Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A bit of vindication

Blood pressure, where "H=High" is now (H-22) mm/Hg.

Nasty little spike, there. Diet and exercise, people... that's the way to go for me. My goal is still to be at my wedding weight (F-31) on my 7th wedding anniversary. 28 pounds to go.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The things you find on the internet

As I was searching the Internet for ideas of things I may not realize in my diet are raising my blood pressure, becase (in fairness) I had never really though about it before, I came across a link saying "how much Liquorice is bad for your blood pressure?" A little health news article.

WTF, I thought. I had never heard of that kind of link before, so I googled that up. Found a bunch of medical journal articles from Scandanavia, where chronic liquorice consumption is an issue. Why do I care? I ate about a kilo of Liquorice Allsorts in about a week right before my blood pressure showed up suddenly high.

Turn out, large doses of liquorice (naturally flavoured - like the ones I was eating) contain a quantity of glycyrrhetinic acid that will spike your blood pressure - fast.

How large? I was eating them. How fast? The study tested pressure first at two weeks, at which time the healthy control group had spiked a mean of 14.4 points of blood pressure. It looks like they stopped the experiment for that group when they discovered this result.

I ain't saying that this explains anything, but if my pressure comes down a bunch and stays there as I stop eating a ridiculous quantity of liquorice, it may have had an effect. I'm going to play it safe and continue to exercise daily and lose 30 pounds, if you don't mind.

First check in

So after three days of doing the right thing here's the stats:

Weight: F minus 3
Systolic Blood Pressure: H (for high) minus 6

Neither great, but going in the right direction without drugs.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Never marry a woman with her own sphygmomanometer

So in order to do a good thing on Monday, I went to Canadian Blood Services to drop off a pint. As part of the deal there, they measure your blood pressure. Mine was high. How high? None of your business, but enough that when I mentioned it to my wife, she hauled out her own sphygmomanometer and had a look for herself.

Long story short, I be grounded. No salt, no grease, no red meat, lots of veggies, and exercise every day. Food Log. Concrete weight loss targets.

Here we go: Where my weight can now be defined as the variable "F" (for "fat") I pledge to weight F- 25 at this time next year.

I pledge to be active 6 times per week.

Dammit, this is going to suck, but I'm way too young to have high blood pressure without doing something about it fast.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Automotive excess

While staying at a pretty little lodge outside Golden BC, one of the other patrons had parked outside in a Mercedes CL 63 AMG. It looked expensive, and so, on a whim, I looked up the price on the web.


I knew it was an expensive car, but that really took the cake. I mean, really, who needs a car that costs $243,000.00? And even if they did, why that one? I mean, yeah, it is a good looking machine, with tons of power and whatnot, but where in North America are you going to wring out a 600+ HP V-12 twin turbo full sized coupe? Silly. This is a car for the autobahn, or possibly some parts of Montana.

But still, how often does one need to do 186 miles an hour in rural Montana?

I mean, I would be hard pressed to spend that kind of money on cars if forced to. Nice to think about though...... What would I drive if I had idiotic amounts of money and nothing better to do with it, and someone had a gun to my head making me spend it?


I'd need a serious luxury sedan. But I'm a cheapskate. Maybe a brand-new Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec for $53,000.00.

I'd need a serious performance car. Something with some pedigree. I check the classifieds. 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 for $89,000? That will do nicely if I want to go grand-am racing, but I think something milder for day to day use. Here we go, a 2005 911 Carrera 2 with 27,000 km for $62,000.00.

Something for the wife, you say? Porsche Cayenne. Wait... It is fundamentally wrong for a Porsche to also be a truck.... How about a Mazda CX-7 GT? $40,000.00.

Okay, I'm up to $155,000.00.

2008 Subaru WRX 5 door with 28,000 K for $25,000.00 for the winter.

Leaves $63,000.00

2003 Mazda Miata - $12,000.00.

Dangit, I still haven't spent as much as that fellow spent on one car!

