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October 2006 Archives

October 1, 2006

Someone forwards you one of those chain emails...

... you know the ones. Send this to 12 people Jessica Mydeck's dog is going to die from the sulphates in Febreeze. Do you?

a) Reply, politely asking to be removed from their list.
b) Reply, sarcastically asking to be removed from their list.
c) Reply to all, including the obligatory debunking link from Snopes.
d) Forward it to all your friends.

October 3, 2006

Look, Ma! No Jar!

Since I started working from home, I tend to cook my lunches (rather than nuke them), but I still want them to be fast and easy. Pasta's great for that, since it takes about 10 minutes to make, but any sauce that doesn't come out of a jar tends to be more of a production than I want to deal with at lunch.

I've been working on a pretty simple technique for a nice tomato sauce that doesn't need to come out of a jar, but which tastes like an actual sauce, takes very little time to cook and is suitable for single portions.

Food to stock:
1 clove of garlic
1 medium tomato or 2 roma tomatoes if available
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 parmeggiano to taste
1 tsp of sugar (optional)
2 pinches of salt
pinch of pepper
100g of pasta

Dishes to wash after:
1 largish pot for pasta
1 very small pot for sauce - not non-stick
Cutting board
Serrated knife
Metal fork
Slotted spoon
Regular spoon

Things to do:

  1. Fill the large pot with water, add a pinch of salt and set it on high heat to boil.
  2. Set the small pot over medium heat to warm.
  3. Peel and finely slice the garlic.
  4. Throw the garlic in the small pot and add the olive oil. Stir and leave to sizzle.
  5. By this point, the water in the large pot should be near boiling. Score an X on the bottom of your tomato and use the slotted spoon to lower it into the water in the pot.
  6. Count to 20.
  7. Remove the tomato using the slotted spoon and put it on your cutting board.
  8. Add pasta to the boiling water (stir it occasionally), turn the heat down to medium and let it boil.
  9. Turn the heat under the small pot up to high.
  10. By the time you've put the pasta in the boiling water, the tomato is cool enough to touch. Peel off the skin from the score marks you made. It should come off easily.
  11. Dice the tomato into a small dice.
  12. Add half of the tomato to the small pot, which should be sizzling, but not yet burning. Instant steam should spring up.
  13. Add salt and pepper and optional sugar and stir vigorourly with the metal fork for about a minute. Mash the tomatoes up as you stir to help break them down.
  14. Add the rest of the tomatoes, lower the heat to medium-high and let the sauce boil together until the pasta is done, stirring occasionally. If the sauce starts to get dry (that's actually a good sign!) add some water from the pasta pot to thin it out again, a soup spoon or two at a time.
  15. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, return it to the pot, then pour the tomato sauce over it from the other pot. Toss them together.
  16. Sprinkle parm to taste
  17. Taste

The pasta sauce comes together pretty well, with the broken down tomatoes from the first mushing and sauteeing blended in with the chunkier tomatoes from the second bunch. It develops a nice, fresh flavour. And most importantly, the whole thing takes about 12 minutes, start to finish.

October 4, 2006

What Happened to Cory?

Dear Customer Service Reps at Simply Audiobooks who are, Apparently, Still Not Permitted to Answer Direct Questions

After the rather poor ending to our relationship, I'd think the last thing you'd want is to keep in touch. There's really no question of us remaining friends.

Still, you felt some compelling need to send me a reminder that my rental shelf was empty, despite the fact that we broke up over 6 months ago. I responded with what I thought was a perfectly reasonable (if somewhat snarkily expressed) request that you remove my email address and other contact information from your database. Of course, first I had to struggle through your web form, which, apparently like your email reminder service is unable to tell the difference between current and former subscribers.

And what was your response to that? "I can confirm your account remains closed."

Thanks so much for that, Christina. *I* can confirm that my account remains closed. Unfortunately for both of us, that's not actually what I asked you to do.

Now how about removing my email address from your database, hrmm?


