Saturday, November 21, 2009

Last night was an odd one.

Jenn found out that the admin of her program had changed her schedule for next semester so that she needs to be in class on Monday until 6:30, go to a hospital yet to be determined, copy down information, leave there about 7:30, go home on her 45 minute to an hour commute, do a 2 hour research project, commute another hour into town and start her practicum shift at 7:00 AM. We figure about 5 hours of sleep on those nights. Needless to say she was livid.

Not allowing this misfortune or our generalized semi-sick state to inhibit our Friday night, we went shopping. Grocery shopping. Lucky 97 in Chinatown, which has a different, even more ethnic feel than T&T, and carries some even more obscure things. Some of my victories from last night? Real Pixian chili-bean paste, and it smells incredible... dried lotus leaves, they had lots, now I know where to find it... Hinianese Chicken Rice paste, tasty. Fresh water chestnuts, various kinds of Japanese snacks, and a few other odds and sods. I would have bought their excellent bitter Mellon if I thought anyone but me would eat it. Now all I need is some eggplant and my supper plans will come together nicely. I should have gotten some last night but I wasn't thinking.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Treewhale Brown

Today was Treewhale Southern English Brown Ale Attempt# 2 - which should be improved by the addition of a decent recipe and a thermometer that works. Also, it was the fastest single batch I think I have ever done, three and a half hours from start to cleanup being finished. It smells lovely. It should be ready to drink by the December EHG meeting.

Monday, October 12, 2009


You may have seen Andy Capp drinking bottles of stout with XXX on the front. Today I brewed my own - Treewhale Snowflake XXX Milk Stout. First brew-up in months, and well deserved. It should be very very tasty. It will be on draft very soon folks, call it Halloween.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Earth, Wind and Flyer

Saturday night, driving home from Mill Woods on the Whitemud freeway... Tumbleweeds. Genuine, high plains drifter tumbleweeds. I hit one with my car. Bad noise, but no damage. Lots of swerving. Got to the edge of town and it was biblical. The fields are all torn up from harvest and there hasn't been rain for who knows how long, add a 70 Mile an hour wind, and you have a dust storm you can hardly see through.

Sunday, ordained by our lord God as a day of rest, was spent painting and putting in baseboards. Then I made pork stuffed peppers with black bean garlic sauce and did three loads of laundry.

Today, Monday, was garbage day. When we got home, our garbage can had quite obviously become airborne at some time during the day, as it was rapidly headed for the coast. Had it not hit a neighbor's car, it would certainly have made it at least as far as the crescent across the main drag from us.

Tuesday, incidentally, is a day ordained by our lord God as a day of meeting with beer nerds, and that is what I intend to do tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lost and found

If you want to find your wife's missing keys (and they were lost for a month), you ought not to ask the question, "Where would my wife lose her keys?" This question will lead you to the places where she might put her keys, and obviously she has already looked there, and to her pockets which, being much smarter than you - and more attached to her keys, she has already gone through.

The question you ought to ask is, "If I was looking for _MY_ lost keys, where would I look?" The answer to that question (under the cushions of the living room chairs) will provide the answer to your quest in the form of car keys within seconds.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reno progress report and Nursing

Jenn is now dome her first two weeks of the Nursing After Degree program. Two weeks down, 21.5 months to go.

In other news, the grout is sealed, the downstairs baseboards are all in and looking fabulous. Half done or so upstairs. Some touch up on the paint yet, and then clean everything up and organize the basement.

Bwah. This has been a long 3 months.

Monday, August 31, 2009

One more thing off the list

Just finished tiling the upstairs bathroom. Now just need to re-install the toilet, finish the baseboards, and clean up a bit, seal the grout downstairs and up, and I think we are done. Call it, two weeks of cursing and mitering, with just a bit of brad nailing to make it more fun.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Done soon

We finished the grout tonight, tomorrow we do some baseboards and move some furniture, and we are going to start living in a more normal home again. The upstairs bathroom tile never got done, but that will be a weekend project for me in the fall. It should be easy now that I have half an idea what I am doing.

