The Fear Mongering Is Strong With This One.

“It’ll be you’re fault. Not mine, YOURS!”

While I’m not one to wear tinfoil hats (unless UFO’s are involved), in an ideal world, *nothing* will actually happen and Trump will look like a bigger asshat than we know him to be. However “IF something happens” on American soil between now and when this Administration manages to bully this stupid ban back into effect, then it’s more than mere coincidence IMNSHO. In fact, it’ll look downright shady and convenient.

Then again, we also have Iran thanking this guy for “for revealing the ‘real face of the United States’

Looking Forward

Please, let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Like nearly everyone I know, I believe that 2016 can suck it. The world went crazy with violence and terrorism; a whole slew of beloved celebrities passed on; the people of England were bullshitted into voting to leave the EU; an orange man with bad hair and an even worse outlook on life won the seat at the head of the table… I could go on , but why bother.

It’s also been a pretty hard year for our family. Mrs. Tucker was booked in April for neurosurgery to help fix a spinal compression. Four days before said surgery she slipped, fell hard, and broke her ankle in a way that required surgery. That’s right. She went under the knife twice in four days. Since then, they had to operate on her a third time as the screws they put in her foot to help hold everything together were not working. And just last week she found out that the bones are still shifting and she’ll need to have reconstructive surgery on her foot; the tendons have to be rebuilt.

Needless to say, this has put a pretty big damper on the mood of the family. Mrs. Tucker is somewhat depressed as she is a fiercely independent person who really dislikes having to reply on people for seemingly mundane tasks. She’s been through a lot this year and while, yes, she’s not dead or dying, she is pretty much done with with all of the bullshit.

As for me, well, I’m more than a little exhausted. The events of the past twelve months has put me in charge of most all of the domestic items: cooking, cleaning, laundry, shuttling people to and from various activities (and driving Mrs. Tucker to and from work) on top of my full time job. Not complaining… well, maybe a little. Just a little.

I joke with Mrs. Tucker that she’s really taking milking the “in sickness and in health” bit of our vows; she’s really read the small print and is taking advantage of every loophole.

Then I think of the year itself and I remember the awesome parts for us:

  1. Mrs. Tucker and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary by spending two weeks in Italy.
  2. There was a pretty excellent week spent at a cottage on a lake in the summer.
  3. Mrs. Tucker and I took the girls to Disney World for a week in the fall.
  4. We ended the year pretty much debt free.
  5. Our kids are happy, healthy, smart, talented, and awesome.

So yeah, 2016 didn’t completely suck. Damn close though. And it kind of setup 2017 for a big fail (cough, US, cough). But for our family, we’re going to work on making this new year ours.

 

Resolutions? Sure, why not.

I have a few. Normally I don’t really think of “resolutions” on January first. It’s one of those things I’ve always scratched my head at. While I get that the New Year means a chance to start things anew, you can make changes to your life any time of the year. Why wait for a specific date?

That being said, for 2017 I have a few things I want to work on. So while the local gyms will see a boost in signups over the next few days (and then a drop in attendance near the end of the month) I’m going to tweak a few aspects of my life:

First, I want to cut back on my phone usage. Holy crap I don’t even use an eighth of the apps on my phone. So why do I keep pulling it out when there is a lull? I mean, any time there is thirty seconds with seemingly nothing to do, I pull out the phone. I’m not complaining about the phones themselves. I think they’re amazing, wonderful devices that connect everyone. For me the phone is 75% work and 20% stuff that mostly adds no real value to my life and 5% family related like actual phone calls and texting. Not a great ratio.

I’ve decided that when I’m home and not on-call, the phone will go away outside of my “working hours”.

This bit is also a family thing. There have been times that the kids have been bugging for attention and my face is in my phone. Not cool. I want to put the phone down and pay more attention to my kids, my wife, everything. I really need to stop this and get back to paying more attention.

Second, I need to stop reading shit on the internet that adds no value to my life. This is mostly tech sites and their ilk. Why do I even really care what a few people on the internet think about electronic gadgets? I mean, I don’t really care. I have all the gadgets I need. When the time comes to replace a gadget, I research for a few weeks before heading out to stores to get a little hands on time. Who gives a shit about Apple vs Android and whatnot? I’ve already stopped reading a few of them because either the comment sections are cesspools (as they usually always are) or the writers themselves are little more than rich, whiny white guys. I think it’s time to pull the plug on the last couple that I read.

It’s the same with Facebook, which I singed up for again this past March. I find it adds so little value I just need to turn it off. Maybe even delete it. Permanently this time. Instagram is kind of ok, but the algorithms are all whacked out on the search feed of late and I have no idea why I’m seeing the posts I’m seeing.

Third, those two things, the phone and the social internet, are the primary reason for the last, and most important resolution: I need to get back to a few things that have always made me, well, “happy”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy at all. I have moments where I’m a little depressed, or sad, or cranky. We all do. It’s normal. For the most part though I’m quite content in life and I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

What I mean by “happy” is that I have a few hobbies that can put me in a great mood no matter what: visual art, music, and writing. When I was younger and in a bad mood or simply bored I would either sit ay my easel and paint or pick up my guitar and play, or fill notebooks with all kinds of stories and I would calm down and relax. And over the years these hobbies have take a back seat. Even music. I’m in a band, sure, but I just don’t pick up my guitar like I used to ten years ago. I know my parts and that’s that.

The default action when “bored” has become to pull my phone out of my pocket and refresh pages and feeds I’d already checked a hundred times in the past ten minutes.

What am I going to do? I’m going to create a schedule to get me back into the hobbies I love. Every day, after the kids are in bed, I’ll spend an hour doing something that’s not clikcy-clikcy on Facebook or tech blogs. For example:

Monday, 21:00-22:00 – Visual Arts. Draw, paint, sculpt, whatever.
Tuesday, 21:00-22:00 – Creative writing (not blogging – download manuscript locally and turn off the computers WiFi).
Wednesday – Jam Night.
Thursday, 21:00-22:00 – Music: NOT band related. Write a song. (Although this can become band related if practice is needed and/or the song idea would fit.
Friday – Family Movie Night.
Saturday, 21:00-22:00 – Writing; blog post. Maybe about the last weeks creative works.
Sunday… This day is already reserved for prepping food for the upcoming week.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Hopefully this allows me to settle down and get back to what’s important in life. And let me tell, what’s important cannot be found on Facebook or tech shill sites.

Happy 2017 everyone. May the next twelve months overshadow the last for all the right reasons.

 

Steve Albini On The Music Industry

“Make everything about your existence as a band comfortable and sustainable and pleasant; you should enjoy it. And if you find yourself doing things that you don’t enjoy because you’re obliged to do them, then you’ve made a mistake and it’s too late.”

And

… it makes it harder for you to do things that you’re comfortable and happy with if you have to use your art as a way of generating your income.

 

Saving Costs: Mobile Carriers

Smartphones. Ten years ago only geeks with a lot of money and business professionals owned them. Today, pretty much everyone has a smartphone. Hell, you pretty much need one.

No longer are we chained to our desks in order to stay connected. We don’t even have to lug around a laptop, no matter how svelte it may be. We can now stay connected via the little supercomputers in our pockets.

Now, some people have iPhones. Some people have Andriod based phones. Some people have Windows Phones and there are still more than a few Blackberry’s out there. A few people spend their time vehemently arguing which one is better and making fun of/putting down people who disagree. This post isn’t about what phone people prefer. You go and get what phone you want. This post is about something we all agree on:

The mobile carriers you have to sign up and deal with for two plus years, and how they nickel and dime you into spending piles of cash.

Mobile carriers, much like ISP’s and TV providers are near universally hated. You rarely hear someone say “I LOVE my mobile carrier!” the same way they’d say “I LOVE my smartphone!” In fact, we all agree that all carriers suck in some way shape or form. And we agree that they’re all expensive.

I started giving my mobile provider the side eye once I realized that my monthly bill had climbed to over $100. Granted my employer allows me to expense some of the monthly bill, but for what I was getting I thought there may be some better deals out there.

Here is the funny thing: my charges went up after I had called the carrier to get my phone unlocked. They offered me an extra gig of data for “around the same price I’m paying now”. They would also offer a Spotify Premium account and a decent roaming package (the reason I was unlocking in the first place: Ms. Tucker and I were travelling a couple of weeks later). So I got my phone unlocked and said sure, why not? Give me the extra gig! After all, it was around the same price.

Turned out that “around the same price” was a few dollars more and didn’t include the iPhone package my old plan had (visual voicemail etc) so that cost another five bucks to get turned on. Needless to say I felt a little bit burned.

That being said, the timing could not have been more perfect. My contract was a couple months away from ending.

And I had an unlocked phone.

The Power!

Continue reading “Saving Costs: Mobile Carriers”

The Dog Ate My Update

Well shit. It’s been what? Four months or so since I put anything here? I can go on and on about how “I was meaning to update but this and this and, OMG, THIS happened. Im lazy and broke my NY resolution” and whatnot, but fuck all that. Excuses are like assholes, as they say.

Instead I’ll say: “I’ve been busy. Here is a post.”

 

Life, In General

If it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all. So goes the saying, so goes 2016.

Massive dumps of snow. A couple of upheavals at my work (which I survived so that’s ok). Ms. Tucker started a new, full time job which meant day camps for the kids this summer, and all that implies. There was a trip to Italy in May for our tenth anniversary, but…

Ms. Tucker was booked for surgery in April. She had a spinal compression and they hand to go in and do work on her neck. Four days before that, however, she slipped on a scarf in the front hall, fell, and broke her ankle. So three days before her spinal surgery, she was under the knife getting her foot and ankle screwed back together.

So there we were in Italy, a month and a half later, Ms. Tucker in a walking cast and using a wheelchair when one was available. I was holding her hand or pushing her chair and and helping her traverse places that were designed and built in a time where accessibility wasn’t even on the radar. Hell, they didn’t even have radars.

All in all it was an awesome vacation. Sure, it was trying at times, but we got through it and enjoyed ourselves and life is moving along at its weird pace. Although Ms Tucker was recently back in the hospital getting her foot fixed again. She’s confined to a wheelchair until at least the end of October so I’m driving her to work in the morning and picking her up in the afternoon.

