Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Well, two turkey dinners down, and one to go, now that we were invited (at 8:45 on Christmas Day) to a boxing day feast with Jenn's Dad's Brother's side of the family.  A good time is promised to be had by all, but if I see another bite of turkey, I think I will go mental.  If you'll excuse me, I got two bottles of scotch for Christmas, and I need to get to work on that.  They aren't just going to drink themselves.  

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Frozen Projectile Vomit

You know that feeling you get when you walk out to your car on a brisk -32 degree morning and you look in the back seat of your car and it appears that someone has had massive projectile vomiting and the vomit is now frozen to your seats, carpet, door panels and ceiling?  

I do.

Turns out I left a can of cola under the back seat during our last road trip to Calgary and it went off in the middle of the night, spraying frozen cola into the upholstery.  I did not have a good morning that morning.  I had to use my ice scraper to get the coke off the seats and roof.  I was not a happy camper.  Once it is above freezing for a few days, I will have to shampoo the whole back of the car.  


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What should we be able to do? A request for input:

Yesterday, our articling student at work was late.  I was later, but that is not the issue.  The reason she was late was that her car would not start and needed to be boosted because of the cold.  Instead, her Mother drover her to work.  They had a working car and jumper cables, but did not boost the car themselves.  Why not?  "My dad wasn't there."


Is that were we are as a society that a young lady of reasonable intelligence can't jump start a car without her father doing it for her?

It got me to thinking, and chatting with a handful of people, what should a person be able to do by the time they reach adulthood?  We came up with a list.  I hope that my readers will provide any additional suggestions.

1. Jump start a car.  This is important because you can use it to help people, help yourself, avoid a 5 hour wait for the auto club, and if a good Samaritan is doing it wrong to your vehicle, they might set your engine on fire before they get your car started.

2. Change a tire.  See 1.

3. Drive a manual transmission.

4. Ride a bicycle.

5. Swim 100 meters without stopping.  This could save your life.

6. Cook a meal for 8 from scratch.  One that is reasonably impressive.  Everyone needs a party piece, and the skills you learn doing this will probably carry over to any number of other preparations.

7. Start a campfire.  Not in heavy winds without matches or tools, just under normal circumstances and without making yourself look like an ass.  I have taught bright 11 year olds to do this, you should be able to as well.

8. Chop wood without injuring yourself.  Again, 11 year olds.

9. Eat a formal dinner without embarrassing yourself.  Come on now people, is this really difficult?

10. Tie a necktie.  If you are a female, you must be able to do it in reverse for your partner who lacks this skill.  It is never acceptable to tie a tie once and leave it that way on the hanger.  It will damage the tie, shortening its life and creasing it in terrible ways, and you will look silly because of it.

11. Iron a shirt without damaging it.

12. Polish your shoes with a paste polish, not the kind that squeezes out of a bottle onto a sponge.  There is a reason they still make the old-fashioned stuff, it works a hundred times better.

13. The next two made the list because of some of the younger people I have met who have problems with them.  Tie your shoes.  Velcro and slip-on skate shoes have not made shoelaces obsolete.  It is also not acceptable to leave the shoes tied and treat them as slip-ons because, first it makes you look silly, and second it will result in damage to your shoes, feet and posture.

14. Tell analog time without thinking about it.  If you have to use the words "big hand" and "little hand" in your head, you need to work on this skill.

15. Tell 'Military' or 24 hour time without thinking about it.  When you are at the airport looking at the flight arrivals screen, you don't want to ask stupid questions.

16. Play an instrument and read sheet music.  This may be the most difficult set of skills on the list, but if you master them you have achieved something of value.

17. Perform general first aid.  You could save a life.  It may be yours.

18. Tell three jokes suitable for mixed company.  They should be funny, and you should be able to tell them with some panache.

19. Hammer in a nail without injuring yourself or bending it in half.

20. Make change without electronic assistance.  I am constantly shocked at how many people in the retail trade can't do this - a skill that takes one minute to learn.

21. Tip appropriately without asking silly questions or using a calculator.

22. Sew on a button and hem a pair or pants.  I admit that I cannot do the latter.  It irks me that I have to pay someone to do it for me.

My dad, being somewhat more frontiers-y than I am, made three additional suggestions, which I include in decreasing order of my own perception of their relevance.

23. Load and fire a firearm safely.  I actually agree with this for a number of reasons and was waffling about whether to include it myself.  First, when the zombie apocalypse comes, everyone will need to know how to do this, it just makes sense.  Second, even in the absence of zombies, I can conceive of social circumstances where a person might be called upon to fire a firearm.  I don;t want to be the fellow who doesn't join the lads  for a day's trap shooting because I am embarrassed by my lack of knowledge.  Ultimately, firearms are still somewhat prevalent in north American society, less so in Canada, but still there, and it would benefit a person to have a working knowledge of something so potentially dangerous that they may interact with.  That having been said, the other reason is that shooting guns is totally fun.  I don't believe in private citizens using firearms for "protection", I don't hunt, all I do is enjoy the act of shooting.  

