Phones, phones, phones

Last night, I was a very bad person. No, I didn’t hurt a baby, and no, I didn’t steal a homeless man’s blanket. No, what I did was much worse: I shed any semblance of moral code left in me and hacked my cellphone. I broke the agreement I signed when I had service initiated by my provider and changed the internal code allowing my phone to execute commands that it would not have otherwise been able to do from the factory.

At this point, I am sure you are comparing me to Jeffrey Dahmer or Saddam Hussein for the heinous acts I have admitted here on this very webpage. I am a blight on this fair city and must be extradited to Guantanamo Bay or Serbia so that I can be “lost in the system.” Before you get out the bamboo cane and get ready to lash me, let me explain the nature of my “hacking”: I unlocked my phone. I changed 2 bytes (essentially 16 sets of 1’s and 0’s) to allow me to use my phone on a competitor’s network.

Continue reading Phones, phones, phones

It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood

Today’s date: February 15th.  That means that yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

I could sit here and wax lethargic about how companies like Hallmark have exploited the general population and created a holiday based around an idea that should be celebrated every day.  The problem is that I like Christmas, and if I don’t complain about Christmas too since it’s been exploited just as badly, if not worse, I become a hypocrite and today folks, I don’t want to be a hypocrite.

I could sit here and rant on and on about how men are nearly expected to spend way too much money on gifts that will likely end up in the garbage (flowers) or in a box stowed away somewhere (stuffed teddy bears), serving no meaningful purpose beyond taking up space.  The symbolism taking a rather nasty turn a week or so after they’ve been given (e.g. the rose is supposed to love, but the rose dies rather quickly; does that mean the love will die quickly too?)

In reality though, I love Valentine’s Day.  Not because it’s the one day a year where I show my love to my girlfriend/friends/family, but because this is the first year I’m celebrating “Valentine’s Day” rather than “Singles Awareness Day”.  To all my significant-otherless out there, all I have to say is: NEENER NEENER.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I do celebrate my love for the people around me every day.  I do this by calling Matt a fag and punching Hazen in the kidney.  They happily return the gesture by setting my alarm clock 2 hours early and beating me with a very hard piece of PVC pipe.  Women may not understand it (or hell, maybe they do, I don’t know) but this is how guys show their “affection” for each other.  Maybe it’s just a subtle sign that I know that I can call Matt a girl and he won’t tell me to find a new friend; who knows.

At any rate, last night had nothing to do with Matt or Hazen.  I show them enough “love” often enough; this night was going to be all about Sarah.

Our reservations at Aqua @ Ariel Sands (the resort owned by Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones) were for 7pm.  Me in my suit, and Sarah in her fancy clothes, we arrived to the most beautiful restaurant I’ve ever been inside of.  Every table is up against the back “wall”, which is actually less like a wall, and more like floor to ceiling windows.  The view gives you a perfect view of the ocean, as the beach that borders the resort is less than 10 feet from the window.

Trés romantique.

While we waited for the first of 6 courses to arrive, we watched the foot high waves crumble onto the shore line that stretched as far as you could see.  I can only imagine how much better the view would be during the evening when there was still a bit of sunlight.  Unfortunately it was it was pretty much pitch black out by the time we arrived, but there was still enough light to see the sand and maybe 100 feet out.

We ordered a bottle of an Italian red wine from a vineyard called Koren.  It was a 1998 vintage, and my God was it ever good.  It had a very unique flavor, but definitely something I would recommend to anyone who wants to change things up a bit, from the usual $9 bottle of Frank’s Red (you know who I’m talking to).

[Editor’s Note: I’ve since tried to find any information about Koren on the net, even just a place to order a bottle, but have been unsuccessful as of yet.  If I find any information after this, I will post a follow up article.]

The first course was a seafood dish.  It wasn’t really a “soup” per se, but it was served in a soup bowl, and tasted almost like a tea broth.  It had what I’m told by Sarah was mussels, and a few other varieties of shellfish.  I’m sure those of you who know me well will be surprised when I say that I didn’t totally hate it.  It’s definitely not something I’d order by choice, but for the most part it was bearable.

The second course (and the most amazing of all) was the chef’s homemade ravioli.  This ravioli was quite possibly the best dish I have ever had (or will ever have) in my life.  It was two ravioli pieces (raviolis?) stuffed with what I believe was meat minced into very fine bits, and covered in a creamy sauce with a hint of spice.  Absolutely fantastic; if they ever announce an all-you-can-eat ravioli special (doubtful; this isn’t exactly the kind of restaurant to have a “special”) I would be there lining my pockets from open to close.

The third course was a salad and, which if you know me at all, I didn’t eat it.  If I remember correctly, it consisted of spinach (yuck), asparagus (double yuck) and beets (since they’re not in borscht, triple yuck).  Definitely not my thing, but Sarah said it was pretty good, so you can take her word for it, I guess.

Up next for the fourth round was what Sarah and I dubbed the “pre-dessert”.  We hadn’t even received our main course, and they were serving us sweets, this time three frozen melon balls (watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew) in an ice cream dish setting.  Sarah contends that there was rum in the ice cream, however I insist that it was just her getting drunk from the two or three glasses of wine we’d had up until this point.

For the fifth and main course of the evening, I had the sirloin steak done rare, and Sarah decided to try the duck.  Let me just say that if you ever want to see how to cook a rare steak, get to Aqua immediately.  It was cooked absolutely perfectly.  The outside was a nice light brown, about a millimeter of pink, and then a centimeter of red in the middle.  This was all topped with some sort of roasted seeds although I’m not sure what they would grow into if they were planted.  Sarah’s duck looked nothing short of amazing either; crispy exterior combined with meet that was literally falling off the bone.

