Friday, December 26, 2008

Beijing Restaurant Edmonton - Tell All Your Friends Never to Eat There

I rarely blog a scathing restaurant review on this blog, reserving my comments and observations for my food blog. However, the experiences of this evening were so poor that it warranted an exception to the rule.

Beijing Chinese Restaurant, aka Beijing Beijing, a restaurant located in South Park Edmonton (Calgary Trail & 38 St.), offered the second worst dining experience of my 32 years of life. This eatery, formerly a buffet house, was recently renovated and converted into a traditional Chinese restaurant. They reopened under the same name just a few days ago, and are currently in the process of building a following in the Edmonton area. Given our inexcusably poor service this evening, I would doubt that this restaurant will be able to make a credible name for themselves in this falling economy, and with a finicky Chinese population.

After making a reservation well in advance for this Boxing Day family dinner, our party arrived tonight to discover that the restaurant had held a table for 3, rather than for the 30 of us that we had indicated on the phone.

After being seated (which they managed to do for us only because they still had tables available and we had arrived 20 minutes in advance of our maligned reservation), we ordered our food at 6:40 p.m. The "set meal" that we ordered for all 3 tables consisted of 10 savoury courses and dessert. In Chinese dining, this is a common type of meal ordered for special occasions, and normally, dinner service takes place over the course of approximately 1-2 hours, depending on how busy a restaurant is. Each dish is served in a specific sequence, and usually dishes are brought out one at a time.

This restaurant happened to be busy on this Boxing Day evening, and as a result we were prepared to be waiting for a bit, and eating for the full 2 hours. However, 1.5 hours into the meal (at approximately 8:15 p.m.), a mere 3 out of the 10 savoury dishes had been brought out to us. Attempts at grabbing the servers' attention were futile, and it seemed that the staff was deliberately avoiding us, or else they had entirely forgotten about our 3 tables situated smack in the middle of their dining room.

In the 40 minutes that followed, several unpleasant events occured, all without apology and without anyone from the restaurant taking responsibility:
- water was spilled all over the coat of one person in our party, and the jacket was completely soaked in one large area; the server seemed completely oblivious to this major spill
- the 4th dish on our menu, a crab dish, was served to several tables who had arrived after we did before we received ours; there seemed to be no order or sequence or logic involved in deciding which tables would receive their food
- our 4th dish was only received after a complaint was made to the service staff, and even then other tables outside of our party were served before we were
- the dishes were brought to us out of traditional menu order (think about getting your appetizer after finishing your entree), with the fish dish being served after the crab rather than at the end of the meal when it is usually served
- the bowl of one member of our group, which contained her as-yet-to-be-consumed food, was dumped out by a careless and inattentive server before the diner even had the opportunity to eat it
- by the time it was our turn to receive our next several dishes, the restaurant had run out of the chicken and fish that were supposed to be included in the menu; we were offered and subsequently given less-expensive, less-quality chicken and fish dishes in exchange for these, without even the courtesy of providing us a discount on the cost of the meal
- we had only received 7 of the 10 main dishes of our meal after 2 hours of waiting

Finally, affter 2.5 hours, at 9:05 p.m., we received the 10th dish of our meal.

It was at approximately 9:20 p.m. that we noticed that the restaurant had run out of our dessert, a sweet red bean soup. Servers were frantically scraping the bottom of the soup pot, which was located in front of the bar in full view of all dining patrons. One of our tables did manage to get the last remaining drops of the soup for their dessert, but our other two tables were yet again forced to wait an additional 20 minutes before the servers brought out a different sweet soup for us.

While we were waiting for our dishes to arrive, several other disconcerting things caught our attention. The ladies' bathroom was filthy, and lacked soap for patrons (and possibly the servers themselves) to use. The men's bathroom housed the closet used for the storage of extra tables; we observed servers returning several tables to the bathroom (past urinals and toilets) when they started to clean up the restaurant. We also noticed that the portions that they did finally serve us were appallingly small, and a table of 10 was left hungry and wanting at the end of the 11-course meal. The servers were also completely oblivious or inept or confused; throughout the meal they wandered around the restaurant aimlessly, seemingly uncertain as to whether or not they should actually place dishes on the table. In one instance, with the fish dish, our table was given a fish dish, the server physically walked away, and then the server came by again 20 seconds later and took the dish away, with nary an explanation for her behaviour.