We also have a family trip coming up, but at least we’ll be going to a place where accessibility will not be an issue.

Hopefully this is the end of medical issues for Ms. Tucker (and no one wants it to be over as much as her) and the family can go back to some semblance of normalcy… whatever normalcy is ;)

 

The Vegan Thing

So I went Vegan late last December. Then we went to Italy in May and I fell off the wagon. Big time. Vegan in Italy was near impossible so I threw it all out and ate whatever. This was kind of ok. I mean, I had meals ranging from super fucking awesome (strangely, the only Vegan meal I had there – which should have told me something) to absolute fucking dog vomit (a place in Venice that actually had me begging for a McDonald’s). I know, I know. I could have made the effort, and I didn’t. Sue me. There was another Vegan on the trip and even he gave up early on and went for the cheese because “you just can’t avoid it here”.

The shitty thing is that, ever since we got back, it was just way too easy to slide back into old habits. It’s been meat and dairy left right and centre for the past three months*. Part of me was like “whatever, it is what it is. The other part of me kept thinking: “Dude, you’re an asshole. You feel like shit physically. And remember Earthlings? The trailer alone scarred you. You feel like a douchebag every time you bite into a piece of (insert deal animal here), so what the hell gives?”

All that being said, the one, major thing I have noticed is that I do kind of feel like shit. By this I mean by the time 3pm rolls around I’m tired, wiped, done. I just want to fall asleep in my chair. I certainly didn’t feel like this at all between January and May. I was amazed how I felt pretty damn  good all day both physically and mentally. Now I’m back to being lethargic and grumpy more often than not.

I’ve also put weight back on. Last year around Christmas time, I weighed in at about 185 pounds. By the first week of February this year, I was at about 173-175 and I just kind of stayed there. No extra physical activity required. When an acquaintance asked me recently if I actually felt a difference with the Vegan thing or if it was just to feel better consciously. I replied that I did feel a difference. Now I really know the difference. I’m back up around the 185 level…

So fuck it. I went right back to Veganism, head first. No 90%. I’m going full tilt. And the next time I travel? I’m sticking to it. Even if all I can eat is ice soup.

 

Art

I’ve started drawing and painting again. I found inspiration when I spent time with a couple of good friends while I was in San Francisco this past March. Both are extremely talented and both showed me their works; sketches, paintings, doodles. All of it fantastic.

Looking at their works made me realize how much I miss Visual Arts. So I decided to start again.

I’m super rusty. Picking up pencils and brushes was hard at first, but it’s coming back and I’m remembering how Visual Art was therapeutic for me in so many ways. It was my first real escape. As a kid, I would lose myself in painting. I would spend untold hours in the basement, sitting at my easel, music playing in the background, painting. Whenever shit got hard to deal with, I painted. Fight with the family? Hide and paint. School going to shit? Hide and paint, Art school not cutting it? Hide and paint something other than what I was supposed to be painting (thinking back on it, that may have been part of their plan). And so on and so forth. This would be a post in itself. Maybe I’ll get around to it someday

Clarinet Busker

At some point in time that I can’t put my finger on, Art felt like it became work and I gave it up. I do know that computers were a big part of this; when I first saw Photoshop back in 1999 or so, I felt like I’d been handed the holy grail of art and design. No more cutting and pasting manually, no more dicking around with messes I had to clean up, no more making mistakes that caused me to start from scratch…

After awhile though, computer art started to feel sterile. Everyone was doing it and I pushed it off to the background and only did computer art if I had to; birthday invites for the kids, family Holiday cards, the odd graphic for the band site. Trust me when I say that I’m not one of those people who loves vinyl, or bikes with no gears, or hand powered coffee grinders (I used to have one of these and it was a fucking nightmare). Yet there was something about picking up a pencil and a paintbrush that just kind of resonated with me.

Man With Newspaper. Florence, Italy

I’ll be honest and way I’m not drawing every day. I’m only poking at it when the mood strikes. What I can say is that slowly but surely, I’m getiting the feeling back, and it feels damn good.

 

Writing

Fifteen (sixteen?) years ago I’d started writing a screenplay. I had this idea of a not-so-dystopian-future/cyberpunk story rattling around in my head and I figured that with the help of all of the super talented people I knew, a short film could be made. The problem was that the more I wrote, the bigger the story became. It ceased being a screenplay and started to take on the form of a novel. There were big busts of writing over the next year and a half followed by bigger gaps of nothing.

Here and there I’d go back to the story and re-read, edit a few paragraphs, delete a sentence or two, and try and push the the whole thing forward. Problem was I could never quite see the ending. I had this interesting idea that went… nowhere.

Last month I was in the hospital while Ms. Tucker was recovering from surgery. I was trying to sleep on a super uncomfortable chair and all of a sudden the ending came to me. Just like that. I sat up, pulled my computer out of its bag and started typing; I didn’t want to forget a thing.

The “book” is not done, but there is finally an ending in sight. I have the base laid out and know where the story going. It’s going to take a bit to actually get it there, and I’m going to have to go back and rearrange some things for the sake of continuity, but I’ll get it there. It’s so close I can taste it.

 

This N That

There are a few more things that are in various stages of draft posts:

  • We landscaped the backyard. On our own. Fist, our timeline was too aggressive for local contractors to fit in. Second, the one company that said they could do it wanted ten grand. Before tax. So I learned how to put in patio paves and sod and had at.
  • I’ve finally** taken more than a vested interest in the household finances. Big plans are afoot. Big, big plans.

So there it is for now. Life is moving along as it does. The family is good. The band is good.

Life is good.


* Seeing first hand how easy it is to slid back into just grabbing whatever from the store and the fridge made me realize how backwards and crazy we are when it comes to food on this side of the world. I mean, decent produce is always so stupidly expensive (there were times this summer where a small head of cauliflower was selling for six bucks) while factory farm meat, and all that implies, and processed “food” costs pretty much next to nothing.

** Finally, indeed. Ms. Tucker has been taking care of the finances since we met. First, budgeting and finance is something she does for fun. I play guitar, she updates the budget. She’s been trying to get me more interested in this, and it’s finally happening.

Typing Typing Typing

Writing writing writing.

Just not here of late.

i am still here and I do have a lot to rant about, trust me. Yet life has become more than a little crazy of late. At the same time, and seemingly out of nowhere, I found a spark, and see the ending of something I’ve been working on for a very long time.

Call The Wahhhhambulance!!!!

Shut up, Scott Ian. Just please shut the fuck up.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not the Internet. It’s that no one cares all that much about you anymore (if they ever did. Anthrax was always the weakest of The Big Four):

… it’s interesting that Scott Ian blames the internet seeing as how Stomp 442 only sold 115,000 units and it was released a near full five years before the whole mp3 downloading thing exploded. And their last album in 2011? It sold about 110,000. As for the two albums in-between (each which sold south of 100,000)… well maybe some of it was due to downloading but don’t forget that they were also released prior to The Big Four tour that kinda put you back on the Metal map a little bit. And seriously, until that tour in 2010, Anthrax was not on everyone’s mind (and how many NEW songs did you play on the Big Four tour, and subsequent tours? Right. Nostalgia act).

I’m so very sick and tired of these dinosaurs complaining about how things ain’t like they used to be. Go ahead Scott. Delete your website and social media accounts. Pull your music from iTunes, Spotify, and wherever else it’s available digitally. Pull the physical media from Amazon. Sell your shit only in physical record stores. See where that will get you.

No? Then shut the fuck up.

The Little Bits We Can Do, Part Two

So I’m going Vegan. Hell, I’ve gone Vegan.

This post has taken a long time to write. I really wanted to think this one through. After all, what caused this change, all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere? Me, omnivore extraordinaire, lover of all things haute cuisine (aka pretentiously cooked food), giving up meat and cheese and crème fraîche and butter?

What the everloving fuck?

While Vegan and Vegetarian cookbooks have been coming into our house for a while, and we’ve been discussing cutting a lot of “unhealthy” (read: heavily processed) food out of our lives, I’ll be honest and say it was a single, simple, selfish thing that made me really start considering a Vegan diet.

“I love fine dining. I love cooking complicated, extravagant dishes. How can I cut all the wonderful meat, cheese, eggs, etc out of my diet and still be able to cook and eat wonderfully pretentious meals?

Then dinner was at a local restaurant called Café My House.

You see, I follow a few local chefs and restaurants on Instagram. Eventually, Café My House began appearing in the Discover People feed and their dishes were making my mouth water.

Needless to say when the opportunity presented itself, reservations were made and a meal was had. Their five course sharing plate with wine pairing was simply one of best meals I’ve ever had in my life… and it was completely meat and dairy free.

(Side note, this is the greatest cocktail ever created. You need to go this restaurant just to have this drink.)

Second, Thug Kitchen and Oh She Glows came into our house by way of Holiday gifting.

Reading through these cookbooks, and thinking back on that dinner at Café My House, I started to see that all the crap I’d ever heard about vegan food is exactly that. Crap. Before me were wonderful, delicious recipes. All made with a complete absence of animal products and a completely different way to look at cooking.

This, in turn, caused me to think about the health, environmental, and humanitarian issues with eating animal products. I realized that these three items stood tall above my wanting of a super fancy dinner. I really started to take a good, hard look at Veganism.

The health issues have been studied and studied, and it’s been proven, time and again that a diet which includes meat, dairy, and processed foods can be severely detrimental to your heath. The China Study is the largest of these and pretty much solidifies the idea that a whole foods, plant based diet is the way to go.

The environmental issues are well known. If you want a good introduction to the issues of food and its impact, especially here in North America where fast food and convenience is thought of as a god given right, the documentary Food, Inc is an excellent starting point.

Humanitarian issues? We all know, or at the very least, have a vague idea of what goes on in abattoirs. In reality, there is so very much more. To put it mildly, we humans are pretty terrible with our treatment of the species of this planet. Yet we just turn a blind eye because business is business and people gotta eat. If you need a simultaneous punch in the head and gut and a kick in the ass to drive this point home, check out Earthlings. The trailer can be seen here. A warning though: it’s a super hard watch and the trailer alone (which is all I managed to get through) will put you in a grey mood for at least a couple of days.

