Not the long ago

Often people make references to old shows, movies, music, or even things like VCR’s and records.

I’ll be the first to admit that I may not know a lot about things before my time such as certain company’s and shows, but to make a reference to something so commonly known then begin to explain it like I’m an idiot really gets on my nerves. If people are joking it of course doesn’t bother me like when we occasionally do it in class but when the person is obviously serious it is just rude.

My uncle was over at my house not long ago and was talking about an old VCR he and my mother used to have he then very seriously turned to me and explained what a VCR is and then proceeded to explain VHS’s. Being very annoyed yet slightly amused I got up calmly went to my room grabbed a copy of Matilda on VHS and put it in front of him while saying I have a shelf full of VHS’s and a VCR in my room. He stared at me then in order not to look foolish lamely explained he knew I wasn’t that young and that I had a VCR. My mother and sister laughed at him for close to half an hour, it was quite funny and people should really ask instead of assume when it comes to what other people know.


Yummy Food in Cornwall…

Everyone should know about these two specific diamonds, and I don’t use that term lightly, that I have found in Cornwall, and I bet some of you know already know all about these places.

Number one: At Philo’s they have the absolute, most delicious, mouth party-happy Greek dressing that they make in-house and it is available in take home size!  That stuff is amazing. Period. It is kind of creamy, kind of oily and has a mouthful of great, bright, herby-fresh flavour. It is by far, and I don’t say this lightly, the best dressing I have ever had. I normally bypass dressings, they taste mostly the same to me, are filled with preservatives and I mostly find that they take away from the fresh, beautiful taste of the vegetables. I love vegetables, but this dressing is truly something, I actually just used a spoon to get the last of the dressing soaked feta from the bottom of the bowl. Yes, it is that good. I sense my fridge will forever be stocked with this nectar of the Gods.

Number two: I have had a love affair with shawarma for a long time, starting out in Netherlands in 2001, (the places there are open till 4 a.m. for the after bar crowd, just like Ottawa) and I have never looked back. I even have a specific shawarma place that I seek out in downtown Toronto each time I go. (Everywhere else seems to lead to disappointment, and because shawarma is a special treat when it is done right, I don’t like to risk the unknowns.)

The shawarma at Cedars located in the Cornwall Square is stupid good. If the usual line up they have doesn’t say anything to you, let me be the one to tell you that they make an absolutely yummy shawarma. The pitas are always fresh, meaning they don’t break when they are being stuffed, (and I mean stuffed), with the goodness of my choices and the choices leave nothing to be desired from a shawarma experience. The standard pink pickled turnip adds some nice bite to the sandwich, the tabbouleh has a fresh and bright parsley taste, the garlic sauce is oh so very yummy (I always ask for extra, and I realize it is hazardous to the breath, but I throw my caution to the wind on that front.), and the hummus is great too. I always get the chicken when I go, and have yet to be disappointed. I have taken my mom there, my sister, and recommended it for a quick lunch with classmates just the other day. As I write this right now I am already looking forward to my next one!

The St. Lawrence Farmer’s Market in Toronto

I am writing today to praise the amazingness of the St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto. To begin, the place is huge. There are two floors of almost anything you can think of and almost every single thing in there is drool-worthy (to me).

I’ll begin with one on the bottom level. There is this neat booth with teas and coffees from around the world in the North-West corner. Some of the teas are a little dear, but if you love to try new teas, this is where I recommend going. If you are more of a coffee person, I recommend the coffee place upstairs in the north-west entrance. They freshly roast their own beans and the smell is absolutely intoxicating.

Back to downstairs. The perfect companion to tea is honey, and downstairs is this wonderful booth dedicated to honey from New Zealand. (New Zealand is the only place in the world where the bees have no illnesses or mites, so hives don’t need to be sprayed with anything and bees have no need of any antibiotics to survive there.) The guy that runs the booth knows a lot about the different taste profiles of each one. He is able to recommend ones based on your individual taste and he let’s you sample them! If he really likes you, he’ll pull out a flat of the honey still in the comb and let you try some of that!!!There is this one honey that I find so very special. It is called Viper Bugloss. It has this smooth, not overly sweet buttery flavor that literally melts in your mouth.

