Author: Michael Kwan

Dine Out Vancouver: The William Tell Restaurant

Dine Out Vancouver is a fantastic promotion that lets you sample food from upper class restaurants that you may not otherwise visit if it were not for the fantastic price during this two-week (or so) eating festival. Last week, we went to Rare Restaurant in Yaletown, and last night, I had the opportunity to head out for a quiet evening of fine dining with Susanne at William Tell Restaurant on Beatty Street in Downtown Vancouver, nearly next door to the recently deflated BC Place Stadium. They had their three-course menu set at the $35 level. For two people, including...

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Who will win Super Bowl XLI?

As we gear up for Super Bowl Sunday in less than two weeks, everyone is abuzz with all the stories surrounding the big game in Miami. We’ve got the incredible defence of the Chicago Bears, led by legendary linebacker Brian Urlacher. We’ve got everyone’s favorite pretty boy, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, who is still working to overcome that Manning curse. Why mumble and rumble with yourself when there’s such a huge community out there who are just like you, chatting it up about how they’re surprised Chad Johnson didn’t make it this far, or how Tom Brady should have been able to keep his incredible playoff streak alive. Message boards are a huge thing on the internet (I belong to a few myself), and here’s another website with football boards. I like how they have it organized by division for all us NFL fans out there, because that’s primarily where all the rivalries build up and where the most *ahem* constructive conversation can take place. College fans can also get their fix on, because they have several sub-forums dedicated to the Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10, SEC, and so on. Cheer on your alma mater, sneer at your bitter rivals… it’s all in good fun. After all, when Super Bowl XLI wraps up, there won’t be much to talk about regarding the NFL. Well, at least...

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First drive: 2007 Honda Fit Sport

I love Honda. Make no mistake about it. I’m not that much of a fan of where they’ve been heading recently — away from performance and toward luxury — but they still have some of the better vehicles on the market. When you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a new car, your options are fairly limited. Let me preface this by saying that I can be pretty biased, so I’m not going to head out and buy a Ford Focus, Chevy Cobalt, and Dodge SX 2.0. As a result, when Susanne found herself in the market for a small car (preferably a hatchback) for around 20K, we found ourselves taking nice, long looks at the Toyota Yaris RS, the Volkswagen Rabbit, the Nissan Versa, and, her ultimate choice, the Honda Fit Sport. And here it is. Pardon the pun, but I found the fit and finish on the Fit to be head and shoulders above the Yaris. The interior materials were of much higher quality than on the Toyota offering, and I found the overall design (at least on the inside) to be more appealing. Of course, this is coming from an owner of a 2000 Acura (Honda) Integra, so I’m clearly a little biased. Okay, a lot biased. She didn’t like the bulk and rigidity of the Versa, or the fuel inefficiency of the...

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MMAPlayground: Fighting, forums, and fantasy

You know, ever since that whole Mike Tyson taking a bite out of Evander Holyfield fiasco, I’ve lost interest in boxing. It’s just not as interesting as it once was: I can’t even begin to fathom how exciting it would have been to take in the sights and sounds of a Muhammad Ali match or one featuring George Foreman before he started showing us how easy it was to grill at home. Where there is a growing interest, however, is with Mixed Martial Arts. It started out with just the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), starring such incredible athletes as Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, and Royce Gracie, but it has since gone on to birth several other organizations and a whole new generation of mixed martial arts combatants. Combine this with the concept of fantasy sports (I’m participating in a hockey pool with some friends) and you’ve got yourself MMAPlayground. On this site, not only can you participate in mixed martial arts via a fantasy game not unlike all those NHL, NBA, MLB, and NFL pools out there, but you can also chat with a huge community of MMA enthusiasts via their UFC and Pride forum. Looks like a very promising site for anyone interested in mixed martial arts (especially if you’re the betting type). In fact, they’re offering a $500 prize for the first season of play. Good stuff,...

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Personalized Google homepage: Now with RSS previews!

Google isn’t just a search engine anymore. They’re fully into the whole Web 2.0 phenomenon, because they don’t only tackle the idea of sifting through the internet to find the most relevant page possible, but they take care of your email, aim to replace Microsoft Office in some ways (Google Documents & Spreadsheets is akin to Word and Excel), and oh so much more. One tool that I use excessively is the personalized Google homepage as it manages all those RSS feeds that I need on a daily basis as part of as my work for Mobile Magazine, Virtual Reality, and so on. But check out what they’ve done. They’ve taken a good idea and made it better (just like they did with Gmail). The screenshot below will give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, but right now, I have it set up so that each RSS feed displays the three most recent titles. Normally, I’d have to visit the respective websites themselves to get any more out of them (I don’t use a conventional RSS reader), but now Google has implemented a little +/- button next to each article title. When I click on it, I get a brief snippet of the piece. So simple, yet so infinitely useful. Thanks Google. I appreciate it… because obviously they made this change just for me. Yes, just...

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Why Do You Blog?

