Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oh, yeah, that's what I was going to blog about before I got distracted!

So I went downstairs on Tuesday morning, the morning that we reached our record low for the day of -29 (a high of -27) with windchils in the -40s, and I tried to start my car. It turned over fine, but the oil was in a solid block. Little did I suspect that overnight the plug I plug my block heater into had STOPPED WORKING! I called in, let them know at work, plugged my car into a different outlet, and headed upstairs. I returned a few minutes later with a lamp to see which outlets were working, and it was just as well I did because the alternative plug wasn't working either. The third try was the charm, as they say, and about an hour and a half later the car reluctantly turned over and caught. Needless to say, I didn't have a super day that day. Today, I walked outside and it was -19 with no wind, and I actually thought to myself, "Well, when did it get so nice out all of a sudden?" I don't want to hear any complaining from Ottawa about the rain, and I don't want to hear any complaining from Vancouver about the snow, because however bad you have it, Edmonton is getting it worse. Yay for you, you're glum because of the rain. Go outside for ten minutes without a jacket. Okay, you back? Are you alive? Then it's better where you are than it is here.

Fish & Chips

While I'm at the reviewing stage, I guess I'll bring myself totally up to date on all the places I've been to in Spruce Grove. My assistant guilted me into going for lunch with her the other Friday because she didn't bring a lunch and Debbie wasn't there to go with. Since I had only brought terrible salad I reluctantly agreed to go. We went to Docherty's, which is a Fish & Chip place on McLeod Avenue. I walked in and knew that I was in my kind of place. First off, the seating is at benches around tables all packed into this space which is open to the fry-room (I hesitate to say kitchen). The walls and parts of the ceiling are covered with souvenir tea-towels from all over the UK and other bits of the commonwealth. "A Geordie's Prayer", "Scots Wa Hae", "The Rules of Cricket" and whatnot sort of thing. Very very authentic. Also authentic is the food, which is heavily into the fried zone. You can also get haggis. In fact, there are few items on the menu which are not fried fish, potatoes, clams, oysters, shrimp, scallops, or onion rings. They would be as follows:Corn fritters, mushy peas, gravy, chicken fingers, haggis, and drinks. 2 draft beers, Moosehead and Newcastle Brown. That's it. Oh, wait, one gem amongst the fried-ness - Mussels in wine butter sauce. Prices include GST and are reasonable in the extreme. At lunch I had a 2 piece fish & chips for $7.25 that would choke a donkey. The chips are home-cut but are pre-blanched for extra goodness. Nothing is on a heat table, the takeout menu admonishes customers to allow 15 minutes for preparation, and if you can't wait to call ahead.

The fish was terrific, the chips were terrific, the decor was terrific. I will definitely be going back to this place, as long as I can get enough other places out of the way on my long journey to utter knowledge of the food environment in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain.

Five pints of Newcastle Brown Ale, because, simply, that's what they serve.

I can't help but feel that I have been giving out a lot of good ratings to these establishments in Spruce Grove, but my feeling is that if the places weren't any good, the town is small enough that word of mouth would kill the weak.

Food Review

I have eaten at J's diner a couple of times now, and I am just getting around to the review. It is a dive-y little hole in the wall across the street from my office next to a little caesar's and a Macs. Naturally, I chose to eat at the locally owned and operated joint. They have a sub counter, a couple of donair meat rotating kebabs, an ice cream counter, and a countertop fry-o-lator. Their menu runs to basically a very few things: Donairs of all varieties as long as you want donair meat. This is not the kind of place where they have chicken breast donairs. Tacos. Subs. Ice Cream. Assorted things that can be fried up from frozen.

The guy who runs it (I'm presuming that this is "J" (which I assume is short for Jalalabad, or something to this effect) speaks an undetermined amount of English, particularly as it applies to non-donair related topics. He works pretty slow, but boy, does he make a mean donair, and I love a good donair.

The decor is Formica, ancient video game, and pool table, with Canadian Geographic for Kids on the TV, and a pull down screen for movie nights. This place is only open late on the weekend - it is strictly a lunch kind of place. There are cases and cases of empty beer bottles stacked on the counters, but no beer on the menu. I would be shocked if the place had a liquor license, but my assistant assures me that years ago when she was underage, it was a choice location to hang out and score no-ID beers. My feeling on that is that the beer is generally behind the counter in the meat cooler, and a person with the appropriate $4 a bottle could get what they needed.