And the place looks fabulous.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More renos, but almost done - promise.

So then - since the last post we have done the following:

Finished the upstairs hall and bedrooms

finished the laminate downstairs

pulled apart the kitchen

painted the kitchen back splash

sanded the downstairs floor

laid out the tile and cut where necessary

What is left?

Mortar, Grout, baseboards, touch up the paint, upstairs bathroom tile.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The renos continue apace

Back to the grind. This weekend, we pulled up the last of the upstairs carpet, bought subfloor for the living room, cut it, screwed it down, painted trim with our nifty paint sprayer, pulled up the carpet downstairs (not in that order) continued on the upstairs hall, put down most of the floor in the last bedroom, and went to the store to buy the tile, the thinset (we got the extra-good stuff) and the grout, plus a table saw, which is making the laminate go a heck of a lot faster. Crisis - our thinset says don't install on particleboard. Our subfloor - particleboard. I read further - can be installed over existing sheet vinyl! We just swapped our "remove the current floor" step with "sand the current floor to rough it up" step and can continue without a new subfloor. Woo Hoo.

Friday, August 07, 2009

My new office

My firm moves into our new office on Monday, we more than double our size and it is a great space. We can double-up on lawyers (already one lined up, maybe two) and it is in a great neigborhood. The best part so far is the fabulous tile pattern in the fronto hall. I'm sure I will find more to love. Pictures to follow.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

All of a sudden I wish I was just renoing.

Late last weekend, after we had demolished the bedroom, we got a call that Jenn's Great Grandpa was in the hospital. This, in itself, although upsetting, was not the problem. The problem was Jenn's Great Grandma, who is not taking it well. The family have been pitching in to make sure that she is not by herself. Opa passed later this week and the Funeral is Monday. We hope to do some work tomorrow before going into town, but it is hard to find the energy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A weekend off - and more painting.

As part of our extended not-having a real vacation-ness this year, Jenn and I took a long weekend in Jasper for Jenn to get her PADI open-water diving card (very cold in the lake) and for me to read the 100 mile diet and drink the beer at Jasper brewing Company. In between, we both napped about 3 hours a day. A glorious weekend.

Now we have returned and I will be starting in on the floor in the back bedroom tomorrow. With luck, I will be done one room by tomorrow night. Yeah. Right. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


We are finished, except for some touch-ups and some edging that needs a bigger ladder. Next the floors. We have 850 square feet of laminate and 900 square feet of underlay, we have only to get the tools from our various hook-ups and start in. Weekend Jasper, Tuesday floors.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Almost done

One more coat on the stairs, one more accent wall in a bedroom, and a few touch-ups. That's it. Time to paint a 1200 square foot 2 level - 8 days, assuming we get one last coat on tomorrow.

In addition, we have de-junked and moved all our bookshelves to the basement, where we hope to find them permanent homes.

Also, as a special treat, and in lieu of using my bonus money to upgrade our Hyundai to something with lower miles, we picked up a new mattress. I don't know if it is comfortable yet, because every time I lay down on it, I immediately lose consciousness.

On the beer side, my new kegged pale ale is drinking a treat, and I hope to have the Trippel and a Municher Dunkel in kegs by the end of the week.

Tomorrow, our plans get even more interesting. After work, I am picking up our flooring, about 850 square feet of decent laminate, along with underlayment and perhaps stair nosing. I will also need to get some 1/2 inch plywood subfloor for a small part of the downstairs where there is not already additional subfloor. The good news is that our floor in the kitchen and hall already meet code for tile. Woo hoo.

Oh, yes, the tile. about 250 square feet of it, but that is going in last, as it will be the most disruptive, essentially keeping us out of our kitchen and front hall for quite some time. I am also considering a tile backspash in the kitchen, but really only if I don't need to put up any serious kind of backer-board. I dunno. And then the tile for the countertops............

