Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Self-employed parents: advice about home office

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

do not disturb

Self-employed parents: Do you have a home office? How have you been avoiding interruptions from your kids?

For years I’ve had a home office and for years my kids have kept coming in and interrupting my work and phone/skype calls despite continual attempts at training them to not do that. The same happens for my wife too who also works at home. It’s not so bad when they are at school but in school vacations like Spring Break my wife and I often have to keep on working (for financial reasons and due to obligations to third parties) and so we attempt to tag team spending time with the kids so the other one can work. Interruptions aren’t so bad if I’m doing some mindless admin, but most of the time I’m doing something mentally taxing and my train of thought gets shattered. I’ve ended up shifting my schedule to working in the middle of the night, which naturally creates other problems.

I know some people prefer to have an office in a remote location, but we can’t currently afford to do that and also then there’s travel time and having to buy another computer and furniture, plus the fact that I’d be out of the house all day which defeats the point of being an indie game developer and working at home so I can see my family a bit more than the average 9am-6pm worker. Ideally I’d have a home office that is separated from the main house, but that will have to stay on my wishlist for the moment.

I know it seems like I want to have the best of both worlds of working at home and being able to do that in peace, and perhaps it’s not possible, but still I’d like to aim for that. And thus I am seeking advice from others who are doing this too.

If you have had experience in working at home with kids, please post a comment. Thanks!

I met William Shatner!

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

(Click to enlarge photo)

Last night I went to the opening night of William Shatner’s Canadian tour and it was epic! (It couldn’t be anything else right?)

Anyway, it was in an interview format with Shatner and an interviewer sitting in chairs on the stage. Shatner basically went through his whole life with extremely funny anecdotes (he’s quite the comedian), some occasional clips from TV appearances, and a few emotional stories such as choosing his father’s coffin and finding his wife dead in their swimming pool! Of course he finished off with a “song” about hockey which was classic. Afterwards some of us got to meet him and get a photo. I only wish my dad were alive so I could tell him that I met Shatner, he would certainly have been impressed being a big Star Trek fan.

Some interesting factoids:

– He has never watched any of the other Star Treks apart from his series!
– He loves horses
– He has worked extremely hard as an actor throughout his life and believes in saying YES to opportunities. Something that I agree with wholeheartedly.

Anyway, it was great fun. It lasted about 3 hours with an intermission, so there’s plenty of material. Highly recommended if you are a fan. See if you can see him on the other tour dates.

Beans on Toast and other British toast-based snacks

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

image by fritish

The other day I told a Canadian friend I had eaten beans on toast and he said “How British”. Then I got to thinking about how the British seem somewhat obsessed by toast and thought I’d build a list of British toast-based snacks, as you do.

Beans on Toast

Normally Heinz beans are the best. Most other beans are basically inferior tasting and cheapen the experience. Really medium/thick-sliced white bread with butter on tastes the best and if you put some thinly sliced cheddar cheese on top, it rocks. Some people have also been known to pop a fried or poached egg on top as well.

Canadians – notice how the British bean tin in the photo is blue not brown. Also I think Canadian beans are sweeter.

Cheese on Toast

Normally you’d use cheddar cheese. Somehow when the cheese it melted it becomes stronger in flavour, it’s weird. It’s common to add Worcester Sauce, Brown Sauce, Branston Pickle or Tomato Ketchup to the cheese. There’s even a fancy version called Welsh Rarebit. Note that you have to make this under a grill, you can’t just make toast in a toaster and then stick cheese on it, or it won’t melt properly.

An alternative to cheddar is cream cheese on toast. You can do the toast in a toaster and use a brand of cream cheese like Philadelphia. It’s pretty delicious if the toast remains hot enough after applying cold cream cheese.

Egg on Toast

You can bung a fried or poached egg on toast and add a bit of salt and pepper, and maybe brown sauce, and it is delicious. What’s good is that when you burst the yolk you can mop it up with the toast.

Also popular is scrambled eggs on toast of course. I prefer the toast buttered and soft as otherwise it’s too dry for me. The difference between good and bad scrambled eggs on toast is huge. Once, bizarrely, I cracked a tooth eating scrambled eggs on toast!

Marmite on Toast

Lots of people in the UK like Marmite, but plenty hate it too. The Australians swear by Vegemite instead, but it really is not so good compared to Marmite ;-p You’d normally butter the toast before adding Marmite otherwise it would be too dry. White bread works fine but if you can get a nice soft good quality brown bread, it’s delicious. I like to wash mine down with a cup of tea. In fact pretty much all these toast snacks go down well with tea, except for maybe cheese on toast…

Marmalade on Toast

This is a typical breakfast snack. It somehow seems nicer if you can get fancy soft thick white bread to toast. The trick is to not over toast it so that the toast is still nice and soft, then you have to butter it quickly and add the marmalade before it all goes cold. Again, this is best served with a cup of tea.

Note that whenever I say “butter”, you could use real butter, but it’s a pain in the ass to spread and normally rips up your toast, so most people use margarine or some kind of soft butter spread.

Lemon curd on Toast

I’m not sure this is very popular any more, but when I was a kid we used to have Lemon curd on toast and it was pretty good. The brand we used to get was called Robertson’s and it used to have a picture of a “Golliwogg” on the jar. Thankfully they have since removed that particular imagery.

Peanut Butter on Toast

Some people like crunchy peanut butter and some people like it smooth. I still butter my toast before adding the peanut butter, something that my youngest son says is not required because after all you are using peanut “butter”.

One thing the British don’t do is mix it with jam and call it “Peanut Butter and Jelly”. I never had that until I came over to Canada, and it’s actually pretty good, although it feels somewhat excessive.

Jam or Honey on Toast

These are fairly obvious. A good quality jam on toast with a cup of tea always perks you up and can be eaten pretty much any time of the day.

Chocolate Spread on Toast

Hazelnut chocolate spread on toast is a pretty awesome guilty pleasure. I love it with a cup of tea. I’m pretty much incapable of eating anything chocolate without the savoury cleansing power of a nice cuppa – I don’t know why.

Pâté on Toast

Because I’ve been vegetarian for a long time, I only have vegetable paté on buttered toast, but plenty of people enjoy meat-based pâté and other meat spreads on toast.

Plum Tomatoes on Toast

This one might seem a bit weird but I used to eat this a lot as a young man on a limited budget. I would heat up a tin of plum tomatoes and pour them over some buttered toast. Then I’d add pepper and Worcester sauce, and sometimes cheese. It was delicious, warming and quick to prepare.

Soup and Toast

Often, when I eat soup, I make a few slices of buttered toast and dip them in the soup before taking a bite. Sometimes I fold the toast in half like a toast sandwich. Anyone else eat toast with soup or is it an oddity to my family?

Boiled Egg with Toast Soldiers

You soft boil an egg so the yolk is still runny and stick it in an egg cup and remove the top. Then you butter toast and cut it into strips that are called “soldiers” and then dip them in the yolk. It’s delicious providing that you don’t get egg shell stuck to the toast!

Cooked breakfast with toast

A traditional cooked English breakfast with all the trimmings normally comes with toast that you can use to mop up all the “juice” at the end, or eat as you go along, whatever takes your fancy.

Toasted Sandwich

Some people buy a sandwich toaster and make toasted sandwichs containing all manner of foodstuffs. I haven’t had one of these in a long time. Are they still popular in the UK I wonder?

OK I think that’s pretty much it. I know that not all of the above toast-based snacks are exclusive to Britain but many of them are.

If you can think of any more that I’ve missed out, please let me know!