Beyond the Rhetoric


Mr. Red Cafe, Vietnamese Restaurant in Vancouver

July 24th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Mr. Red Cafe, Vietnamese Restaurant in Vancouver

There is certainly no shortage of Vietnamese restaurants in Vancouver, so you’ll never have any trouble finding a piping hot bowl of pho. Interestingly, though, you’ll find that the vast majority of these restaurants typically serve the pho nam typical of southern Vietnam. The so-called “Saigon style” pho is one that is more complex and richer, getting dressed up with onions, bean sprouts and hoisin sauce. The pho bac of northern Vietnam, sometimes called “Hanoi style” pho, is far clearer in appearance and you’re more likely to dress it up with fish sauce or vinegar.

While I wouldn’t necessarily say that Mr. Red Cafe on East Hastings (coincidentally on the same block as Red Wagon Cafe) is any more or less authentic than the many other pho restaurants in town, it does lean more toward the northern style and it features several menu items not normally found elsewhere. The usual mainstays like beef noodle soup and banh mi sandwiches are there, but I didn’t see the usual lemon grass chicken on rice, for example.

Seating at Mr. Red Cafe is quite limited. There are only about five or six tables for a maximum capacity of not much more than twenty people. There was only one waitress when we were there; she was friendly and mostly attentive, but it was sometimes difficult getting her attention.

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What’s Up Wednesdays: The Road Ahead

July 23rd, 2014 by Michael Kwan

North American Road Trip

Without resorting to the Willie Nelson song that inevitably comes to mind, we’re on the road again with this week’s speedlink. We kick off the journey with Duane Storey, who is planning a road trip across North America with his girlfriend. He is driving all the way from Chilliwack, British Columbia to Hamilton, Ontario and the journey will take him through both Canada and the United States. Total driving time is expected to about 40 hours, broken up into five days, for the grand 4,000+ kilometre journey.

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The Quandary of Standing Out and Fitting In

July 22nd, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Two legged FREAK

Common wisdom, as it turns out, is neither common nor wise. If one idiom tells us that “birds of a feather flock together,” then why does another tell us that opposites attract? And as we make our way through this crazy world of ours, we are faced with another contradictory quandary.

On the one hand, many of us aim to be someone special or exceptional. On the other hand, there is a burning desire to be normal and not to be labeled as the oddball. This cognitive dissonance can lend itself to much undue stress and angst.

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Sony Xperia M2 Smartphone Unboxing Video

July 21st, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Sony Xperia M2

When it comes to the world of smartphones, it’s easy to be interested in the highest end models. Flagship smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8 are meant to represent the absolute best that the company has to offer, but these devices inevitably come with more of a premium price. And for the average consumer, the step up in specs and features may not necessarily justify the added cost.

For those of you who are interested in simply having an adequate smartphone at a more affordable price, there are devices like the Sony Xperia M2.

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Sunday Snippet: John Oliver

July 20th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

“The reason a British person has to do that is that we’re raised in a rigid class system where we have all hope beaten out of us. And your [American] optimism is overwhelmingly positive, except when it leads you to act against your own best interests.”

You are, at least in part, a product of your upbringing. If you grew up in Scandinavia, then the Law of Jante may have been thrust upon you from a very young age, reminding you to be humble. If you grew up in the UK, then you may have been bombarded with the almost comical sense of pessimism expressed by comic John Oliver. And if you grew up in the United States, you may have been taught that you are only limited by your imagination and that anything is possible.

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Grammar 101: Wreak Havoc or Reek Havoc

July 18th, 2014 by Michael Kwan

Grammar 101 with Michael Kwan

It’s very convenient that most modern devices will automatically check and even correct our spelling for us. However, this has also led to many people using the wrong word under the wrong context, because it’s not technically a spelling error. Havoc can be roughly defined as absolute disorder, disaster or destruction. If you cry havoc (as in the play Julius Caesar), then you are warning others of this danger. So, should you be writing “wreak havoc” or “reek havoc” if you mean to use the popular idiom meaning to cause a lot of trouble?

To Wreak Is to Cause

The verb to wreak (pronounced as “reek” to rhyme with “meek” or “leak”) means to cause or inflict, typically in the context of causing damage or harm. It has a negative connotation to it. For example, you could say that hunching over a computer keyboard all day will wreak havoc on your back. If you are planning a family road trip, getting a flat tire could wreak havoc on your travel plans.

The most common phrase is to “wreak havoc,” but wreak can still be used under some different contexts too. You could say that a warrior aims to wreak his revenge on the man who murdered his father.

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