24. Operate a chainsaw.  Arguably it is more likely that a person will be called upon to operate a chainsaw than a firearm, but I don't foresee the likelihood of a social interaction involving chainsaws.  That having been said, if the power is out and you need firewood, this is a handy skill to have.

25. Castrate cattle.  What can I say?  My dad put in some farm time as a child.  I cannot reasonably foresee any person being called upon unexpectedly to castrate cattle, nor can I foresee someone placed in that situation being left to the task without instruction.

There you have it.  I definitely need a new #25.  Help if you will.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Well, it had to end sooner or later.

Up until now, the weather has been enough to make Ralph Klein believe in global warming.  That will change on the weekend when it is set to drop to -30 for the first time this year.  

That more or less puts the kibosh on any brewing I was planning to do on the weekend.  What may have to get done is the laundry that has been piling up and the ironing that I have been avoiding for so long.  All that aside, I can honestly say that the Christmas season is starting to get a little dull ever since I finished my shopping.  We aren't even hosting a dinner this year, so there is really nothing to panic about.

This means that I will need to get something going.  I need to plan a party.  Yes.  Party.  Jenn will love that.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grey Cup Weekend

It was a long weekend.  Not very relaxing.  On the up side, on Sunday, Nick and I fired up a batch of Beer - 8 C Extra Special Bitter - which means that we have finished one entire category of beer from the list - English pale ale.  It smells really good, too.

I have also managed to lay my hands on some English "special Roast" and "Brown Malt" which will expand some of the types of beer I can make right now.  That having been said, I am thinking of trying to brew some lager this winter as one corner of my basement is reliably about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so that opens up a large portion of previously accessed beers.

Also fun is the fact that I seem to be settling files at a tremendous rate, so that I might have room to take on new clients after Christmas.  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Maybe I can use this parchment to keep cookies from sticking...

So here I am, with yet another university degree on my wall.  BA, LLB, LLM.  How does this affect my life?  New business cards.  Any other way?  Not really.  I'm published in the library of Parliament, does that count?

To celebrate, gonna make beer and watch the Grey Cup.  Not quite sure what kind of beer yet.  Maybe ESB, maybe porter.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Christmas shopping and beer

Yesterday, Jenn and I celebrated our Sunday by going to Costco and doing our Christmas shopping.  There are few things I like more than going to Costco at Christmas and finding some of the best and most acclaimed books of the year (and I am thinking particularly of cookbooks) for about half of what I would pay anywhere else.  I also love it when their cheese selection goes from 20 to 60 overnight.  That makes me happy.

When we got home, Jenn helped me to bottle two batches of beer, an Imperial (or double) India Pale Ale, clocking in at 7.3% ABV and well over 100 IBU, which had a lovely grapefruit aroma and is called Amarillo Sunset, and a Belgian Golden Strong of about 9% which I haven't named yet.  Needless to say, large bottles of these two should be treated with caution.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obligatory Obama Victory Post

I finally feel as though our long global nightmare - the failed experiment called neoconservatism - might starting the slow but inevitable road to the end.  The death-throes might linger, but the next time the same ideas come around, hopefully it will be under some new moniker.  I will be satisfied with a couple of terms of centre-left classical liberalism with some social conscience thrown in for good measure.  

Obama invoked Lincoln, when he spoke about the "Better angels" of America's nature.  It has been a long time since most of the world has seen that from the American administration.  I hope that the new administration can remind the rest of the world what we love about America - not the power or wealth or culture (trust me, it ain't any of those things) - but the real ideology of America that people are basically good, that if left alone most people will do the right thing, and that if you aren't hurting anyone, more power to you.  The Americans I have ever dealt with have been kind, generous, more or less charming, and most have a fascinating optimism about the world and its perfectibility.  I love that.  

I have heard America compared to a big, friendly, badly trained dog.  You might get slobbered on, things might get knocked over or your yard dug up, but mostly intentions are good if you don't annoy it too much.  For too many years, the dog has gone from a friendly pup to a fear-biting and suspicious pound dog.

Lets keep our fingers crossed for the good dog to come back. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Two more beers and other news

On Thanksgiving Nick and I brewed a Belgian Golden Strong, a style you may have seen in the store as "Fin Du Monde" or "Delerium Tremens" or "Duvel"  And clocks in at 8% + alcohol.  The other one we made was an Imperial India Pale Ale, a style developed in the US which has an awful lot of hops in it.  It was our way of celebrating the hop harvest and having five pounds in the freezer at once, a pound of which all went into one batch of beer.  Fabulous.  It smells great.

