Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Book Review - Unflinching: The Making of a Canadian Sniper

I just finished reading Unflinching: The Making of a Canadian Sniper by Jody Mitic, who was a sniper with the Canadian Armed Forces 1st Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment.

Unflinching is an uplifting memoir on military issues, endurance, and overcoming adversity. 

Afghanistan, 2007. While on patrol with the 1st Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment deep within enemy territory, sniper Jody Mitic stepped on a land mine and lost both legs below the knee. Though Jody was a dedicated serviceman who had dreamed of a military life since he was a child, it seemed that his fighting days were done. 

Ever a soldier at heart, Jody was determined to still be of service to his country, and he refused to let his injury hold him back. After only a few short months of rehab, Jody was up and walking again on two prosthetic legs, and only a year later, he was running his first road race. 

But despite his success in physically recovering from his injury, Jody still struggled to mentally adapt to his new reality. As he experienced first-hand the controversial treatment of Canadian veterans, Jody turned his efforts towards developing programs for wounded veterans and publicly advocating on their behalf. With a renewed purpose to guide him, Jody came to find a new lease on life.

I found this book to be a very uplifting read. It is the story of Jody's life, who as a teen lived a life without purpose until he decided to join the army and received some direction in his life. After joining, though, he had some issues and he tells of some of the personal battles he fought just to stay in the force. Jody really emphasizes the  respect and camaraderie of soldiers, not only those in the Canadian force, but also between Canadian and their US army counterparts.

The book also highlights what I have always had a problem with when it comes to our politicians and the armed forces. We send them off to fight for Canada but cut back on the dollars to equip them properly. This theme comes through over and over, whether it is regards to clothing, weapons or vehicles. If we are asking them to lay down their life for our country, we should do our very best to ensure that everything they receive is top notch.

Jody also highlights the lack of support, physically, mentally and financially for wounded soldiers who return home with massive wounds.

This book is very well written and one that should be required reading for every member of Canadian Parliament.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Book Review - Vij: A One-Way Ticket to Canada with India in My Suitcase and Lessons I Learned in Life

I've had some time to catch up on my reading lately and just finished Vij: A One-Way Ticket to Canada with India in My Suitcase and Lessons I Learned in Life. 

Vikram Vij, one of Canada’s great chefs, shares his story of the trials and triumphs in building a world-renowned food empire.

Fragrant with the smells of cumin, turmeric, fennel, and cloves, Vij reveals the story of Vikram Vij, one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs and entrepreneurs. Co-owner of the world-famous Vij’s Restaurant in Vancouver, his story is a true rags-to-riches tale of a college dropout from northern India who made it to Europe’s temples of high cuisine, then with a one-way ticket bound for Canada, found fame serving some of the world’s most transcendent Indian cuisine. Vij’s Restaurant, originally a fourteen-seat establishment known for its extraordinary flavours and spice blends, along with a firm no-reservation policy, received accolades from restaurant critics and patrons alike.

A culinary journey that began in India as a boy enjoying the praise of visitors for his chai and biscuits, Vikram’s passion for Indian cooking and his lifelong mission to bring awareness to the culture he left behind have fueled his tireless drive in building a world-renowned food empire. Driven to succeed, Vikram realized his dream to launch five major initiatives under the Vij’s brand by age fifty, but with challenges and sacrifices along the way.

For the first time, Vikram opens up about his struggles with prejudice, his mentors’ lasting lessons, and the painful demise of his marriage—both the successes and the failures that have shaped and sharpened one of Canada’s most unique and revered culinary talents.

I really enjoyed this book. Although he was little known to me until he came onto the Dragons' Den, it turns out he really has made his mark on the Canadian restaurant scene.

Vikram gives so much credit of the success of his food to his ex-wife, Meeru, who worked with the kitchen staff and created many of the recipes for his earlier places, while he worked the front of the house and handled the publicity. That is not to say that Vij did not take part in the cooking as he is quite the chef himself as his new establishments attest.

He isn't shy to explain the money he has spent on all his ventures and the amount of debt that he is in. Most restaurateurs lease properties where he is only keen to buy. The same went for when he decide to expand his operation to include packaged foods for the supermarket. Again he never leased a plant but decided to buy the land and build it from the ground up. Seems it was just recently that it started to turn a profit.

As tough as one has to be to be an entrepreneur, Vij has quite the soft side to him, especially when it comes to family and friends. In many autobiographies, the authors will show themselves as totally driven 100% to their business but where Vikram does talk about this, he also talks about missing family and the joy he feels when with them.

Although I never have wanted to work in the restaurant industry, I find it fascinating and this is an excellent look at that inside world.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Rock Stomp Stealth

Tonight the 8-4 Toronto Rock took on the 5-7 Vancouver Stealth in NLL action. Toronto came into the game a single game back of first place Georgia, who they beat last night. It was a must-win game for the Rock in the race for first place.

The Toronto Rock celebrated 150 years of lacrosse in Canada.

Scotty Newlands sang the national anthem.