Finally, after our stomachs could honestly not handle even the thought of more food being forced into them, dessert was finally brought out.  We of course told our stomachs to shut up and quit complaining.  Needless to say, it was just as delicious as the rest of the meal.  A mix of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries circled a dish made of chocolate which itself was holding the most extraordinary homemade chocolate mousse my tongue has ever had the pleasure of tasting.  It was, dare I say, scrumptious?

We finished the evening off nearly two solid hours after we started, myself with a cup of coffee and Sarah with her tea, reminiscing about the creations we had just experienced and how it will not be the last time we dine there.

The waiter brought over the cheque, and while I was expecting the bill to be rather large being that it is such a classy restaurant, I was definitely not ready to read the final total: $233.10.

I want you to think about that for a second: two hundred and thirty-three dollars and ten cents.

Now in Bermuda, the 15% gratuity is already included in the bill, which meant that the food itself (including the $60 bottle of wine) was only $194.00, but I still wasn’t prepared for it.  After I stopped hyperventilating, I paid the bill, and we left.

We made our retreat to Sarah’s house via taxi, as neither of us were in any condition to drive, and almost fell asleep before we made it in the house. I don’t think I need to say again how great everything was last night; the dinner, the conversation, the view.  Everything was absolutely remarkable and I can’t wait to do it again.

Though next time I’ll be more prepared.  Instead of paying rent, I’ll just go out to dinner.  You’ve got to make sacrifices somewhere, right?

2007 is going to be great!

A blank page. A new slate. This is my first post since I turned a quarter century minus one. That’s correct folks, as of February 10th, yours truly is officially one year older; one year further from childhood. He is *cue dramatic sound effect* 24.

Saturday rolled around, and we went into town for brunch, as our usual modus operandi dictated. Of course not 5 minutes into the ride, it went from rather sunny to rather pouring. Typical Bermuda, right? We got to Bistro 12 in Hamilton, and made the rather smart decision to eat inside, rather than on their open air patio. We had a hankerin’ for food that wasn’t soggy; can you blame us? However, being that there was 9 of us, we waited for nearly half an hour before enough tables to seat us all freed up.

Breaking our usual ‘wander-around-downtown-and-window-shop’ tradition, my girlfriend Sarah (henceforth affectionally known as: “the ball and chain”) and I decided to head home right after eating. We made a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up the ingredients we’d need to cook my birthday- and our one-month-anniversary- dinner: breaded pork tenderloin medallions w/ creamed corn and mashed potatoes. [Editor’s Notes: I’m not going to delude myself into thinking this was exactly what Sarah had in mind for “anniversary dinner”, but since Valentine’s Day is less than a week away, she can suffer. Plus I’m pretty sure she timed this whole “dating” thing to interfere with my birthday anyways. Yeah, Sarah, that’s right, I’m on to your little game.]

We made dinner together since I wasn’t going to have her cook her own anniversary dinner all by herself (although she’s such a good person, that she probably would have anyways), and once everything was prepared, we invited the two bozos to join us. Dinner was great, and not just because of the food – it was the first time that we all sat down, ate together, and had what really felt like a “family meal”. We talked and joked — well they made jokes at my expense, but honestly I’m OK with that.

We’ve had dinner at the table together before (albeit only 3 or 4 times since we bought it like 3 months ago), but this was the first time that it actually felt like we were all a family. All 4 of us are ex-pats who, admit it or not, miss our families. Our moms and our dads, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends. We’ve taken advantage of globalization and relocated to a country (or continent for some of us) far, far away from home, leaving our support systems behind us. Up until now, we were still feeling each other out, trying to see if these more-or-less random people would be able to pick up the slack when we just don’t have the energy.

After Saturday’s meal, the answer to that question was a resounding: YES!

It was great being able to open up to these people and just talk about anything. Even if we didn’t really penetrate any in-depth subjects, we were all relaxed and we just had a great time. We need to have more of those meals.

After dinner, we got all prettied up and made our way back into town for a night of drunken debauchery. Well not so much “debauchery” as “stumbling”; but you get my point. We went to Legends (the sports bar) and found out that the stupid Flames lost their stupid game to the stupid Sabres. [Editor’s Note: Hey Calgary, if that’s how you’re gonna thank me for leaving, I just might start cheering for the Lightning. How do you like them apples?!?]

After Legends, we walked down the street to the Beach, and had about 30 more drinks. Well, maybe not 30. Closer to 29. I think. We also sang along to the guy who was playing his guitar over the PA system. I don’t know if we were singing the right words, or even if we were singing at all, now that I think about it. Let me rephrase: we also made sounds with our mouths that roughly resembled the sounds coming from the guy who was playing his guitar over the PA system.

We eventually got home, although how, I’m not sure; I remember talking to our waitress about her being from Romania, and then the next thing I knew, it was 4pm Sunday and I was just waking up. That is my definition of “good birthday”.

At any rate, this has been a good year for me. I was given the opportunity to leave a country best known for its freezing temperatures, and to relocate to one where the word “snow” only brings puzzled looks and questions of “When what falls? You mean rain, right?” I became a lot more mature, and have made some really positive steps in all facets of my life.

All I have to say is: I’m harder, better, faster and stronger than I was last year. 2007: I hope you’re ready for me.