The other news is that the principal of the school where Jenn had so many problems last year is no longer the principal of that or any school, a change that occurred in the middle of October, no less, which seems to me to be an indication that there were some serious problems with her, probably from many sides.  Jenn just figures that her victory is complete.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Scoring one for the good guys:

Ok... remember back a few years, and the latest greatest thing to come from LucasArts was "X-Wing" which put you in the seat of the fighter spacecraft of the Rebel Alliance?  That was fun and all, but a couple of years later, a much more fun game came out... similar in most ways, similar but improved controls and graphics... but instead, for the first time in franchise history, you were on the side of the Evil Empire.  It felt good.  Oh, the evil.  Bringing order to chaos, imposing your will on radical elements and pacifying cultures through force, just like the Republican Party.

Well, lets just say it can be fun to be the bad guy.  

Which is why I feel odd having just plonked down hard earned cash for that most counter-cultural of desktop computers.  Yes, folks, I am now a Mac User.  For the above-noted evil-empire-type reasons, I have been a PC user for many years, but now that I am married, I no longer get my way, and I am instead forced to embrace the attitudes and OS preferences of my beloved.  And here it is.  I have bought into the Rebel Alliance of computers.

How is it?

Not bad.

Although the selection of game titles is thin.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Yesterday I picked up my new (to me) suit and sport coat from the tiny Vietnamese tailor with foot thick glasses.  The suit isn't anything special, Arnold Brandt, a made in Canada number, not outsourced, grey, with pick-stitching on the lapels, which the tailor was good enough to do the cuffs on... a suit that at Harry Rosen would have listed about $800 or up.

He wouldn't stop raving about my sport-coat, though.  "You no a tailor, so you don't know about these things, but I see inside!  That very good.  You buy good like that and you wear 10 Year!"

Oh, who made the sport coat?  Samuelshon.  Rack price, $999.00.  Picked it up for around $130.00.  

I am so going back to that store.

The other thing is that they have a selection of formalwear that they blow out really really cheap.  Good tuxes for $100-$150, which means that it would be cheaper to buy one than to rent, which means that I am on her "look for this for me" list.

I went over all this with the owner just after my purchases and after mentioning that I only wear vintage cufflinks.  She walks me back to the formalwear section, and takes a look in my size and says, "There's nothing here that you would want.  You want a shawl collar with satin facings, right?"  

Okay, first, yes.  Second, am I really that easy, was it the vintage cufflink thing?  Third, is it odd that a man barely in his thirties who is currently sitting around in a t-shirt that says "Drunken Lazy Bastard" in block letters across the back has an opinion about this?

Yeah, I'm going back there, but I promise, only for ties right now.  (ties you can't even buy in Canada, $12.00)

Oh dear... My spending money budget is going to go out the window.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The new black

Bonus time has come and gone, new appliances s have been purchased, and the subject of a soon-to-come post has been expensively embraced by the family. It has come time for Owen to consider the fact that since beginning his law practice five years ago, he has not been able to afford a new suit.

"But Owen", you say, "surely a successful Barrister such as yourself can afford to buy any number of quality work-related garments! And anyway, you took two years off to "find yourself" and "get married" and "get a Masters" and "Goof Off"".

Fair enough. There have been some new shirts ($1.00 each at a charity sale), shoes (Florshiem Half-Brogues in Black, and a re-soling of my Florshiem Oxfords - leaving me with enough dress shoes to last me for years), barrister's waistcoat (Firm paid), an overcoat (Navy, good wool, no cashmere, on sale at the Bay on Boxing Day) some ties (gifts) and gold vintage Tiffany and Heirloom Cloisonne cuff links (also gifts, and ones I cherish).

My suits, however, have seen better days.

The cuffs on the pants, for example, are starting to go. Also, when I bought my suits, I was about 35 pounds heavier, and it shows in the cut. Even with the pants taken in once, they don't fit well, and I look like I am wearing my big brother's clothes. Even my best dress shits, and my only french cuffs, are wearing out.