Oh dear. I seem to have the bug.....

Saturday, July 04, 2009

More painting

There is now only one room in the house that has not been completely repainted, the upstairs bedroom that I use as an office. The only reason for this is that it is full of all the stuff we have jammed into it to make enough room to paint the rest of the upstairs. The rest of the house has had between 1 and 4 coats of paint, the baseboards are all off, all that is left to be done is another coat on the stairs, hall, and downstairs, and only on the grey parts.

We started painting at 8:30, we finished at 10:45. We took a half hour for lunch, a half hour for supper (thank god for pizza delivery) and a hour to take a truckload of stuff to the dump and pick up our new mattress (comfortable). So, after 14 plus hours of moving and painting, I have settled in with both an unconscionably large glass of rye whisky and a glass of dry-hopped West-Coast style IPA. Beats Methocarbomol.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Here's the update: since Monday afternoon we have done the following:

Painted the upstairs back bedroom (Royal Purple) (the one with the walk-in closet) - 4 coats - finished for paint but for a few touch-ups

Painted the upstairs bathroom (Chocolate brown) 2 coats and touch ups - finished.

Painted upstairs hallway (awesome blue - hints of black/grey) 1.5 coats (some places have two) Will need 1.5 more for a total of 3, will be finished tomorrow.

Our bedroom - one wall the colour of the hallway - will need 3.

Bought 360 LF of 3/4*3 1/2 baseboards on massive sale and moved them home in my Hyundai. It took two trips, one crushed finger, and a lot of shouting.

Still to come:

Other back bedroom - probably 3 coats.

Stairs and downstairs - 2-3 coats depending on colour.

That will be it for painting.

And then:

800 SQFT of laminate floor in the upstairs and half the downstairs.

300 SQFT ceramic tile in the Front half of the downstairs and the upstairs bathroom.

So we gots our summer planned.

Pictures to follow.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Since we aren't selling our house right away, we will be painting the house again. We'll be putting in some new floors, too, thanks to a hefty bonus rolling in. I might just be posting some pictures soonish.

Much Needed Rain

It is now impossible for me to sleep in too much on weekends, and I automatically get up at 7:20. This morning, we are getting a gentle rain that doesn't look ready to let up for a couple of hours, which hopefully will stop making this area look like a movie about the great depression in the 30s. Turns out all it takes for there to be rain is for me to water my lawn the night before.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Draft Beer Update -

Rebuilt and cleaned four kegs, picked up my gas today, hooked it all up and we have no leaks at 20# of pressure. Two beers will be ready to go in the kegs pdq, and then we will be rolling.

Ahhh, brewhouse beer kits, the joy of making beer in less than 15 minutes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The best thing I have ever done in beermaking

I know that I talk about beer a lot on this blog, sometimes to the exclusion of interesting topics, but today I feel at liberty to jump in and brag up my latest move:

For the first time since starting to make beer 14 years ago, I will be putting it not in bottles, but in kegs. That's right, peoples, if you come over, there will be draft beer. While walking through Princess Auto's surplus section, I spotted 4 used Pepsi kegs, and quickly snapped them up. From there, it was only a short drive home to the internet where the good folks at Beer Beer and More Beer agreed, in exchange for just a few numbers read off a little plastic rectangle, to send me 4 rebuild kits, gas fittings, poppets, taps, hoses, clamps, Powdered Brewery Wash, dip tube brushes, gas regulators, and all the other little things that make those kegs come alive. Whoah, baby. Now all I need to do is find a "Free to good home" fridge and some help moving it, and I am set - blissful in the knowledge that I will never have to bottle again.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Aurora Brewing Challenge

This week was the Aurora Brewing Challenge - the annual BJCP sanctioned beer competition hosted by the Edmonton Homebrewer's Guild, and the only MCAP qualifier in Canada. (Masters Championship of Amateur Brewing) Nick the Mighty Brewer and I did quite well, taking 8 medals and second place in the Brewer of the Year completion. The winner really threw in a ton of beer, and deserved the win. Best of show was won by a fellow who entered only one beer - but it was a very good one, obviously. Jenn took part in the ladies auxiliary competition, judging themed beers made with rosemary. Ours didn't place in that competition, but as a consolation prize, we took a medal with it in the main competition, ahead of any of the others.

