Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Only in Canada? Oh! Pity!

I can't tell you how often I've settled on an online purchase, after painstaking research, only to find out the company does not ship to Canada. It doesn't ship to Alaska or Hawaii either but that's irrelevant to me.  You have Alaska and Hawaii and we have Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut (because even in Canada, they get the shipping snub.  Stay tuned).

Actually, in fairness to the eCommerce industry, it is not through malice that companies do not ship to Canada much as I like to complain about it. It is due to the inconvenience of navigating customs and all that that implies.  Many companies are handicapped due to distribution agreements with the brands they sell in the US. Many companies who pride themselves on excellent customer service find their efforts in Canada road blocked by customs and logistics constraints leaving the Canadian consumer unhappy with the company with whom they are dealing and leaving the company unhappy with being unable to live up to their standard of service.

The same restrictions apply to what copyrighted material is allowable in Canada which severely limits what I can download on a Kindle Fire, for example. Which is why I haven't bothered with an eReader. Yet. It would have come in handy on a recent flight though, so the jury is still out.


Expect More, Pay Less?  We'll See.


I am pointing this out but not offering a solution, you understand. I'm not sure if there is one. Target is opening a flagship store this year in Canada and has plans to get hundreds more stores up and running but first they're waiting to see how the flagship store fares. The reason is not because Canada is slow to embrace American chains. Most of us are familiar with these names from having traveled extensively in the US and exposure to American cable channels and print media. It's because their prices will be up to 35% higher here than in the US and because we are exposed to Americana so thoroughly, we will notice. The prices are higher due to the difference in dollar value, yes, and Canadians are willing to accept that but 35% higher is far more than the difference in the US exchange rate.

It is a legitimate price difference that factors in all kinds of add on costs like transportation, distribution and tariffs. Yes Walmart faces these same issues but they are so huge they can absorb some of the differential in cost and, well, it's Walmart and Walmart is massive.


Orders are only available in Canadian Provinces.  Suck it US and Canadian Territories!
Aww I didn't mean it, Territories. ((hugs)) and suck it

I am not the only crazy person to love cheese and I'm particularly fond of a specific cheddar from my youth which is not available in Western Canada. So I buy it online and have it shipped. I kinda laughed when I saw that Thornloe only ships in Canada.  Poor sad people not living in Canada. This is truly the best cheddar in the world.

Anyway I was also reminded of an ancient series of advertisements by Red Rose, a Canadian tea company, whose tag line pointed out that it was only available in Canada. Here's one:





Anyhoo, we pay more for the same products when they come from the US and that's that. Can we change it? Well, I would ask what Canadian would be willing to become the 51st state?  Cuz that would change things dramatically.  No border? No problem. I consider it the lesser of two evils because do Canadians really want to be the 23rd province of the People's Republic of China? 


2012 - Year of the Dragon

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's In a Surname?

This is one of those posts that starts out talking about one thing and ends up talking about something else.

Baker, Fisher, Lawyer, Cooke, Archer, Barber, Smith are all English surnames derived from crafts or skills associated with that name and they're all mostly self explanatory. ie: Smith = blacksmith/metal worker

Oh yes, my hair is thatched.  It's thatched real good.


The Oscar nominated film, The Iron Lady, got me thinking about surnames, specifically, Thatcher, and obviously that name is derived from the craft of thatching or building thatch roofs.  Which lead me to this:


Wow...just...wow.



Seriously, move me in here stat!














Thatching is an ancient method that is in use both in the tropics and temperate climates. It is also used in developing countries because it is inexpensive but by contrast it is also the choice of wealthy people who want a rustic look for their home or who wish to use environmentally friendly building materials. It is also used where law requires an owner to maintain a home in its original state. There are more thatched roofs in England than in any other European country. Thatching is also widely used in Asia including Japan and Korea.  

Thatching ideally uses vegetation found around a farm. Straw, reed, sedge, rushes and heather are utilized to create thatch. The skill of thatching is traditionally passed down from generation to generation. Man what I wouldn't give to interview a master thatcher right now.