As if the 3+ hour length of the service wasn't terrible enough, the restaurant was also unabashedly unapologetic for their poor attitudes, their lack of food, and the inexplicably slow service. No apology was given to our tables, and no discount offered for the meal. Even the billing was inept, as the three tables were charged separately for the meal even though it was indicated at the start of the meal that all three tables belonged to the same party and should be billed together.

Though this review is appalling, the atrociousness of this restaurant can hardly be captured in words and with these descriptions. In all of my dining experiences, I have never encountered such pathetically poor service, such mediocre food, and such arrogant attitudes toward patrons as Beijing Chinese Restaurant offered to us this evening. That not ONE of the several servers and "managers" that we spoke with all evening were sufficiently responsible or courageous enough to own up to our concerns and complaints is absolutely inexcusable. We were given no apology, and offered no plausible explanation. We were not compensated in any way for the excessive wait and the horrendous service.

Nobody of the 30 of us in our party will be returning to Beijing Restaurant. I suggest you do likewise, unless you are willing to go through a similar ordeal as what we endured tonight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Feasting Limitations

Christmas tends to involve some form of feasting.  In most North American families, turkeys and hams are the norm.  In mine, turkeys and hams and prime rib are staples of the Christmas meals, of which we have several.

In Peru, the feasting standard?  Cuy.  Also known as roasted guinea pig.  Would you do it?  Would you eat the rodent, with its incisors still bared and its rodent-like claws baked to a golden brown? 

Apparently it tastes a little bit like dark chicken meat, or like roasted pork.  It is described as a fatty rich protein, with more skin than actual meat.  Those who have tried it consider it a tasty treat.

Here's the thing.  Generally, I have a pretty strong stomach.  After all, I am Chinese.  I've had beef tongue, chicken's feet (a favourite of mine, actually), fowl gizzard, beef stomach, beef tripe, suckling pig, and other seemingly gross meats that I'm sure would turn most stomachs.  For me, those foods are tasty and ingenious delights.

However, my stomach may not be strong enough for guinea pig.  I've not had the opportunity, but I think that if anyone were to bring me a platter with a stretched out, charbroiled rodent on it, complete with claws and a head, I would probably be making a mad dash to the nearest washroom to hurl.  I think that the visual reminder that this was once a furry caged member of the rat family is enough to give me the willies.

That said, I'm not an eating prude.  I just don't enjoy being reminded of what I'm eating.  I would probably be as creeped out if you brought me a side of cow with the head still on, or any animal with its head and feet still attached.  Frogs' legs are therefore okay, since they look like chicken wings and aren't accompanied by the ogly eyes of the frogs.

So would I try cuy?  Not if the head and the claws were attached, as they seem to be when they're traditionally served up in Peru.  However, if the rodent head and claws were lopped off prior to preparation and I was left with just the meat, I might dare sample a piece.  Maybe.

But not today.  Not after Googling the term "roasted guinea pig cuy" and studying the images.  Even a seasoned carnivore like me has feasting limitations.  

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Decememeber :)


Is it lame that a thirty-something year-old woman looks forward to Christmas like a giddy child?  IMHO, no.  I love Christmas, and the hype that leads up to those festive family celebrations held between the 23rd and the 27th (in my family, Christmas lasts at least that long).  I feel sorry for those who have removed "Christmas" from their list of observed holidays, replacing it with a lame ol' "winter holiday" or whatever it is that those kill-joys like to call December 25th. 