After weighing all this I thought: Fuck it. I’m going to do this. I’m going to cut meat and dairy out of my diet.

And you know what? It hasn’t been hard at all. In fact, it’s been downright easy.

I’d always thought that giving up meat and dairy from my diet would be next to impossible. I thought it would be akin to a junky trying to kick heroin. I pictured myself shaking and sweaty, craving steak constantly or sneaking mouthfuls of cheese when no one was looking.

Since I made the decision, the week between Xmas and the New Year, I’ve eaten meat and dairy twice. The first was my sons birthday; we ate at Beckta (which was reserved in November of last year). A few days later I had a pulled pork sandwich which ended up wreaking total havoc on my insides. After that sandwich, I’ve had no meat and no dairy*.

I basically dove head first into Vegan cooking. The food we’ve been preparing, with the help of cookbooks borrowed from the library, and Vegan blogs on the Internet, has been nothing short of phenomenal. I think we’ve only repeated a couple of dishes. I find it fascinating that I’ve been able to replace every dairy based garnish, sauce, and cream with whole food options. I no longer have to resort to, or rely on, highly processed “food”. I’ll put it to you this way: I love making food for scratch and I now make pretty much every garnish, sauce, cream, “cheese”, etc from scratch… with no animal based ingredients at all.

So here we are. There is more to write, of course. Much more. And I’ll get to it in good time. For now, I’ll pause and catch my breath.

 


* The dairy thing is not completely true. I should mention that for most of January I was drinking coffee with half and half in it. My reasoning here was that there was about six litres of the stuff in the fridge – yes, I drank that much cream in my coffee – and I didn’t want to just up and waste it. So once the cream was done, about a week after the pulled pork sandwich, I was done with it (I was also using it to make crepes/pancakes/waffles for the kids so it went pretty quickly).

Strangely, this had another effect: other than the odd soy latte here and there – like one a week – I pretty much cut coffee out of my diet. I don’t really like the taste of coffee on its own. My “coffee” was pretty much lots of cream and lots of sugar and a bit of coffee. I do like soy lattes so once the half and half was gone, I set about figuring out how to froth soy milk without buying a machine. I failed. You just cannot froth soy using any of the methods found on the Internet. 

Paying five or six dollars for a soy latte every day and/or paying whatever is being charged these days for an espresso machine did not appeal to me in the slightest. So I basically gave up drinking coffee every day. Caffeine isn’t good for you anyway, so I may as well cut way, way back while i cutting everything crappy out of my diet.

Funny thing. The other day we made fajitas. For the kids, we made chicken and they had sour cream and shredded cheese (I’ll touch on this in a forthcoming entry). For us it was fried portobello mushrooms, cashew cream, and home made, fire roasted tomato salsa. Cleaning off the table, I took the spoon from the cashew cream and licked it (yeah, I’m that person) before I put it in the sink. Without even thinking about it (seriously, I was on auto pilot) I then took the spoon from the sour cream and licked it and… holy shit did it taste simply fucking gross. I can’t even describe how disgusting sour cream tastes now that it’s been removed from my diet.

 

The Little Bits We Can Do, Part One

I started writing this post on January 3, 2016…

Normally I don’t make a fuss about resolutions. I know, I know. I’m “edgy” and all that. But really, why do we have to wait until the end of the year to consider ways we can make ourselves better? Yet this is the time of year the local gyms are full of people making good on their resolutions. Don’t worry, regulars. They’ll all be gone by the middle of February at the latest.

Yet here we are. It’s 2016 and I’m writing about making myself better. The timing, however is mere coincidence.

Around the end of November I had started writing the the long overdue “Meat, Potato, and Veg” entry from my birthday dinner when a small series of events happened and I decided to take a bit document what could be considered a New Years resolution… And a pretty hefty one at that:

I’m going Vegan.

Yes, that’s right. I’m going to completely cut all animal based products out of my diet.

… more to come…

The Poor Fetish. 

“How empty if must feel to work a job that could be abolished tomorrow. One that at best makes no tangible difference to society and at worst encourages poverty, hunger and ecological collapse.”

Fantastic read

Happy New Year

After all the presents are unwrapped and their plastic contents strewn from one end of the house to the other; after the dinners are eaten and the leftovers have been packed away; after the hangovers have abated and the coffee and Advil have been consumed; after we’ve all been good little consumers for another year, it’s nice to know that there is still some real kindness out there.

Remember, don’t judge the many based on the actions of a few and don’t belive what a rich, white person with terrible hair wants you to believe.

We all occupy this small planet, for better or worse. We all need to be decent to each other. You just never know when you’ll need a helping hand in your life.

The Blue Marble

Uhhhh…

Listening to CBC Radio 2’s In Concert this morning. Took a quick glance at the list of web stations on the right of the page.

What’s wrong with this picture?

wftcbc

 

 

Your Music Has Had Its Time

Oh Heavy Metal bands from the eighties. You’re so cute in that spoiled child kind of way. I don’t know whether I want to pat you all on the head, or send you to your room like the petulant, snot nosed whiners that you are.

Remember that shit your parents told you when you were a teenager? “One of these days you’ll grow up.” 

Turns out, it wasn’t shit. Our folks had been there. They knew what was coming. And, goddammit, the vast majority of us “grew up”. We had to. We had to change and adapt in order to make a place for ourselves in this crazy ass, ever-changing world. We opened our eyes a little and realized that there was more to life than being angry at our parents and living inside our pubescent, rage filled, egotistical, acne covered heads. We saw that we would have to bend, just a little, in order to make life as easy to live as possible. While we still listen to the music of our youth, we also welcomed other genres and artists into our lives. And we’re better people for it.

There are those who didn’t grow up. they refused to cut their hair, cover their tattoos, and buy some jeans that are not blown out at the knees. They listen to the same bands they always have, complaining that “the first three or four records were the best, then they sold out”. We all know a couple of people like this. You can usually find them at the exact same bar every night of the week, getting drunk and commiserating about the Good Old Days® and the If Only’s™. And everything that ever happened to them is the fault of someone else; never themselves.

Hell hath no fury like an old Metalhead scorned.

It seems that there is a good majority of 80’s Metal bands out there who haven’t grown up. And now they’re sitting at the bar complaining that things ain’t what they used to be like back in the Good Old Days®. Of course, it’s not their fault. No sir. It’s the fault of allllll those people out there downloading music for free on the Internet. Stupid technology! It fucking ruins everything!

The fact that a band like Anthrax is still pumping out albums, and are honestly confused that hardly anyone is buying them, amuses me. They blame digital downloading and/or streaming for the lack of sales. They never once think that people just don’t care that much about them anymore. The Same can be said for Queensrÿche. Or, at least, their new singer who thinks the internet is responsible for why Metal isn’t making money anymore, or how they should alter the number of units you have to sell in the US in order to make Gold status because : “Unless you’re a very famous pop artist, you’re not coming anywhere near those numbers.”

Or this gem: “People are listening to shitty MP3s; they’re not getting all the good sonic qualities of the versions on the CD itself”. You all know what I think about that bullshit.

Then there is Gene Simmons and, well… Anything that comes out of that guy’s mouth is shit.

It seems that the old guard of Metal bands and artists are still blaming the Internet … and the fans for using the internet. It’s the fault of people downloading. This is the sole reason for the lack of album sales and cash that came from said album sales. Even though the “industry” as they knew it has changed because tech seriously disrupted the old way of doing things, bands are still bemoaning the shitty sales of physical media.

In reality, these bands simply didn’t adapt. They missed the boat and the train. Now they’re shaking their fists at people boarding aeroplanes.

The reality is that no one really cares about Metal they way people in the mid 80’s cared about Metal. As with every popular genre  in the history of music, Metal started off small. Then it grew, eventually becoming so big that you could buy studded belts at the nearest department store and everyone knew the lyrics to Enter Sandman. Then it started to fade, and fade quickly. Then Grunge stomped on it. Then Nu-Metal came along. Now, with the exception of a handful of bands across the entire hard/heavy spectrum, Metal is pretty much back in the basement and small to medium sized clubs (or at yearly, weekend festivals).

Some of these bands are doing ok though. I mean, they’re making a living. A lot of the newer bands are hip to the ways of the Innerwebs and realize that things ain’t the way they used to be. They go forth and do their thing and they manage to pay the bills. Some can pay bigger bills than others, but they’re doing it all based on the new way of doing things (which, of course, will eventually change).

The old Metal and Hard Rock bands, like their hardcore fans, are now trying to reach back and touch who they were and where they had been. They want record execs telling them that they’re the greatest thing in the world and shower them with cash. But it’s not happening. Now the though is: “We should go back to our roots! People will respect us again and buy our albums.”

So the bands try and tap into that original hunger.

The problem is, they’re not hungry anymore. Literally. This whole idea of “getting back to roots” is bullshit. You can’t go back. You already made it to the big show. You’ve already got a nice amount of money in the bank. It may not be James and Lars amounts, but it’s not too shabby. There isn’t any going back to your roots when you’re worth more money than the majority of your fans will ever see in their lives.

They seem to take it as a personal insult when you suggest that they may want to just pack it up. Or just hit the road as a bonafide nostalgia act – kind of like what Metallica is doing these days. Those guys managed to avoid the near crushing death of 80’s Thrash (and Metal in general) by changing things up a bit (known to hardcores are “selling out”). They got really, really big and made a fortune. Now they can release an album if and when they feel like it. For the most part though, Metallica is on the road playing sets comprised of about 95% pre-black album. They know while new material is fun for themselves, the people buying the concert tickets want to hear “Master Of Puppets”. Not “Lords Of Summer”.

Metal and Hard Rock bands from the 80’s, stop trying to stay relevant. You’re screaming at a brick wall. I mean, go on and do that thing you’ve been doing if you want, but don’t expect the entire world to follow your every move and buy every album, t-shirt, and button because, regardless of what you think, you’ve had your time. It’s over. Things have changed and the world has moved on.