Traditionally, a new layer of straw was simply applied over the weathered surface. Over 250 roofs in Southern England have base coats of thatch that were applied over 500 years ago, providing direct evidence of the types of materials that were used for thatching in the medieval period. - Wikipedia

Thatch is not as flammable as you may think because it is extremely dense and tends to burn slowly like a closed book, but because of its perceived flammability, thatched homes are harder to insure.

Swiss cottage


Closeup of thatching


Inside a thatched roof.  Doesn't it look warm?  I bet it smells awesome.
This inside view shows the lathing.  The base to which the thatch is applied.

Thatch is perfectly reliable in snowy conditions and like any roof it's durability depends mostly on the materials and construction of its base. With new layers of straw being added to existing roofs, this ‘spar coating’ tradition has created accumulations of thatch over 7’ (2.1 m) thick on very old buildings.  I'd say that would be insulation enough in cold weather.


There is a series of videos on YouTube showing how a thatched roof is made but it's split up into many parts.  


Part Two shows the initial application of the reeds.



Part Five is the wrap up.

I searched far and wide for a single how-to video on thatched roofs but could find nothing in English. Here is a link to a video on how thatched roofs are made featuring Glen Holloway, a master thatcher in Dorset, England.

For a gallery of photos of thatched roofs by Glen Holloway, featured in the above video link, click here.  

I don't know what it is about thatching and thatched roofs that fascinates me.  Maybe it's the fact that millions of individual reeds make up the solid plane of a roof.  Maybe it's the fact that it is literally an ancient craft that has not changed much throughout the centuries and today's thatchers working their craft is like a window into architectural history.  Whatever it is, there is nothing as quaint and cozy as a teeny, tiny, Cotswolds cottage with a thatched roof and garden and I wish I was in one right now.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stupid Driver Rant

Oh hai!  Don't mind me, I'm obstructing your path for an extra special driving challenge!

What you're looking at here is a photo taken by me on my way home from work today. I'm approaching a residential intersection and there is a huge pile of snow (red circle) being crafted by a grader-type machine (yellow arrow).  This pile is right in the middle of the road and the grader is carrying on without regard to traffic and without any signs warning that there is road work going on. No orange cones, no flag people, no indication of how we are to navigate this obstruction. Just a guy in a Caterpillar piling snow and traffic be damned.

The SUV, on the right traveling ahead of me, gradually slowed down and pulled over while the driver assessed what the hell was going on. I took the picture, passed her, pulled a u-turn and went home a different way. Because WTF?

This town is so retarded.  Remember this is the town that has a bylaw in place that makes it illegal for school buses to use their red flashing lights?  You know, because a child has to die before someone will change that law.

I saw a city road crew working in the right hand lane of a main thoroughfare last year. Their "lane closed" sign was no more than fifty feet from where the crew was doing the work. Do you know how little time it takes for a vehicle to cover fifty feet going 60 kph?  NO time. No time to change lanes, and virtually no time whatsoever if someone happened to be glancing elsewhere briefly. That would be what happened to a guy in a jeep ahead of me. He ran over their little toy traffic cones and came to a halt right in front of the guys working on the road.

Oh and this town's drivers are just as retarded. The guy in the jeep flipped ME the bird. What the hell did I have to do with it?  Today I came across an SUV doing 30 in a 50. This happens all the time.  Sometimes there's two of them driving side by side like annoying, pace cars on the slow road to hell. Or how about the people who ride your tail, pass you then slow down?  Why don't cops ticket these people?  It's against the law to drive well below the speed limit too!  Then there's the ones that can't regulate their speed at all and fluctuate between 20 or 30 kph up and down for no discernible reason! I figure if you're driving you should know what the hell you're doing. How did you pass the test? I've never been patient behind the wheel.  In fact I turn into a different person completely.  But folks, pick a speed and stick to it, OK?


Seriously


Albino Model

Diandra Forrest is an African-American albino and model.  She's 5'11" with blonde hair and hazel eyes and is considered stunningly beautiful.    What do you think?