I could, you know, go out and buy a suit at any time for cheap. Hell, Moores sells them for $139.00 four times a year. The problem with a cheap suit, and I have owned cheap suits, is that they make you Feel cheap. Further, the website describes the availability of "High Performance" suit fabrics. I am loath to buy a suit at a store that will be willing to sell me a suit in ripstop nylon or red and yellow sharkskin corduroy. The problem I have is one of being spoiled for life. It happened like this:

For years, I remember my dad coming home from work in his uniform. Unlike some of the dads in the neighborhood (I lived near an army base) his uniform was one of a starkly conservative dark business suit with a solid coloured shirt, barrel cuffs, point collars, well-shined shoes (I remember watching him sit with his shoe shine box, polishing his shoes, it stuck with me...) latterly the suits were Samuelsohn, whose off-brand - Cambridge - I wear now. (If I wanted to buy Samuelsohn today, I would be looking at $1800.00, which I can't really afford at this point) The only nod to his up-from-the-ranks background at the company was the only briefcase I have ever known him to carry, a brown plastic Samsonite, engraved as a presentation piece, and of such obvious and crippling sentimental value that carrying it in the latter stages of his career could only have been described as eccentric.

We all turn into our fathers, I suppose. I remember as a young teenager my dad explaining why he would spend that kind of money for a suit, "You only have to buy it once." Little did I know that this was true in more ways than one. Not only are good suits durable in the extreme, but they are as addictive as cigarettes (the other part of my dad's uniform, being a pack of Craven "A" King Sized). Once you wear a good suit, the idea that it is uncomfortable or awkward to wear a suit and tie is forever abolished, and you will generally refuse to wear a suit that does not conform to your newly raised standards.

He still wears Sameulsohn, my dad, creature of habit that he is. A sport coat on sale at Ed Williams in Calgary that feels wonderful, and will last another 20 years. I think back to my dad's unused suits and regret that we no longer wear the same size as one another, as we did for a brief period in 1993.

When I graduated from law school in 2003, I scammed a line of credit from my bank, "I'm starting my first job out of law school in two weeks and I need walking around money". Little did they realize what an articling student is paid. Flush with good credit, I lashed out for a car (black) Johnson & Murphey shoes to complement my Florshiems, and two Cambridge brand suits. One Charcoal worsted, and one summer-weight pale grey. I have never spent so much money on clothes in one day before or since. Not even in most years. I was hooked from that day forward.

And now, here I am, married, homeowner, piled with responsibility, with little hope of satisfying the desire I have (some would say conformist snobbery, but I reserve that label for those wearing Prada and D&G, conservative business attire is hardly conformist these days) for fine woolen goods. There is a ray of hope, though. I have just discovered on the internet a store, four blocks from my office, that sells, "gently used" men's designer suits. Armani, Zenga, (Yawn) Hugo Boss... and down at the bottom of the page, "Samuelsohn".

It could be worse, a pack a day of cigarettes is still a two-Samuelsohn-a-year equivalent.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Unexpected expenses 101

Or, rather, $375.00, the tab for a new as-is clearance floor model washing machine.

Funny how you get used to being able to do laundry whenever you feel like it without searching for quarters and going for a drive, isn't it? Well, on Sunday, our laundry machine decided that it's drain pump would be better off making a burning electric motor smell than moving water out of the washer. As an entry level washer, it would cost more to fix than to replace, so off I go to the local furniture store, let's call it "The Cinder-Block", where I plonked down my much abused plastic for the cheapest thing in the department, which happens to be a rather nice washer marked down $200.00 because the bleach dispenser cap is missing. I can mix up my own bleach, thank you very much.

The down side of this is that they don't deliver to my area (who does, indeed) so I get to spend my Saturday moving laundry machines up and down the stairs to my basement.

All this comes at the same time as Jenn finding out that she will not be needed to cover the leave she had been subbing for for the first two weeks of school, leaving her at a .17 FTE, without benefits, and us a little poor for right now. Our best hope for not having to subsist on the crumbs we can scrape out of the bottom of the toaster will be my quarter-end bonus next Tuesday. Here's hoping it's not small.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I gots those four-time stage-crossin' mortarboardin' blues...

Against my better judgment, I have decided to attend my November 20th convocation. I now have two attendees and three tickets. The third ticket is up for grabs, and there may be more available. If anyone wants to be bored to tears for no good reason, just let me know. Personally, I think convocation is just a scam to get another $35.00 fee out of me and to make me sit around wasting a whole day on a work day when I could be out getting people divorced.

This one will make # 4. High school, BA, LLB. and now LL.M. Oddly, the one I seem to actually remember is high school.

The other news is that Jenn has a job full time staring Tuesday. She will be teaching .829 FTE at an elementary school covering what appears at this point to be a long-term leave. There may be more permanent jobs show up soon, we don't know. Next year is looking good because 6 new Jr and Sr high schools re opening in Edmonton and there will be a wave of retirements, too, most likely, so there will probably be a ton of positions opening up, at which she will get an insider's crack, being employed by the board and all. So this year we eat, next yer, maybe even more.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Test results

Some of you may remember my April 22 Beer Judge Certification Program exam. While I was away camping in Fairmont, the results came in by e-mail. I scored 83/100 on the tasting portion and 90/100 on the written portion. What this means is that (if you apply last year's statistics to this one) I am in the top 10% or so of exam writers. This thrilled me to no small extent.

