Sunday, October 29, 2006

More foodieing

In the grand tradition of writing reviews that are not helpful in the slightest way to my regular readers, I will be starting today a series reviewing every single independant eating establishment in the Stony Plain - Spruce Grove area. The odds that anyone will ever go to any of these besides me? Slim to none. Do I care? Not even slightly. Why do I do it? Mostly to amuse myself.

The first review is of the Rainbow Palace - A "Chinese and Western" joint located right below my office. I assumed - wrongly - that it was so close that it made no difference how good the food was, it was worth a try. Did I mention that I was wrong? Yeah... Wrong.

I ordered the Chinese Lunch Special - which consists of chicken chop-suey, sweet & sour pork, and fried rice. I shall review them in that order. Oh, and it included a small bowl of salad-in-a-bag and an individual portion container of dressing. They have both kinds - ranch and italian.

Chop Suey - bean sprouts and coleslaw mix and leftover boiled chicken bits, stir fried in a sauce that seemed to consist of canola oil and water. It tasted about like it sounds.

Sweet & Sour Pork - dry fried pork bits with flavourless orange sauce. May have had some vinegar in it, but I cou;dn't tell. Probably mostly orange food coloring and sugar.

Fried Rice - Dry and flavourless, made from what appears to be uncle ben's converted, rather than chinese rice. Really, really bad.

It wasn't even a very good value. Taken as a whole, it sucked. It gets one and a half pints of the kind of watery draft beer you get in shady dive bars. You know, the kind that tastes sort of like beer, but not enough like beer to justify drinking it.

A down-home patriotic kind of beer.

I just bottled a North American Pale Ale, (Treewhale Pale) which is a style typical of the region that western separatists usually call Cascadia, and found very little elsewhere. This version is a deep copper, with a strong Cascade Hop aroma and flavour. I am less impressed with the head retention that I have seen so far, but who knows, that may get better. It was also a little chunky going into the bottles due to the single stage fermentation. It may not be a medal winner, as it is up against stiff competition in that category, but I'm sure it will be good enough to drink. I happened to chance into a couple of dozen empty bottles that took me over the top in terms of my bottling capacity, which I had expected to require me to drink another dozen or so beers prior to bottling.

Now I am pondering the next brew. I am thinking of a mash-extract California Common Beer, and do half the batch as a blueberry, that way I can enter one beer in two categories in the competitions this year. Also, I added a spice tea to a few bottles of my cider, so that I can enter it as two ciders as well. This is all in response to the call for each member of the Edmonton Homebrewer's Guild to enter at least three beers for competition this year. This way, with my Hefeweizen, my Pale Ale, and my ciders, I can make one more beer, flavour half of it blueberry, and enter a total of 6 times, all with making only one more beer this competition season. I think that this is a pretty good way to start, since this will be my first competitive season. If nothing else, I will make the better brewed beers seem good by comparison.

Don't ask me about tires.

Needless to say, I still don't have snow tires, and I hate the tire people at Costco. The dry goods people and optical crowd can stay, but the tire people are useless. I'm going to Fountain Tire, where they, at least, know that wheels come in different shapes and sizes, and that the rim offset matters.

In happier news, Jenn and I got to sleep this weekend. Great glorious long stretches of sleep for hours at a time, with an extra hour falling back as well. It was great.

Another great thing was Jenn's birthday party, where we did a murder-mystery and I got to be the killer. Much food and fun was had by all, thanks to all the people who were there, you made it tons of fun.

For the crowd from Calgary, if the weather holds, we will be arriving on the morning of the Saturday of the long weekend, along with four dozen empty wine bottles, two cats, and Lucy, our demented highway-eater. Plans include Dim sum on Sunday morning, and hanging out with friends I haven't seen in too long. If you think that this may apply to you, you are probably right.

Also, work is keeping me medium-busy with the potential for even more busy in the immediate future, so I'm enjoying that a ton. Meanwhile, I'm trying to get my thesis finished right quick. Hopefully I can get it done right away, but this last minth has not been condusive to finishing. I really don't want to take a whole extra semester, but I guess if I have to, I have to. Trying to avoid it, though.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bawled out for almost buying myself something.

Hey, there, Jenn pointed out that I shouldn't be buying myself anything for the next few months because it's hard enough to shop for presents for me. If any of you really feel like getting me a present, you can always check out my web page, or if you really want to spend an arm and a leg on something that I myself can't afford (at the moment, let's see how the two-incomes thing works out next year) you could get me this. Expensive, AND in US funds. a double hit.