The ceremonial faceoff.

Team huddle.

Opening face-off.

First half action. Toronto led 3-1 at the end of the first quarter and 8-2 at the half.

Our friend, Darlene, came to the game with us.

Iggy got the wave going.

A Rock player gets mugged in front of the Stealth net.

My birthday is coming up and Teena made sure my name hit the Rock scoreboard. Thanks, Honey!

The Toronto Rock Cheerleaders came out to put on a show.

More action.

More cheerleaders

 More Iggy

I finally managed to capture a goal in this game. Unfortunately it was against the Rock. Toronto goaltender Nike Rose (Rosie!) was sensational and only let in 7 all night. Oh, yes, he also scored an empty net goal, his second of the season!

So how good is he this season? He averages only 9.64 goals against per game. The next best in the league averages is almost a goal more at 10.44 per game. Astounding!

The Rock led 10-4 at the end of the third quarter and finished with a 13-7 victory. The game was never close. As usual, they circle the arena to thank the fans.

Tim and Gillian raise the Rock banner to salute the team.

The Rock have four games left in the season and only one of them is a home game. Yes, Teena and I will be there cheering them on.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Andy's Belgium Tripel

My neighbour, Andy, was at it again. He is a home brewer and in the past has given me a stout  and an IPA to try. Both were delicious! This time he came up with a Belgium Tripel.

So what is a Belgium Tripel? According to Craft

Complex, sometimes mild spicy flavor characterizes this style. Yeast-driven complexity is common. Tripels are often on the higher end of the ABV spectrum, yet are approachable to many different palates. These beers are commonly bottle-conditioned and finish dry. Tripels are similar to Belgian-style golden strong ales, but are generally darker and have a more noticeable malt sweetness.

So how is this one?

Andy's Tripel poured golden, maybe light amber in colour. It was a lighter colour than I had expected. This ale was bottle conditioned, meaning some yeast was left in the bottle so the beer could ferment further as it ages, and poured with a generous white head. It is interesting that I sensed white wine in the aroma.

I had expected a heavy, funky tasting ale but was surprised that the flavours were not overpowering. Again, like in the aroma, white wine seems to come through when I sip. It tastes clean and fresh, with some funk in the finish.

This is a very well balanced and delicious ale. I quite enjoyed it.

Hey Andy! When you brew your next batch, don't forget about me!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Book Review - Old Man's War

A friend of mine from work read Old Man's War, and really enjoyed it. Knowing that I like science fiction, he gave it to me to read. 

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-- and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding. 

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets. 

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine--and what he will become is far stranger.

First paragraphs of a book are supposed to hook the reader. Here is the first line from Old Man's War"I did two things on my seventy-firth birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the army."

That grabbed me and from that point on I had a hard time putting the book down.

The story is told in first person by John Perry, is well thought-out and extremely imaginative. Although the story does start a little slow, it was still interesting to read and was needed to show how the CDF turns old people into warriors.  There are twists and turns throughout.

This is the first part of what looks to be an ongoing series. So far, there are six more books in the series after this one, all of which I plan to read in the future as I am curious as to just how mankind's future will end up for John Perry.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Signing Author Autographed Books for Indigospirit in Royal Bank Plaza

Hey, look what is sitting in the main display of non-fiction books at the Indigospirit Royal Bank Plaza. Yes, that's my book, Defending the Inland Shores, from Bookland Press right up beside Mike Myers.

The store has many clients with an interest in Canadian history so one of the managers, Natalia, ordered a few of my books and asked me to come in and sign them so their customers would be able to purchase autographed copies.

I gladly said, "Yes" and was there today to sign them.

I never knew signing my own name would take so much concentration!

Here are Natalia and I posing with an autographed copy by the entrance.

I enjoyed the experience and thank Natalia and Indigo for having a place for Defending the Inland Shores on their shelves.

Monday, 20 March 2017

My March 2017 Canada Craft Club Delivery

Every month I some fun mail comes to our door from Canada Post which is my Canada Craft Club delivery. I have been receiving this for some time, a present from my fabulous wife, Teena.

Our packs are delivered in discreet packaging (so no one swipes your brews) and prices include shipping. You can trust that every single beer has been hand-selected for your pack by Canada Craft Club’s experienced tasters and experts, some of whom sit on tasting panels in prestigious worldwide brewing competitions. What this really means is that we tasted, tested and rated every single beer before giving them our stingy stamp of approval for our treasured members. We try to shake it up for you, and fill your pack with beers you might not have had or can’t get anywhere else.

Each month I receive two 650 ml or 750 ml bottles from breweries, most of which I had never heard of. This month both bottles (650 ml) came from the U.S.

I received a Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale from Ninkasi Brewing of Eugene, OR, and a Mikkeller Hop Geek Geek Breakfast Black IPA from Mikkeller Brewing located in San Diego, CA.

Beer for breakfast. Hmmmm. I don't think Teena would let me go for it but I bet it's going to be good no matter what time of day I have it.