So they’re talking about

Diaspora again.

(I don’t mind ello, but who knows if anyone will bother logging in after a while.) (Of course, scarcely anyone I know was talking on diaspora in the past three years, either.)

Anyway if you should happen to need a diaspora invite, let me know.

My diaspora account links from the thingie up on the right (FOLLOW ME) and also you can share there from the * icon below.

August 2014 Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

No, not really an electric boogaloo, but I wanted this stuff separate from the other stuff.

Burger King, Home of the Whopper, is buying Tim Horton’s, home of the double-double. The reason? not some imagined corporate synergy melding the two brands (which really couldn’t be more different): a means to (legally) avoid paying US corporate tax, for the glory and increased enrichment of shareholders.

This kind of thing makes me sick. I expect that, over the years, the Burger King company has received billions of dollars of largesse from the IRS and state and local revenue agencies, for bringing (crappy, low-wage) jobs and (shitty, fast) food revenues to its thousands of operating jurisdictions. Tim Horton’s is an iconic Canadian brand, despite being kind of crappy and serving doughnuts that suck in comparison to the Tim’s doughnuts of yesteryear (they went to a centralized system, but what works for FedEx doesn’t really work for doughnuts, and they taste stale and bleah now, IMO. Oú sont-ils, les beignets d’antan?). They serve coffee that a people can feel virtuous buying, rather than contributing to that foreign mermaid company’s juggernaut.

So I mean I don’t eat at BK and I haven’t in years and years, and I don’t eat at Timmy’s in the normal course, although the odd airport visit isn’t out of the question. So my boycott and disapproval doesn’t amount to puddle of warm spit, really.

But there has to be some kind of public payback for companies that refuse to make their fair contribution to the countries in which they operate. Siphoning off profits to another jurisdiction only to funnel them into offshore bank accounts does not meet the social contract of a civilized society.

If you want to do business in the US, pay US taxes. And if the Timmy’s people are short-sighted enough to sell to a bunch of asshole foreigners, well, I hope they’re going to be pleased with the scorn of fair-minded Canadians, which they have surely earned.

August 2014

What a time. It’s a head-shaker, as in, I look around and listen to the views that people are vigourously espousing, and they just make me shake my head, because really? there’s some doubt that a person bearing no weapons is unarmed? please get out your dictionary.

Really? it seems appropriate to shoot at someone (an unarmed someone) ten or eleven times for, I don’t know…mouthing off? after you got on their case for walking in the street?

If Darren Wilson were black and Michael Brown were white, would you still think it appropriate? …Really? Really.

If Michael Brown were all geek and tapioca, sang in the church choir, never smoked a joint or uttered a swear and didn’t like rap music, his life would somehow be more valuable than it was, with those grave grave infractions against him?  because, you know, it’s not like probably 90% of the 18-year-old kids of all colours in the USA have listened to rap music or have smoked a joint or have uttered a swear. Actually it’s probably more like 95%.

Shooting someone down in the street, I thought, was reserved for halting imminent danger to life and limb. I really don’t understand what about jaywalking or backtalk or anything, from a distance of 10 feet or whatever, in broad daylight, was cause for murder.

I really don’t understand why the police department didn’t initiate the usual procedures with respect to an officer-involved shooting–the procedures that seem to be usual in every other police department.

I really don’t understand that knee-jerk “Support LEO” attitude that leaves no room for waiting and seeing the results of an internal investigation, or since one of those doesn’t seem to be in the offing, an external investigation. Waiting and seeing is usually seen as the prudent course of action.

Of course, Officer Wilson wasn’t one to wait and see, either.

 

So there’s a confluence

of events just now, involving some people who are friends, and it feels like a kind of nodal point, if  you know what I mean.

Our neighbours, who are awesome activist “green” people whom I admire, have a great child whom I’ve been able to glimpse growing up.  Enthusiastic and athletic and attractive, laughs a lot and loves to bake stuff, a great kid! The other day, Roan spoke to the Vancouver School Board in support of fewer sex-segregated activities and greater inclusivity and sensitivity for LGBTQ kids in Vancouver schools, because while high school is heinous for kids who “conform” I know if must be even more dire for kids who don’t. Roan got some grief for it and had to sit through some people saying ignorant and dumb things (as people do), and her amazing mum had to watch it  happen and you can only imagine how that is, right.

