Communauto has hooked up its computers to Ottawa's Vrtucar, completing a reciprocity agreement that has been a long time coming: first Communauto users got the RFID dongles that Vrtucar (and Communauto in other cities) uses, then Vrtucar started accepting reservations by phone, the Communauto publicized this fact, and now the two systems work together online. As far as I can tell, nothing bad has happened in the transition, either! This makes being a non-car-owning Ottawahullian just a bit easier, which is a good thing.
Firefox 4 took about 11 beta versions to do it, but it now runs Flash properly on my machine. It's in Release Candidate shape now. The app tabs are really very smart, even if the (optional) tab groups still kind of baffle me. Also, the add-on compatibility tester means that I can be up and running with most of my preferred add-ons before they are formally updated for FF4. I find the RC's highlighting of tabs a bit less highlight-y than before, but other than that, I am quite impressed.
ING got around to selling mutual funds to Quebec customers, added an almost no-fee chequing account, and put in configurable e-mail alerts for situations that customers might want to know about: balance getting low, cheques clearing, that sort of thing. All I want now is a programmable bank account, but we're getting pretty close, with those alerts as well as scheduled transfers to, from and within accounts.
OC Transpo's route planner has gotten much better, adding in STO buses and modernizing its look. Unfortunately, OC Transpo also made the boneheaded move of dropping public access to its route and schedule data after a small developer built a wildly useful and popular bus tracking app.
I liked this post about a positive subway experience a lot. The kids are all right :)
I've had couple of interesting beers lately. Both are a little off the beaten path, and both are quite happy to occupy centre stage — dessert or tasting beers, definitely, or your one/first glass of the night.
- Traquair Jacobite Ale
- This Scotch ale has a beautiful bottle, and is labelled as a flavoured beer. Both Scotch ales and flavoured beers can sometimes hit me over the head in an uninteresting way, but this one, part of a Christmas gift from the_arachne was definitely ahead of the pack in both genres. It's a dark red beer with a small, middling-thick, persistent head. I tried it after a short time in the fridge (just shy of room temperature). The flavouring here was coriander — not exactly a non-beer flavouring spice, being an ingredient in some white beers and others — and it was nicely balanced with the sweet, malty Scotch ale taste, giving the beer an interesting bite. It is very tasty on its own, but I imagine it would go nicely with buttery cheese like Oka.
- L'Aphrodisiaque (Dieu du Ciel!)
- Don't let this beer's somewhat silly label dissuade you. L'Aphrodisiaque is a chocolate stout with a hint of vanilla. It has the usual tight, persistent head and is tasty at room temperature, like many stouts. It's got a nice stout-y flavour, with added bitter and cocoa flavours mirroring the natural stout snap, and a whiff of vanilla in the nose and at the back of the mouth. Again, the flavouring doesn't overwhelm the beer, and it tastes like they used good chocolate. This beer is definitely tasty for dessert. It might put you in the mood for good chocolate, but I think it's probably at its best poured into a couple of little glasses and enjoyed unaccompanied.
cross-posted to beer4breakfast
I got in my January bike ride last week: a grocery run on that merciful day when the streets were pretty much clear from the melt — Wednesday, I think. Eleven months to go, with February and March being the only hard ones (I hope).It's been a while since I've posted an Oscar photo. ( so here are a couple )
Oscar is over 15 pounds and figuring out new tricks at his usual pace: he can sometimes scootch forward a bit, and can definitely move laterally by rolling. We're still waiting for that first tooth… the drooliness and occasional grumpiness says it's on the way somewhere.
The holidays went by pretty fast — it felt like we were doing something social nightly for about two weeks. It's a good thing Oscar generally seems to like parties!
