May 092008

Salt Spring yaks
I am merely a mid-grade foodie. (What an awful word.)

That is kind of a confession.

For example, there is only one kind of salt in my kitchen. (Ok, two. Oh, wait – three. But they’re not frou-frou salts. They’re all white.) I do not peel the skin off tomatoes prior to making a sauce. I don’t know how to lard a pheasant and neither favour nor disfavour durian (having never tried it).

As an occasional flicker-through of food magazines in the grocery store line-up and skimmer of food blogs, though, I am occasionally aware of the latest food fad. (Was food always subject to fashions? I don’t remember this as a kid, but, then again, maybe that explains the whole “Cooking with Campbells” cuisine of my childhood. Where fashion is concerned, we often look back in anger. Let that be a warning to us.)
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 Posted by at 10:52 am
Feb 042007

…or the other way around, not sure which. In a room in an Odessa hotel that is frequented by gangsters and prostitutes (the hotel, that is, not the room). Social research:


– evening prime-time
– 74 channels

Content observations (in channel order):


military drama (guys in uniform, weeping women) … street racers and their pimped-out cars (with background Russian rap soundtrack) … a two-minute commercial for fur coats (guys in fur coats look totally silly) … football … overdubbed cartoon bears and mice – oh wait, it’s Garfield, in a FLAGRANT Bugs Bunny rip off, they should be ashamed … a commercial that is either selling kitchen renovations or haute couture, not sure which … Strepsils, Maybelline … women-in-prison drama, the warden is a profiteering lesbian – wait, the innocent female inmate with a black eye is cutting pictures out of Playboy magazine; this is apparently character development, moving on … talking head – ahh, “Victor Yushenka”, this is Ukrainian news … whale sharks, gentle giants of the deeps, being harrassed for their own good and our viewing pleasure by bronzed, sun-bleached scientists … more military drama (seems to be a theme) … home-improvements how-to (hey, I like “before” better than “after”) (cripes, what’s the appeal of these shows – “look, it’s a drawer” “look, a sink” “look, a vase of fake flowers”) … military drama, woah, this is a big deal here … a day in the life of a champion wrestler (luckily the children have not inherited the father’s prominent cranial ridges) … cripes, don’t these people have any sit-coms? no wonder they’re so depressed … weight loss commercial, “you too can have this ass” … overdubbed movie … football – oh, wait animated football, like in a video game … video-game style animated warrior battles … oh, hey, this is more like it – kids in folk costumes doing pop song-and-dance numbers with an aging 5 piece band in the background, emcee in white shoes, oh yeah, Euro-Vision here we come … leopards having sex, isn’t nature wonderful … violent psycho murder scene, good guy speeds away – wait a minute, that’s Vancouver! … sixties Bollywood movie, only the dialog is overdubbed into Russian, not the song-and-dance numbers …

Everywhere in the world is starting to look exactly the same.

 Posted by at 4:16 am
Oct 072006

Canadian Penny
Originally uploaded by Kasia/flickr.

I was in Brussels recently, and ran across a good little scam. Euro five-cent pieces look sort of like Canadian pennies. When I arrived in Brussels, I transferred all of my Canadian change to a bag in my backpack so I wouldn’t get it mixed up with my euro change. After I ran some errands, I found that I had a few Canadian pennies in my change. I assumed I’d missed a few coins, and got rid of them.

Euro Five
Originally uploaded by pajp.

Then I went out again and bought a few more things, and again found that I had a few Canadian pennies. Where were they coming from? Ah – people slip Canadian pennies into a handful of change and, unless you look closely, you don’t notice that you’ve been ripped off. The scammer makes about four Euro-cents in profit each time he / she pulls off the scam.

Somewhere in Brussels, there is a lively market for Canadian pennies. I wonder if there are penny smugglers; given how widespread the scam is, people must be bringing Canadian pennies into the country, rather than relying on the few that would show up on their own. And I wonder if the penny smugglers sell Canadian pennies for, say, two Euro cents.

And I wonder if the Bank of Canada has considered the opportunities for our monetary policy.

 Posted by at 8:48 am