And so I know I am far from the most sensitive person, and I put my foot in it all the time by mistake and out of ignorance, but seriously? the only people of whom I am intolerant are the intolerant ones.  And it makes me want to punch things (or, you know, get eloquent patient people to gently explain, if that would work better) that why is it so hard to treat people based on who they are, or how you’d like to be treated, rather than who they think is sexy? or how maybe they feel better if you call them a him instead of a her, or vice versa. What difference does it make? People are people. Insert another 1980s song here.

My Main Distractor subscribes to Wil Wheaton’s saying, “Don’t be a dick,” which is the modern version of the Golden Rule, and I mean even the Jesus-religious-people are supposed to love each other and everyone else, right? so why do they freak out so much about things that have absolutely no relevance to them? I can’t really imagine anything less relevant to me than who my neighbour wants to have sex with, unless it’s me.  Our marriage is just as marriagey as anyone else’s, gay or not. Every time a gay couple marries, it makes me a little verklempt …because it’s a wedding! Why does that upset people? how insecure can a person be, that someone else’s happiness freaks them out?

And on another note of relevance, a friend who is transitioning from male to female was declined as a blood donor, because…well, no good reason. Canadian Blood Services should square themselves away and update their eligible donor criteria, because they need all the donors they can get! and gender transition absent any other contraindications is…completely irrelevant with respect to blood donation.

I don’t know. We seem to have a pretty large proportion of gay friends, and they’re just as weird as our not-gay friends. Maybe a bit less weird, really, on the whole. We have some weird friends. Oooh, maybe we’re weird!

Cool.

Hobby Lobby update

Further to my last post, I wanted to note that Mother Jones has discovered a little more hypocrisy than I expected out of Hobby Lobby.

While the company’s petition to the court stated that they conduct their business in accordance with their religious principles–such as by not selling shot glasses, for example–their company 401(k) invests in funds that have holdings in a bunch of pharmaceutical companies that make all kinds of birth control and such. This is something that many religious people avoid, and it’s not particularly difficult to do.

(Their completely incorrect assertions about how various methods of birth control work, such that they claim that various methods that prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, or delay ovulation, or what have you, are committing abortions, which, basically, any scientist or physician would laugh their face off if they heard them, are apparently moot! which I don’t understand. I mean if the court had a case before it where a plaintiff swore inside out and upside down that dogs lay eggs and his neighbour was stealing them every day, when clearly dogs do not lay eggs, would they be obliged to accept his sincerely held belief that dogs lay eggs? I mean I just don’t get it. The whole basis for their case turns on a factual inaccuracy.)

On top of the fact that they seem to be happy to profit from the earnings of the pharmaceutical evildoers, Hobby Lobby’s employee medical insurance used to cover drugs like Plan B until 2012. Covering various drugs and services used to be completely voluntary: some companies cover dental, for example, while others don’t; some companies decline to cover Viagra or some expensive drugs. But this God-fearing company that won’t even facilitate toasting a bride and groom with a personalized shot glass was happy to cover drugs that actually do provide abortions!

It seems to me that they decided to get all hard line so they could a) get a shit-ton of publicity; and b) possibly help overturn the dread Obamacare. Because if their principles were so very dear and hewn-to, surely they would have been hewing to them before 2012?

Employers, religion, and health insurance.

So the idea that a company can refuse to pay for birth control because of its “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Talk about a slippery slope.

Leaving aside the fact that a company is not a human with beliefs or feelings, it is a legal entity that exists to do business of some kind; leaving aside the generally-accepted idea that a person’s religious beliefs end at the end of a person’s fingertips (i.e., you cannot force me to behave in accordance with your religious beliefs because I am an autonomous person); the thing about this Hobby Lobby case, to me, is where does it stop?

There are religions that don’t believe in drinking alcohol. Does that mean that they can refuse to provide health coverage for cirrhosis or other liver diseases that may be related to alcohol consumption?