Christmas eve, we went over to Elizabeth's parents' place for the traditional nut loaf, cookies, rum balls and gifts. Christmas day, we drove to Ormstown and joined 17 or so family at my parent's place, feasting extensively and helping the new people get names straight. I had been a little sniffly on Christmas eve, but by Christmas day, I was full-blown sick, so a bit subdued. Boxing Day was sort of quiet, but three generations of my parents' next-door neighbours walked over to admire Oscar and say hi. The 27th was the annual Christmas bash with white elephant gift exchange (aka "steal the present") — last year there was one kid there, this year there were three and we were all starting to feel a bit grown-up. We got together at my friend A's parents' place, about 20km past civilization — Enterprise was out of compact cars and gave us something with four-wheel drive, which got some use as we were whacking through snow drifts to get there. On the 28th, we celebrated dagibbs' birthday with food and drink and cheer at his place, and on the 29th we celebrated frenchzie's housewarming and birthday. On the 30th was our mostly-weekly D&D game at our place, and on the 31st we stayed in and rung in the new year with the upstairs people from House of Flail, Ticket to Ride: Europe and Dominion, and some mead from 1999.
The most memorable presents this year were Ticket to Ride: Europe from Elizabeth (a rather addictive little game), a huge jug of Beau's Nightmärzen from my cousin Erica, and a medieval-looking Garden Weasel from my parents.
I've had two tasty gift beers lately. Most recently was Nightmärzen, from my cousin Erica, which is a bright amber beer, Beau's hoppiest beer and fall offering. It reminds me a little of a darker Grolsch — same fresh, sort of pungent hoppiness, with a bit more sweet, and kind of light and easy-drinking. It's got a nice fizz to it and a modest head. I think it would be most excellent on tap when I'm expecting to stay for more than one pint somewhere. A little before that was Fuller's 2010 Vintage Ale, from the_arachne — it's supposed to be a prime candidate for ageing, and I may get another bottle to stash away. Consumed at a few months old, it was like a light-ish, sweet barleywine (despite a lower alcohol content than most barleywines), with notes of somewhat rough port. It had big malty flavour as well, but definitely tasted kind of young and almost unfinished.
In resolutions and plans for the year, I'd like to build a trellis and get some peas and beans up this year, and maybe even manage to get pumpkins into our squash mix. I also would like to not buy stuff made with water that I could've reconstituted myself — juice from concentrate, any sort of tea in a bottle, and bottled water. This is inspired by seeing chai syrup for sale in our local fancy grocery store. I would also like to bike up into the Pontiac sometime this year, and get out on the bike sometime in every calendar month. To this end, I should really clean and lubricate my chain before I need a new one.
Places I've slept in 2010:
- Eganville, ON.
- Gatineau (Hull), QC. A lot.
- Gatineau (Gatineau), QC.
- Montreal, QC.
- Mont-Tremblant, QC.
- Ormstown, QC.
- Ottawa, ON.
- Quebec, QC.
In a little bit of rantiness, I've been fuming slightly over Google's ranking of restaurant pages. When I search for a restaurant, I probably want the official page (with menu, hours and phone) somewhere in the first hits, and failing that (or to help me decide), a review written by a real human with as much of that information as possible. The last thing I want is a listing scraped from the yellow pages, with Bing's best guess at where it is located, in which I can be the first to write a review or add information.
Fathered a child (well, I guess some salient bits were done in 2009), grew peas, built a hardwood floor, drafted a will, published a statistics paper, took a train in business class, drove a pickup truck.
( thirty-seven more )
My wife, Elizabeth Bruce, has played a couple of times at the Tranzac, and it is a cultural institution and an awesome venue. It's in dire straits right now, so she's giving half the purchase price of her CD to the rescue effort until the end of 2010. If you don't have a CD and like her music, now is a good time to get a copy. If you like the Tranzac in a larger-donation sort of way, or don't want a CD, you can also donate to them directly.
Yesterday, after nailing down a hardwood floor in the nursery-to-be with my friend Marc, I had a Grolsch beer, right out of the fridge and right out of the bottle. I remember them being kind of skunky; I didn't find that as pronounced this time — it could be because it was well-chilled, or maybe they've tweaked the recipe (the distinctive bottle is 50ml smaller than it used to be, too), or maybe my taste buds have gone in new directions since undergrad. The beer did have a bright, untoasted taste with nice bitter notes, and it was very refreshing. I had some zucchini bread with it, but the real pairing was probably sweat.
