Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Weekly Joke

Every night, Joe would go down to the liquor store, get a six pack, bring it home, and drink it while he watched TV. One night, as he finished his last beer, the doorbell rank. He stumbled to the door and found a six-foot cockroach standing there. The bug grabbed him by the collar and threw him across the room, then left.The next night, after he finished his 4th beer, the doorbell rang. He walked slowly to the door and found the same six-foot cockroach standing there. The big bug punched him in the stomach, then left.The next night, after he finished his 1st beer, the doorbell rang again. The same six-foot cockroach was standing there. This time, he was kneed in the groin and hit behind the ear as he doubled over in pain. Then the big bug left.The fourth night Joe didn't drink at all. The doorbell rang. The cockroach was standing there. The bug beat the snot out of Joe, pumped his eyes shut and left him in a heap on the living room floor.The following day, Joe went to see his doctor. He explained the events of the preceding four nights. "What can I do?" he pleaded."Not much" the doctor replied. "There's just a nasty bug going around."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cult of the Sierra Lima - Mr. Bhig and Beaumont

Adam approached the building with hesitation. These meetings always made him a little nervous, the not knowing what to expect, and the thought of being the next one chosen for a mission always a guaranteed an onslaught of anxiety producing endorphins. A quick glance at his watch revealed he was a little early, which was just the way he wanted it. Adam was hoping no one would be here yet accept for Mr. Bhig and Beaumont, getting a feel for what the meeting would entail prior to the arrivals of the others was a great benefit to him, and he used this to his advantage more than once.
Adam walked up to the doorman. "Please come in, They are expecting you," he said. Walking through a kitchen, down some stairs and through a hallway he was ushered into the meeting room, and shown the table where Mr. Bhig and Beaumont sat.
Beaumont looks up, "Adam, have a seat. First again I see." he says.
"I try! So.. what do ya have in store for us tonight?" Adam asked, trying hard to hide the look on his face that undoubtedly looked nervous.
Mr. Bhig didn't really smile. Before he began to speak Adam already knew what he was going say.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cult of the Sierra Lima - Brett

One thing Brett couldn't stand was not knowing what was going on. Brett was an information junkie, always needed to know everything about everything and everyone to a point of almost being interventional. He had two internet feeds into his house just incase one might fail, and one did once for 22 hours and that, he thought, justified the twin feeds for years to come. Brett just happen to be sitting in front of his dual 27" LCD monitors, taking a big bite of his PizzaPop when his MSN messenger popped up a window:

You said you wanted in? Now's your chance. Don't ask questions, get your ass over to my place we'll go the meeting together, but you better hurry. If anyone asks, you're meeting some friends for a beer.

It was his good friend Dirk. Brett couldn't contain his excitement and was out door before he was done chewing. He overheard a few cryptic phone calls between Dirk and some others in the past, something about a Cult. He had to know, nothing could stop him from getting to that meeting. Nothing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cult of the Sierra Lima - Kevin

Kevin woke up suddenly from an early evening nap, he would have probably slept through the night had it not been for the vibration of his blackberry still holstered to his side. The TV was still tuned to CNN, talk of more imminent hurricanes was the topic of the hour, with replays of Anderson Cooper being tossed around like a rag doll during a live transmission of a category four hurricane landfall somewhere in the southern states. Pictures of leaves being violently torn from trees, trees being torn from the ground, ground being torn from the earth. His blackberry vibrates again. On the screen is a message:

Congregating under large trees or finding the home entertainment service can only reach cold headless endorphin drenched lackeys encircling a fire. Be at the meeting place in 15 minutes.

Kevin puts on his shoes and leaves without turning off the TV.

Cult of the Sierra Lima - Tony

Tony looked at this watch, it was a remarkable time piece and a constant reminder of the success in his life as an entrepreneur, and through the sapphire face of the Rolex, the gold hands told him it was time to go. Tony left his downtown suite, pulled out a cigarette and began to walk down 1st street, making his way toward the railway underpass.

Thoughts of the meeting brought on some inescapable anxiety, but he knew what had to be done, there wasn't much time left. The leaves were almost falling from the trees and days were becoming shorter..

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cult of the Sierra Lima - Adam

It was a little colder out that night than it should have been being the summer wasn't even officially over yet, it wasn't even the end of August. Adam was not the best at remembering things, but he did remember his jacket, based on the earlier recommendation of his over cautious but always caring girlfriend. He was going for a walk, "meeting an old friend for a beer" was the line he told her.