Personally, Anthrax hasn’t been relevant to me since about 1989. In fact it’s interesting that Scott Ian blames the internet seeing as how Stomp 442 only sold 115,000 units and it was released a near full five years before the whole mp3 downloading thing exploded. And their last album in 2011? It sold about 110,000. As for the two albums in-between (each which sold south of 100,000)… well maybe some of it was due to downloading but don’t forget that they were also released prior to The Big Four tour that kinda put you back on the Metal map a little bit. And seriously, until that tour in 2010, Anthrax was not on everyone’s mind (and how many NEW songs did you play on the Big Four tour, and subsequent tours? Right. Nostalgia act).

Queensrÿche? They haven’t been on my radar since 1992 or so. Kiss? Pffft. They put on a great show when I saw them on one of their final farewell “no, really this is the last one” tours back in ’96? I think? I can’t remember.

Metal had it’s time in the spotlight. Your careers have nothing to do with people torrenting your songs. It’s just that no one, past a few diehards (and fucking Blabbermouth commenters) really cares that much. While people still love Metal, they also listen to, and love, other kinds of music. Newer artists in different genres are scooping up sales and money now.

The video of “Hello”, released on 22 October, was viewed over 27.7 million times on YouTube in its first 24 hours, breaking the Vevo record for the most views in a day, surpassing the 20.1 million views for “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift. On 28 October, news outlets, including BBC News, reported that “Hello” was being viewed on YouTube an average one million times an hour. The song debuted at number one in the UK Singles Chart on 30 October, with first week sales of 330,000 copies, making it the biggest-selling number one single in three years. On 2 November, the song debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first song ever in the US to sell at least one million downloads in a week, setting the record at 1.11 million.

Adele: Wikipedia. 2015-Present: 25

Music in general isn’t in the shit because of the internet. Music is doing just fine, thank you. 80’s Metal, on the other hand…

outhouse1

“… When Lennon Died”

 Foo Flag

“You looked when I walked by…”

For the past few years I’ve been attending Dreamforce which is the annual Salesforce conference in San Fransisco. This September was my third Dreamforce tour of duty.

The first year I went, 2013, was good. I learned a lot about the product, and its roadmap, and the Gala performance was Green Day and Blondie, which was ok. Last year was dry. I couldn’t really find anything of any importance as to what I’m working on in the Salesforce product. As well, I took two days of training that, while informative, didn’t even come close to preparing me for the Admin exam I took (and failed). The Gala performance was Bruno Mars; which I totally skipped in favor of hanging out with a few people from the office (we went to Alexander’s Steak House which made the entire trip worthwhile. Wagyu and white truffles? Sign me up).

Needless to say, I was a tad skeptical about attending again this year. However, two things happened:

One: I found out that they were going to focus pretty heavily on the Service Cloud, which is pretty much where I live in Salesforce.

Two: It was announced that the Foo Fighters were playing the Gala, or “Dreamfest” as it’s also called.

So, as you probably guessed, Dreamforce was actually really awesome this year.

I’m not going to bore you with the sessions and seminars I attended (I learned a metric tonne of stuff that I can’t wait to start working on). I’m not going to go into the shitshow that was the Expo floor (although I did actively seek out and engage the vendors that were there – this is new for me). And I’m not going to complain about the super cheesy keynote (even the fact that Stevie Wonder performed didn’t save that. In fact, he was embarrassingly cheesy at one point but that was mostly the fault of the keynote audience, you lame, inattentive, tone deaf fucks).

What I am going to talk about is the Foo Fighters.

And I’m going to talk about them a lot.

Rockin' the Fuck Out.

 

“Well, I met the second son…”

Foo Fighters have been mildly on my radar since that first album came out and This Is A Call hit the radio. They were one of those bands that I considered unique: I didn’t actively go out of my way to say I liked them, I never bought any of their albums, but I never tuned out or turned off when one of their songs came on the radio or was played in a club. I simply nodded my head along with the beat in silent admiration of a well crafted rock tune.

I also got into Grohl’s Probot project when it came out in 2004. This was an interesting album featuring a huge chunk of Metal singers I admired as a teenager. I remember being a tad jealous at the thought that here was a guy who managed to write some Metal tunes and have his favorite Metal singers record vocals.

Last year the Sound City documentary caught my eye. I rented and watched and what I found in myself was a growing admiration for Dave Grohl simply because he seemed to really, really, really love music. I then tripped across the trailer for Sonic Highways and it seemed to reiterate what I thought about Sound City. I made a mental note to check it out at some point.

So when the Foo Fighters were announced as the headlining band for this years Dreamfest, I became excited. I’d get to see a show by a band that I’d always admired in a weirdly detached sort of way…

… then I realized that I didn’t really know them past a few hit singles, a Metal side project, a documentary about a recording studio, and a trailer for an HBO series I’d not watched.

Pat Fuckin' Smear

 

“Fuck It All, I Came From Nothing!”

I started with the Greatest Hits album. I can say two things about Greatest Hits albums:

  1. They’re awesome for people who only want the hits and only the hits (well, duh).
  2. They’re awesome for introducing people to a bands/artists works without forcing them to buy entire albums.

I sit somewhere in the middle. Mostly though, I tend to buy albums based on the tunes I like.

For example, the song All My Life led me to the album One By One.

The Pretender and led me to Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace which, in turn, reintroduced me to Let It Die, a song I’d always liked (although I admit that up until recently, I thought the lyrics were “Why’d you have to go when Lennon died?”).

And so on.

Then, on a whim, without hearing one song off of it, I decided to get the Sonic Highways album.

And Sonic Highways changed everything.

Nate St. Mendel

 

“Send In The Congregation…”

One: I’m not one to wish that bands “return to their roots”. I dislike it when I hear people whine that bands have “sold out” or  complain that “their first four albums were the best” (yes, I’m looking right at you Metallica fans). I also don’t like it when bands release the same album ten or more times in a row (cough Slayer cough AC/DC) or when bands do something different and then try and “get back to their roots” when people complain.

I like to see bands and musicians mature. I like to see them grow and learn and incorporate this into their songwriting. From album to album, there was a maturation of the Foos. At first it was slight; the difference between the first and second albums is mostly production (at least to me). Then, with There Is Nothing Left To Lose, you can hear the songwriting improving; like they took all the crap with members coming and going (and dealing with this in the public eye) and channeled it into the music. The band keep this up with ESP&G and with Wasting Light it went a little farther – mostly, I think, because starting with ESP&G, the Foo Fighters finally had a stable lineup.

Two: While you can hear their sometimes slow progression of the Foo Fighters with each album, it is safe to say that there was not one release where every single song is awesome. There are two songs that are killer and another one or two songs, tops, that are pretty good. The rest play like filler.

It’s really hard for me to find albums where every, single song is repeatably listenable from beginning to end. Really hard. For me, to date, there are only a very small handful of albums that I can play from beginning to end without even thinking about skipping a track.

Off the top of my head (alphabetically):

  • Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad
  • Dillinger Escape Plan – Miss Machine
  • Faith No More – Angel Dust
  • Guns N Roses – Appetite for Destruction
  • Iron Maiden – (lucky, these guys get two) Powerslave and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
  • Peter Gabriel – Passion
  • Pink Floyd:  The Dark Side of the Moon
  • Tool – Lateralus

*Note: People who know me will notice that there are no Metallica albums on here.*

And now I can add Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways to this list.

Eight fantastically written songs. Each recorded in a different city. Each taking in the sounds and feel and history of the city they were recorded in. And none of them followed any given formula. I love each of the songs on Sonic Highways for different reasons but I love the album as a whole because it’s the first Foo Fighters album that I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping tracks.

Sonic Highways is a raging crescendo of pure awesome.

End Of The Night.

 

So, Yeah. Dreamforce.

Dave Grohl didn’t give a fuck. Foo Fighters played Dreamforce, a super corporate event. Who cares. Partway through he said: “Well shit. What the fuck happened? This here has turned from a corporate party into a Foo Fighters concert!”

Simply put, Foo Fighters killed it. Sure they played Dreamforce back in 2008 (which I just found out today), and maybe they were good on ’08, I don’t know. I didn’t see them back then. What I can say was that they fucking rocked in ’15. I seriously haven’t seen a band pump that much energy into their set since, maybe, Metallica in 88/89 on the Damaged Justice tour. This band put more effort into one song than some newer bands put into an entire evening… And Grohl had a broken leg*.

The only thing that sucked was that due to time constraints, the Foos didn’t play their normal 2+ hour show. They belted out a solid hour and twenty “greatest hits” set and the crowd was with them all the way; nearly every single person was rocking out like it was the last show on Earth.

The Foo Fighters seem to have fans across all types and genres of music. I think one of the reasons for this is that they can’t really be pigeonholed into a sub-genre. They are, for all intents and purposes, a Rock N Roll band. They’re not Grunge. They’re not Post-Grunge. They’re not Metal or Punk or some weird ass sub-sub-sub-genre of whatever blah blah. Maybe once, at the beginning, there was the remnants of Grunge (the band was born from the ashes of Nirvana, after all). But now? No. Not at all.

Foo Fighters are a Rock N’ Roll band through and through. An awesome, kick ass, Rock N’ Roll band.

Fuck Yeah!

 


 

* When I first read the news that Grohl had broken his leg I was bummed. I mean, I was looking forward to this show and I wouldn’t get to see him running around like his normal, crazy self. But let me tell you, he’s just as crazy sitting down and I can say “I got to see the Foo’s when Dave had his big ass throne.”

Unreal :)

Dave's Fuckin' Throne

 

I also want to take a moment and let my ego and fanboyism take over and say: All photos in this post were taken by me on an iPhone 6 using the built in camera app. Pics were slightly touched up in Pixlemator.

Alternate Dinner Plans: SALAD


Red and yellow beets, goat cheese foam, maple glazed walnuts, sunflower micro greens with orange vinaigrette, basil flowers.


Beet Salad is something I’d been playing around with for about a year before I’d even thought of doing this dinner. Our family loves beets and while we don’t have them on hand very often, beets normally don’t last long when we do.