Also camping was good, but I ate wayyyyyy too much everything.

Friday, August 22, 2008


As of August 22, 2008, I have completed all of the requirements of Master of Laws. My convocation is on November 20, and if you want to celebrate, I think I may be feeling partyish at that point. This is the culmination of 4 years of research, hard work and procrastination, and I feel like I have accomplished something. About 6 students per year start their LL.M at the U of A, and every time someone graduates, an announcement is made via e-mail to the rest of the students. About 6 people have completed in the 4 years I have been at it. I suspect that the drop-out rate is around 75%, on that basis.

So, big kudos for me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hemi-demi-semi done his thesis, he quavered...

I handed in my revisions Tuesday, today (Wednesday) got a call from my advisor saying he would call back tonight with an hour or so worth of revisions still needed, but nothing major, which means (If he ever does call) that I may be able to hand in my thesis by this Friday, rather than next and by doing so:
1) Be able to actually enjoy camping;
2) Be flipping well finished.

Also today, I went to court and actually WON! Completely won, like, on everything. And it was actually over an amount of money worth fighting over, too. I called my client to let them know we won, and they seemed kinda noncommittal. If I was about to get as much money as they re, I would be flipping thrilled.

This week seems to be my week of settling files. About 2 per day. If this keeps up, I will be able to take new clients again soon. And other clients fired me, which works just as well for reducing workload, if not more so because inevitably it is on high-conflict files that you get fired, and dropping one of those is as good as dropping three or four regular files.

Plus people seem to actually have recognized the fact that they have to pay their lawyer in a timely and complete fashion, which is a giant bonus when you are trying to justify your existence. A fellow needs to do more around the office than look pretty and drink his weight in beer

Thursday, August 14, 2008


How has the thesis writing been going? Good during the weekend, not as good weeknights, which has put me a little behind. I have therefore ordered a "Do it yourself long weekend kit" consisting of telling your boss you aren't coming in on Friday, a box of Popsicles, and 72 straight hours of quality time with my word processor. On the up side, I seem to be getting ahead at work, although I have yet to find a good balance between hyper-busy and kinda bored. At least hyper-busy means that I might make some bonus money this quarter to keep the wolves at bay. I seem to have managed to wind up in court four days next week. Not sure how that happened. Then we are going camping, which should be fun.

My main complaint lately is that the Olympics are too cool, and i wind up staying up past my bedtime to watch. I think they need to make sports less interesting.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Owen's Thesis

So it turns out that my defence was not on the 12th, but rather on the 1st, which was today. This was not a surprise to me, it just didn't make it onto my blog. The defence itself took 3 hours and the verdict was passed subject to revisions, which is exactly what I expected to happen. The practical outcome of this is that I have one more round of revisions to do to my thesis before I am done, but I don't have to go back before the committee. I will, however, be disappearing from view and spending most of my time working on the bloody thing some more until it is done. It could take me a few days, it could take me two weeks, but I will not be doing anything else until I am done, because I don't want to have to jump through the hoops needed to re-register for an additional semester after the technical end date of my program.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Today I finished the formatting for my thesis, tomorrow, I hand in a copy at FGSR, August 12, I defend, I submit almost right away after that.

Wow. Almost done. I wonder what I will feel guilty about not doing once it's done.

To celebrate, I will make beer.

Monday, June 30, 2008

More boring things that only interest me

This Canada Day weekend, I have worked on finishing my thesis (target date: Wednesday) and made two batches of beer, an Oatmeal Stout and Southern English Brown Ale This brings me to a total of 7 of 80, or almost 10% of the way to my goal. The addition of an electronic thermometer has really helped to have the beer turn out properly. Bottling of the Special bitter will be next weekend, and if i have enough bottles, I will bottle the stout too.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Our latest happenings and some beer

Just to keep people up to date, Jenn returned safely from the United states, although not without incident. Due to construction in Chicago, her bus from South Bend was delayed by almost an hour and she missed her check-in for the flight to Calgary. You can imagine the stream of increasingly agitated texts that I got. The good folks at United Airlines were good enough to stand her by for the direct flight to Edmonton leaving three hours later, which still had her home 45 minutes early. The bottom line there is that the only reason she wasn't on that flight in the first place was because it would have been an extra $300 if we had booked it that way.

When she got home, Jenn started in on Physio for her arm, which has been going well - and her arm is now out of the sling most of the time. She did have a bad ear infection, a flu, and what appears now to be a lung infection. I haven't caught any of this yet, but I assume it is only a matter of time until I do.