Long story short, that is the end of the competitive brewing season, and I am beered out.

Also, if you live in Alberta and you want a tasty cooler product, drink the coolers from Ambers Brewing. They are incredible. Way way way better than every other cooler on the market.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Latest News

Jenn has now been officially accepted the the U of A after degree in nursing.  I will therefore not be getting a new (or used) sports car for the foreseeable future.  On the other hand, I have been promised one when she graduates.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

My exalted position

I never learned not to volunteer for things.

On the weekend, Jenn and I were at a conference in Lake Louise for divorce lawyers, when the Edmonton Homebrewers Guild was holding their monthly meeting and annual executive elections. I, being the good sport that I am, offered to let my name stand for the presidency of the Edmonton Homebrewers Guild. Needless to say, despite my absence, and perhaps because of it, I was elected (or possibly acclaimed, which I expect is more likely).

Now I just have to figure out how to go about ruling with an iron fist.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cashmere-ical Redux

Today, having finished work at a reasonable time, I wandered over to my Consignment store and popped my head in the door. This store had been the scene of my great disappointment, the notion that $477.00 was better spent on car repairs than a really fabulous suit.

Well, two months later, and with the sticker price knocked down another $100.00, the suit was still on the rack and I am all of a sudden flush with suit money (and my old charcoal suit getting shiny around the shoulders). Long story short, I am the proud owner of a gorgeous, conservative, Italian hand made designer cashmere suit, for about what I would pay for a cheap suit at a clearance outlet.

Sometimes good things happen to me. Other times, I just get new work clothes and that makes me happy too.

Monday, April 13, 2009


since the last time I mentioned beer, Nick the Mighty Brewer and I have made the following styles:

1C American Premium Lager
2A German Pilsner
21 Rosemary Herbed Scottish 80/
1E Dortmunder Export
17 A Berlinner Weiss

Mmmmm, beer.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The proof

You would not believe how hard they tried to get me to keep the account open. I had to tell the guy about 10 times to shut the bugger down.I thought they wanted people not to havecredit. Aren't people's limits being arbitrarily lowered around the country?

Our little victory

It was long overdue. As of today, Jenn and I have no credit card debt. With Jenn not working full time (very part time, in fact) and the troubles last year, and the expenses of Jenn's classes, we couldn't seem to get ahead, but now, in one fell swoop, we have gotten a rancid little monkey off our backs and taken the scissors to the bastards, for the most part. What joy. Just in time to start saving towards Jenn's tuition for fall.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jenn and Owen finally get something they want

Notwithstanding the persistent annoyance of water heaters and such, we have finally sprung for a car under warranty.  Last year's (base) model, discounted, lengthy financing, but here we have something that will carry us a while before needing costly repairs, and if it does, someone else will be covering it, thank you very much.  We have swapped the uncertainty of an unreliable car for the certainty of our payment, which is a swap I am willing to make with Jenn going back to school.

She doesn't have a name yet, but she is Bright electric blue, and we love her very much.  If you see someone in their front drive applying name-brand car finishes, it might be us.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

This is starting to get a little old.

Just a little bit of winter left for us to deal with here in the gret white north.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Same day service, classic small-town gouging.

The answer to "How fast can Owen and Jenn get a new hot water tank?" is apparently four hours from first making that call. The answer to the question "What will it cost"? is exactly as much as it would cost to pay a city plumber to come and do it, except the city plumber would be charging almost half the install fee as mileage to and from Spruce Grove, and the locals just jack up their prices and pocket the difference.