Another place downstairs that I feel the need to mention is the salmon/seafood counter around the bottom of the stairs. They don’t sell fresh fish, but they have cured salmon and caviar and such. I have never tried the caviar from there, but I wouldn’t hesitate to! They have this mean maple syrup cured salmon that they call “Indian Candy” that I have frequently treated myself to.  Oh my Gode, need I say more?

Besides those downstairs, there is a neat tofu place that sells flavoured tofu in little vacuum packs, and I can honestly say that it’s pretty tasty. You can tell that the people who sell it actually eat it when they tell you about the flavours and you try them before you buy. There are also some take out counters that are noteworthy downstairs too. Like the perogies booth that’s kind of tucked away in the North side that sells a smorgasbord of ready to eat eastern European foods, or the souvlaki booth on the west side that has all kinds of Mediterranean dishes, Italian mainly from what I remember, but oh so good.

Let us now investigate the upstairs of this mecca of yumminess. The fruit and vegetable booths upstairs are my favourites, namely the ones at the north-west end. (Nothing against the one(s) downstairs, I have always frequented the upstairs…) The one with the green awning on the east side of the north-west entrance is usually run by this small older guy on the weekends who sings in Italian. Really adds to the atmosphere, and the Greek figs that they carry are the absolute best I have ever eaten. In hindsight, everything that these people sell looks like romance to my mouth. (I am an avid fruit and veggie lover, but meat takes the cake.

The cheese monger at the south-east side is the absolute best in my eyes. It is run by Greeks who stock really nice cheeses, but the olive oil they sell from the Greek mountains is one of the tastiest ever. I mean dip your bread in it and savour it tasty. Maybe even throw some seven-year aged balsamic vinegar in for kicks.  So good. And they regularly stock a black truffle cheese from Italy… Such a treat.

The seafood place just north of that, the one you can walk all the way around it’s counters, I remember for buying yummy shrimp and oysters from. I love oysters. A lot. I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a 4 a.m. snack. Oh yes.

And the last four places that I simply cannot avoid mentioning is the beef place on the east side of the middle main aisle near the North end that has the BEST rib eye steak that I have ever seared. The whole counter begs you to call people and organize a dinner so you can prepare and enjoy as much from that counter as possible. The sausage booth on the West side of the main aisle near the north entrance is unbelievable, practically across from the steak, but a little north. All the sausages are great, especially the veal sausages… They are white in colour, but don’t let that put you off, they are so delicious,  the Kozlic’s Mustard stand is a must stop. The last time I was there you could get 3 jars for 18$ and you are able to try the many versions that they make. I recommend the grainy, the fig and balsamic, the maple, and the one with the horseradish.  Oh my gosh, I need to wipe the drool from my mouth right now just thinking about it. And, finally the bakery in the middle of the upstairs, located in the middle aisle. They have awesome breads and baked goods, plus they stock this stuff called Kefir. Kefir is a fermented yoghurt drink (non alcoholic!), that originated in the mountains of Germany. It is absolutely delicious in raspberry and in blueberry. Wasn’t too delighted with the plain. I have seen that product in other stores, but it never tastes as good as when I buy it there.

There are many delights to be found in the Market, the steak on a bun regularly gets written up in the local papers, you’ll know the place when you see all the framed articles ;), and the calamari that the booth fries up at the extreme South-West end is worth every single penny.  Most people swear that their fish and chips are the way to go there, but I fully back the calamari. And besides, anyone who knows downtown knows that Chippy’s on Queen St. W. is the only place for that.

I hope this inspires others to have their own flavour experience in the St. Lawrence Market, one of my absolute favourite places on the face of the Earth.

Year one, almost done.