Anyway, 'tis not the time for a rant.  Tis the season for a meme, a Christmas meme no less!  Feel free to rip this off and stick it on your own blog for some cheap jolly Christmas fun ;)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?  Whatever is easiest.  I personally prefer to open wrapped gifts but sometimes it is just a lot less painful to just shove the gift in a bag with some tissue paper.
2. Real tree or Artificial?  Fake all the way, baby.  I don't enjoy the smell of pine and now that I've heard stories about stowaway bees and other insects taking refuge inside the live trees, I will never get a real one!
3. When do you put up the tree? Whenever Hubbs lets me.  This year we've opted not to do the tree, though we've decorated in every other possible way with the few meagre Christmas ornaments that we have.
4. When do you take the tree down? Whenever Hubbs is willing to help me with it.  Usually this occurs sometime before February, though it can cut it pretty close to the end of the month!
5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, but only in small portions sipped from a glass.  That stuff can get pretty rich...and fattening.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Hmmm.  I can't say that there was any one gift that stands out in my mind.  I'm sure I liked any non-clothing gifts as a kid, but there wasn't a Christmas present that was particularly memorable for me.  I've enjoyed getting bracelets from year he even picked it out himself and it was beautiful.  Stuff like that is always special to me.
7. Hardest person to buy for? Hubbs' grandparents.  All they want are Swiss Chalet and McDonald gift certificates.  It is hard to be creative with those two!
8. Easiest person to buy for? Myself :)  Hubbs is pretty easy to buy for as well.  And anyone who offers up a wish list has my greatest gratitude during this season of stressful gift shopping.
9. Do you have a nativity scene?  Not yet.  I have yet to find one that goes well with our decor and isn't uber-tacky looking.  
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Neither.  I totally suck.  Sorry my friends!!  That said, I'm hoping to actually do the Christmas card mail-out next year.  That is one of my New Year's resolutions ;)
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?  Hot pink sweatshirt and matching sweatpants with silver zippered pockets.  That thing was hideous.  Oh, and an ugly troll doll given without much thought.  I am still bitter about both of these atrocious items and wonder what sort of misery I must have inflicted on the givers to have been cruelly subject to such pathetic excuses for gifts. 
12. Favorite Christmas movie? The Charlie Brown Christmas special.  I also like watching The Sound of Music around this time of year, since it plays every December.   
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?  November, sometimes October.  This year was a late one, and I really just started shopping in December.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I think so...but nothing specific comes to mind.  I probably regifted candles and boxes of chocolate at some point in life, though.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?  Everything!  Turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, Poppycock (we only eat it at Christmas time, for some reason), chocolate, candy canes, rich decadent desserts, prime rib, and so on and so forth.  I belong to two families that enjoy their food immensely.  
16. Lights on the tree? Yes, white ones.  I'm not a fan of those crazy multi-coloured lights that some people use on their trees.  I prefer simple white lights, or else blue lights.  
17. Favorite Christmas song?  You mean songs, plural, right?  Because honestly, I cannot simply choose just ONE.  I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas, Silent Night, O Holy Night, Carol of the Bells, Chestnuts Roasting on a Open Fire (The Christmas Song), Joy to the World, What Child is This?, Silver Bells, O Come All Ye Faithful, Do You Hear What I Hear?, and of course, Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas song "Christmas Time is Here." 
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?  Always traveling.  Our time is split between my family and Hubbs' family.  This year it's long-distance travel, no less! 
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?  Yes, of course!  I know the song.  Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star?  I prefer the star, but it doesn't prefer to stay put on the top of the tree.  Usually our tree goes topless as a result.  
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?  Both. :)  We do Hubbs' family's gifts on Christmas Eve (and then again after Boxing Day for the stocking stuffers), and we do MY family's Christmas presents on Christmas morning (or early afternoon if the 25th falls on a Sunday).
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?  Crowds of shoppers and long line ups, as well as stores that run out of stuff because of the increased demands.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I never thought I had a favourite, though one might be inclined to think it is cherry red, forest green, and gold, since that seems to be the colour scheme of most of my Christmas "stuff."  My tastes run a bit traditional, though this is mixed with a simplicity characteristic of more modern decorating habits.  I do enjoy different themes and colours, however; I like the look of some champagne gold and dusty rose trees (Victorian style), and I also appreciate the silver/white/blue colour schemes.  
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Stuffing and cranberry sauce.  Meat(turkey or prime rib...not a fan of ham).  Mashed potatoes and gravy.  
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?  Besides everything my heart desires? ;) A fun time spent with my family.  Truthfully, Hubbs and I have been very blessed and we want for nothing.  At this point in our lives, Christmas is meaningful to us not only because we are celebrating our Savior's birth, but because it gives us an excuse to take time out to spend with our loved ones.  That is what we want - time - and what we enjoy more than any material gift.  A great gift this Christmas would be the continued good health of all of our family.  
26. Who is most likely to respond to this? I'm sure you've all responded mentally, in that as you've read these questions, you've considered what your own responses might be.  I don't know who might want to also complete this meme, however.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Maybe I Need Queer Eye for the Straight Girl...


I used to think that home decorating was easy - just buy stuff that looks nice together and put it together.  I have since been humbled from that perspective, given that good home decor is an altogether different talent, and a skill that is far more difficult to develop than one might think.  