So, a thousand bucks later, I get to sit back and bask in the joy of my brand-new water heater, and Wonder just what will be the next thing to go horribly horribly wrong with the house.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Say, you know that feeling you get when you walk down to the basement to put away the luggage that has been sitting in the garage since summer and you notice that there is an inch of water on the floor and a huge jet of water is shooting out of the TOP of your water heater? You know, its the same feeling you get when you really really really want to drink Gin until you fall asleep. Instead, you shout curses until your very ill wife comes downstairs and finds the shutoff valve. At least I was clever enough to also shut off the gas valve. Oh, and it was a year past its warranty.

Now we get to find out how long it takes to get a new water heater in the boonies. What fun. Oh boy I tell you what I SO want to buy a new water heater instead of a new cashmere suit or half a trip for two to Mexico or Jenn's books for the fall.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Driving into Spring

After the Edmonton Airport posted record low temperatures a couple of days this past week, including a -52 degree windchill, Jenn and I took a couple of days off and drove down to Calgary...

When we left, the temperature was -15, and when we arrived it was +8. Getting out of the car was like stepping into a new season - a season where your skin doesn't fall off within minutes of exposure to the outdoors. Birds were singing, water was running off of the roof, and there were patches of ground visible that had not been physically scraped clean of snow and ice.

The forecast calls for more of the same, above zero temperatures. I shall celebrate with brewing and a barbecue.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The little flashing red lightning bolt on my computer screen sez:


Mmmmmmm.... Winter Storm Warning in effect until well after my commute is over.

I am starting to not like winter. It should stop now.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

In like a water buffalo, out like a snuffleuphaghus

The temperature outside, with wind chill, for those of you who do not live in Edmonton, is -40. At that particular temperature, it doesn't matter if it is Celsius or Fahrenheit. The old saw, in like a lion, out like a lamb, isn't really applicable. This is too horrible. For those of you who have spent the week in Cuba, and you know who you are, you have missed plenty of bad weather.

I am still without a phone, at least until Saturday, so don't be offended if I haven't called or returned your call.

Winter... slowly..... killing me...... Must............ make it.............. to Spring.............. gasp!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Same old, same old

So in the past two weeks, we have replaced the temperature sensor, coolant, thermostat and timing belt in the Hyundai, to the tune of a grand, and now my phone had up and died, thirteen months after buying it and three weeks after the warranty ran out. I am not impressed. Needless to say, any thoughts we might have had about disposable income this month are up in flames. Sigh.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

La Boheme Edmonton

Restaurant review for La Boheme

La Boheme is located on 112 Avenue and 64th street in Edmonton in a Bed & Breakfast that has been converted from a block of Pre-WWI luxury apartments. The theme is french, the focus, according to the website, is southern french and Rhone. Notwithstanding this assertion, and apart from a Moroccan Style couscous on the menu, the theme seems to be squarely in the traditional cuisine bourgeois that one would like to expect in a French restaurant.

We arrived at 7:15 for our 7:30 reservation, and were directed immediately to our table, which was set up with two low lounge chairs, leaving the patron leaned back and low at the table. It felt like you were at the kiddie table. On the walls were cheap "french" art prints from Home Outfitters of the type one would buy if one wanted to do a "Paris" themed room in a showhome. The bar was behind us, and had a collection of vintage 'stubbies' along the top. 'Trying very hard to be charming' would be my description of the decor, and throughout the evening, I was back and forth between my impression that this place was either trying too hard or not trying hard enough.

If a place wants to be a cheerful bistro where people can get good french food in a fun atmosphere, that is what it should be. If a restaurant is a fine-dining restaurant, that is what it should be. It should not have the worst aspects of each.

Lets start with the prices - we went because they started a marketing scheme through our local Costco whereby they would sell $100.00 gift cards for $70.00, thereby bringing in the crowd they would not normally get. In reality, they have simply raised the price of the Prix Fixe menu from 70 to 100 dollars to compensate. It still says $70.00 on the website, and that was not the first time we ran into price discrepancies that night.