Vancouver blogger and self-proclaimed “technologist” Darren Barefoot has a lot of projects on his plate. His day job is with Capulet, but another big part of his life is with Northern Voice. For the latter, he’ll be giving a talk on blogging in February. More specifically, he’s doing a little get together to discuss “Why We Blog.” To prepare for this, he has put together a short 16 question survey for the ever expanding blogging community. If you’re a blogger, I highly encourage you to fill this quick (five minute) survey, not only for the greater good of the blogging community, but also because it gives you a chance to win an iPod shuffle. It’s no iPhone, but it only takes five minutes of your time. Personally, I started blogging largely because I enjoy writing and wanted to eventually parlay it into a career (which I have). It was also a good excuse to showcase my writing and to promote my freelance writing business. Since then, though, I’ve gone on to meet several other bloggers (local and beyond) who I may not have connected with otherwise. Most notably, there is Ed Lau, John Chow, Dylan Duarte, and Darren Barefoot. Having your own website is not just for big companies anymore: anyone can get their hands on a blog for either very cheap or even absolutely free (Blogger, Blogspot, WritingUp,...

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Peyton Manning overcome his NFL playoff curse?

It’s Sunday, and we all know what that means. FOOTBALL! Today, we will see the NFC Championship Game between the New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears, the latter of which are up 16 to 7 at halftime (as I type this), but what this blog entry is going to be about is the AFC Championship Game that will follow in a couple of hours. Yet once again, the New England Patriots — led by Tom Brady — are storming into Indianapolis to take on the Colts. It’s a battle of two of the league’s most premiere quarterbacks, and if history is any indication, Peyton Manning is going to lose again. After all, Tom Brady has only lost one playoff game. Ever. Will history repeat itself? Or will the Manning curse be broken? (His brother, Eli Manning, and the New York Giants have already been knocked out of the post-season, in case you didn’t know already.) Poor Peyton. He’s always been an exceptional player during the regular season, but he’s never been all that great of a playoff performer. I wrote about this exact same subject one year ago, when the Colts went against the eventual NFL Super Bowl XL champion Pittsburgh Steelers (a team which, incidentally, aren’t in the race for this year’s prize. My brother says that Peyton is probably a closet prick. He says that he...

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What kind of Wii Sports bowler are you?

Walk into just about any video game or department store — Walmart, EB Games, whatever — and there’s a good chance that you can leave that day with a PlayStation 3, be it a 20GB or 60GB version. By contrast, it is still surprisingly difficult to get your hands on a Nintendo Wii. I guess I should feel lucky, since I grabbed one during launch week. I didn’t have a pre-order, I didn’t line up outside in the cold, I didn’t phone around like a madman. I just went to a Toys R Us, asked if they had any in stock, and sure enough, they had “a few.” Since that fateful day, I’ve enjoyed vanquishing darkness in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and beating up on screaming bunnies in Rayman Raving Rabbids, but probably where I’ve spent the most time is enjoying some virtual exercise in Wii Sports. It’s very much a pick-up-and-play kind of game, but it takes much more to master. The most enjoyable event is Bowling. I’ve experimented with a few different strategies in Wii Sports: Bowling. Now, let me preface this by saying that I’m a pretty mediocre bowler in real life, and I’m pretty happy when I manage to break into the triple figures. By contrast, my average score in the Wii Sports version is probably about 160, with an all-time best of...

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Becoming a dot com mogul… like John Chow

It’s days like this that I appreciate working at home the most. Not only is there snow on the ground (which, up until this winter, had been quite a rarity in Vancouver), but it’s also raining. The next result is a whole lot of puddles and more than our fair share of slush. It’s gross out there, but I’m nice, warm, dry, and toasty sitting in front my laptop, watching BET music videos on television while typing up this blog entry. I wouldn’t say that everything in my life is peachy-keen (far from), but it’s days like these that I can appreciate my lot in life. My apologies to any 9-to-5ers out there that I may have offended. Working from home isn’t for everyone, but at the same time, it’s a quickly expanding in popularity, given how much easier it is to run a small business out of your home. Countless retirees sell small trinkets online, either through their own modest websites or as eBay PowerSellers. You don’t even need to sell physical items: As local blogger John Chow put it in his Content over eCommerce article way back in May 2006, it’s a lot easier to run a content-based site than it is to actually buy and sell things. That’s why his primary venture — The Tech Zone — is so lucrative, and that’s how he gets himself...

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A Rare Restaurant Dine Out Experience

Vancouver is home to a lot of world class restaurants, offering all sorts of international (and fusion) cuisine. We’ve got some great sushi places, incredible steakhouses (Morton’s is my personal favourite), and let’s not forget about all that West Coast seafood (I recommend C and the Cannery). Problem is, some of these nicer restaurants can get pretty pricey, making it more difficult for the average person to get a tasty-taste. That’s why I’m so glad that we have Dine Out Vancouver. The promotion has been going on for a few years now, and I’ve had the chance to hit up Kettle of Fish, Gotham, Bacchus, and other great restaurants as part of this promotion. Last night, I went to Rare Restaurant, which started offering their Dine Out menu a few days early. It’s a much smaller establishment, having only about a dozen tables or so. It’s somewhere between casual and fine dining, as there are white tablecloths and a premiere wine list, but at the same time, the atmosphere is quite alive with energy: when we arrived, the diners were chatting loudly, everyone was smiling and laughing. But as far as the food itself… I’ll let the pictures do the talking. The glowing sign outside Custom menus! (Reservation was under Susanne Shum) Amuse Bouche Smoked arctic char, endive, crispy flatbread Tastes similar to smoked salmon, very smooth and flavourful...

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Michael Kwan
Hi, I'm Michael. By day, I'm a freelance writer. By night, I'm still a freelance writer. I'm also a proud father, a voracious foodie, an avid traveler, a gadget geek, and a thinker who thinks he might be thinking too much. Beyond the Rhetoric is a reflection of my eclectic entrepreneurial life.

Read more about me and what I can do for you.


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