There are religions that don’t believe in smoking tobacco. Does that mean that they can refuse to treat lung cancer or heart disease or emphysema or COPD related to smoking? what about second-hand smoke? What about a kid who’s burned in a house fire started by his parent smoking carelessly?

Gluttony is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Does that mean that they can refuse to cover insulin treatments and diabetes-related medical problems, because they sincerely believe that the condition is a direct result of gluttony?

There are religions that think that dancing is a sin. Does that mean that they can refuse to treat the ankle you sprain square-dancing?

Are employees going to be required to get approval from their employers every time they want to see a doctor? will they have to fill out a form, detailing what is wrong, and how it happened, and whether any banned activities were involved, and beg to be permitted to seek medical care?

My personal belief is that it is none of my employer’s goddam business what I discuss with my doctor, or what medicines I may be prescribed, or anything else. A person’s relationship with their physician is, to me, what some people’s relationships with their religious leaders are: sacrosanct, and private.

And my employers should not be able to nose their way in, any more than legislators should.

Granny Smith Goat Cheese Crumble

And so, inspired by the Aurora Bistro dinner, I attempted the goat cheese apple crumble, because it was Valentine’s Day and my Main Distractor loved it so.

My recipe was basically cobbled together. I used about 4 Granny Smiths because I wanted that tartness and firm texture. So peeled, thinly sliced…about 1/8 inch thick. I used a square pyrex dish, cooking-sprayed or use butter.

I used two of those small logs of soft goat cheese, melted into about 3/4 of a cup of milk and a cup of cream, a little salt, a very little pepper, a tiny bit of nutmeg, and I threw a largeish sprig of thyme into the pot while it heated up and simmered to reduce, keep stirring so it doesn’t stick.

I started out the dish with a layer of cheese sauce on the bottom, then layered apples and sauce, making sure I had sauce to put on top.

Then I topped it with my crumble stuff: 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup flour, scant 1/2 cup sugar, bit of salt, mix that up then add a quarter pound of softened butter and mush it up with your fingers till you get chunky bits.

I baked it uncovered at 350F for around 35 minutes; it was still quite liquid. It did much better the second day, when I had heated it up again in the oven. So I can say rather to keep it in for an hour, or else add less milk/simmer it until it’s more of a béchamel than a clam chowder thickness.

apple goat cheese crumble

It’s a tasty item; a little sweet, and a little savoury; very suitable for dessert if you don’t want anything too sweet. I think it would be great as dessert with a caramel sauce, maybe, too. But it also would not be out of place with meat or poultry as a main course.

Aurora Bistro

Last night, the Main Distractor and I SkyTrained out to the wilds of New Westminster to go to a restaurant reunion of a place that, sadly, was closed before he had a chance to try it out.

Aurora Bistro was one of the first BC food, BC wine, great technique, affordable prices restaurants in Vancouver, that I knew of, at least. (Bishop’s was the first local and seasonal restaurant, AFAIK, but however fantastic it is (and it is!) it’s not particularly affordable to the likes of me.) It may have been the only one that did what it did so well, and at a price point that you could go to on more than just special occasions. My dad, in particular, really loved the food, and was always happy to take me there.

Well, they did a one night only reunion last night, and we thought it was just great. Chef Jeff van Geest has always been the most good-natured, helpful guy–he has shared two recipes with me that I probably shouldn’t have had the temerity to ask for–and his food is just great. Really well prepared without being froufy and full of itself. The menu for last night is at the link above, and everything was just delicious. Some photos:

Dungeness Crab & Potato Cake green pea puree & preserved lemon aioli served with Tinhorn Creek 2013 Pinot Grigio


Seared Halibut Cheeks lentils, brown butter, grapefruit served with Tinhorn Creek 2012 Chardonnay


Fennel Crusted Pork Tenderloin apple goat cheese crumble, maple mustard jus served with Tinhorn Creek Old Fields 2010 Syrah


Yogurt Panna Cotta hazelnut sponge, beet gel, streusel served with Tinhorn Creek 2012 Gewürtztraminer

Really delicious meal, with lovely people. Front of house ably represented by the inimitable Kurtis Kolt and Katharine Manson, and Chefs Dan Tigchelaar and Hugh Carbery joined Chef Jeff in producing the excellent plates seen above.