Beets are awesome vegetables. They taste like candy. Beet salad is equally awesome so last year I dug up a simple recipe on the internet that was basically beets, walnuts with maple syrup, goats cheese and baby salad greens (or spinach) with a vinaigrette made with OJ concentrate. Then you took all this and mixed it up and voila: beet salad.

It was ok, but I found the orange vinaigrette was super sweet and the presentation rather dull; it was just a pile of salad after all.

When I prepared the four course for my birth mum in September 2015, I tried cutting back the OJ concentrate in an effort to make it less sweet and played around with the plating. It was pretty good even if it was very, very busy presentation wise.

Beet Salad Take OneFancy Beet Salad Take One: 09/2015

.. and the orange vinaigrette was still on the “too sweet” side.

When planning the dinner I figured I’d try the beet salad again but I wanted to really reign it in:

  1. Simplify the presentation; make it look way less busy
  2. Do something about the orange vinaigrette
  3. Incorporate micro greens rather than basic mixed greens
  4. Can I do something with the goats cheese other than just plop gobs of it on the plate/salad?

I’m going to go backwards here as that’s just the way things rolled.

Item number four, the goats cheese, was the first thing taken care of. As mentioned in the Amuse-Bouche post, I’d found this awesome recipe on Molecular Recipes site and the goats cheese foam was just screaming to be used in a beet salad.

Prepping the cheese...Prepping the goats cheese foam.

The micro greens were no problem. We have two a locally owned stores here in Ottawa: Produce Depot and Rainbow Foods. Produce Depot is awesome for fruits and vegetables year round. They’re not exactly selling goods from local farms but they are a locally owned business and the produce they sell puts the big box stores to shame. They also have a goodly selection of exotic fruits and veggies as well as a great fish and meats counter. To note: I found the asparagus shoots for the amuse-bouche course at Produce Depot, and the beets for this course were purchased there as well.

As for Rainbow Foods, well, it’s safe to sat that I love Rainbow Foods. If I’m ever looking for local, organic produce or dairy I can find it there and it was at RF I found sunflower sprouts which I used as the micro greens for the salad (and picked up a half pound of delicious, Ontario unsalted butter, and the Ontario feta for the amuse-bouche).

Next up was the vinaigrette. I searched around online and finally managed to mix up a couple recipes into one. I juiced oranges and mixed this with some balsamic vinegar and, the kicker, a little bit of dijon mustard, and cracked pepper. This last bit added a little bit of a spice to the whole dish the worked very well with the candied taste of the beets.

One of my guests has an aversion to pepper. It’s not an allergy, he simply doesn’t like the taste. So I made a separate, small batch for his plate sans pepper:

Sans Poivre

 

As well, I grated some orange zest into the sunflower sprouts for a little more orange tang:

Sunflower and orange zest

 

Finally came the plating. I sketched out a few, strange ideas one of which included a “tower” with a hollow centre filled with the cheese and so on and so forth. Yeah. Too much.

Back in May I was doing a big test including the soup, the dessert, and the beet salad and after a couple of minutes of deliberation it came to me. Beet squares were the answer.

Squares would allow me to centralize the presentation and layer the rest of the ingredients so that you would get a bit of each with each bite.

This is how I found myself cutting fresh cooked red and gold beets into five (or so) centimetre squares the night before the dinner.

Cutting Beet SquaresDon’t worry, the excess beets were not wasted.

The beet squares were cut and set aside, with some extras, in an air tight container for the next days fun.

Box of Beets
All in all, the salad was probably the easiest dish to plate as most of it was prepared either the night before (goats cheese foam, vinaigrette, beets), or the day of (walnuts, greens).

Maple Candied WalnutsPreparing the maple candied walnuts.

Plating was dead simple: two red squares, two gold squares laid out as a diamond. A puff of goats cheese foam in the centre. Sprinkle the candied walnuts on the foam. Set up the sunflower sprouts (which had been pre-tossed with the vinaigrette ), leaves up. To finish, grate on a little more orange zest and top with some basil flowers.

Beet Salad 01

 

The best compliment of this dish was: “Oh my god, I’m eating beets and they’re delicious! And I hate beets!”

This beet salad, no matter the plating, is a favourite of mine as it’s real easy to prep. Beets, once peeled and boiled, can last for quite a while when sealed and refrigerated and the goats cheese foam can last just as long. It takes no time to toss it all together and enjoy.

 

525

The drink pairing was Cuvée 525 Still Cider; St. Jospeph-du-Lac QC. I this was purchased at the Oka Cheese Factory (which, sadly, does not seem to have a website) during the families yearly trip to Park Oka in May. We go with a group of friends and they bought a bottle of this cider on the first trip to the cheese store. I tried some that night and was completely floored. I’m not a cider person to say the least. But then again when I hear the word “cider” I think “Strongbow” which, in turn, makes me cringe.

The 525 on the other hand is crisp, clean, and dry. The apple taste is not overpowering; it’ just there and really worked well with the beets and especially, I thought, the candied walnuts.

If you’re ever driving through Oka, Quebec I urge you to stop off at the Oka Cheese Store and pick up and couple of bottles of Cuvée 525. You won’t regret it.

For my non-wine friend, I made him a freshly blended Raspberry Daiquiri. And let me tell you, there was nothing fancy in this drink at all. I wanted it to be a fresh and simple as possible. The full list of ingredients was: raspberries, white rum, and a squeeze of lemon.

Innovation: Even The Kitchen Sink Is Useless.

Innovation as a marketing term is I’ve been thinking about a lot these days. This has to do with this post from back in April. Then I read this wonderful presentation by Maciej Ceglowski about The Internet and I started thinking about innovation even more.

While there are many quotes from the presentation that resonated with me, I found it interesting that the word Innovation was not used once. I applaud the author for the fact that he didn’t have to mention that word but you know it was on his mind.

Let me explain what I mean.

Innovation is a word that is thrown around left and right these days. Everything is innovation this and innovation that. While I understand what the word means and why companies out there ride it long and hard for marketing, I seriously question what good any of this innovation is doing for us.

J&J Reach commercial from the 1980's

My first memory of really feeling something was off in the way we were being sold “innovation” was this commercial from the 80’s. Some of  you will be old enough to remember this one. J&J basically told us that if we wanted super clean, back teeth, then we’d have to buy this toothbrush that was in the shape of a dental pic. Why? Well, because straight toothbrushes simply could not get to those “hard to reach” areas in our mouths. You know, the areas we can get to with regular toothbrushes?

Yeah.

Then there is Ziploc with their various bag upgrades. I guess we weren’t satisfied with resealable bags because all of a sudden we needed four zippers! And they have to make a clicking sound! And be colour coded! And we need moisture vents! And little thingy’s that do something with… wait what?

Don’t even get me started on razors (seriously, what is this?). Or cooking supplies.

To my mind, “innovation” pretty much means “things that you think you need”. It’s stuff that companies are trying to convince you will make your life easier, better, more fulfilling. In short, this stuff doesn’t make your life any easier, better, or more fulfilling.

Today we’re being sold “innovation” at a fevered pitch and we only have ourselves to blame really. We can’t seem to go more than a year without demanding that more stuff be added to the things we have. And the corporations that make the stuff we want are more than happy to oblige.

What do we end up with? We end up with new things that are the same as the old things only they do a couple of more things stuffed into them and no one will care about it next year because the things will have a few more things attached to them.

The corporations want the keep making money so they constantly let us know that the thing they made last year sucks.

Bah. This is a rambling post that that doesn’t really have any logical conclusion. I know this is going to keep happening.

I’ll come back and add more to this post next year once I have an idea as to what I think you want me to say.

The Web Today

Who is doing this to my internet?

“But even in the absence of legislation that could slow down and effectively change the nature of the way we communicate, the internet industry has happily been crippling itself in the name of business models. 

 

“This way of transforming the internet is ostensibly even more dangerous than government legislation, because companies censoring content to appeal to advertisers means we are not getting the full breadth of human thought online.”

Alternate Dinner Plans: SOUP


Chilled avocado soup with crisp pancetta, crème fraiche, lime, and dill.


The idea of staying local is a good one. And I tried to do this. I tried my best to keep the ingredients I used “local”. By that I mean I tried to keep things in Ontario.

That being said sometimes I had to break this rule either due to pricing (wines used solely for cooking) or, in the case of the soup dish, pure awesomeness.

Back in the early spring I got caught up in one of those Web Spirals we all succumb to here and there. I was browsing cooking sites for no other reason than it’s something I do. Click-click-click-click… oh my god, is this for real: Avocado Soup. I read it over, bookmarked it for a rainy day and went back to my spiral.

A couple of months later, when the idea for this dinner began to form in my mind, I was stuck on the soup course. I had all kinds of crazy ideas running through my head involving tomatoes and beets and potatoes and, at one point, frozen mango. Thanks, in part, to binge watching the original, UK version of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, I decided to step back and keep things simple … although not local and rustic ;-)

I decided to do the Avocado Soup.

I did make a couple changes to the original recipe. First, and most importantly, I made the stock from scratch. There was no question about this. If I want the soup to taste first rate, then I have to make the base myself. I did some research on chicken stock and found that if I wanted a balance between stock consistency and flavour, I needed to use wings. Taking some cues from various cooking sites and The French Laundry Cookbook, I spent part of the last Sunday in May watching a pot of fresh chicken wings and aromatics gently boil; skimming like a madman, and reducing  until I had prepared what can only be described as a high octane chicken stock. The best part of this stock is that as it cools it turns into near gelatine. On its own the flavour can be overpowering. However this allows you to dilute the stock with water as needed for dishes. You just have to play with amounts and taste.

Next up, the original recipe calls for lemon juice. On the initial run we tried lemon and it simply did not jive. I don’t know what it was but the four variations with lemon made the soup taste like… stinky socks. So the next round I tried fresh lime juice and wow, that was perfect.

Green Soup CookingOnions, chicken stock, avocados before the creme-fraiche and blending.