I think the bottle got my parents to try Grolsch way back when, and the swing-topped reusable bottle is always a bonus — either for one's own brews, or for maple syrup, salad dressing, whatever…
Today, I had Maredsous 8 Bruin, chilled slightly, in a wine goblet, with Elizabeth and Tracy and a game of Settlers of Catan (It was a fun evening of supper, game and chat, and Elizabeth won). It is a brown beer with a big, stiff head. The head is a bit bitter and airy, and the first taste of liquid beer is dominated by bitter. After that, sweet and warm alcohol tastes rise up but the bitter sticks around. It's a substantial-tasting beer, and went well with the cooler weather tonight. I'm beginning to realize that I hadn't given enough credit to Belgian beers — Unibroue's take on the country is tasty as far as it goes, but the originals are a wider and, at least in my sample so far, subtler variety of tasty beers.
teinm_laida gave me some random questions:
- if you had a time machine, what time period would you be most tempted to relocate to?
- I think the future, definitely, to see how it all turns out. Say, 2210, under the assumption that my English may be quaint but not entirely useless, and some serious history will have happened by then.
- what was the last film that really moved/disturbed you and why?
- I think the most disturbing one lately was The Idiots, by Lars von Trier — cultiness, mental illness and black comedy are always a disturbing mix.
- what is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
- It's hard to sort out a ranking of them, but my elementary school teachers — Mrs. Lawrence, Mrs. Lang and Annick stand out — and our awesome ahead-of-his-time principal Mr. Rennie really went out of their way to put lots of stimulating stuff in my path. It can't always be easy to be long-time elementary school faculty, but they were awesome anyway.
- least favourite vegetable? ;)
- Probably Brussels sprouts, but even they can be saved with black pepper and butter.
- would you bungee jump?
- No, I think the days when that made any sort of sense for me are past — I'll take my life-and-limb risks doing yard maintenance and bicycle commuting, now.
Broadway and Beyond will be at St. Luke's Anglican Church at 760 Somerset West (corner Bell, near So Good), showtime is 7 PM on Saturday June 12th. Tickets are $12, or $10 for students and seniors. All profits will go to the Red Cross for its work in Haiti. I have some tickets for sale, or they will be for sale at the door (until we run out of space).
It's a beautiful church with nice acoustics, not too big, and we sing from some fun songs — the 100 Years of Broadway medley goes from the very beginnings to contemporaries like Webber and Sondheim. We'll also be singing three pieces from Notre Dame de Paris in their entirety. For a modest ticket price, you get all this music, a warm fuzzy feeling from helping the Red Cross help out in Haiti even after they've dropped off the front page news, and the pleasure of seeing a bunch of statisticians, systems people and scientists singing in bow-ties. What's not to like?
Thursday to Saturday we had some guests in from Waterloo — a colleague of mine from Concordia and his wife. Catching up was fun, and eating well was fun, too: they took us out to Haveli in the market, which was excellent, and we cooked up a couple of breakfasts and an egg-free vegetarian supper (it turns out that Indian vegetarians tend to shy away from eggs but not dairy products — although the danish blue cheese had them shying away for un-philosophical reasons).
We got supplies for a few improvements around the property on Saturday and used them on Monday: our back stairs are now much less disconcertingly springy, and we have an outdoor compost bin set up with a bunch of yard waste already in there.
Sunday, Elizabeth and I went to see the 1930s exhibit and a bit of the permanent collection at the National Gallery. It's only around one more weekend if you haven't seen it; it was worth a look — disconcerting at times, but it seemed intent on showing the variety of competing viewpoints and currents, and on connecting the art to the history. It was a bit more crowded than I would've liked in there, though. There were some really engaging portraits in the show, both photographic and painted. In the permanent collection, I was thoroughly happy to see Rapide et Dangereux by BGL, after seeing a piece under the stairs to the modern collection by them that was sort of like a sculpture of a storeroom.
The low point of the weekend was wonking my shoulder on Sunday before heading out to the museum — I thought I was done with that!
Now, it's back to work for a short week, and possibly a real piano in the near future...
We explored a bit, and Truro has a maybe-surprising number of health food, yoga, organic stuff and other hippie-ish shops. Later, our host Ray explained that the agricultural college here (one of the biggest in Canada) has a major organic food institute. Truro also has lots of nice red brick buildings and a really pretty park an easy walk from downtown.