2006 Lotus Elise with 16,500 km- $30,000.00


2002 Porsche Boxster S.

There. With what that guy spent on one vehicle, I have picked out 7 cars that I would love to own. Low mileage or brand-new vehicles that would go for years, perform incredibly and be a hoot, as well as some luxury in some cases.

Hmmm, I would have to ask the guy with the gun to my head if he has some money I can spend on a 7 car garage....

Friday, July 08, 2011

Godspeed STS-135

One of my earliest memories in life is being dragged in front of my family's television set in our home in Winnipeg in the early 1980s to watch the launch of a space shuttle. I don't know if it was STS-1 or some other early launch, but it must have made an impression on me, more likely for the reaction my parents had to the launch than my own.

My early years were spent at a time when spaceflight was, if not routine, a normal part of the world's group experience. Jet travel was taken for granted. Home computers were starting to make their appearance. High quality long distance telephones were a given. The Soviet Union was one of the world's superpowers.

Today, the final space shuttle mission launched. The shuttle, once the most technically advanced piece of technology ever to move under its own power, operates with a control computer substantially less powerful than that which controls my MP3 player. How things have changed.

Private companies are selling space tourism. I can fly to London for less than it would cost in fuel to drive to New York and back. Wireless high-speed Internet access is ubiquitous in North America. Free Internet video telephony is rapidly making long distance telephones obsolete. There is no assurance that any real superpower will exist in the future, and if so, who.

In a few years, I will be awakening my children and plopping them down in front of a computer to watch the live feed of an event that (to me) is of such a grandiose significance that it merits watching as a family. I have no idea what it will be.

Will it be the next man to walk on the Moon? The first to walk on Mars? The full power test of the first commercial fusion power reactor? The returns of a free election in China? The coronation of a King?

The horrible beauty of this question is that if there was a way to predict the answer, it would no longer be the answer.

Has the first person to live to 150 already been born? Will SETI find a voice in the darkness? Will the half-expected Armageddon of my childhood finally come more by accident than design?

If it is that last one, I think I will skip watching it live.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Upcoming dinner wonderfulness

Oh, yeah, you know that when I put my mind to something food-related, it can only be so long before something serous happens.

So I will be taking part in a competitive series of dinner parties (a-la Dinner Party Wars) in the late-summer and fall. I have put a lot of thought into it, and I have decided not to go too far afield in terms of complicated stuff or outlandish preparations. Here is what I have planned for the menu at this point:

Parmesan crisp cups with heirloom tomato & basil bruschetta

Truffled Macaroni & Cheese with 6 year old Balderson

French Laundry Caesar Salad

Julia Child's French Onion Soup

Asparagus stuffed chicken breast in Holandaise on a bed of truffled mashed Yukon Gold potatoes

A trio of chocolate Truffles

Cheese Plate

I will be serving a tablespoon or so of a different sorbet between each course.

Also, yes, I know it seems like a lot of food. The portions will be small.

What I like about this menu is that so much of it can actually be done ahead. Like, most of it.

Friday, June 03, 2011

A new Review

Today I went somewhere different for lunch. The Bothy is located at 5482 Calgary Trail at the far end of the strip mall from Eddie's Menswear and Bin 104. It is a Smallish, stylish place with a monumental wine and whiskey list for a restaurant that size. The beer list is small, but well thought out.

The small menu focuses on ultra-upscale pub grub - a handful of sandwiches, a handful of salads, a few meat pies, haggis, and a cheese and charcuterie platter.

Upon walking in we saw the sign asking us to seat ourselves, which we promptly did, and were immediately greeted by an enthusiastic Scotsman explaining the specials and taking our drink orders. His enthusiasm only grew when he found us willing to drink scotch in the middle of the day, and even more so when our orders were for Scappa 16 and Ardbeg 10, rather than for "On the rocks." He also drew our attention (somewhat late) to the tasting flights available. Next time... next time. This is clearly a place run by nerds. That's the best kind of place, because nerds will normally not deliberately let you buy something from them that they believe sucks. It is more imporant to them to make sure that their knowledge does not go to waste than to satisfy the on-the-rocks scotch drinkers and Bud Light enthusiasts.