Jenn's work has been winding down as she is now supervising exams and shutting down the classroom for the summer. She won't be taking over the Mat Leave she had been promised and pressured to take, because they found a Catholic candidate at the last minute. She has, however, set up a program where she will be teaching band for distance-learning students throughout Edmonton, which means that she has a foot in the door at Edmonton Public. She has also applied to teach summer school and to do a few other sundry things to scrape together what (If I were to be earning it) I would call Beer Money, but I'm sure she would be more likely to spend on other more useful things.

At my work, a new articling student started at the beginning of the week, which has been kind of interesting. It really makes you appreciate how steep the learning curve was for you at the start of your career to see someone else go through it. I have also started taking new clients again for the first time in about three months.

Finally the beer News - After careful consideration of our ongoing likelihood of selling the house on any given day, I decided that my need to make my own beer outweighed my need for a spotless house, and I had Nick the Mighty Brewer over for some brewing. We hit Style 8B (English Special Bitter) with the following recipe:

4.4 KG 2 row pale malt
227 G Dark Munich
227 G Med Crystal
60 G Chocolate Malt

Single infusion Mash at 153 F

11 G Warrior @ 16.3% 60 Min
11 G Fuggles @ 4.5% & 7 G Hallertau @ 3.7% 20 Minutes
11 G Fuggles @ 4.5% & 7 G Hallertau @ 3.7% 1 minute

It seems pretty good so far. I'll let you know when I bottle if it tastes any good.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Embracing a different lifestyle

For the next three days, I will be embracing the "no-wife-at-home" lifestyle, which I can confirm isn't as much fun as the "my wife is in the same city as me" lifestyle. I don't handle these brief returns to single life particularly well, being a big needy tool like I am. While many men might relish a few days away from the old ball-and-chain, I rather dread the backslide into unfortunate single-life habits that actually living with someone prevents. For one thing, I haven't had any vegetables today. In fact, I think I will go eat some fruit just to keep from going totally feral. I feel a bit like Red Foreman when he said, "What is it God? It's Okay to eat meat and beer and cheese? Okay, I'll tell her..."

The trip to the Airport started out all wrong, with Jenn leaving her tickets and documents on the kitchen counter. I'm glad she had remembered to pack her passport, because I forgot to check for it on my trip back into the house to find the tickets.

On top of my already starting to live like a university student who has been turned loose in a friend's parent's house for the weekend unsupervised with a key to the liquor cabinet, to make matters worse, the text messages I am getting from Jenn are becoming increasingly alarming.

15:51 "Hey, I arrived at ND... Everyone was in the basement because of the severe tornado warning..."

16:44 "Can you contact the travel medical insurance people for me, I think I need to go to the hospital..."

18:00 "I'm a the hospital, and there are injured babies all over the place..."

The trip to the hospital is unrelated to the tornadoes, - ear infection - but I'm not sure about the injured babies. I keep expecting to turn on the news and see that the dead are rising from the grave to feast on the flesh of the living in Indiana. I'm just glad we chunked the extra $22.00 for the travel medical... I don't relish the thought of an un-insured hospital trip in the good-old USA.

This does have the effect of making the third trip to the hospital, and as we all know, bad things come in threes. My finger, Jenn's Shoulder, Jenn's ear. Now we should be clear for at least a month without going to any emergency rooms.

And now, for just a bit of out-shouting, for some generally unrecognized co-bloggers and friends who deserve some recognition, especially as I don't blog too much these days, and I don't have the long distance plan to call them anymore:

Malcolm, you old giant, next time I'm in town we're hitting Wild Rose, I met one of the higher-ups at a beer judging, and I am commanded to show up for a pint at the taproom.

Speaking of Brewers, Brian - congratulations on finishing your exams.

Ms. Mayhem, as you are now my official Vancouver connection, you may be imposed upon to direct me to excellent sushi and Indian next time I am in town. Take Heed. Also hug Mr. Tall for me next time you see him.

My Brother Doesn't
Update His Blog Very Much
Even Though he should.

Fabsuz - I promise to show you a good time next time you are in Edmonton - and don't give me that "I'm not going to be there" crap... we know that is all lies.

and to Dree and Goose, who prove that a friend you haven't met is not necessarily a stranger,
Dree: I look forward to seeing the upcoming knitting, I am strongly considering compounding the interest on the beer you owe me and taking it in the form of mittens and a place to stay the next time I am coming to the festival in Canso, and

Goose: You are in our (choose one - completely secular thoughts / prayers - whichever you would prefer.) as you welcome Fetus into non-fetus status.

Jenn just texted me an update telling me that
1) Yes, she has an ear infection.
2) It would have ruptured by morning.
3) She has seen the doctor and Pharmacist.
4) Drug prices in the US are unconcionable.