Adam noticed that a few leaves on trees had already started to turn yellow and brown, preparing for the inevitable separation from the tree which gave them life. Much to soon for the Fall, I hope we'll have enough time, he thought to himself as he began to pick up the pace walking down 17th Ave towards his destination, a small little hole in the wall where he would meet the seven others.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Legend of Shen Nung

One day about 5000 years ago, China Emperor Shen Nung and his company were travelling to the far edges of his great empire. During his travels, Emperor Nung, being quite paranoid of becoming ill, required all water be boiled prior to drinking. While his servants boiled pots of water, some dried out leaves from nearby bushes landed in the pots causing it to be infused it into a brown liquid. Instead of throwing it away, the Emperor's curiosity got the better of him and upon tasting the brew was refreshed by it. This is the legend of how tea came to be.

One day about three weeks ago, Blog writer Alex found tea.

I was told about a place in Calgary called "Steeps" which is conveniently located on 17th Ave in downtown. Steeps is a Tea House, devoted completely to loose leaf teas from around the world. In Steeps is a stack of tea tins, with over 75 varieties of teas allowing you can open the cans and smell the aromas from each tea prior to choosing one for purchase. This is very beneficial, cause teas taste just like they smell. (One could argue that you are actually using your nose to taste being that the tongue can only detect four tastes; sweet, sour, bitter and salty) This is how my tea addiction began.

I was quite surprised to learn that all teas, yes, every single one of the teas offered around the world, all come from the same plant. The plant is the Camellia Sinensis. The location of the tea and it's fermentation processes are what give different teas unique characteristics. Black tea, the most common, is made black by fermenting the leaves to 100% oxidation. Green tea is just the same as black tea, but without fermentation oxidation, Oolong tea allows about 50% fermentation and white tea is young tea leaves picked and then processed very quickly with steam. Flavoured teas like Earl Grey (one of my favorites) is simply just black tea with Bergamot orange rind, and English Breakfast tea is just a combination of four black teas from various areas around the world. Orange Pekoe is not a tea flavour or a combination at all. Orange Pekoe is simply a grade of the leaf used in the tea, it's the largest leaf.

My first loose leaf tea purchase was a white tea called "Leopard Snow Buds". White tea is rich in antioxidants, low in caffeine and presents with a very light color. It has to be brewed at about 77 degrees C for about 2 minutes. This makes it a little finicky, dumping boiling water (95C) on a white tea leaf will result in off tasting bitter tea, but trying to infuse the tea below 77 degrees C can give watery results. I've purchased a thermometer for my teas. Green teas follow these rules as well, but black teas need boiling water to infuse.

Since the white tea purchase, I've also obtained a few green and black teas. Yamamoto Green which is Japanese green blend flavoured with orange and lemon grass, and Geisha Green which is high quality Japanese greens flavoured with strawberry and red currents. My black teas are Royal Earl Grey, flavoured with Bergamot and Jasmine and my current favorite Steinthal FTGFOP, which is from a 150 year old tea farm in the Darjeeling district of India. FTGFOP means Fine Tippy Golden Fannings Orange Pekoe, and that translates to good stuff.

I haven't been to Tim Horton's for a coffee in three weeks, not that I don't drink coffee anymore. Cathy picked me up some great coffee from the Shuswap district which I enjoy as well. I'm a little concerned that she bought me a coffee bean called "The Prince of Darkness", not because of the name but because she said it reminded her of me.. (insert evil grin here).

If you come over, ask for a cup. I'll brew you up 5000 years of history. If your planning a trip to Steeps on 17th, please take me with you, we'll call it a date, unless you're a guy then it'll just be a get together. Not that there's anything wrong with that.


Thursday, August 9, 2007


Over the last couple of days I've had the privilege to experience wine in a whole new way by visiting the wineries and vineyards of the Okanagan Valley. This is an amazing experience. I speak in the tense of the present, being as it is still ongoing in the form of the excessive consumption. Chris, Missy, Leona and myself have visited five wineries in the last two days, sampling from each of them. We started by visiting Arrowleaf and Gray Monk yesterday, then Mt Boucherie, Quail's Gate and ended with the best, Mission Hill. Mission Hill is amazing. The owner has created something most spectacular here, creating the illusion of stepping into a Tuscan painting. We opted for the tour and were taken into the belly of the winery, a cathedral of the grape preaching the religion of wine. 800 barrels of wine are stacked two high in a cellar framed by 30 foot archways, which could only have been inspired from old European churches. At the front of cellar stood a large stone table they called "the alter" where wines are tasted, celebrated and sacrificed to the lucky few who are invited for ceremony. Exposed stone walls are wet with running water, keeping the humidity at 80% and the temperature at a constant 13 degrees. On the side of the cellar is a large metal gate, protecting the "vault", a large room with a priceless wine vessel collection on the wall, one dating back to the bronze age. Some of the most valuable wines from around the world are kept in this room, decorated by aging cobwebs and dust. Remarkable.
As I draw a sip of wine, and as it brushes the palette of my mouth I can't help but think of wine as art, art for the soul and mind. I think of the passion, the dream, the history and the inspiration which led to it's existence, and I am grateful.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Kelowna Day One - It Sucks Here