Well, best of the season to you all.

Monday, October 16, 2006

This is how we roll in the C-H-U-K ...

"They called up the white Coupe de Ville at once. Everything was automatic. I could sit in the red-leather driver's seat and make every inch of the car jump, by touching the proper buttons. It was a wonderful machine: Ten grand worth of gimmicks and high-priced Special Effects. The rear windows leaped up with a touch, like frogs in a dynamite pond. The white canvas top ran up and down like a roller-coaster. The dashboard was full of esoteric lights & dials & meters that I would never understand - but there was no doubt in my mind that I was into a superior machine." - HST, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

1- The leather is grey, not red.
2- It has a sunroof, not a cloth-top.
3- It is a Sedan de Ville, Fleetwood, not a Coupe.

Other than that, yeah. And you get to name her.

Rule of thumb: if you have a choice between buying a 15 year old car that cost 9,000 new and a 15 year old car that cost 60,000 new, both of which cost the same now, get the one that used to be 60,000. It is still way more car than the smaller one, and what are you going to do? Drive a $1700 car for years and years yet? C'mon! You are buying this car like seasonal clothes that will be out of style next year.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

An update brought to you without the use of a keyboard.

Believe it or not this blog was written entirely using voice recognition software. Although I had to tell my computer what a blog was, I haven't had to touch my keyboard yet... Which I think is pretty impressive. My using voice recognition software is of course in aid of my dictating documents electronically for work. I suspect that initially this will go slower than my just typing these documents but, that may just be a function of my not normally having a complete sentence in my mind at one time.

One of the problems with this is that it requires a very distinct way of speaking. I'm not really used to speaking this clearly all the time and it will take some getting used to. On the upside, it looks as though if I actually have something to say I will be able to get it down on paper in a reasonably quick way. If I'm not using strange words like blog that didn't even exist in the time that's this program originated, it seems to have little difficulty in recognizing what is that I say. Another interesting thing that I can do with this is control my Windows environment using only my voice. For example, I just opened in close my WordPerfect without having to touch my keyboard.

As an aside I also seem to acquired from work a brand-new laptop computer. Nothing to fancy, mind you, but a more powerful computer than my brother built for me lo these many years ago. It is a 1.7 gigahertz notebook with all the bells and whistles that you get for under grand these days. I'll need to pick up a USB mouse to go with it because I still can't stand using this little thing-I don't even know what you would call it, a track pad? At any rate I seem to have plenty of power for this voice recognition software.

As for work, it has been interesting as one could expect considering that I can't really practice law right now because I'm not insured. As a result I have just been going over files and catching up on a bunch of stuff that I messed well I was not practicing. Not the least amongst these things is the family law act which has made some changes to the way that I will be practicing especially for people who are common law rather than married people seeking a divorce. It is had the effect of replacing a bunch of old statutes (I'm really surprised that this thing wrote down statutes instead of statues!) With one all-encompassing statute that covers areas of spousal support, child support, guardianship, custody and access, and a bunch of miscellaneous stuff that before now was scattered to the winds amongst a bunch of different statutes. I must say that I will not miss The Domestic Relations Act, the Parentage and Maintenance Act, and the family provisions of the Provincial Court Act.

OK I'm kind of choked about this, WordPerfect doesn't seem to be recognizing when I talk to it. It looks like I will have to dictate all my stuff into Dragon Pad, which comes with the voice recognition software, copy it, and then loaded and save it in what ever program I decide to use. That having been said it's still a lot faster than my typing my own documents or even having my secretary transcribe what I've dictated.

Other fun stuff that is going to be going on for me this week includes a big brewing session on Friday evening, and when we have some friends coming over one of whom has no interest in beer or brewing, whose job will be to entertain Jenn for the evening, the other of whom will be assisting me in brewing a batch of North American style pale ale. This is one of my favorite styles of beer, consisting of a malty amber beverage with almost overpowering hop aroma and flavor, with the classic flavor of a North American hop, namely Cascade. The flavor profile is citrusy, and very characteristic of beers brewed in the Pacific Northwest and California such as the classic of the style Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. For a very good local example, try Alley Kat Brewing Co. Full Moon Pale Ale.

Well, I have to get up early tomorrow morning so I need to start getting ready for bed early tonight. Goodnight all and hopefully, this voice recognition program will keep working this well I'm at work.