Stunningly beautiful for a zombie, maybe





I think she is interesting but only because of the albinism, but stunningly beautiful? Oh hell no. Not in my opinion, but awesome that she's making a good living off her unique looks.


Brainzzzzzzz
And for all the haters who can't read and who completely missed the point of this post, this is my idea of beautiful:




I got this from a Pinterest page called Natural Hairstyles - Teeny Weeny Afro (TWA). So again, in review, our post subject is interesting, but in my opinion, not beautiful. It has nothing to do with racism but if that's your only frame of reference I don't judge you. It's just not mine.

A Slab of Moo and Make It Bloody

There's a scene in The Emperor's New Groove where an evil minion morphs into a short order cook at a diner. Both he and the server place and serve orders using slang terms for food or diner lingo. I've always thought diner lingo was amusing and it almost went extinct but is enjoying a renewed popularity.  It has has some influence on our language, "mayo" is diner lingo for example.  Here are some more examples:


Sinker and suds



single with a shimmy and a shake



Abbott and Costello



Elephant dandruff



Bossy on a board



Burn one, take it through the garden, pin a rose on it and give it shoes.  Hold the grass.
(Hamburger with lettuce tomato and onion, or loaded, for take out, on second thought, no lettuce)




Cowboy with spurs



Adam and Eve on a raft and wreck 'em



Mike and Ike


"A slab of moo and make it bloody" means I order my steak rare.  For a huge list of diner slang check out this web site here.

Concerning Chris Brown's Grammy Tweet


Well, that would be because he's retarded AND ugly

Grabbed this from failbook.com. It's true.  Not the "still just a woman..." caption, nobody should be beating anyone up even if they are assholes, but the comparison between what he should have said (and felt) and what he did say. The tweet was all him, without being filtered through his publicist, and reflects the debased mentality of a self important, entitled, mentally challenged man.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mumford and Sons - The Cave

Apparently they performed this song at the Grammys.  I really need to get out more.

 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Where Did You Say That Was?

So I was reading Cracked today and came across this vague reference to a place in Canada:

Canadians.  *face palm*

Spruce Grove, Canada would be where exactly?  That's like saying "They found the fountain of youth in Lumberton, USA!!".  It bothers me a little but only because even credible sources don't seem to understand that geographically speaking Canada is the second largest country in the world until China assimilates us.  Would this same source cite a town in America without its state?  You might ask; "How many Spruce Groves can there be, Frimmy?"  OK, I'm busted.  Maybe there's only one and maybe it's right here in Alberta.  I was just trying to deflect that but it was only ever going to be a one way road to Quackville.  Yes, there is a guy who considers a buffalo a house pet and he lives nearby.  Oh and Brokeback Mountain was almost entirely filmed nearby.  And Shanghai Noon.

Cracked article was "The Most Incredible Real World Beast Masters" and you can read it here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sponge Toffee...

...is not nearly as good as I remember it.



I don't know why I liked it as a kid.  Because it was sugar?  Anyway if I eat too much, and that isn't much, it does weird things to my tongue.  Did it do that when I was a kid too?  I don't remember.   Maybe I didn't notice.



Canadians have a Crunchie Bar which is chocolate covered sponge toffee.  I don't mind that and it's the rare occasion where I feel chocolate inproves something.  Still, I didn't really notice I didn't like the toffee until I ate it alone this past week.  

The older I get the more I eat like an old person.  Pretty soon I'll be ordering a small, black, decaf coffee, regular untoasted egg salad sandwiches (and complain about how hard the bun is) and old fashion plain donuts at Tim Hortons.

Brigham Young - Gay

In the wake of Anne Frank's re-conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, someone has created a web site to convert any dead Mormon to homosexuality. I saw this on the Dirty Disher's blog and had to repost it. Mormons baptize the dead and this has not been the first time Anne Frank has been a Mormon. It's happened several times before and actions like these have provoked outrage in the Jewish community and lead to an agreement from the Mormons to never baptize holocaust victims. Fortunately, Mormons can 'take-back' baptisms and have had to do it on numerous occasions when someone has noticed. How many have they successfully baptized without anyone noticing?




