Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Spiced Almond Tart

A Christmas Story.

If I was the male version of Oprah, the one thing I would feature on the "Favorite Things" episode would be none other than the Spiced Almond Tart by the Glamorgan Bakery. I mean among other things of course, like Guitar Hero, a bottle of Reserve Perrin Cotes Du Rhone, Oso Negro Coffee, and a tin of Formosa Ali San Green Oolong, but the Spiced Almond Tart would be the grand finale.

The Spiced Almond Tart is quite simply, "Gevulde Speculaas" in a tart shell. Gevulde speculaas is well, dutch, and it translates directly into English as "The Food Of The Gods" Not many foods have this title, this one however does. What this means is, if you're going to heaven you better get used to them. If you're not.. well, I hope you like Whitloff (which translates into "Devils Toilet" or "Tastes like Crap" depending on which region of Holland you come from) If you for whatever reason find yourself eating Whitloff, and think you're going to die, you most likely are. Whitloff has just been approved as the new form of Capital Punishment in the state of Michigan. The only known antidote for Whitloff is.. yeah, the Spiced Almond Tart.

There it is. The Spiced Almond Tart in all it's ambrosial glory, sitting there, trapped behind the squeaky clean sparkling glass of the Glamorgan Bakery display case, waiting to fulfill the meaning to it's existence, but.. it's sad. It's sad because even though it knows of it's divine status among it's case mates, it feels small, dwarfed next to the apple pie sitting so smug beside it. "Why can't it be as big as the apple pie"? it says. "Shuttup.." shout the apple pies.

A few weeks ago I took it upon myself to discuss to the owner of the Bakery, the plight of the Spiced Almond Tart, how it wanted to be big, big like the Apple Pie. He stammered that it was not meant to be! Building a tart the size of an apple pie could have dire consequences! It could rupture the space time continuum forcing the earth to collapse in on itself! Too much of a good thing is one thing, but this would be too much of a perfect thing, and it would not be done. I couldn't help but reluctantly agree.

But on Christmas Day, under the tree, a present, marked only for me. I opened it up and no word of a lie, there inside.. A Spiced Almond Pie! I said You've GOT TO BE JOKING! This thing is HUGE! Not a bad gift for Alex the Scrooge. Glamorgan Bakery, thanks for the fun.. Next up? A giant Cheese Bun!

Thank you Glamorgan Bakery and Staff for making this a Merry Christmas, and for granting the wish of a Spiced Almond Tart, OK and for me too. ;-) YOU GUYS ROCK!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Vancouver, A City Underwater.

Vancouver is not dry, it's a city underwater, and surprisingly it's not because of the rain.
I have been working in Vancouver for the better part of the week, staying at the Pan Pacific, cabbing it to work and walking back. It's not a long walk, about 1/2 hour, but to make it interesting I choose a new route to walk back everyday. Something was brought to my attention and now I can't help but notice it every time. Vancouver has a huge addiction, you'd think everyone lived underwater.
The other night I made arrangements with my parents to have some dinner. It's come to be a custom when I work in Vancouver to have a sushi dinner at least one of the nights I am here with my parents who only live about 15 minutes away from downtown. We chose a favorite place and settled in with some cherry blossom rolls, "delicious" rolls, and salmon sashimi. As we sipped our warm sake, my mom made the comment that as they were walking down Robson St, the only restaurants which were full were Sushi restaurants. Raising an eyebrow, I wanted to learn more. For the next few days I tested this theory out, and cannot believe the contrast in business between Sushi restaurants and Non Sushi restaurants. I felt bad for the Italian restaurant with three people in it, looking out the window at the people standing in the rain waiting for a seat at the Sushi Restaurant next door. It's that bad. I would say without a lie that 75% of all lunch / dinner business in Vancouver is in the form of raw fish. Why is this?
I think it might be because Sushi is one the rare food items that tastes great, and is actually good for you too. There's no deep fry, no grease, no trans fats, no MSG, no McCrap. It's like eating art, and you can walk away from a sushi dinner and feel good. (unless you're with Darren C, holy how, that's a different story. Stay away from all you can eat sushi with Darren C. He eat wike fwee Wiwwy, and he take you down with him.)
I think the sushi phenomena is giving Vancouver a pleasant personality, but as a result I don't think there's much hope for the French or Italian restaurants, unless maybe they start to serve raw sausage or uncooked noodles? Doubt it.

Paying By Debit?

If you are paying by debit, you might be paying more than the merchant. Lots more.
Debit theives are at it again, which isn't new, but the method is bloody scary.
I was once a victim of debit card fraud in the range of three thousand bucks a few years ago. I got it all back without problem, but it made me wary. Someone merchant cloned my debit card and watched me punch my PIN in the machine, and at the time I had a very easy PIN to read. When the bank refunded the cash, it came at a small cost. I needed to change my PIN to five digits instead of four, so I chose a very strategic PIN which uses two hands to enter, nearly impossible to read when watching. I know this cause I have tested it many times. But that doesn't matter anymore. Now, they don't have to watch.
The new scam involves replacing the debit card reader and PIN pad with one of their own. The "new" reader is very easy to replace, just unplug the coily phone cable, put old reader in pocket and replace with identical looking debit card reader and PIN pad. Here's the scary part. The new debit card reader has been modified with a bluetooth wireless transmitter, and is transmitting in real-time, your card number and PIN. Someone in a nearby car can clone your card and have your PIN creating a perfect copy of your bank card. They can then walk up to a bank machine and pull out the maximum daily amount in cash.. all before you have walked out of the store. Even more scary than that, at this current time there is no way to detect this scam. Everyone is walking around with bluetooth cellphones, bluetooth handsfree, etc.. flooding busy malls with bluetooth wireless traffic, bringing the chance of RF scanning techniques to pretty much nothing. Police are asking merchants to place personalized stickers or hard to remove identification markers on the pin pads, record the serial number and check throughout the day.
Good news is, I can go back to my easy PIN, cause apparently, it doesn't matter anymore.



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

SOS.. "I need you"

This was on post secret this Sunday:

It decodes to "SOS I NEED YOU" :-)

And Karl, that's it. I think it's just a nice message to get. Nothing more nothing less. It's powerful in it's simplicity. This was the "email" of the 1800's. Beautiful.

-... . / - .... . / ..-. .. .-. ... - / - --- / .--. --- ... - / .- / -.-. --- -- -- . -. - / .-- .. - .... / - .... . / .-- --- .-. -.. / -... .-.. --- --. - .- ... - .. -.-. / .- -. -.. / -.-- --- ..- / .-- .. -. / .- / -.. .- - . / .-- .. - .... / -.- .- .-. .-.. / -... --- -- .... --- ..-.