Finally, the garnish is listed as either mint or dill, finely chopped. Again, I tried both and mint was definitely out (although it did inspire the drink paring). The dill, on the other hand, like the lime juice, worked perfectly; only I didn’t finely chop it, I just picked chunks off and scattered them on top. In the end eight variations were tried:

  1. Warm soup with lemon and mint
  2. Warm soup with lime and mint
  3. Warm soup with lemon and dill
  4. Warm soup with lime and dill
  5. Chilled soup with lemon and mint
  6. Chilled soup with lime and mint
  7. Chilled soup with lemon and dill
  8. Chilled soup with lime and dill

As is always the way with these things, number eight was the winner.

Test SoupTesting, testing! One small ramekin of the winning combination (05/31/2015)

On the day of the dinner, I made the soup itself in the late afternoon so it would have time to chill and allow the flavours to blend. I fried up the pancetta, picked the dill, squeezed and strained the lime, mixed up the creme fraiche, and lined up the bowls  just before we sat down for the first course.

Once we were done with the amuse-bouche, I popped back into the kitchen to plate the soup. In a perfect world, I would have had a fancy jug of some sort so I could pour the soup table side but alas, there is no jug to be had in our house so all was plated in the kitchen…

Avocado Soup - Plating

 

… I then mixed and served the drink pairing (Mojito), and then served the completed soup.

Avocado Soup 01

 

Out of the entire night, this course got the most praise. In fact at one point one of the guests took a spoonful, turned to me and said: “Ok. This is an Atelier level dish. I’m not kidding. This soup is hitting me on like five different levels all at once.”

Avocado Soup 02

Interestingly enough, every time I go our for a blind, multi-course meal it’s usually the soup that is the outstanding dish of the evening. Nice to see that I can keep with this tradition.

As for the pairing, the Mojito was an obvious choice. When I think of avocados, lime, sour cream, and crisp meat, I don’t think of wine, I think Mojito. Besides, why does it usually have to be wine pairings for multi-course menus? I think it would be cool to go somewhere and sit down to an eight to twelve course meal where the pairings were completely wine free. While I love wine, imagine what it would be like to have original cocktails prepared for the sole reason of complimenting each dish…

Alternate Dinner Plans: AMUSE-BOUCHE


Cherry tomatoes, balsamic “caviar”, olive “soil”, Ontario organic feta, cucumber, asparagus shoots, bread stick (cumin & thyme).


This one was super fun as it was a bit of a last minute creation based on ideas I’d gleaned from other sources:

Since I had already decided to use the Goat Cheese Foam for the third course, I was scratching my head for something to do with the olive soil and  balsamic pearls.

Then it hit me: Olives and Balsamic Vinegar = important parts of a Greek Salad.

Last year, I’d already tried to recreate the balsamic pearls served in hollowed out cherry tomatoes and it was very tasty. So why not put this together with the olive soil, some feta, cucumbers, basil, and maybe some micro greens?

Funny thing was this was the only recipe I didn’t actually try before the night of the dinner. It just sounded right so I decided to go for it. The day before the dinner I put some black olives and some Kalamata olives in the dehydrator, bought some local cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and feta, and took a chance.

Dehydrator - Olives

And holy hell, it was delicious.

Mid afternoon, the day of,  I made the balsamic pearls (I started calling them “caviar” as it’s slightly more pretentious). Once people arrived, I hollowed out the cherry tomatoes and put them together, and started assembling the spoons.

Previously, I’d ground the dehydrated olives in a coffee grinder – separately as I didn’t want to muddle the flavour of the Kalamata olives. I added each to the spoons:

Dried Olive "Soil"

 I then crumbled up some feta and sprinkled this over the olives and placed a prepared cherry tomato in the centre of the spoon.

For the cucumbers, I used a vegetable peeler to shave off thin strips and curled them on either side of the tomatoes. A thin slice of fresh basil (from our herb garden) was placed on top of the balsamic caviar:

Nearly there...

As a final touch, I added some asparagus shoot micro-greens.

The result was amazing.

"Greek Salad"

My first taste was with everyone else at the table and I’ll admit that I was a little nervous that it would not work.

This bite sized salad, however, turned out to be amazing. It hit every note I hoped it would.

Accompanying the “salad” was a bowl of cumin and thyme breadsticks. I baked these up the night before. These were enjoyed by all.

I didn’t get a pic of the breadsticks the night of, but I did get this nice snapshot of the dough:

Breadstick Dough

The drink pairing was a well chilled  EastDell Pinot Grigio VQA that added just the right crispness on the palate*.

East Dell


* A note on the wine paring: I’m not in any way, shape, or form super knowledgable about wine. I know what I like and have an okay idea of what flavour pairs with others. This was one of the pairings decided with a DuckDuckGo search: “wine paring greek salad”. Pinot Grigo came up. I wanted to keep the drinks local (with one exception as you’ll see in the next post) so I checked out the LCBO site for VQA’s. I settled on this one as the description of “mellon, honey, wax” intrigued me.

Alternate Dinner Plans, The Aftermath

That… was fun.

I really have no other way to describe it. Five courses. Seven people. We wined and dined from 7pm until nearly midnight and it was a complete success.

I’ll go into more detail about the preparations later in subsequent posts. For now, I’ll post the final menu with the drink parings.

Note: the drinks in brackets were for a friend who does not drink wine. In lieu of this he was presented with a selection of rum drinks.


 

Menu For July 18, 2015

 

AMUSE-BOUCHE

Cherry tomatoes, balsamic “caviar”, olive “soil”, Ontario organic feta, cucumber, asparagus shoots, bread stick (cumin & thyme).

East Dell Pinot Grigio VQA 2013
(Rum & Coke)

SOUP

Chilled avocado soup with crisp pancetta, crème fraiche, lime and dill.

Mojito

SALAD

Red and yellow beets, goat cheese foam, maple glazed walnuts, sunflower micro greens with orange vinaigrette, basil flowers.

Cuvée 525 Still Cider; St. Jospeph-du-Lac QC
(Fresh Raspberry Daiquiri)

MEAT, POTATOES, & VEG

Dobson Farms organic prime rib, red wine and mushroom reduction, horseradish cream sauce, mashed potato croquettes,  sesame haricots, organic heirloom carrots (maple syrup and dill).

Lighthouse Cabernet Franc VQA 2013
(Dark & Stormy)

DESSERT

Red wine poached pears, vanilla bean mascarpone cream, pistachios.

Peller Estates Vidal Ice Wine VQA 1997
(Blueberry Daiquiri)

It Has Sucked Since The Beginning Of Time

So Neil Young, the man who should talk in his singing voice because everything he says is a constant whine, is pulling his music from streaming services because of the “sound quality”:

Reading his little blurb, this bit stands out:

“It’s not because of the money, although my share (like all the other artists) was dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent.”

If it’s not about the money, Neil, then you don’t say “It’s not about the money”. If you go on to complain about having your share reduced, no matter if you mention “all other artists”, then it’s about the money.

Look Neil, nobody gives a sweet shit about sound quality. Well, maybe a small percentage of people do but in the large scheme of things the majority of people don’t care…

… Because everyone has been listening to shit quality music since the beginning of recorded music!

Some “artists” like to blame technology for the state of music sound. “Its the digital file”, they rant and rave, “it’s all the fault of the MP3”.

People who have been screaming about lack of sound quality seem to have forgotten the audio cassette with its hissing and warbling and muddiness. They seem to have forgotten AM radio (mono and tinny sounding). Yet both were popular because they brought music to the masses without having to be chained down to a music player at home. You could turn on the radio anywhere. Thanks to Sony’s Walkman (and all the knockoffs it inspired) you could take some of your music collection with you; create few mix tapes (usually over top of a mix tape which degraded the sound even more), pop it into your Walkman and presto! And hardly anyone cared about the cheap, crappy headphones that came with these devices.

“Ok, so tapes and AM radio kind of sucked. But vinyl and CD! Superior! Ha!”

Sure, if you had thousands of dollars of stereo equipment, which none of us had. I listened to my music on relatively inexpensive equipment. When I had records, I used my folks stereo which kind of looked like a shithouse tipped over on its side:

The Folks Record Player

 

Everyone I hung out with had one of these monoliths in their house. It’s what we were introduced to records with. They sounded like shit; the speakers were tiny and hidden in there amongst all that cheap wood so everything sounded kind of hollow.

Let’s not forget the crackling and popping (and skipping/needle bouncing when there was a huge scratch in the album).

In the end we didn’t care. We got to listen to our music.

Once all of us got our own players, they looked something like this:

Our Own Record Player

And they sounded even shitter. Oh those plastic speakers. Again, we didn’t care. We all just wanted to play our music and play it loud. We did know someone with a huge ass stereo and every now and then we’d go over and blast our records; and it was never about the sound quality of the format the music was on, it was about the speakers this guy had: We could turn that shit up up up – record, cassette, CD – and it wouldn’t distort because the speakers could handle excess volume.

Fast forward to today. We can now get music anywhere. And I mean anywhere. I can buy an album while walking my dog. Or sitting at the park while my kids and their friends try to kill each other on the play structure. A few taps and we can listen to what we want, when we want, where we want. We can purchase, stream, and download. And yes, we can even order CD’s and vinyl if we want but not many people do that anymore. And why should we? We can take our entire music collection with us. Our music libraries are all contained on the little pocket computers we all carry around with us. And guess what?

The music sounds great.

I ask everyone who lived in the 80’s, the original heyday of portable music, to think back and remember what your music sounded like played through these:

Love That 80's Hair!Ugh. Puns. And, oh, that hair!

 

And then compare that to what your music sounds like today, as an MP3 on an iPhone played through the default earbuds.

I guarantee that the MP3 on the iPhone wins out. Hands down.

Here is the thing: when MP3’s became super popular in the early 2000’s, they were shitty sounding because they were encoded at 128kbps. This was due to the fact that we didn’t have gobs of hard drive space back then. We also didn’t have online Cloud storage and the fastest, consumer internet download speed one could get was 3Mbps – and keep in mind that most people were still on dialup connections. 

Portable MP3 players were rare and the affordable ones only had limited storage. My first MP3 player cost me damn near a hundred bucks and only had 128Mb (yes, that’s megabytes) of space. It had room for, maybe, a single album of music encoded at 128K.