Despite living in a place that is far more chic, modern, and urban than any other I've lived in before, I still cannot make any of my rooms look like a room from Martha Stewart Living.  I'm lucky that I don't have clashing colour combinations, but that's about it.  It was humbling to walk into our neighbour's place and see that even he, a single man living in a bachelor suite with a Murphy bed, could make his place look more posh than ours.  He obviously has an eye for design that I am desperately lacking.

Truth is, I think I know why I'm not able to (or willing to) class up my home the way that those places featured in home magazines can.  In a nutshell, there are 3 reasons:

1. Money - To decorate well takes a great expense, and most of the coolest furniture in the city cannot be found at IKEA or the Brick.  The places that do carry the unique funky furnishings usually offer these up at ridiculously high prices.  We of humble stock do not dare to drop $400 on a stool or $250 on a piece of decorative wall art that serves no purpose.  My peasant-classed, lower-middle-class roots forbid me from ever making such purchases, even if I had an unlimited amount of cashola to spend.

2. Function vs. Fashion - I'm Chinese.  I am genetically programmed to be practical, and possibly a little bit cheap.  My home, as an expression of my efficient and practical nature, is set up so that I can be at my most productive in the least amount of time at any given point in time.  This means that pots are not discreetly hidden away in cupboards; they are on the stove, where they will be easily accessed for quick and immediate use.  Likewise with the rice cooker, the salt & pepper shakers, the grill, and the kettle.  To put these things away would mean it would take precious extra minutes locating and retrieving these items on a daily basis.  

The gloriously-fashioned rooms featured in home magazines are not very comfortable to live in either, I would imagine.  Their TV remotes and Wii's are tucked away inconveniently while some giant display vase or centerpiece features prominently on the "use-a-coaster-or-it-will-stain" coffee table.  How could someone as anal as I am possibly live in such a place?!? I really couldn't, which is why my place looks a little bit messy, a little bit cluttered, and very much "lived in."  At least I don't have to worry constantly about someone accidentally breaking an expensive crystal vase or knocking over my art-deco plate of gold balls.

3. Time - This ties in with the practicality element, really.  To maintain the appearance of pristine home-as-art designing takes a lot of time.  It takes time to find the great pieces that go together, and time to hang them up.  It takes time to care for these pieces, and to clean them.  It also takes a lot of time to return things to their original states of poshness following any kind of social event or even just any kind of human activity, like sleeping.  I confess - I don't make my bed every day, and even when I do, sometimes I don't do it well, since that would take time.  If I had to put away my alarm clock and the Nintendo DS that lulls me to sleep every morning, a further few minutes might be added to the day that could otherwise be spent elsewhere.  I'm almost totally convinced that unless one lives alone and is never home or is retired and has tons of spare time, the residents/owners of well-decorated homes probably have hired help to assist in maintaining the look of their places.  The rest of us that work simply do not have the time or energy to invest in all of the little details that make for effective, fancy home decor.

So, in essence, I will simply have to settle with my humble surroundings and the even more humble decor that I've chosen for it.  I must resign myself to the cruel reality that I will never be like Martha Stewart and my home will never be featured in any home magazines.  I suppose I can live with that, though.  In the big picture of life, there are far more important things for me to focus my money and my time on.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Me Me Me Meme

It's almost Monday, and I have found a meme that I don't believe I've completed yet.  Thanks to Facebook and Julie B. for posting; I've ripped it off from there :) to talk about myself some more.

This time last November, were you single? 
Not at all.  4 Novembers ago, I got engaged.  3 Novembers ago, I was a newlywed.  I have enjoyed every November since 2003 (Hubbs and I met in Dec. 2002).

Who can you blame for your bad mood today? 
Realistically, just me, if I would have been in a bad mood.  Fortunately, today was a good day and I was in an awesome mood.  Usually I blame Hubbs, and sometimes unfairly so. ;)

What do you prefer skittles or starbursts? 
Neither.  I'm not really a "candy" person, and frankly, I can think of several better ways to consume those calories than by popping sugar clusters covered with artificial food colouring.

How was last night?
Date night at an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse called Samba.  A cocktail, a jug of sangria, and many servings of meat later, I was living large. :)  I love my life!

If you're being extremely quiet, what does it mean? 
I'm pissed off, or else I'm completely bagged, or else I'm listening.  Usually I am not quiet.  Ask anyone who knows me.

What is your mom listed under in your phone? 
By my folks' last name.

