with a chicken carcass. In the end, the choice of meat did not influence the taste so much, as I think the leeks (and shallots that I added, in order to emulate my roommate Emilie's own vegetable soup recipe) contributed the most to the aroma, while beets and carrots gave the sweet taste to it (meat basically provides the msg-ish taste, I think).

Now, I've been thinking all day about making macaroni and cheese, to consume the ham leftovers in the fridge (sounds like a common thread, doesn't it?). It would be: butter + flour + milk, for a white sauce, and parmesan for the gratin. I just need to get macaroni, and actually some more ham...

I have wonton noodles in the fridge too, and I could make a variant of the za jiang mein.

Now, what do you do with a bunch of old smelly cheeses (Rosenborg Danish Blue, Jarsberg, Le Rustique Coulommiers), that does derive from three-cheeses pasta?

The Stars are coming to Montreal, if you have been reading free weeklies, which I have not been doing. In fact, I heard from it through Facebook, as it is slowly crawling into our lives. Flavour of the month or next Google? I know that people in the mainstream are taking it seriously..

I am writing this entry for a change in mood, because reading a language that people don't understand (maybe I assume too much of my audience, too, if there is such a thing) is always really boring. Not only is this entry different, but I am not even using my own pics! It was taken by petronia on the first day of this year's Osheaga, the one that I did not attend.

Stars at the National (across from Metro Beaudry) on Nov 30th and Dec 1st.

The following script uses the mencoder command to read a live video feed and save it to a file for playback. It could probably be modified or used as it is for audio, but I did not try it. It was custom-made to read a stream in the asf format and encoded in WMV3 (Windows Media Video 9), but I assume that it could be parametrized to take and output other formats. The benefit of this script is that it does not require any transformation or recoding of the stream, as it just copies (or dumps) the contents of the stream to a file, and packages it in its native format, that's supported by FFmpeg's libavformat library.

# Reads a live stream and copies its contents to a file

NOW=`date +%Y%m%d%H%M`;

if [ $# -ne 3 ]
    echo "Usage: [stream url] [duration] [identifier]"
    exit 1
    STREAM_URL=${1}     DURATION=${2}
    IDENTIFIER=${3}     mencoder -forceidx -oac copy -ovc copy -endpos ${DURATION} -vf harddup ${STREAM_URL} \     -of lavf -lavfopts format=${FORMAT} -o ${DLDIR}/${IDENTIFIER}${NOW}.${EXTENSION} fi exit 0

Download it:

Whatever you do with this script is your business. Please be careful about legal questions with respect to copyright when you save stream segments.

You need to have MPlayer/mencoder installed. It works best when you have the latest codecs installed, and this script should only work when you have FFmpeg installed too (although I think you could modify it to do without). You might also need the w32codecs binary codecs package.To get the latest versions of these packages, on Debian, try looking at Debian Multimedia, and for Ubuntu, check out Medibuntu. I did not test it thoroughly, so beware when you use the script, and be sure that you know what you are doing! The script works very well as a cron job.


Edit (2008-07-14): Last week, I tried bringing my friends to Restaurant Congee, just to find that it has closed for good, it seems! Just after a few months of existence - quel dommage!

Edit (2008-02-03): 豐衣粥食 is actually the Chinese name of this place.

After the singing contest last week, we got a bunch of cards for free dessert at this congee restaurant in Brossard. The name in Chinese is perhaps a little more meaningful, evocative, but I cannot read it. My mother said that she saw ads for this particular restaurant in Toronto - so we might assume that it is part of some pan-Canadian chain.

So, yes, there is a congee place in Montreal, and it is in the suburb of Brossard, where a fairly large Chinese/Asian community lives. The menu indicates countless possibilities of congee combinations, more than I've ever seen in Chinatown for the very least. The said congee restaurant might be in a boring strip mall, but the interior of it is certainly not bad, with its redwood and clean environment (we thought it might've opened recently, as the strip mall sign does not include them yet).

Madame Pearl's Cough Syrup

| | Comments (0)

I bought this in Chinatown, at the back of the Ruby Rouge mall...

Madame Pearl's Cough Syrup

According to my grandfather, it is a very popular brand in Hong Kong, although he does not use it himself. On the box, it says that it contains, per 30ml:

When I checked my Robitussin Cough & Cold (Extra Strength), this was what we had in medicinal ingredients adjusted for the same volume of 30 ml (was for 5 ml on box):

  • Dextromethorphan HBr: 90 mg
  • Pseudoephedrine HCl: 180 mg
  • Guaifenesin: 1200 mg

The Robitussin was perhaps Extra Strength, but is a lot more potent. Price-wise, the Madame Pearl's was 5$ for 120 ml and I forgot how much the Robitussin was, but probably around $8-10 for 100 ml.

Hong Kong indie label People Mountain People Sea (人山人海) now has a Youtube channel. Here are their most recent music videos.

At17 - 同聲同氣 (same sound same air)
Song title sounds like a Chinese expression/saying, but I am limited. At17 (Eman Lam & Ellen Joyce Loo) is a pop duo, signed as the first band on Anthony Wong's (not that Anthony Wong) Hong Kong-based label. Their sound is definitely refreshing, and I can definitely see them as a not-so-mainstream counterpart to the Twins (they even did collabs with them, for the crossover universe factor). Google made Smurfmatic their #1 fan (or at least top 10) in the English-speaking world. So. Yes. They are cool, they are hip, and they are not afraid to cover Creep at Hong Kong 演唱會s (concerts extraordinaires).

PixelToy - 寫一首詩 (write a poem)
PixelToy (Shan Ho & Candy Wu) is the second band signed by People Mountain People Sea. I am listening to their first album right now (their second is in the mail), as we speak. As their name suggest, they are electropop, bordering on the cute. Sometimes they are experimental (Good Morning - basically the female vocalist, Candy, singing as she wakes up, gets ready in the morning), some other times they sound like britpop bands (Winnie - reminds me of Saint Etienne) or video games (什麼節快樂). Just like at17, they were part of the soundtrack directed by Anthony Wong for the 2007 movie 明明 (ming ming), otherwise a stylish music video.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2007 is the previous archive.

December 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.