All in all, this is my kind of dingy little hole. The dingier the hole, the better the food, is the general rule, and this place has proved no exception. It gets four pints of strong middle-eastern coffee and one can of crappy bootleg beer.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

More reviews and a brief note on my first court appearance in two years.

Okay, first thing's first: I lost. Bigtime. I have never seen a chambers application before when one side was not called on to speak, and neither had opposing counsel. There. Done. That having been said, I don't think I would have brought the application if it had been mine to make, but it was already in progress when I arrived, and I inherited the file.

On to more important matters: Reviewing independent eataries in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain.

First, Honshu - a sushi and Japanese cuisine joint in Spruce Grove.

How good could it possibly be, you ask? Better than Tokyo Express, better than T&T market sushi counter, better than safeway or 7-11. All in all, pretty OK. Better than anywhere I ate in Vancouver or Victoria? No. Not really. That having been said, it is a Sushi place in Spruce Grove, and better than one might expect. I give it three 500 ml cans of Kirin Lager, but the kind brewed in Canada for export to the US, not the kind from Japan.

Second: Linda's Kitchen.

I discovered Linda's kitchen because I assumed that there would be some kind of food court in the Mall in Spruce Grove. I was right, in a sense. There are the appropriate tables, and two food outlets next to each other. One is a Grandma Lee's. The other is Linda's Kitchen. Linda was (incidentally) cooking. The menu runs to all day breakfast, sandwitches, burgers, perogies and kubasa, and an evening choice of pork chops, hamburger steak, or pork cutlets with boiled veg and a baked potato. The place is like a cut rate diner right there in the food court. It even had real plates instead of paper, and the fries were hand cut right in front of me. The downside of that was the fact that the fries were not pre-blanched, so they weren't super crispy. A large fries, incidentally, is two and a half POUNDS of potatoes.

My fries were uninspiring, but the burger was terrific. It was a hand-made patty just like my mom used to make from scratch. Frozen patties just don't come in that shape. The thing about this place is that all the food appears to be made from scratch, which is odd in today's world of eating establishments. I had no notion of a real handmade burger patty today, but there it was sitting in front of me. This place is as authentic as it gets, but maybe not as good as it might be. Therefore it gets five pints of old-fashioned homebrewed beer made with a can of blue ribbon malt extract and a lot of table sugar and bakers yeast. It's super authentic, and just what you remembered from years ago, but a modern touch or a little more attention to detail might not go astray.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I'm not sure whether to be happy that my cat is getting more willing to sleep snuggled up with me, or to regret the fact that I will never sleep well again. My cat Koda started off sleeping next to the bathroom door down the hall from my bedroom. Slowly, however, over the course of several months, he has crept up the hallway through the bedroom door, until he was sleeping in my night-table on the little shelf where my books are supposed to go. Then, slowly but surely, he slipped from there to the foot of the bed, until last night when he was curled up next to my chest. I wouldn't mind, except that Koda isn't exactly a cuddly cat. He refuses, for example, to curl up on top of someone. Instead, if he wants to be where I am sleeping, he will hit me, repeatedly, with his paws. No claws...yet...just bapping me in the face and waking me up. I think he has decided that I am sleeping on his side of the bed, and that my sleep patterns will suffer for this indefinitely. I have two remedies for this behaviour. FIrst, if he is within arm's reach when this happens, I grab him and give him a big hug, trapping him and making him feel all uncomfortable and wanting to get away. If that doesn't work, he gets the sprayer. Unfortunately, the sprayer has been used so much that it takes several pulls on the trigger to get it spraying, and by then he has hidden. Not that getting him to leave me alone wasn't the original goal, but spraying my cat with water is just so satisfying.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Okay. First thing's first - I'M FINE!

But last night at 1:30 in the morning I was in an ambulence taking me to the hospital.

I had woken up with no feeling in my arm, which is not unusal, but what followed was. The feeling wouldn't come back. I shook it and played with it for a while, but to no avail, so I got up and went into the bathroom so I wou;dn't wake up Jenn with my strangeness. As I was sitting there, after about 5-6 minutes, I felt a throbing in the vein on the back of my upper arm, and then a rush pf blood to my arm, which I thought, "great, good, I can go back to..." and then I came to with greyed out vision and my head between my knees and a pounding in my chest. My first thought was, "Okay, now, which arm is it that hurts when you have a heart attack?" WHich I cou;dn't remember, so I levered myself up, and - feeling somewhat better - moved over to my computer, and fired it up and searched the internet for "Heart Attack Symptoms." I wasn't super worried, but I kept thinking of my cousin distant - by marriage- who had died extremely young of a heart attack.