"alldeadmormonsarenowgay" was made as a joking rebuttal to the Mormon church's insistence on converting dead people and we all know payback is a bitch. You want to convert people who have no free choice in the matter based on your freaky belief system? OK. Your dead grandfather is now gay.  

The Mormon idea is that souls live on and families exist in time. So converting a dead relative is a way to ensure that that person's soul is saved from hell.  The idea is that if you personally are a descendant of this person, and you are Mormon, you can have your ancestor baptized. It's completely altruistic.  *dead eye stare* How many could have descended from Anne Frank, a 15 year old girl with no children? The Mormon church has been busy baptizing dead people like a contestant at a hot dog eating contest scarfs down wieners.   Every past president who has died is a Mormon. Pretty sure Albert Einstein is.  I wonder if they have baptized any Saddam Husseins or Osama Bin Ladens?  They could really use the extra boost in afterlife goodwill.   

Ancestry.com, a for profit date base for researching genealogies, is based in Provo Utah and was started by two Brigham Young graduates. Ostensibly this would seem like a noble service but with the whole baptizing dead people thing you just know there's something else going on here. They're providing information to me, for a fee, on my dead people which they have already acquired.  Why do they have this information in the first place?

In the end their belief is nonsense and I feel no threat personally.  Baptize me after I'm dead?  That's fine, whatever, if it makes you feel better.  I'll leave milk and cookies out for Santa when he visits next too.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mini Vacation


I'll be next door at the Clay & Glass Museum



I'll be away for a few days.  Please try to spam my blog with posts about how much you miss me.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Maraschino Cherries

I love maraschino cherries.  I'm the one collecting the cherries nobody wants on their desserts or banana splits.  I would gladly trade my ice cream for them.  In the beginning, these cherries were produced for and eaten primarily by royalty.  Lucky buggers.

When I did an image search of "maraschino cherry" a lot of images came up of red cherries hanging from branches. They do NOT grow this way they are made this way in pretty much the same way pickles are made.

  

Does this really look like anything nature could grow?


This is what nature grows

Maraschino cherries originally came from Marascha cherries in Croatia. They are picked when ripe, bleached and then a maraschino liquor is added to colour and flavour them. The liquor used to be alcohol based but now is mainly a sugar syrup with food colour and almond flavouring.

Years ago any cherry not following this exact method, using another kind of cherry for example, were legally required to be labeled "imitation". Now different cherries are used and they are considered authentic as long as they are:
cherries which have been dyed red, impregnated with sugar and packed in a sugar sirup [sic] flavored with oil of bitter almonds or a similar flavor"


Chocolate covered cherry martini


I got the picture of the multi coloured cherries here



Now 'maraschino' cherries come in different colours and flavours.  Brilliantly coloured and resembling nothing in nature, they are flavoured with mango, berry, lime and lemon.


Multi coloured jello shots.  Recipe here

I went looking for maraschino cherries online today because I bought Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream on whim yesterday and found lots of chocolate but very few cherries.  I'm not much of a chocolate lover.  I tolerate it to get to the cherry.  I'd like to see more cherry love out there.  Do I have to make everything myself?

Want to try your hand at making them yourself?  There is a recipe here.

How Maraschino Cherries are made by professionals



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tiniest Chameleon Found

I love chameleons. A newly discovered species of chameleon perches on a scientist's fingertip. The miniature lizard was discovered on the African island nation of Madagascar, and measures just tens of millimetres from head to tail. It's a chameleon AND it's tiny! Aww!


 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nebulae - Hubble Heritage

I have a fondness for the way NASA and the Hubble scientists depict the galaxies and nebulae captured in images over the years.  Yes, the photos have been filtered various ways and look like paintings, but they're not.  They're real live outer space objects that look like art.  














And a Rose Galaxy for Valentine's Day (yes, you've seen it here before):



It seems no matter how far out we cast our eyes, or no matter how microscopically we peer in, we find beauty and complexity.