Monthly Archives: February 2012

Book Review: Quarter-Share

I found out about this author through a different blog (biliopirate’s page) and it sounded good enough to try especially as I was about to be travelling for business and needed something to read on the plane.  It is a very easy read and the author does a really good job of constructing a new world for the reader to dig into.

The character is interesting enough to pique the reader’s interest to see where he ends up and the cast of supporting characters are unique in their own personalities. The author leaves enough hints that there is potential of each character being explored more in the following books.

There is no huge clash like a war or saving humanity, but you don’t really miss it. You get immersed in life as a travelling space jockey and I didn’t even see the end of the book coming! Will definitely be reading the next book in the series.

Travelling for Business: Suits, shoes and ipad, oh my!

My last travel blog was travel in general with a lot of emphasis on FUN travel. I am not one of those that think travelling for work is fun. However, there is a certain amount of dark humour in it especially to those who don’t have to travel for business. As I prepared to travel to New York for a two and half day conference, I was speaking to my friend, J, who never has to travel for business, and in fact, doesn’t even have an office job (I don’t think she owns a suit), and who was laughing her head off as I agonised over wardrobe choices.

So there I was approaching packing with the military precision of an army being deployed into foreign territory. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration; I didn’t have to worry about food, just clothes. See, I was going to a business conference where the dress was business, not business casual. And the speakers were all high-powered and high-profile which usually means “dress up!”. But, I’m a girl. Never mind how much equality we have achieved in the Western world, we really can’t wear the same suit jacket 3 times in a row. We can get away with twice, but not back to back and only if we change something else quite noticeable – like a green shirt one day and a red one the next. So, what to wear and more importantly, how to cram it into my suitcase so it didn’t crease leaving me with ironing at the other end.

My lessons learned on this trip:

  • make sure the suits you take are interchangeable – jacket #1 will work with trousers #2 and same for jacket #2 and trousers #1. And once you get that sorted out, throw in a completely different third outfit just in case.
  • take shoes that will fit for everything you bring and make sure they are easy to remove and put back on for airport security. And then throw in an extra pair just in case.
  • take extra underwear – you never know what’s going to happen.
  • remember to leave room in the suitcase because you always get conference literature and it might even be good enough to bring home.
  • if possible, have all electronics use the same type of charger (yeah, right, like that’s possible).
  • take a snack like a granola bar that you can eat as you run for your flight and skip lunch.

happy travelling!

Book Review: Blah, Blah, Blah

The Book is “Blah, Blah, Blah: What to do when words fail” by Dan Roam.

I love communication and hate when communication is bad. Meaning that this might not be an unbiased review. I was very disappointed in this book. And that disappointment started from about a third of the way into it.

The author promised to show the reader how to identify when they are being blathered at and then further how to use certain tools to make sure that they do not spread the blathering by using a visual way of thinking and then communicating that thinking. This was a great beginning. Anyone, anyone at all, who has sat through a power point presentation while their butt goes numb or tries to listen to a speech and finds themself hopelessly lost, would welcome this with open arms.

However, for a book that decries blather, it surely used a vast amount of words. That leads me to two hypotheses. First, it could be that the author has fallen afoul of the very problem he seeks to fix or, second, it could be that the author’s new visual thinking needs a lot of words to explain it.

In terms of readability and usefulness, the first third of the book is very good. It breaks down the types of wordiness that we run across, shows them to be what they are (intentionally misleading, too full of jargon, trying to cover too many audiences, etc) and categorises them. Excellent way of defining the problem.

The next two thirds of the book start to get so complex that no amount of cute little stick figures (which were somewhat entertaining) could make it easier to swallow. The principles that drive Mr. Roam’s technique are completely non-objectionable – clearer communication, better use of the whole of our brain, looking at things holistically – and I was thoroughly in agreement with why he thought improved communication was needed. In the end, his visual technique is probably better suited to a live seminar with the teacher drawing out the ideas rather than trying to write about it.


Eats: Focaccia (the restaurant)

Mmmmm, I love food.  Just thought I’d make that clear.

So, this is the second time I’ve been to this restaurant ( and yes, it’s still good. Sometimes you go to a place and you like it, but when you go back, it’s not so great? Happy to report that this one is good.

It’s a really small place just outside the Bloor/Yonge subway (Hayden exit) in Toronto and it is basic Italian – unpretentious and not fancy, just good. There is only one waiter, Larry, so the service can be a bit slow if you don’t specifically tell him you’re in a hurry. He’s personable and quite a character.  But he doesn’t annoy, he takes it to the edge, but doesn’t go over and he comes across as if this is his home and you are a welcome guest and please relax and enjoy.

This time, I was there to catch up with a girl friend and it was fairly early for dinner.  There was only one other person (woman) in the restaurant and she was sitting not too far away….So, Larry made a show of the daily specials so that we could all hear them at once.

We had the calimari, which was lovely grilled (not breaded or battered!!!) in a caper and peppercorn sauce to start and I had the veal ossobuco (which I do not see on the online menu). Instead of served on it’s own, it was on a bed of mashed taters covered in a rich mushroom sauce with the meat falling off the bone and the marrow easily accessible. yum yum. My friend had the salmon and said it was lovely as well.

We had to skip dessert 😦

And to cap it off, when it was time to leave, Larry, got our coats declaring it was time for the sugar coating!!!!  It took me a few seconds to get it too 🙂

Highly recommend for a nice, casual dinner at reasonable prices.