I can hardly believe that our first year at SLC is this close to the end. It seems like just yesterday that we all so timidly entered that first classroom, looking around, checking each other out, wondering what was going to happen next. For me, it’s been an amazing journey. I’m so elated that I made the choice that I did, and took the chance, as frightening as it honestly was. I didn’t like school when I was a teenager, and worried that I might be getting into something I was not fully prepared for. When you are as old as I am, with as many “failed” experiences under your belt, you begin to hesitate before making big life decisions. Often, once the decision is made, there is no turning back. But alas, I must say that I could not have picked a better group of people (or teachers!) to begin this new journey with. Everyone has been absolutely wonderful. It is amazing to see so much energy and enthusiasm in one room, well, not counting newsroom (lol). It makes me certain that our second year will be positively spectacular! Don’t forget our classroom potluck (Wednesday April 25)! Good luck to everyone on the marketing presentation, and the layout and design exam – I’m sure we’ll all ROCK! (….cause that’s just what we do).


call of the wild

The only place in the world where I feel stress just lift away as if a heavy blanket was suffocating my every thought and action, making me feel small and insignificant is the wilderness. This is where I truly sense a power of raw energy stored and finally being able to release it, and to be connected with life at its most primitive and basic level. “It’s more important to feel strong, than be strong in life”, a quote that always sums up my beliefs and values, and when it’s just you and nature, at least for me your surrounded by this feeling of bliss and peace. To be honest I was never much for the outdoors, rather staying inside sitting on a couch and spending endless hours on my computer a bag of chips in one hand, a bottle of Pepsi in the other, isn’t that a lovely picture? One afternoon after my sixteenth birthday I was switching through channels on my TV and I came across the outdoor network, and a show called “survivor man” was on. At first I wasn’t interested at all, but as the show progressed I became more intrigued and by the end of the show I fully wanted with all my heart to experience what les stroud the host of the show was involved in, camping, hiking, canoeing, hunting, and of course surviving. The only problem was my parents were not huge fans of nature and camping, even to this day there not too fond of activities which shaped the way I want to live my life, so with a little effort and searching I found a local air cadets branch where their main goal was camping and survival training. After almost a whole year of straining my 180 pound overweighted body, I reached my goal of 140 pounds through never-ending military styled drills and training, I was finally able to start being taught how to survive and live off the land in a forested area west of tamagami  park. For the first whole week we were divided into two groups with only the necessities to survive, tents, food rations, matches, and pots, the group that passed the test would go through the next stage of survival training, the group that failed would have to launch their flare into the sky to admit defeat for many reasons, fear, hunger, etc. Luckily our group had passed and moved onto the second stage where it was only a pair of two, with the same camping supplies without food rations. Let me tell you it is not as easy as it looks the feeling of always being busy to feed your hungry body is not a walk in the park, but by the end of the second week I adapted to this way of life, plants became easier to find and animals (rabbits, ruffed grouse, fish, snails) seemed to just jump into the pan. The day I was reborn as a new person was when the final third week passed by, I had just been placed in a location to survive the week by myself no one to rely on and I began to have a sense of feeling at home. The day was gorgeous, no over cast to hide the sunshine, and I was out setting snares for rabbits that were abundant in the area, leaning over one of the branches to set the steel snare across a path carved from the feet’s of hundreds of hares that crossed the trail every day, a sound of snapping twigs were behind me. Turning around I saw a deer staring directly into my eyes and for a moment my body felt paralyzed I never seen a deer so close before, I could see every pattern on the deer’s gleaming velvet coat and just as it was there for a second it was gone, vanishing back into the forest of whispering pine and birch trees. At that moment I realized where I belonged, not in a complex world of lifeless people, but in the untamed wilderness.


Either too hot or too cold!

When the warm weather first arrived I was thrilled. Now however I’m not so thrilled. during the winter we complain it’s too cold and in the summer it is too hot.

Personally I would rather be cold than hot because when cold you can wrap yourself in blankets and warm clothes but when you’re hot it is not as easy to be cool. For these reasons I am thankful for in-between-weather like fall and spring which this year (or at least a few weeks) we seem to have skipped spring and went straight to summer.