So I'm in Kelowna today, yesterday, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. It sucks here. It's just Leo and myself here with Chris and Missy.. and no kids. When we got here, we had a sucky dinner made by Chris, with a few beer, which sucked cause beer sucks the big one. We then took a walk to the sucky beach just outside the sucky condo. Man does the condo SUCK! It sucks so bad, friggen tornado. Anyway I took my suckyass kite to the beach and flew it bad. I mean, it was real bad. The wind was sucking bigtime. I didn't have the needed 85 feet of beach for my lines so I had to stand in the sucky lake. Sucked, cause the sun was on my back and the choppy warm water was lapping up against my legs while I was flying my kite like a sucky champ. I made a bunch of people nervous with the violence of the air being torn and cut into a chop-sui of submission and domination all rolled up into one big fat sucky show of pure suckiness. Nervous people suck. I then had to go back to the condo to change cause my sucky shorts were wet.
What we did next really sucked. We went for a walk down the boardwalk to suckyass Rose's patio down the way, shared a large plate of nachos and had some sucky beer. The nachos sucked so bad, they were the suckiest nachos i've ever had, I mean they put jalapenos in the melted cheese. Who does that? Sucky people do. Then we went for more walking and stopped at a french bistro for a coffee and dessert. Usually I think french restaurants drip in 100% pure grade 1A awesomeness but this one sucked huge, it sucked like a vacuum on steroids. I had the Crème Brûlée and man, holy man, did that suck, but not as much as the cappuccino that accompanied it, we reached whole new levels of suckiness with that one.
Back at the condo, we play a game of Ticket to Ride, which kinda sucked, then went to bed.
I am now sitting on the balcony, the morning of day two, and the weather is looking like it might suck again.
I have to leave on friday. Man.. is that gonna be awesome, like Vanhalen concert awesome. I've never looked forward to something more in my life!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Couch Games

One of my all time favorite activities is getting together for socials with the great group of friends I have. Everyone has a few drinks, eats snacky type food, and the tolerance for stupidity is relaxed somewhat. I am made for the social activity. I love laughing with people, and making people laugh. I love Mark's one for one challenges, (although I'm sure this game was invented by Joylaine) and other games involving pain. I do however, truly hope that I am never considered an active participant in Mark and Chris's friggen sacking game, which should never be considered a game at all but an act of war. Horsing around aside, I love the group games we play, these are the games I like to call "couch games" .

The first couch game that comes to mind is "Things..". This is an ingenious little game which makes for a good time guaranteed. It's a very simple recipe, yet so devilishly delicious. One person reads from a card with a "thing" idea such as "Things which would make an opera more exciting", then using little papers the room writes down a "thing" that would make operas more exciting, all the papers then get placed in a hat, the reader then reads all the responses twice, followed by guesses of participants who wrote which Thing. This is one of the only games where winning doesn't matter. I have laughed myself to tears in this game, and think missy had contractions while we played once, man was that funny. You will find current themes in this game keep coming up based on tipping the laughter scale. This is the ingenious part of this game, what is funny in one situation is funnier in another. There's Gord's famous "thing", a vending machine, those of you playing know what I'm talking about. This special vending machine which performs a very special task has shown up everywhere, and it's over two years old! "Things.." good game.

The "Name Game" is a group get-to-know each other mixed in with some memory. Everyone writes a name of a famous person and places it in a hat. Then a reader reads them all out loud and it becomes a who-wrote-what game after this, but the names are never repeated. There's a few things I don't like about this game. It's hard to be creative, and the winner is the one who usually chooses the most forgettable name. It is quite sanitary though, it stays at a G rating for most of the time. Until of course Ray mixes it up a little and throws in the names "Heywood Jablowme" or "Dick Izinya" There are only a few times I laughed myself to a near stroke, that was one of them, mostly because my mom was reading them at the time, "Now.. vat de? Haary Paritesties? Now.. who is dat?" Crazy.

There's this other couch game we played once at Darren and Julie's introduced by Mark. I can't remember the name of the game but what I do remember is a whole lot of rules, and a crap load of laughter. We had to visually draw a pop culture slogan, pass it to the person beside you who would translate the picture into words, and then the next person would draw that slogan and so on.. very difficult for me cause I couldn't draw if my life depended on it. Trying drawing "Where Fresh is the Taste".. What made this game filled with aneurism inducing hilarity were Darren's renditions of the slogans. Holy crap, I actually couldn't look at his drawings at one point fearing that I would literally die from laughter. This is a definite do again.

Missy introduced another great couch game to us once called "Mafia". I've only played this game once, but from what I remember I can't wait to play again. It involves a story teller, and participants lying and acting, all without having to get yer butt out of the seat. I think I'm going to host a Mafia night where we do nothing else but play Mafia and of course drink wine and eat cheese. Who's in?