October 6, 2006

Mechanical Failure

Dear Amy:

I have a cousin who is a mechanic. He is superb with cars. He works at an auto repair shop and is always busy.

In the beginning of last month, he started working on my dad's car. His car is still not running because my cousin has not finished the work.

My cousin keeps saying, "I'll finish over the weekend." The whole month has gone by, and my dad is getting impatient.

Now my car is also not running well. I do not want to ask my cousin for help, even if we live together under one roof.

I don't understand what his problem is. Maybe it's because in the past our family has not paid him for working on our cars. He fixes other people's cars in no time.

The price for the job I want done is $180, which is much cheaper than any other shop, but I don't want to ask him to do the job because he doesn't keep his promises.

What should I do?

I'm a mechanic and I share a house with my uncle and his family.

In what little spare time I have (I work at a busy autobody shop) I try to help out with the family cars, but after a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is come home and fix more cars. My cousin, though, is constantly nagging about the latest repair job on my uncle's car. And now I've noticed her engine knocking and I fear I'm about to get yet another task I don't want.

Her job would only cost a couple hundred dollars at the garage, where I have all the equipment I need to get it done. I'd be happy to get her an appointment and cut her a deal, but I don't want to give up any more weekends to my job. I'm not sure if I can ask a family member to pay me for my work, though.

What should I do?

October 9, 2006

Someone tells a racist joke...

...to you and a group of friends. Do you:

a) Laugh if it was funny.
b) Conspicuously not laugh.
c) Call them on it in front of all your friends.
d) Call them on it later in private.

October 10, 2006

Hungry? Hungary?

My 30th birthday is rapidly approaching and I fear that I may soon lose the ability to think myself as young. I'm reassured slightly that I still have a lot of years to be young compared to the clientele at Country Style. When seeking authentic deliciousness, that's either a really good sign, or a really terrible one. Old people either know where to find the good stuff, or stick with the $8.99 early bird special at the Chainatorium.

Authenticity Interlude

Authenticity is the red herring of chowhoundism. In the phrase 'authentic deliciousness', the important word is 'deliciousness', not 'authentic'. Authentic ethnic restaurants are but one possible source of deliciousness - just like Grandma used to make it is no guarantee. My grandmother had her moments, but in general, she wasn't much of a cook.

And as anyone who has tried Jack Astor's panfried garlic bread can tell you, pockets of deliciousness can exist in even the shlockiest of homogenized corporate chains. It's just that you'll have to endure several renditions of the corporate approved, royalty free, staff sung version of Happy Birthday in order to find it.

Unfortunately, I erred in my search for authentic deliciousness. I was entranced by something called a 'wooden platter' which, at $32.95, featured most of the menu. I couldn't bring myself to spend that much, but I was still captivated by the thought of a sampler. I allowed myself to be seduced by the appetizer menu instead.

I chose breaded mushrooms, a cabbage roll and sausage and pierogi (or, rather more accurately, chose to omit fried cheese as too rich and sausage alone as repetitive). Not exactly amongst the most authentic of Hungarian dishes. Still, after realizing my poor strategic ordering, I held out hope for deliciousness.

The first dish to arrive was the pierogi with sausage. I was briefly disappointed when I saw the small piece of sausage nestled on top of the pile of fried onions. Then I realized that the onions were more of a mountain than a pile, and the sausage only looked small in contrast. It was mild, but tasty, and a reasonable size. The pierogi buried under the onions were generous and nicely textured but otherwise not very interesting - better than storebought, but not much.

Next up was a cabbage roll, that appeared to be about the size of the head of cabbage it was made from. Generosity, like authenticity, is not guarantee of deliciousness, and indeed, the cabbage roll was dull and flavourless, despite the densely packed filling.

Finally, came the platter of mushrooms. Once again, huge. But at least, this time, there was some flavour to go with the portion size. The mushrooms themselves were large and lightly breaded, and they were served with a sweet creamy dipping sauce that was a good accompaniement. The same of it was, having wasted appetite on the pierogi and cabbage roll, I was only able to eat a small number of the two dozen mushrooms presented.