Now our devices are measured in gigabytes and can now hold thousands of MP3s encoded at 320Kbps (or 256Kbps AAC in the case of Apple) which is CD quality compression. Our devices can connect to the internet with near 300Mbps download speeds. We’re now capped by our monthly data plans so yes, we’re just fine with the default quality of the music we’re buying/downloading/streaming; anything more would eat up our data which costs us money for every megabyte we go over (for us listeners, it’s about the money).

Very, very few care about Lossless compression. Even fewer are willing to pay what amounts to a huge fee to access these so called “better sounding files”. And only a few of those few can actually tell the difference.

So be honest Neil: It’s about the money isn’t it? I know it is for most of us. We already bought Harvest on vinyl (and you had no problem with us listening to it on shitty stereos). And then on cassette (and you had no problem with us listening to it on shitty Walkmans). And then on CD (and you had no problems listening to is on shitty CD players). And then on iTunes… and now you want us to fork over $25 for a FLAC version? Oh after forking out $400 for your Pono Player (which real people don’t really care about). And now you’re pulling a hissy fit and pulling your entire collection of music from steaming services because of this supposed sound quality issue?

I actually question how Neil Young’s soon-to-be-seventy year old ears can tell the difference between a cats meow and a dogs bark these days (after decades of making people deaf at Crazy Horse shows) let alone the nuances of digital compression.

So let’s be honest. It’s about money. He said it in that one quote:

“It’s not because of the money, although my share (like all the other artists) was dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent.”

If you have to say it’s not about the money, then it’s about the money. Steaming does not pay as much as album sales. Welcome to the twenty first century. The old guard is no more. Everyone can have a slice, no matter now small, of the music business pie. There are new ways to make money.

Trying to convince people the quality of the accepted format is shit is not one of these ways…

… Especially when music has always sounded like shit.

 

 

Alternate Dinner Plans, Part One: “The Stuff”

What Is The Stuff?

Planning a dinner party is always a challenge. How many people? How many courses? What kinds of recipes? Drinks? Allergies and dislikes?

Once you’ve nailed down the basics (eight people; five courses; food is a little off the beaten path but nothing overly weird; wine and cocktails; pepper so compensate) you can then start taking note of what you need as far as ingredients and, what I like to call, “stuff”.

“Stuff”, to me, is basically kitchen equipment, flatware, tableware, glasses, etc. The challenge here is always cost. For some reason kitchen and cooking equipment is always seen as expensive when it really doesn’t have to be. And, if you really look around, for the most part, it isn’t.

 

The Problem (aka The Rant)

The problem I think is that the average person doesn’t really know what’s out there past what’s advertised to them. Couple that with the fact that most people don’t really know how to cook (and don’t have the time or the want to cook) and yes, kitchen stuff can be expensive.

For example, people have been told that they need a non-stick pan to cook in. NEED it*. They’re also told that copper is the best to distribute the heat. So you should buy a copper, non-stick pan to cook your eggs. And copper non-stick pans are fucking expensive.

The flip slide is that kitchen stuff can be super cheap. Not everyone can afford copper pans. But you can get non-stick pans at the local discount store. These pans are basically some weird aluminium with non-stick interior. They cost five bucks, will usually burn your food, and will last you about a year. If you’re lucky.

Average people are sold all kinds of shit. There are so many useless** single use contraptions out there it makes me sick. And the normal stuff has had so much crap attached to it that it’s guaranteed to (a) not work half the time and (b) completely break down in under a year.

For example, I’ve been waging a war with coffee makers for the longest time. What I want in a coffee maker is this:

  1. Make coffee.
  2. Don’t leak all over the pace when making the coffee.
  3. I like thermal carafes because they keep the coffee hot and fresh.
  4. Pre-set the coffee making is nice to have, but not a complete necessity.

Number three here is the big one. Coffee makers with thermal carafes are usually fucking expensive. And why? Oh because the only machines with thermal carafes also have built in bean grinders, different sensors for bean darkness and grind fineness, auto clean, breakfast makers, dog walkers, toilet bowl cleaners, and diaper changers. Oh, and they make coffee too.

Not too long ago I found a thermal carafe machine that promised to cover my 4 requirements. No more. No less. It was $160. So I bought it. Six months in, the lid is broken and it randomly decides to leak coffee all over the place. What the fuck gives?

Anthony Bourdain once did a show about basic cooking techniques. When demonstrating how to cut an onion with a knife he said: “See? Nice and simple. And right now there is some jerkoff on TV who is trying to sell you a contraption that will do what I just showed you.”

In short, you don’t need the fancy contraptions. You don’t need super duper expensive pans. You don’t need one-thing-does-all-super-kitchen-machine.

What people don’t realize is that your average, mid-to-near-high end restaurant uses equipment that’s somewhere in the middle; it ain’t exactly shit but it’s not super expensive, “top of the line” either.

What people need to do is stop shopping at BBB and Sears and other department stores. These are the places that want to sell you the “consumer products”. Avoid these places unless there is simply no other option. And believe me, normally, there are other options.

 

The Solution: Kitchen Supplies

Do a web search for “restaurant supply stores” in your city. Chances are, you’ll find at least one.

Seriously, restaurant supply stores are the bomb. You can get pretty much everything you need for pretty decent prices. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend buying everything at a supply store; I’m sure you won’t need to purchase plates by the dozen. But you can get necessities here like pots, tongs, mixing bowls, whisks, strainers, etc, etc cheaper than you would get them at Sears. And you know they’re at least decent quality because they’re the same shit they use in restaurants!

There is a restaurant supply store near me. It’s a ten minute bike ride away and it has everything. We recently headed over there to pick up some stainless steel mixing bowls and ended up walking out with the bowls (eight of them), a couple of kitchen tongs, some ramekins (medium and small), a vegetable peeler, and an industrial grade muffin tin. In total the bill was $50.00 or so. Now, count in the fact that the muffin tin was $24 on it’s own (but man, it’s built like a tank and does 24 muffins at once) and I consider that a very decent price.

You do have to be a little careful at places like this because they do have “normal” stuff and they’re priced like “normal” stuff. What you have to do is ignore all the fancy, moulded rubber/plastic shiny do-dads and keep an eye on the “pro” stuff. You’ll know it when you see it; you’ll remember some if it from your grandmothers kitchen.

Next up: thrift stores. I shit you not. You will have to do some digging, but you can find good, usable items in thrift stores. I found one of my favourite sauté pans at the local Value Village:

Lagostina On The Cheap

 

That is a 10″ stainless steel, Lagostina sauté pan I paid $6.00 for. Yes, you read that right: six bucks. This pan is amazing. It heats even, can go in the oven and, if you know what you’re doing, is completely non-stick. I use it for about 80% of my stove top frying/sauté-ing. Something like this can cost upwards to fifty dollars depending on make an model. Basically what you’re getting is top of the line cookware for thrift store prices.

You’ll also find grinders, hand blenders, and… well the list goes on. Like I said, you have to dig but there is gold out there.

 

Dinnerware

Dinnerware is a tricky thing. Everyone has their own tastes. Me? I like white. I think white is classic and is a great canvas for plating. Yes, there are times where a darker plate or bowl would do nicely but most of the time white is where it’s at. This is why pretty much all of the restaurants you eat at serve their food on white dishes.

My favourite two places to get dinnerware are as follows:

  1. Ikea
  2. Dollarama

Ikea is Ikea. I shouldn’t have to say much more here other than you can get a six seat setting for twenty five bucks.

Dollarama though? You all must think I’ve lost my mind. Well, maybe a little but check this shit out:

Piles Of Plates

Piles and piles of plates, bowls, glassware, serving trays. Round, square, rectangle, weird shapes. All from between $1.00 and $4.00 each depending on size. Sure, some can be shitty but most are of a relatively decent quality. Peel the stickers off them and there are no logos; just pure white dishes. You will have to dig a little though each pile as there are inconstancies; some have small chips, some have noticeable bubbles in the finish etc but spend some time looking. Block off the aisle like an asshole if you have to and search.

Dollarama Soup Bowl

Shallow Soup Bowl. $2.00

 

Dollarama Plate

Salad Plate. $1.75

 

Dollarama Neat Dish

Neat looking plate/bowl/whatever. $3.00

Long story short, you can get good dinnerware for next to nothing. The same goes for flatware and glassware. Take your time and search out what you need at places you normally wouldn’t think to look for them.

 

Conclusion

When all is said and done everybody is different and has their own tastes and goals and their own wants and needs. Me? I like fancy food cooked to perfection and served on elegant dinnerware.

For that I go out to high end restaurants.

At home I like what could be called fancy but I’m happy with inexpensive elegance. When I cook dinner, we eat off of white plates from Ikea. Why would I buy anything more expensive? There are two small children in the house. Our set of 18 dishes has lost a few soldiers along the way and some of those that remain have chips and scratches. We replace our dishes, utensils, and pots and pans*** when needed not when we perceive to need them.

You’re not The French Laundry. You’re cooking for friends and family who are at dinner more to see you and enjoy your company than to fawn over expensive pots, plates, and kitchen gadgets.

Go forth. Cook, entertain, and enjoy.

Don’t be afraid to be cheap. And Bon Appétit.

 


 

* You don’t NEED non-stick pans. This is the biggest bunch of bullshit out there. While they certainly make things easier, you only really think you need non-stick if you’re too lazy to keep an eye on what you’re cooking. I know I sound like an asshole but seriously, if you can’t cook eggs in a stainless steel pan without them sticking, then you have bigger problems in life than your sticky eggs. Full disclosure: there are two, small non-stick pans in our kitchen and they get used quite a bit because they’re small and perfect for one or two egg omelettes. Make no mistake though; they’re on their last legs (one looks like it’s been run over by a small truck) and one they’re dead they’re being replaced by steel. we believe in using things until they are dead before replacing them. Note: We also have three cast iron pans which are awesome and get used quite regularly. 

** Notice I said “useless”. A lot of cooking supplies are single use when you think of it. By useless I mean things like carrot peelers, electric muffin makers, or vegetable choppers.