During the day, besides certain classrooms, it is nice to see and feel this weather but later in the day considering putting the central air on in March is a bit much: it is way too hot. For example, I have my window open and two fans going while wearing shorts. I believe the only thing to say to this weather is: the day is only as good as the night is bad…

Intern for a Day

So I’m not sure if anybody read my previous blog about my interview with CTV Morning Live regarding their Intern for a Day contest, but for those of you that did, if you are interested in hearing about how the actual day internship went, here we go (warning: I didn’t realise how long this actually was until I wrote it all. I couldn’t just write an overall recap…it’s basically exactly what I did. Jane, I hope you like this one!) :

I’ve often complained about getting up early, but I’m not so sure I’ll be complaining much more after my early morning on Thursday. I was told to be at the studio in Ottawa for 5am, and sure, that may not sound too unreasonably early, considering this is a morning show, but when you’re a girl, who knows she’s going on tv, and lives an hour and a half away from Ottawa, that means getting up at 2:15. Of course I was super excited/nervous/anxious the night before, so I barely got any sleep, yet I bounded out of bed and eagerly got ready.
It’s quite impressive how there is absolutely nobody on the highway around 3-4 am, and Ottawa is absolutely dead that early. It was almost eerie, especially when you see the Byward Market, which is usually packed with people, pretty still.

The studio was surprisingly quiet at 5am, even though the show started at 6am. I met with Ziyada (the producer I met with on Tuesday) and she gave me a bit of a tour of the studio, and I greeted Kurt, Jeff and Lianne, as well as one of the reporters, Melissa Lamb, and the anchor of the news, Annette Goerner (who, little did I know, was actually one of the spies during the prank they pulled on me). My first job was to print out the show schedules and notes and make sure that the hosts and camera guys got them. I was then given my headset, so I could hear everybody who had a mic or headset on. There would be so many people talking at once, occasionally it got confusing, but it was fine. I was then left with one of the two guys who work the main controls, and watched as they got the show on air and explained some of the ropes. At one point, Ziyada pointed to the teleprompter and told me I would probably have to work that. The thought definitely scared me! That would be quite the thing to screw up. One of the camera guys ended up sitting beside me working the prompter, and it didn’t seem that hard, but I paid close attention incase I had to do it too. I then met up with the editor, who showed how they converted tapes, and how these huge machines worked, then how he edited clips and set them up so they could be used for stories. The basic editing that he was using was similar to what we were learning in Bill’s class last semester. About a half hour or so into the show, I was told I was going on air, so I had to mic up, and go sit on the couches with the three hosts. I surprisingly wasn’t nervous, it didn’t feel like you were actually on tv, and the hosts were just so nice and easy going. They introduced me, asked how it was going and where I was going to school (St. Lawrence College’s Journalism program got a few promos during these four hours (Terry I’m sure you’d be happy to hear that!). Later on in the show they would be showing the prank video.
Right after, I was told I was off to Tim Hortons. Tim’s is a big sponsor for the show, so every morning, somebody goes and picks up boxes of donuts, timbits, muffins and bagels for the guests that will be on the show that day. I went with one of the other producers/camera guys and we took on of the CTV vehicles.

After we got back and I set up all the food for the guests, I ended up going over to the news desk as Annette was getting ready for her 7:00am news update. Ziyada told me that I would be sitting with her while she read the news. Not on camera of course! I was sitting at the other end of the desk, just off camera while she read the news, so I could see what she does. It was so cool! I read the prompter to myself to see how hard it was, and it was really neat to see the news from that perspective. Right beside the desk was another little section where Melissa, one of the reporters would do a news report, and beside her was the green screen where Jeff would read the weather. It’s quite the comparison from when you see the three segments from your tv set run one after another, to actually sitting and see how they are all filmed.
I then went over to the ‘street’, which is basically the main hallway in the studio where they film a few segments, and the two guys operating the cameras were going to show me a bit about the cameras/jib and teach me about ‘flooring’ (greeting guests and getting them ready for their segment and such.) Before I could get into that, I was called over to the kitchen section with the hosts, where they were going to show the prank video. I put the mic on myself, since they knew I knew how to do it (definitely appreciated Bill teaching us how to properly put on the mic) and joined the hosts. They introduced me once more and talked about the prank they pulled. They found it hilarious. Now that I look back on the video, I keep thinking I should have said this or done that. I didn’t feel nervous but I kept worrying that if I said a lot I might cut into the time line we had. So they put the video on, then Kurt made them turn a speaker on so I could hear it. While they were airing the video, the three hosts were killing themselves laughing while they watched what they were doing and had a running commentary. They continued it a little bit when the cameras turned back to us, then wrapped it up for the commercial break.
Afterwards, the guests seemed to keep coming in, so I had to put the mic on them, and help set up some equipment. There was a group of young girls who were Irish dancers, so I helped make sure they were all there, sort out their music, and take them to the makeup room. At one point I actually talked into the headset thing! Since it was before St. Patty’s day, there was also a celtic band that came in, so I helped them, and talked to their dancer. All the guests were very nice, and understood if I had to ask someone a question. It was pretty busy for a while, but I didn’t feel nervous or worried at all. While I was sitting off set reading show notes, the hosts were on air, and Kurt decided to draw attention to me, asking how their intern was doing. The camera guy who was standing near me ran and got his camera and pointed it at me. So I basically stood there laughing and not really knowing what to do while they talked about me briefly (I wasn’t with them or I didn’t have a mic, so they couldn’t hear me if I talked.) Then for a little bit I sat and talked to one of the camera men, who was really nice and a little bit older than me. He had only been there for 8 months so it was great to talk to somebody who was still new and hear what he had to say, plus they were really nice and easy to talk to. I wish now that I had gotten more of a chance to see how the cameras worked and ask some more questions about them.
I also learned how to make coffee (no…I didn’t know before then) and began to get pretty hungry since there was so much food there! One of the guests was grilling ribs and other meat outside on the street, and there were two chefs inside in the kitchen. They would make all this food then just leave it for the crew to eat. Unfortunately I was wearing a white blouse…so I didn’t try any of the ribs, not matter how good they were, since knowing me, I would most likely end up getting rib sauce on my shirt and end up on camera later.