Sitting at the computer and waiting for it to come up with search results, the room greyed out again and I almost fell out of my chair. At that point I staggered into the bedrom and pounded on the wall yelling at Jenn to get up, then I collapsed onto the bed in a cold sweat, pale as a ghost. Needless to say, Jenn was a little shaken up by this, and asked if I needed to go to the hospital, to which I replied yes. She looked at me, saw the shaking, paleness, clamminess, and whatnot, and suggested that maybe an ambulance ought to be in order, to which I agreed, which I think frightened her even more, since I am NEVER wanting to go to the hospital, and if we go, we can damn well drive ourselves, since the hospital is only about 6 blocks from us.

About three minutes later, two very nice paramedics came up with sirens blazing, and hooked me up to every electrode and device known to man, which showed, among other things, that my heart was fine, my blood pressure normal, and my heart rate okay. They took me in anyway, figuring that bloodwork might be in order, but they didn't turn on the siren or anything, since I was walking down to the ambulence, and hadn't passed out agian.

After a remarkably short wait (even though everyone ahead of us went first) We were seen first by an affable if rather large male RN with more blood pressure monitoring gear, and then surprisingly soon by the doctor on watch.

Apparantly if your upper extremities fall really really asleep, and apparently this mostly happens to lightweights who drink more than they are accustomed and fall asleep on a limb "really hard", and your neck nerves crick up too, blood can start pooling in your lower body. When the blood eventually rushes back into your limb, your blood pressure temporarily drops, and you can grey-out and even collapse. Apparantly this isn't that uncommon, although I have never heard of someone passing out from having their arm asleep before. Side effects? Apparently my arm will be tingly for some time since it was so cut off from blood, but if it stays like that for more than a week to go see my family doctor.

So bottom line, no heart attack, no stroke, do broken off blood clots, just fell asleep on my arm. Kind of upsetting, though, a but embarassing that I went to the hospital because my arm fell asleep (although to be fair, I went to the hospital because I passed out twice). Nice thing, though, is that the emergency room at the Mis on a Friday night, unlike the ones at the university and grey nuns, is not packed with bleeding drunk people. It's just not that kind of hospital. The guy next to us, however, and his rather-too-perfectly-turned-out-at-3:30-in-the-morning girlfriend (Jenn initially thought maybe escort, although genuine familiar concern seemed to rule that out) seemed to be ODing on something clubbish, what with all the vomiting and him telling the girl to go to the triage nurst and tell them "oh, and tell them I took, like three puffs on this, too" handing her his ventolin. Yeah. He didn't seem to be having an asthma attack, more of a shaking vomiting attack.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Obligatory Political Blog Entry

That's Democrats 2, Republicans 0. See you in 2008, President Canard.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Edmonton Homebrewers Guild

It is days like today, when I have drank a great deal of beer on a Monday night, that I am grateful for the love and forebearance of my wife, who puts up with my monthly beer-a-thons and even drives me home after. Today, I drank beers from the ridiculous to the sublime, and served up a few of my own. It was real good.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Stupid mid-winter fire alarm.

Last night, about 1:45, the stupid fire alarm went off. We wnet through our standard run for the exit, and went to sit in the truck with the cats. Turns out, it was somebody pulling the downstairs back hallway fire alarm, and since that door still doesn't lock after all these months, it could have been any random asshole off the streets. Hopefully the thought of paying for false alarm after false alarm will result in thoughts of FIXING THE BACK DOOR!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Jenn's Birthday Dinner, Redux

Jenn's birthday week-long celebration has come chugging to a conclusion with her final birthday dinner Tuesday night at Tropika, which has three locations: Edmonton South, Edmonton West, and Calgary on Centre Street. We went to Edmonton South. This was our second foray into the Tropika. First time, we had satay, home-style chicken, something else, and nsai goering. This time, we had satay, Malaysia bread with a crazy tamarind sauce, chicken and potato curry, and stuffed tofu with peanut sauce. I can't really go into detail on any of these things because normally my method is to nit-pick the failings of various places. This place is more awesomer than just about any other ethnic place I've ever been. The food is tasty, plentiful, and while not cheap, it is a good value. The food overwhelms you with flavours you don;t recognize (tamarind, lemongrass, coconut, pandan leaf, and others in strange combination make up a lot of the base) Really really good.

Five pints of Tiger Lager, everyone's favorite Malaysian beer.