Soon upon being seated we opted out of the prix fixe in favour of the a-la-carte (a much cheaper option) I ordered escargots in a puff pastry shell with garlic cream emulsion and Jenn, being adventurous, had the soupe a l'onion gratinee, or french onion soup. For a main, I ordered rack of lamb demi-glace medium rare, and jenn ordered the supreme of chicken with a fig and port demi-glace and camborzola cheese. The house wine selection was good, I had a glass of Chapoutier Rhone and Jenn had the house rose.

Then we started to wait.

Bread arrived - 4 small pieces of warmed over baguette, along with little plastic tubs of dairymaid butter. Here is where I first started to get the impression that something was wrong. In a restaurant where the set menu is $100.00 plus wine, you don't serve plastic tubs of butter that wouldn't be out of place at a cheap roadside diner. Hell, even Denny's provides a tub of whipped butter if you get the pancakes. How hard is it to do a few curls of butter for your guests? As the bread was going on the table, the basket overturned, and flew on the floor. Another was provided, but this was the first sign that our servers were not the 'a' team.

CRASH! A stack of plates comes crashing down in the kitchen.

I look at Jenn as two old guys in berets speaking to each other in broad Albertan twangs sit down for coffee at the next table, talking about used cars and casinos. Loudly.

Eventually the appetizers arrive. Mine is placed too far to the right and on top of my knife. If it had been the soup of the day, it would have been on my lap. We dig in. Both are salty.... very salty, but what do you expect from french onion soup? Mine was at least tasty. Can't really screw up garlic and cream. The puff pastry shell was kind of tough. I've done better pastry myself, and I am quite the neophyte. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the shells are pre-made and frozen until needed. The plate holding each appy was on a larger charger plate with a paper napkin between. Not a fancy one either, the kind you buy by the thousand at Costco.

The old guys in berets get up, wander over to an empty table, pull the chairs around, and, I kid you not, pulled out a fiddle and accordion and began playing jazz standards. It seemed like a kind of desperate attempt to seem french. If I had come across a restaurant doing this in France, I would have probably given it a wide berth, as it was obviously directed at yokel tourists.

The empty cocktail glass that a waitress had left on the empty table in the middle of the room was still there some time later.

Then the espresso machine began to flood the area behind the bar. Mop, mop, mop.....CRASH! Another something hits the floor in the kitchen.

Jenn was parched after the salt in her soup, and her water was long since empty.... I gave her mine. It was a long time before they were filled again.

Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Went the ancient Pepsi cooler behind the bar, until the maitre-d went over and slapped it hard in the logo across the top - behind which the compressor was having a seizure.

Time passed. Patience waned. At 8:45, well over an hour after we had ordered, our mains arrived, coated in the saltiest demi-glace I have ever tasted. By that time, Jenn's rose was warm. Jenn couldn't finish her chicken. I made an effort on my rack of lamb, which was, at least, cooked medium-rare, and even dug into the blandest herbed mashed potatoes I have ever had. Nothing was outstanding. Nothing was worth the price on the menu. We complained about the saltiness of the demi-glace and looked at the dessert menu. We decided - based on the other food - to give dessert a miss. We just wanted to leave. The bill arrived, and Jenn's chicken was $4.00 more than the price on the menu, notwithstanding it was not a bargain t that price either, we decided not to complain but to pay up and leave.

$125.00 including tax and tip for a meal with no dessert and two glasses of house wine.

I give La Boheme a failing grade.