The open mic night was a bit disparate: everyone else was singing mostly country, spirituals and hymns, and then late in the evening, a Cape Breton fiddler came in and wowed everyone. Folk-pop piano stuff was a bit out of the envelope, but it was still a really fun evening hosted by really welcoming people. Ray reminds me a bit of ramou in many ways (even his haircut is sort of similar), and he runs a really nice café. During the open mic, an older couple, maybe in their seventies, got up and danced every once in a while. Eventually, Elizabeth took me by the hand and we followed in their footsteps.
Today, bolstered by excellent coffee and blueberry-flax-apple pancakes, we will journey back to Halifax for a 10 PM show at Ginger's Tavern on Barrington Street.
In other good news, I'm starting to get the administrative details (like getting paid) of work worked out, and understand at least the little delta-neighbourhood around my readings and the people I work with (all the cool kids are using either Bootstrap of Jackknife variance estimation, for instance, and I kind of get the gist of how they work now). Also, the hippie-looking café-to-be nearby has changed its sign from "ouverture bientôt" to "overture 1er octobre."
Things are a bit of a blur, still. Lots of loose ends flying around and lots of things happening every weekend for a couple weekends yet. Most of the loose ends are fun, though.
Ellie is playing at Irene's on Bank, on the night of the 8th of October. There will be cake :)
I'm convocating on the 11th of November. I think I'll go to the ceremony and get my diploma in hand.
I finished my thesis yesterday and today I'm in Montreal handing it in and wandering a bit: lunch with an old high school friend, then wandering, then meeting denkizero at DemoCamp.
Here's the abstract of the thing that's eaten my summer:
A SYMMETRY-GROUP SEMANTICS FOR SHAPE GRAMMARS( more… )
I signed up for last.fm yesterday, I'll keep the scrobbler on unless it degrades performance when I'm listening to music and online. It gave me a nifty quilt thing:( I likka this moosic )
The actual night-of, Ellie made sponge cake and ordered pizza, and we washed the two down (in the conventional order) with red wine my parents had brought to the housewarming. I think we've found the universal Good Cheap Local Pizza Joint, analogous to Mory's in Verdun: Pizza Maisonneuve, on Papineau near Maisonneuve. They flyer a little too much, and the place feels like an oven and looks held together with packing tape when you come in to pick up your pizza, but the pizzas themselves are excellent: thick crust, good sauce and lots of cheese. The Top Secret Sewing Project she'd been working on for my birthday turned out to be a very dapper vest, which she accompanied by a nice, texture-y dress shirt that fits quite well (rare in a day where normal shirts are too short and "big and tall" stores may include "just big" but seldom include "just tall."
Monday night, after a thesis meeting and a little wandering, Ellie and I proceeded back to Ormstown (where I took the wheel of my mum's car from the bus to home, which stressed her out quite a bit), and then we feasted on home-made lamb vindaloo, pullao, chickpea curry and basmati rice, with beer and followed by very rich chocolate mousse cake. My sister found a Fin du Monde and apple jelly, and my folks got me a floor pump for my bike and a paper shredder (not just for privacy, but also because both the worms and the rats like shredded paper bedding).
A good time was had, and we were all completely stuffed.
Came through Montreal the following day, caught up with my brother, talked geekiness, watched Doctor Who, swung through the office to grab a book and some knickknacks of mine, accompanied Ellie on a postering run for her new CD (in select stores and for sale online now!) and came back on the train.
The thesis is almost done, I've done a preliminary copy edit for the 98% that is written, and now I'm polishing off the straggling 2% or so. Tomorrow, my two volunteer copy editors and I will go over the manuscript, then Friday I hand it in at the thesis office. Defence soon after that, then any required modifications and I'm done, and able to arrive at StatCan unencumbered by studenthood. Woot.
I've also got my borked bike in at Eddy's, the place recommended by tygrbabe, and it'll be back in working order by Friday. Yay, prompt service and straightforward people.
The first Hydro bill came in, we now exist in their minds. Just in time for me to let them know I'm moving.
There's other good news, but maybe later.
So is this, on a smaller scale. I'm not sure I can say much about government policy related to bananas, though.
Come see this, it'll be good:
( Elizabeth Bruce and Allison Lickley, The Yellow Door (3625 Aylmer), March 9th, 8 PM. $8, or $5 for students. )