As I tasted my way through my self-selected array of mediocrity, I watched platter after platter of golden brown schnitzel walk by. That, of course, is where the deliciousness was likely located. Few restaurants do everything well, especially outside their core specialties, and in this case, ordering poorly got me a poor meal where a great one was a distinct possibility.

My bad.

Restaurant Info:

Country Style Hungarian Restaurant

450 Bloor West

Toronto, ON

Phone: 416-537-1745

October 11, 2006

Dear Somewhat Slow-witted Collection of Hotel Desk Clerks

Dear Somewhat Slow-witted Collection of Hotel Desk Clerks at the W Hotel,

I'm trying to make as many allowances for you as I can. After all, the first time we discussed my non-working room keycards, you were quite busy, so solving the immediate problem was probably all you had time for. And the second time we discussed my non-working room keycards, it was very late at night, so maybe, like me, you were drunk and exhausted (though that seems somewhat unlikely and not a tad unprofessional). But the third time we discussed my non-working room keycards, it was early and there were no other pesky customers absorbing the attention of any of the three of you on duty.

And yet, despite having your undivided attention, it still fell to me to suggest that 8 key cards and 2 maintenance visits into my stay at your hotel, it might not be a problem that was going to get resolved any time soon. And that perhaps you might just move me to another room. One that didn't require three trips up and down the elevator, a personal security escort, a check of my photo ID and half an hour to get inside.

It didn't seem like that big a leap of deductive reasoning, really. But maybe I'm just so brilliant that hard thoughts come easy.


October 13, 2006

Privileged Information

Dear Carolyn

My boyfriend of two years makes snide comments insinuating that I'm spoiled and "privileged." I live at home while finishing my undergraduate degree. Most of my tuition is paid for through scholarships. Both of my parents have higher-paying careers than his parents, but I don't consider us wealthy, and we live a frugal lifestyle in comparison to my parents' colleagues. He claims we look down on him for not having a college degree (neither does my sibling) and I'm getting tired of feeling defensive on behalf of my family. Should I start looking for someone with a more compatible background?

My girlfriend of two years is more than a little bit spoiled. She lives at home and her education is all paid for by scholarships and her parents, but insists it's all no big deal, and "I don't need to feel bad about my background". I've worked hard for everything I have, and I'm tired of feeling defensive about my family and lack of education. Should I start looking for someone with a more compatible background?

Dear Carolyn:

She's black, I'm white. We met in college and were best friends for six years, then dated for two. "Susan" and I are now engaged, and I couldn't be happier, or more in love.

During our (mostly) platonic period, she learned a lot of important things about me -- including that my parents are mildly bigoted, and very opposed to interracial coupling. Even once we started dating, she was okay with that; we both recognized it as a challenge we'd have to deal with together.

Recently, during a family dinner, my father said something so rude and insensitive that Susan called off our engagement that night. She claims it's nothing I did wrong, that she just can't imagine marrying someone whose family hates her for something she can't change.

Not to mention having to raise "these people's grandkids."

I say we're still engaged, present tense, because she's on the fence now, and I think we still have hope if I play my cards right. I don't want to lose her.

He's white, I'm black. We were best friends for six years before we added romance to our friendship 2 years ago. We're engaged and in love.

The trouble is his family. They're utter bigots and completely opposed to 'miscegnation' (ugh). When we started dating, I thought it was a challenge we could deal with.

The other night, though, we were having dinner with his family and they made such bigoted, hateful comments that I just couldn't stand it. He did nothing, and I just can't imagine facing his nasty family without backup. Can you imagine raising kids with racist grandparents and a spineless husband?

As far as I'm concerned, the engagement is off, but I told him I'd think it over. How do I make him see that this is never going to work out?

October 16, 2006

People who choose online nicks...

...that reflect their relationship with someone else (bobbysmom, theotherhalfofdoug, momofthree) are:

a) highlighting what's important in their lives.
b) incapable of defining themselves as an individual
c) uncreative, and just using whatever random thing came to mind

October 18, 2006

Dear Smart Guy

Dear Ken Jennings, Celebrity Mobster on One vs. 100.