Those of you who know me know that while I may be a bit of a connoisseur, I am not a snob. I will dig into a good corn-dog or greasy diner breakfast with equal enthusiasm as I hold for hommard a l'americainne grattinee or a hundred bucks worth of prime sushi. The problem isn't that I am snobby, or that I am looking to find fault. I went to La Boheme half desperate to have a good experience. What I got was food with low scores for execution and a staff who would have gotten themselves fired from any Earls they might have been lucky enough to be hired at. The whole thing reeked of a non-pro status, and that isn't worth the price of admission.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So here's what's happening on the Car/Cashmere front

The car won. Ultimately, no matter how fabulous, I can't drive a suit from Spruce Grove to Edmonton. Now I am planning to catch up some deferred maintenance on the Sonata, since I've already dropped two grand into it this year, I may as well drop the extra grand and let it carry me another 30,000 klicks. The Civic might be leaving us if we can arrange it. Depending on our money situation, we may end up financing a new vehicle, or, more likely, buying a nearly new used car when a hefty bonus or our accident settlement or tax refund or other unexpected windfall comes in. Really, all we need is something that is not so worn out as the Civic's 190,000 km. It doesn't have to be super fancy, it would be nice if it had AC.

In other news, I will be putting my first lager (German Pilsner) in bottles this weekend. We shall see how it turns out. My second lager will be bottled within the next month or two, an American Premium Lager brewed on Saturday.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Price of a cashmere blend Canali suit currently on hold for me at my consignment store: $477.00

Cost of a new thermostat and heat sensor to prevent my car from stalling in traffic at unfortunate times: $477.00.

Owen's absolute Maximum disposable income this month: $477.00.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

A perfectly reasonable question

...has been raised, that being, "What does BJCP stand for?" The answer: Beer Judge Certification Program.

The BJCP is an organization dedicated to increasing knowledge about and appreciation of good beer and developing the skills of beer tasting and beer judging. I am a member and a Certified Level Judge.

The BJCP has, through the efforts of certain individuals, developed a set of guidelines for the tasting and judging of 80 of the most common beer styles, or rather of 79 styles and one catch-all category. It is my goal to brew every style on those guidelines and by doing so increase my knowledge and understanding of beer and brewing, try beers that are not available commercially in Canada, and generally have a good time and feel accomplished. I really enjoy the process of making beer because my work does not produce anything more tangible than fat piles of paper and hurt feelings, and this lets me feel connected to a product. Slow beer, as it were. Also, this process is a lot simpler than the Julie/Julia Project, which was a bit of the inspiration for it. I cheat a bit by using recipes drawn from various sources including Brew Your Own Magazine and the excellent book, "Brewing Classic Styles" if not verbatim than certainly as inspiration.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A long week

Toady is the latest in a series of days where I am the only lawyer in the office. Needless to say, I am getting a lot of work done because I have four assistants at my disposal. The down side is that I am dealing with everyone else's strangeness as well as my own, which is putting a premium on my time. At the same time, Jenn seems to have injured her elbow by hitting it on a doorknob at school, and has the sort of lung-filling cough that I associate with septuagenarian two-pack a day smokers. Throw into that mix the fact that on my way to court this morning - to sort out a problem that Legal Aid was having in telling clients that we are acting for them when we are not, I slipped on 3 inch thick ice on the sidewalk and landed heavily on my wrist and hip, bruising both of them as well as my ego. Now I am taking a break from work here at the office as I wait the last ten minutes for my 6:00 PM appointment.

All of this is conspiring to wear me out a little. I would like nothing better than to go to bed early on Friday and sleep until sometime on Sunday afternoon, but if I did that, no beer would get made this weekend, and that would be a shame. Last weekend Nick and I started in on Style 10C, American Brown Ale. With that one and a German Pilsner to bottle, and possibly another to start this weekend, I have a busy Saturday ahead of me if Nick is free.

Just to recap on the beer, for those who vaguely care, I started this quest to brew every style in the BJCP guidelines about two years ago, and began to do it seriously about a year ago. Of the 80 styles in the guidelines, I have brewed 14, and of those, I just sent 10 to competition in Calgary. We will have to see how we do.