*** When we were engaged 10 years ago, a group of our friends pitched in and got us a mid-range set of Lagostina steel cookware from Costco. They’re incredible and still going strong. I guess another point would be take care of your stuff and it will last you a good, long time.

Alternate Dinner Plans – Intro

For my birthday this year, I’ve decided to do something different. I’m inviting a few people over and I’m cooking dinner for them.

Yes, that’s right. I plan on spending an entire day in the kitchen cooking my own birthday dinner for a few freinds. The main reasoning behind all this is not to show off… well, maybe a little. Deep down inside everyone likes to show off from time to time.

The main reason is that I love cooking and I want to take another stab at preparing a multi-course meal; this time for more than two people. Logistically for me, there is no better time to do it.

Last September I tried my hand at creating four course dinner for my birth mother. This went off with varying degrees of success and failure. While I tried to plan in advance, I fell short in a couple of areas, mainly the third course. I simply hand’t planned enough… or properly. With a couple of dishes, I got way in over my head.

I’m not a chef or even a line cook. Up to that point, I’d never cooked anything past a single course. I know how to prep things to get, say, the chicken and the vegetables on the plate at the same time. Four separate, moderately complicated courses, on the other hand, was not something I’d done at all to that point.

That dinner wasn’t a complete failure though. After all, learning is the most important part of exercises like this. Perhaps the most important thing I learned was to actually plan and plan properly based on your skills at the time. Don’t just dive head first into a complex recipe you’ve never tried and hope it will work out. Plan a menu that you’d be comfortable making and then spend some time making the dishes in advance.

And that’s exactly what I’ve started doing. I’m going to try a multi course dinner again.

I’ve already planned the menu, tested some dishes and sent out the invites. Now I’m working on organization.

In the time leading up to this dinner, I thought I’d document as much of this process as I can find time to. Sure, some of this may contain spoilers if my invited guests ever read this here blog but so be it.

In the end, I hope this all works out. The whole idea of this experiment is to have a good time preparing what should amount to be a pretty interesting and fun evening.

Twenty Five Years Later

How The Berlin Wall Really Fell.

I remember watching this on television; people smiling, laughing, crying with joy, and pounding big chunks of concrete out of the wall with sledgehammers, or chipping off little pieces with chisels…

People always ask: “Do you remember where were you when so and so was shot, or when the planes hit the towers”?

Sure I do. But why do we have to define ourselves by memories of death and disaster?

Personally, I like to remember where I was the day I found out The Berlin Wall came down. It was an end of death and disaster in that part of the world.

Some Pics

Here are a couple of pictures I snapped with my iPhone 5 using Slow Shutter Cam. This little app is amazing.

Note: other than the long exposure time within the app, these pictures are untouched. 

Splash Pad
Mushroom fountain at the local splash pad.

 

Skull Traffic
Some late night traffic fun.

The best camera is the one you have with you, indeed.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

This is an amazing article.

Some quotes:

I never ceased to take pleasure in the moment, at the end of a job, when I would flip the switch. “And there was light.

This is something I think about on a near daily basis. The work I do, while I enjoy it, lacks that sense of real accomplishment. In IT we deal with products that never quite do what they are sold as. These products are also constantly broken. When you do feel accomplished for solving a problem another two or three arise almost immediately.

The craftsman is proud of what he has made, and cherishes it, while the consumer discards things that are perfectly serviceable in his restless pursuit of the new.

I despise the term consumer. Yet that’s what we are. No one really fixes anything anymore. Why should we when a new replacement is usually cheaper in both time and money? It’s a sad state of affairs when we only cherish something until the next revision. We live in an age of planned obsolescence. We have been trained to never be happy with what we have; there is always something better.

It’s sad when you think about it.

Exciting

Tonight, Atelier. This was a last minute invite and I jumped on it because, Atelier. The last time I dined there it was, quite possibly, the best meal I’d ever eaten.

July 19, Beckta. Have always wanted to try Beckta and now I get a chance (a few months before they move to their new location).

Planes – My First World Problem

So tomorrow I’m heading to beautiful San Fransisco for a few days and I’ve been somewhat dreading the flight between IAD and SFO.

By this I don’t mean I’m scared of flying. I mean I’m bored with it. It used to be exciting but now the idea of sitting in a cramped seat for 6 hours makes me groan. That and the fact that airlines now charge you for everything other than a cup of pop and, maybe, a baggie of peanut snacks.

Some planes have a viewer on the back of there seats so at least you can pass the time watching a movie. Let me tell you, nothing kills time like watching Lincon and The Godfather back to back. Yet not all flights offer this. Even fewer planes have in flight WiFi.

What gives? It’s 2014! We’re connected in ways no one even dreamed of twenty years ago. It boggles my mind that this tech is not available on all planes.

I mean the airlines can get their wireless credit card machines to work at thirty thousand feet, why not WiFi?

Oh well, at least I can drink four, six dollar Heinekens and pass out.

 

EDIT: Heineken is now seven bucks. 

A Quote

“Look. I mean, whether it be food or art; paintings, drawings, movies, music, whatever it is, people are going to draw from it what they want. If people are into food and it speaks to them and it resonates with them; if it’s compelling, then it’s art”.

– Grant Achatz

Family Studies

This is a great read* and I agree with every word.

Funny, I was lamenting to my wife the other day about the lack of Home Ec/Family Studies in schools. I wasn’t even sure they had it anymore. She informed me that, unfortuantely, schools no longer teach these classes.

And that’s a damn shame as far as I’m concerned. I have great memories from my time in grade 7 and 8 Family Studies. Those classes were a big part of the reason I can cook. They’re part of the reason I can sew by hand as well as work a sewing machine. Sure, woodworking shop was cool and all, but I really enjoyed the Family Studies portion just as much, if not more.

Add in the fact that a good majority of families do not have parents at home who love to cook and who love showing their kids how to use ingredients to prepare food and you have a pretty big problem.

While the school boards and the gub’ments say they can’t afford the costs anymore, my tinfoil hat tells me that there are other forces at play; namely lobbyists in the realm of Big Food. I may be wrong in thinking this but I don’t feel like I’m wrong.

Regardless of what I believe it is really a damn shame that kids do not have the opportunity to learn basic skills like cooking and sewing. Isn’t school supposed to help get kids ready for the real world?

Oh well, I guess all the language, math, science, and gym will work well for them. They can read takeout menus, count the cash they spend on fast food, and then learn all about the medication they lave to take later on in life. You know, after that career in sports doesn’t work out for them.


* I linked to the mobile site because it’s less obnoxious than the regular web version

Stuff, Part One.

Look around you. Look at your desk. Look at your kitchen, look in the drawers, look in the cupboards. Look in your bedroom(s), look in the closets. Look in your bathroom, look at the shelves. If you have a basement, finished or not, look around there. If you have a garage, look in there.

Do you have rented Self Storage? If so, hop in your car, look around the inside of your car, then drive to the Self Storage locker and take a good look around there.

Now, tell me: what do you see?

Continue reading “Stuff, Part One.”

Well Then

Looks like the city has taken to binding up the hockey boards in the spring:

20140419-161305.jpg

This is probably a good thing. When I was a kid we used to stack these up into bike jumps and have at. Depends on how you look at it I guess.

A New Hope

Originally written in San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 14, 2014.


Recently Lily has discovered Star Wars and insists on watching them every chance she gets; especially Return Of The Jedi.

My problem is, I’m one of the “purists”. I’m old enough to have sent the originals in the theatre in the Seventies and Eighties. I believe Han shot first. I believe that the redone, completely CG animated dance scene in Jedi should be punishable by life imprisonment (dont even get me started with the replacement of Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christensen). I don’t even want to talk about the prequel trilogy and only give about a tenth of a fuck about the upcoming Episode 7.

With my personal bias in mind, I went out and found good copies of the un-CG’d, original, theatrical releases of Star Wars (before it was branded “A New Hope” in the opening crawl), The Empire Strikes Back, and Return Of The Jedi and we have those and only those at home.

Turns out that the condo we were staying at in Puerto Rico has a copy of the re-re-re-re-(re)-release of ROTJ and Lily watched it umpteen donzen times and LOVED it each time. Sadly, she also knows it as the “one that Daddy doesn’t like”.

Continue reading “A New Hope”

Genius

Look what showed up today:

alinea

I’ve been skimming through the recipes and I’m blown away. First, Achatz is a crazy genius. Second, I’m really surprised about how many of the dishes I could probably pull off. Well, so far anyway; I haven’t dug in deep yet.

Oh, sure it helps that I have the Molecule-r Starter Kit and a few other odds and ends (like Silpats and immersion blenders) hanging around but that’s not my point. My point is that the recipes are rather simplistic in their parts. The genius is that some of these dishes are the sum of seven or eight or nine (or more) parts. Other times they are just that: a simple idea executed in a way no one has even come close to contemplating.

It’s going to take me a long while to read this front to back. Even still, there is enough in this book to keep me experimenting in the kitchen for a long long time.

The Grey Areas

Originally written in San Juan, Puerto Rico on February 25, 2014.


Early last week we walked up the beach to Ocean Park/Parque Barbosa. We stopped to play in the warm, South Atlantic surf. The kids spent some time on the swings and slides and then we wandered over to Calle Loiza for some supplies at the drug store.

Coming back, walking along Calle Loiza, back towards our rented condo, I could tell the kids were nearly beat. We’d been slowly marching along, the temperature hovering around 29C.

The girls weren’t complaining much at this point. There was some whining; the eldest was wearing flip-flops and was developing a wicked blister on one of her toes and the youngest, well, she’s nearly four and her tolerance for long walks in the heat is much lower than the average person (and I hear people much older than her complain more about the heat).

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My Social Hangover

It’s interesting that my first post to this blog is about Social Media. Especially since I just deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“OH NO”, I can hear you thinking. “HERE COMES ANOTHER RANT ABOUT HOW FACEBOOK IS EVIL AND WHATNOT!”

Nah. I’m not going to write about that. Millions upon millions of people love Facebook and Twitter and it’s not up to me to change that. What I am going to write about is why I decided to cut out as much Social Media as possible from my own life.

Continue reading “My Social Hangover”