When there wasn’t much more  for me to do, I went and sat with one of the other producers who was preparing the show for the following day. Jeff came up and was getting ready for his weather update. From where I was sitting, you could see a bunch of screens that showed what was on every camera. While Jeff was off air, he would be looking into the camera making funny faces and joking around while he waited for his count. I was pretty amused. When he went on air, he started rubbing his eye and said that there must be something in it. I wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing, then Erin, the producer was sitting with, was like ‘go with Jeff!’ and Jeff proceeded to yell my name demanding where his intern was, and this is all while he’s on air. I looked at him as I was walking over and he was like ‘you’re helping me with the weather!’ It’s not like I could say no, and I was actually like…are you serious? I found it hilarious. Jeff told me where to stand, and since I never had a chance to put a mic on, I would just point. He showed me what to do, then where to move for each section. I tried my hand at doing the gestures that you see the weathermen do while looking at  the radar pictures, it’s a little harder than it looks. You’re standing in front of a green screen, and right in front of you, below a camera, is one tv screen that you have to look at, where you see yourself and the weather forecast, then when you turn to your right, there’s another tv screen with another picture on it. Jeff ended up getting a handheld mic, and then asked me what the temperature was in certain areas. At one point he told me to say hi to everybody from St. Lawrence College in Cornwall…so I did. You all should feel special now.

After the weather I could only laugh about it and think about how awful I probably was. Ziyada came up and asked me what I thought of it, and asked if I was nervous or how it was. She didn’t think I would be too upset by it or anything when she told Jeff he could ambush me like that. I told her that I wasn’t nervous at all, and it was all good. It really was! I then ended up going back over to the couches where Kurt, Jeff and Lianne were closing the show, since I would close it with them. They basically asked me how it was and what direction I wanted to go in with the journalism, or if I wanted to be behind the scenes or in front of the camera. Honestly, I think either would be fine, since I really didn’t feel nervous whatsoever in front of the camera. Jeff did mention that if I wanted one of them to come down and talk to our class then they could (then laughed and added if they could find a professional out of one of them). I wasn’t sure if he was serious, but if he mentioned it then I’m sure he was.

After the show ended, I helped roll some cables (harder than it looks!) and a few people slowly came over to the seats behind the set (where the audience would generally sit when they have a studio audience) and we all talked casually. They asked what I thought of the day and then had some random funny conversations. Eventually everyone had come over to the seats, which they do every day for their post show meeting, and did a run through of what would be happening the following day. They thanked me, and gave me a little goodie bag filled with CTV things, like pens, key chains, a foam mic with the CTV logo and so on, to remember them by (like I would need something to remember that!) We then all gathered on the couches to take a picture, and everyone kind of dispersed.
It got pretty quiet pretty quickly! Ziyada realized she never gave me the full tour, and I had plenty of time to kill before my train left for home, so off we went. The building used to be an old mall so it’s quite big.