The best part is that it may not be a one-off after all: it sold out in less than 24 hours, and everyone that was there was extremely happy to be there; there were also many who were disappointed not to be there. So I think it’s something they could do annually, or maybe even quarterly, if they cared to. I think I can say that we would be more than happy to go again :)

So the driving rage.

I don’t usually get into it here, because there’s a certain lack of respect from other drivers that you have to accept when you ride a cute scooter. I mean if you don’t accept it you’ll do bad things to your blood pressure, so it’s really not worth it.

But anyone who’s ridden in a car with me knows that I’m not the sort to keep my mouth shut when someone’s driving like an asshole. I mean there are driving conventions (that also happen to be laws) like signalling your turns and lane changes, and not cutting people off, and just generally not being a dick. That last one’s not a law, but if you follow it, chances are you won’t break any laws. And most of these things are really really easy to do.

On a scooter there are different things…people can’t tell the difference between a small and large displacement (well, larger!) engine, so they assume you’re going less than the speed limit even if you’re going the usual prevailing speed, that’s usually around 10 kph over, in the city, so they will zoom past you (usually on the right) regardless of how fast you might be going. So you end up getting passed by some oblivious cock doing 80 or 90 kph on a 50 kph road. Who then cuts you off and realizes how fast he’s going, so slams on the brakes.

There’s this prevailing need also to get in front of the scooter, so no matter how much room there is behind me in a lane, 90% of people will go out of their way to go in front of me.

That’s the usual kind of thing. I generally count any day where someone doesn’t actively try to kill me with their car as a good day.

Today I was parked at the bank, stopped in to use the machine. The bank was open, so there were actual bank customers in their parking spots, and there were the usual people who park in the bank slots to go to the rather revolting well known sandwich shop that is nearby, I guess it was lunchish time, so both parking areas were reasonably busy, although not chock-full.

I park in the last slot, next to the alley T-intersection. I’m just getting my gloves on and getting ready to go when this big pickup parks next to me, out of the slots, in the alley. There are other spots available–I mean plus I’m clearly leaving, so the slot I’m in will be available in short order–I looked at the truck, continue getting ready to go, he gets out of the truck and comes over to stand in front of me, all 5’8″ and a buck-fifty of him.  In a very reasonable tone of voice, he asks me if I’m talking to him. I wasn’t, and reply that I wasn’t. I don’t think I actually was saying anything. He asks me if I have a problem, I say no; I say but that’s not actually a parking space you’re in. He says, sure it is! I snort my derision, he gets blustery and belligerent and asks me rather less pleasantly if I’m a traffic cop and what am I going to do about it, and I say no, I’m fucking nobody and get the fuck out of there, because seriously, what kind of guy takes his wife to the Subway for lunch and then picks a fight with some random lady in the parking lot?

I pity you, you sad, sad, little man.

Still alive.

How many posts have had that title? according to my URL, I guess it’s three :p

Got through Christmas , got the excellent present from the Main Distractor’s parental units of VIP tickets to the Moogfest in Asheville in April (hence the countdown whatsit on the right there). We’re going to see Kraftwerk (3 shows!) and Giorgio Moroder, and Nile fucking Rodgers, and apparently MIA and Pet Shop Boys and Laurie damn Anderson, speaking and performing, and I mean if you weren’t in NYC in the 80s, how would you ever expect to have an opportunity to see Laurie Anderson perform? I’m so completely psyched for that.

There are apparently a few more acts to come; I really hope that Gary Numan is among them, since it would fit with his tour schedule and surely he’s worked with a Moog or two over the years? and I haven’t seen him live. And also fingers crossed for maybe a Daft Punk special appearance with Nile Rodgers and Chic or all by themselves :D and I can imagine all kinds of awesome special guests for him, really, he’s worked on SO MUCH AWESOME stuff.

Anyway, that’s my current look-forward.