Not sure what the next style we will be taking on will be, but I suspect that we may have to try out a Trappist - possibly a dubbel. If we had any Northern Brewer Hops, we would be setting into California Common Beer, but the shortage has hit us hard in that respect. Those fellows at Anchor seem to have cornered the market, and I may need to use my Californial Lager yeast to fire us up a Cream Ale and maybe Blonde as well.

All of the beer promises to take less time now that I have sprung for the $4.00 adapter that will allow me to attach my drill to my malt mill and change from 60 RPM to 360 RPM. Yeah. That's what we need here... More Power.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Cashmiracle on 120th Street

I have posted previously about my not-so-secret, not-so-shameful lust for the ultimate items of mixed conformity/non-conformity, finely tailored woolen goods. I have posted previously the whys and hows of my habit. Today, I must give a nod to the near-telepathic, deal-with-the-devil customer skills of the propriotrix of my favourite consignment shop.

The sign in the window said "Blowout Sale". I was naturally concerned that this equated to "Going out of Business Sale", and went inside on my way back from court. Not at all, simply getting rid of the winter gear in favour of some spring items and cruise-wear.

I will not buy a suit. I will not buy a suit. I will not buy a suit. I will not buy a suit.

I need a shirt.

A nice semi-casual shirt;

something bright;

maybe with french cuffs.

Say, it can't hurt to look at the 42 regular section, can it? Just to see? Just to look? I'm not buying you understand... Oh...... Oh My............. Canali Charcoal chalk-stripe...... Cashmere? Oh my word........ 30% off? Let me see, at $1800.00 regular off the rack new, I'm already getting about 60% off this apparently new suit..... and another 30% would make it.........

NO! No, I shan't buy a suit.

I will not buy a suit. I will not buy a suit. I will not buy a suit. Ooh! Paisley!

I need a paisley shirt. And that pink Hugo Boss with the french Cuffs for $12.00. That will do nicely. I'll just go try this on.

What? Yes? Yes they both seem to fit, I don't suppose I could trouble you for some cufflinks just to see? What? Yes, actually...... I did see that Canali Chalk Stripe...... Yes, I know it's cashmere......................



Well, I suppose it couldn't hurt to just try it on........


Oh my......

Yes, I see that it doesn't even need to be tailored. The cuffs hang just so, the pants break just right...........

Let me see...... the mortgage payment goes through the first..........

Could you hold this for me until, say, Valentine's Day?

Of course she could........

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beer Stuff toady

Today, with a visit from Nick the Mighty Brewer, we racked the lager we made last wek, a german pilsner, and started an American Amber ale (10B).

That's about it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


F-4 pounds.  That was the verdict when I woke up this morning, notwithstanding the fact that I blew my diet badly on Friday with a trip to Shan-E-Punjab (I think that's what it's called) located in a converted Arby's in Mill Woods.  Mmmmm, Butter Chicken.

Also this weekend Nick the mighty brewer came by and we cooked up a batch of German Pilsner, our first stab at a lager, since Saturday was the first day in about two months where we could stand to be on the deck for any amount of time.  It seemed to go well.

This weekend was not long enough.  I think I slept through most of it.  I am not impressed to be going back to work on Monday.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Day 1: F - 0

Well, after an indulgent holiday season, which followed close on the heels of a generally indulgent year, food wise, I stepped up on the scale today and decided that I have let myself go completely to seed.  I have let myself get fat.  My clothes still fit, after a fashion, but I am a long way from my best weight.  Here I am, fat.  How much do I weigh?  Unimportant.  I am assigning my weight the variable "F" (as in 'Fat').  

My goal?  F-25 pounds by July 30, 2009.

How to do it?

I am going back to the formula that worked for me so well the last time - STOP EATING SO MUCH CRAP!  I might even try the other option open which is, of course - GET OFF YOUR DUFF!

Wish me luck people, and remember that your constant ridicule when I publicly fail (as I will be tracking this) is vital to my progress.