The downstairs level consists of the big newsroom, which includes the three sets for the newscasts and the weather, and the control room for the morning show (it’s all very open concept though.) There are also numerous little editing booths and offices as well. The controls for the mid-day, the evening, and the 11 p.m. news are on the other side of the hallway since they are a bit of a bigger production. I should probably note that because the morning show is a bit of a smaller production than the 6pm and 11pm news, everybody has more than one job (for the other newscasts, one person is devoted to one job). The producers may work the cameras sometimes, or take care of the guests as they arrive, or the camera guys may work the teleprompter go get Timmy’s ! They are all such knowledgeable and interesting people.
There is also a small little diner where everybody can go to get food. The diner is actually original to the building, and was the one thing that was kept there from the conversion between the old mall and the studio. I also got a tour of the whole equipment rooms, where all the huge machines are running, and where all the wires connect to. It’s so impressive. Some machines are connected directly to Toronto, so if something goes wrong, all you have to do is flip a switch and somebody from Toronto is waiting to help you. Also, all the wires are hand-made by the technicians themself. It’s crazy.
Downstairs also has a few offices tucked away where a lot of the commercials and technical things essential to the show are run out of (it was pretty quiet in that area and everyone was very focused on their jobs), as well as this room where all the tapes of all the shows for the past many, many years are stored. I was so interested to see everything.

Upstairs was a really cool too (if you haven’t caught on yet…I think everything is cool), and was where the four radio stations were broadcasted out of. The main offices were tucked away upstairs, and the big boss got the office that looked right down on the newsroom. The amount of lights and equipment that are over the newsroom are incredible, and it allows them to shoot from anywhere and have good lighting and all.
The radio station rooms are really cool too. Each room as two thick doors right next to each other to make sure it is sound proof. I went and sat in one of the recording booths, then went through this big room which was super quiet with a bunch of people sitting at their own desks. Just regular desks, but with a mic at them, so they could go on air just sitting there. We then went over to the room where Magic100 is based out of, and Jeff, the weather guy/host from the morning show was on air. After he finishes the news, he usually runs upstairs and works the radio from 10-2 or so. I wanted to say bye and thank him, so Ziyada and I went and sat with him while he was just playing music. He showed me a bit about their equipment and how he did certain things. It was awesome.

Shortly after that I got ready to leave. I mentioned to Ziyada that I would be having an internship to do next January and if it would be possible to do it there. She said I would have to email Human Resources for that and they would talk to her or something, but since I already have a little bit of experience there it would probably work out. I was really hoping going for the Intern for a Day contest would be a good way to get my foot in the door, and I think it did help.
By this time it was probably around 11am. I got so much done and learned so much before noon! My train left at 2:30 or so, so I had plenty of time to kill around Ottawa. Ziyada said if I got bored I could definitely come back to the studio, no problem. Everybody wished me luck on my studies  and were all super nice!

Oh, and throughout the show and online they kept mentioning that on March 23rd they would be having a live studio audience (they don’t usually I guess) and to email to book a spot. While I was saying bye to Jeff, I mentioned that I was considering coming back for it and both he and Ziyada were like ‘oh you should!’ So sure enough, I’ll be going back to Ottawa tomorrow. I figured it would be great to show up and see everyone, and it will show that I’m definitely interested in the field. I talked to one of the camera guys, and he’s willing to answer questions or help me out if I’d like.
I’m so thankful that I got to spend the day with them. I felt I learned a lot, both about the field and about myself, and developed some really great contacts.

If anybody wants to see the video of the prank they pulled, you can click on the link below. It’s only a small portion of the whole thing, but you get the idea. It looks like a pretty obvious prank when you watch it, but honestly, when you’re going for an interview at a huge place like CTV, meeting with producers and news hosts, you really aren’t going to expect them to trick you! Plus come on, peanut allergies are a big deal these days, I didn’t think anything of it!

To anybody who actually read this all the way through, I’m impressed. I think I just wrote a novel. There was just so much to tell!