So if all of you can keep us in your (totally secular thoughts/prayers) (at your discretion) It would be much appreciated at this, our time of ear infections and separation.

Friday, May 30, 2008

In unrelated News

Notwithstanding Jenn's busted up wing, I decided to be the standard husband and go drink beer on weeknights. As a judge in the BJCP, I have certain responsibilites, which just happen to inculde dringing 47 different beers in 3 days, and giving each one serious consideration. Tonight, I get to clean the house, which needs it in a bad way after having been torn apart for painting, and then neglected by the only able-bodied person in the house in favour of beer.

Oh, and I forgot, on my last post, whoever had a double pick of Jenn/dislocation and Owen/electrocution is the overall winner in the pool.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


So many of you know that Jenn and I were having a crowd over to paint yesterday. Many of you will also know that I am not generally known as the most careful or graceful person in the world, and that home improvement of any variety seems to only make my clumsiness worse. The question therefore is,

"Who had 'Owen falls off the Ladder while painting and has to go to the hospital' in the pool?"

Because that person would NOT win.

The winner is, "Jenn falls down the stairs and dislocates her shoulder while trying to carry curtains to the basement to put in the wash."

Anyway, long story short, Jenni s 6 weeks in a sling, and is pissed about that, we didn't get nearly the painting we had hoped to done being several hands short, but we did manage to get most of the downstairs and upstairs hallway and get a start on the master bedroom. A particular thanks goes out to Jocelyn, who sat with Jenn and tried to keep her from hyperventilating while I proceeded to completely lose it.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Operation: Carboy drop.

Or, in reality, Carboy drop, then operation - to-wit 6 stitches in my little finger of my left hand. Starting to hurt some. Tylenol 3 should be kicking in pretty soon. I'm fine. Don't worry. I still have more fingers than average.

Friday, April 18, 2008


After a break from work (and blogging) I am back to the old salt mines, but the reduced pressure of no new files has allowed me to get some older stuff sorted out. Soon files will be closing and we will be back to a reasonable level.

On other topics, the Flames seem hell-bent on breaking my heart yet again, as I assumed they would, the beer I blogged about that I should have been bottling last August was finally thrown out last weekend, and I write my BJCP exam next Saturday, leaving me one week to study the diverse and complex topic of Beer.

Our house still hasn't sold, in its 15th week on the market, which is alright, except that it sucks having to clean all the time, since I am a complete slob when I can get away with it.

Anyway, back to my studies ... everything from AAU to Zymurgy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I ain't saying I'm burnt out, but today was a bit of a flicker.

Today I ran out of steam in a huge way just after lunch. Several files are in the process of blowing up, and none of my files seem to be resolving. I have clients who seem to be on quest to make my life difficult, and I have opposing counsel who seem to be doing the same. For the first time in a long time, I have been losing sleep over files. (Also because today at 5:30 AM the cats decided to have a 'who can piss Owen off the most' contest.) My energy is waning, and it is affecting my ability to function at the level at which I want to. One factor in this is the sheer number of active files I am conducting, well over 100 since the other family law lawyer left the firm. This is about double what it should be. As a result, I will not be taking new files for the foreseeable future, and I will be working to close the ones I have to get down to a proper caseload.

Getting at the root of the problem is one key, and that is one that will have to be addressed over the next weeks and months. The other key is to de-stress right now, which means improving my diet and exercise, and really enjoying my upcoming 4 day weekend.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Antimalarial drugs are giving me an upset tummy. Could be worse. They're giving Jenn strange dreams. Either way, Jenn isn't getting much sleep.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Mandy apparently adopted again.

Mandy's profile has again been removed from the EHS website, which means I am much happier. I will stay that way until she shows up again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I checked again today, and "Dot", better known as Mandy, is back up on the EHS website. Our initial hopes for a short stay for Mandy have been overthrown. Mandy is still in need of a home and of love. If you know someone who needs/wants a very snuggly apex predator, please point them to "Dot", pet #5900.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Now that I have no snow tires...

Mmmmm, warm Pacific air mass, with everything that entails - above-normal temperatures (a wlecome departure, I assure you) moisture in the air, oh yeah, and huge amounts of heavy, wet, slippery snow. I really don't mind, I just hope that my new car with it's low-profile all-seasons doesn't wind me up in the ditch. Just chant along with me, "Drive for the conditions...Drive for the conditions...."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Someone loves Mandy.

Today, I did my normal review of the Edmonton Humane Society website to check up on Mandy. She had been put up on the site about 1 week ago. She is now off of the site, which means that she has been adopted. Someone has seen her extra-love personality and her complete gentleness, and taken her home. I only hope that she will be treated as an indoor cat, and given plenty of love, because that is what she deserves.