I know you're a Mormon and that means you don't even drink coffee, but you're also a smart guy. Which means you should know what Speed is and what it does. You should then also be recognize that a quiz show which includes a grand total of 14 questions in an hour of television can not, under even the most generous of artistic licenses (and I'd like to help you out on this one, Ken, cuz I think you're funny and self-aware and I read your blog, but I just can't), be described as Jeopardy on Speed.

Jeopardy on barbituates, maybe. Jeopardy on a month long alcoholic bender, perhaps.

But Jeopardy on Speed implies that anything on this amazingly stupid show is done at more than a snails pace and with even the slightest hint of intelligence.


Dear Smart Guy

Dear Ken Jennings, Celebrity Mobster on One vs. 100.

I know you're a Mormon and that means you don't even drink coffee, but you're also a smart guy. Which means you should know what Speed is and what it does. You should then also be recognize that a quiz show which includes a grand total of 14 questions in an hour of television can not, under even the most generous of artistic licenses (and I'd like to help you out on this one, Ken, cuz I think you're funny and self-aware and I read your blog, but I just can't), be described as Jeopardy on Speed.

Jeopardy on barbituates, maybe. Jeopardy on a month long alcoholic bender, perhaps.

But Jeopardy on Speed implies that something on this amazingly stupid show is done at more than a snails pace and with even the slightest hint of intelligence.


October 20, 2006

Out to Lunch

Dear Amy:

There is a situation involving my 12-year-old son and his friends that I am not good at handling.

Often they arrange to come to my house and then head to the deli or pizza place for lunch. They enjoy this activity, as it makes them feel a little independent.

These children know beforehand that this is the plan. However, they arrive with no money, or with only a dollar or two. My son is then left to pay for their food, often after they have ordered it.

I have asked my son to tell his friends before they arrive to be sure they bring money, but he feels uncomfortable doing so.

I have even mentioned to one mother that they are planning to go up to the shopping center for lunch, but the child arrives with empty pockets. I don't know why the parents don't make sure their children have enough money to cover their own expenses when they eat out by themselves.

I usually reimburse my son for the extra expense, as he doesn't get much allowance, but this annoys me and puts a dent in my budget. How would you handle this?

Dear Amy:

There is a situation with one my son's friends that I'm not sure how to handle.

Often, we'll arrange for our son to visit the friend at his house, but then the mother will send all the kids off to the mall for lunch.

I don't feel safe having my 12 year old son unsupervised in such a busy place, and my budget doesn't stretch to cover these weekly restaurant lunches.

I've tried sending my son over without enough money to cover lunch, but the mother still sends them off to the mall. I feed him before I let him go over to visit, but when everyone else is going out, he doesn't want to be the one to stay behind.

I even tried mentioning to the mother that my child doesn't carry money for those kinds of outings, but she sends the kids anyway. If she doesn't want the kids at her house, why does she invite them?

October 23, 2006

You have a few minutes free...

...between meetings. Do you:

a) check your work email
b) check your personal email
c) surf the web
d) chat with a co-worker who is actually in the same room as you
e) chat with someone on IM
f) try to do something productive

October 27, 2006

Pr0n Addict

QI recently discovered my husband's "sick" obsession with Internet porn. I wish I didn't know the horrid sites he's been frequenting. Am I conservative? He's sworn to me that he wasn't visiting porn sites. So not only is he a pervert, in my eyes, he's also a liar.

Is it worth trying to save this marriage of over 20 years?

Q: My prying wife recently found some porn sites in my Internet history. I wish she didn't know about it, and she's so prudish and nagging that I had to lie and pretend they weren't from me.

Is it worthy trying to save this marriage?

October 30, 2006

You get to pick...

One Star Trek technology. You choose:

a) Transporter
b) Holodeck
c) Food replicator
d) Doors that make that wooshing noise

About October 2006

This page contains all entries posted to acho que não in October 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2006 is the previous archive.

November 2006 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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