I had the Steak and Mushroom Pie. It... Was.... Glorious. The pastry was obviously fresh and made in house, never having seen the inside of a freezer, the meat was tender, the filling was thick, not runny, and the mushrooms were diverse. The mash served with it was rich and tasty, clearly containing the better part of a butter churn.

The pricing, at $14 or so for a sandwich to 17 or so for a pie, and with the most expensive item on the menu topping only $28.00 (5 things on a cheese & charcuterie platter) this place is plonked squarely in casual dining price range, but has a much more upscale feel. This is an example of how simple, focused, small menu quality mid-price dining has finally come to Edmonton. I love it.

Also they do a scottish breakfast. I think that is a must-try.

5 Ridel whiskey nosing glasses out of five.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Confirming my desire to move back to Edmonton

Last night, rather than going home to Spruce Grove, Jenn and I both stayed over at her parents' house in Edmonton. Rather than 50 minutes, the commute to 15 minutes each way, adding slightly over an hour to my day, and reducing my heavy-traffic driving by over an hour.

The result was that I felt much less exhausted both getting home from work and arriving the next morning. I also felt much less hurried when leaving.

All this does is confirm to me that as soon as it is practical, I really need to move back to Edmonton, particularly somewhere fairly central, rather than the far-flung suburbs. Oh boy would I like to gain five and a half hours a week back in my life, spend less on gas, oil and windshields, and be less worn out when I do get home.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Aurora Brewing Challenge

For the past week, Tuesday through Saturday, I have been participating in one of Canada's largest home brew competitions, the Aurora Brewing Challenge in my capacity as a judge, and also running a tasting seminar on Saturday. It was a fantastic party, although the judging was a bit of a long slog at times. There were a lot of beers that I had to judge that it was an effort to get through.

After a week of that, having judged between 18 and 23 beers a day for 5 days (you can do the math yourself, thank you) I don't much care if I don't see another beer for a while.

Today (Sunday) I had a lazy day. Up, breakfast, weed the garden, do the dishes that piled up last week, do another load of dishes, do the grocery shopping, do 5 loads of laundry, fold the laundry, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, rack a batch of wine, start another batch of wine, change the bedding and help Jenn with a school project.

Lazy Sunday.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Long time no Post

Wow, I just noticed it was January the last time I posted on my blog. Since the last post, the garlic bulbs arrived , 4 packages of 3 instead of 4 heads, so I now have more seed garlic than I know what to do with, and portions of it have been planted in neat rows in my flower bed. Some are coming up lovely, some are not doing anything. Steady watering seems to be the key.

At work, people seem desperate to get divorced, and nothing seems to be letting up for summer. We will see how long this can go on. Eventually nobody will be left married.

Jenn is continuing school, a few bumps here and there, but we are hopeful they will get smoothed out in the next few weeks.

Apart from garlic, there don't seem to be any projects or hobbies happening. Just commute, work, commute, cook, dishes, tv, bed. Dull, I know.

Dull. Probably why I haven't posted lately.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stinking Rose

The first summer we lived in our house in Spruce Grove, Jenn lept at the chance to fill the front flower bed with all manner of wonderful annuals. The following year, renovations prevented us from working too hard on that, and weeds took over. Last summer, it was the same, weeds until I dug up the whole lot and pulled everything out.

This summer, I will be taking over the flower bed for my rose garden - a stinking rose garden, that is. I have ordered a few bulbs of seed garlic, and I will be planting in the spring. I have no idea how much of the front garden 4 heads of seed garlic will take up, but what I do know is that I have had really fresh garlic in the past - stuff that was not shipped in from Thailand - and it is so much better than the grocery store stuff that it is worth having a crack at. Worst case scenario - the garden looks better than it did the last two years.