For whoever took cat #5900 "Dot" (Real name - Princess Mandolin (Mitten) Manjit Bananna-Muffin Sunbeam-Tiger Cat-Taylor-Kirkaldy (AKA Mangalore, AKA Mandibles, AKA Mang, AKA Mangy-Moo, AKA Mucous)) into their home, I wish you the warmest blessings of whatever god-figure, analogous entity, or lack thereof that you (believe/tell your mom you believe/don't believe) in.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Humiliation at the Opera

On Tuesday, I attended the Edmonton Opera's production of "HMS Pinnafore" as part of the "Opera Explorer's Club" Which is a fancy way of saying "Rush seats, pizza and beer for people under 30 who want to go to the opera".

It was at the pizza and beer intermission that I had my humiliating experience - I was part of a group of people, albiet a small part, who were admonished for.... (it's almost too horrible to say)...

Not Drinking Enough Beer.

Sure enough, of the 50 or so people in the room, there were perhaps 10 who had availed themselves of the free beer that was already poured and waiting for them. I did my best and sucked back two, fast, between acts, but I wasn't able to make a serious dent in the backlog by myself. Embarassing.

Moreover, the Total Loss department has finally gotten back to me about my truck and made a better offer. I will be accepting that and probably buying the car that the firm accepted in lieu of fees from one client. It kind of looks like a drug-dealer's Civic, but that's only because it was, well, a drug dealer's Civic. That having been said, it will be nice to have a vehicle with a trunk again. I am a little dissapointed that I don't get a convertible, but that's on my wishlist for sooner rather than later. The nice thing about the 3rd generation Miatas is that they have dropped the bottom out of the used market for 2nd generation Miatas.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Moist Kitty

Today the inevitible happened. Little Billie fell into the fishtank. She got out just fine, and made a big mess right before the open house, but I don't think she'll be going after those fish for a while.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Post # 200

To celebrate the 200th post, I will provide the good news. I am alive. I have not frozen to death in this cold snap. This, according to the Globe and Mail and other reputable news sources, places me ahead of quite a number of other people in the last week. Two small children have frozen to death in Saskatchewan, three people were killed in a blizzard on the road between Edmonton and Jasper, and a cat was found, I am not making this up, frozen to the sidewalk in Edmonton last week.

In other news, the total loss people have finally told me that they are making an offer on my truck. I will be squeezing them for closer to what it is worth, but I might just be able to buy a working car with what they will give me. Fingers crossed, people.

Jenn Went back to work today. Apparently, it was...bleich. The kids were really happy she was back, and plenty of the staff. On top of that, her grievance has been formalized, and we are now at the start of the actual "under the collective agreement" thing. What that means is that if the timelines for the grievance process all go the maximum length, Jenn's problems might just get resolved by the end of the teaching year. Isn't that great?

Anyway, work has been going good for me, I have been rocking the whole practicing law thing, and I hope to actually be finished my thesis soon too, which would allow me to justify reading for fun.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You can get used to anything

Witness the fact that I was happy on my drive in to work because it was "Only" -38c WITH the windchill. The actual temperature was only -28c.

Next week it is supposed to go up near zero. I don't know how I will cope. I'll have to take off all my clothes and go tanning on the front lawn.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A weather update

The windchill this morning on my way to work was announced on the radio as -47c. My colleague spent an hour digging his car out of the end of his driveway, and had to go home with mild hypothermia at noon.

I am not looking forward to the drive home. I think I may leave early to take advantage of the daylight.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My weather forecast

Here is what environment Canada has to say about Spruce Grove tomorrow:


Doesn't that sound lovely?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Here are a couple of pictures of the tiny kitten. She is very tiny and very sweet.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Part two of the saga of the visit to the Edmonton Humane Society

As sad as we were to leave Mandy at the shelter for someone who can provide a ferret-proofed space for her, we couldn't leave a cat at an over-capacity shelter without doing our part to make us cat-neutral. On the way home, we were joined by Pet # 5174 (Shiraz). She was promptly re-named in the music theme: Billie (Bear) Holiday Cat-Kirkaldy. She is almost as snuggly as Banjo was when he was her age, but she hasn't shown any distinct preference for Jenn yet, so I have high hopes she might like me too.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I am not very happy.

Last night, Mandy, who has already had an ongoing problem for three years with chewing through string, has moved on to harder stuff. Electrical cords. This makes my cat a fire hazard.

So this afternoon, we are going to the humane society to give her up to the program for cats who are too difficult to live with and are adopted as barn cats. This means that my cat, who is the gentlest cat I think I have ever seen with people (although lethal to anything smaller than her) will have a new life where she will probably never get another tummy rub. After about noon, she won't be getting any from me.