Have you ever kissed someone and never saw them again? 
No.  I am not a kissing ho, and I usually save my smooches for someone whom I am in a relationship with.  Nowadays, Hubbs is the only recipient.

How are you feeling right now? 
Regretful for the many cups of coffee that I consumed today.  This explains why I'm up and alert at this late hour.

What was your last argument about? 
I don't actually remember.  Usually arguments are the result of frustration/hunger/fatigue + some silly conflict added to the mix.  When that's the case, these arguments are hardly worth remembering.  

Last nap? 
A couple of days ago.  I love napping but I have been too busy to really fit one in.

Who were the first 2 people you heard this morning? 
Hubbs...and then the server from our favourite breakfast place.  His name is Randy.

Have you ever liked anyone that treated you like crap? 
If by "like" one means in a romantic way, then no (unless you count grade school crushes that probably had no idea that I existed).  If by "like" one means in a platonic friendship way, then yes, but not for long.  My tolerance levels grow shorter with age, too, so I put up with far less crap now than I did when I was in my early 20's.  Fortunately, "friends" like that are easy to replace.

Do you believe in celebrating anniversaries? 
I believe in celebrating, period.  I prefer to remain in a perpetually celebratory state, if I can.

Have you ever stayed in a hotel? 
This is a stupid question, and yes, I have.  Many, many times.  

Ever been told you were loved by someone who didn't mean it? 
My ex-boyfriend comes to mind, but then again, he probably meant it at the time.  

Do you think someone is thinking about you right now? 
Hubbs is.  God is.  And me, of course. :)

Who's the last person you talked to on the phone? 
The restaurant reservation person - I tried to get our reservation changed but of course they had blackout times for the time that we wanted it changed to, so we stuck with our original reservation time.

Are you a big fan of snowstorms or thunderstorms? 
Maybe I am weird, but I do enjoy a good thunderstorm.  It reminds me of how powerful and mighty God is, and how small and insignificant we are.

Could you go the rest of your life without smoking a cigarette? 
Well, I've gone this long with nary a puff.  I think I can last a few more decades.

Were you happy when you woke up today? 
I think so.  There is no explaining my moods.  Sometimes I wake up inexplicably happy, and other times I wake up a b*tch.  

How do you feel about chocolate covered strawberries? 
They are good decadent treats to enjoy on occasion.  To have them every day, or even every week, however, is overkill, and I can seem them quickly losing their novelty.

How do you vent anger? 
I stew and I steam and I huff and I puff and I generally get snarky.  It is probably a question best answered by Hubbs, who has seen me angry more often than most others.

Best thing you did for yourself today? 
I bought myself a table runner and mats for our new dining set.  It looks awesome set up with all the Christmas stuff!

Have you ever liked somebody and never told them? 
Often when I was in grade school.  Of course, they always found out anyway.

Do you believe everything happens for a reason? 
I believe that God is sovereign, and that in all things He works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose.  I also believe that God's greatest priorities are to be glorified, and to build His church, so all things that happen have a purpose of being used toward those ends.

Are you over your past? 
Depends.  Mostly, yes - I'm relatively baggage-free.  There are a few issues that I'm sure I haven't dealt with yet, simply because they haven't surfaced as problems at this point in my life.  

Has anyone disappointed you recently? 
Well, Hubbs *did* get a grease stain on my newly-purchased dinner table mat, and when I threw that thing in the wash, it came out way smaller than the other 3 in the set.  That was pretty disappointing.

Do you plan on moving within the next year? 
No.  I live in Paradise and in a fantastic flat.  Why would I move?

Does it take a lot to make you cry? 
Nope.  It takes hardly anything, in fact.  That said, there are places where I refuse to cry, such as in my classroom, or in the principal's office.

Is there someone you wish you were still close with? 
Would it make me an awful person if I said no?  Some friends are circumstantial, while others are substantial.  Both are necessary in life, though the former may only be important for a certain season of one's life.  A natural divergence in paths will occur at some point, and this is neither a good nor a bad thing.  It simply is a part of the ebb and flow of life.  When those deemed as "substantial" friends end up drifing apart, it is merely a confirmation that the relationship was far more circumstantial than it ever was, substantial.

What do majorty of people in your life call you? 
By my given name.  Or by my teacher name, Mrs. **********.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

6 Random Things


No, I wasn't "tagged," but I decided to tell you 6 random things about me anyway, just because I'm a narcissist and I like to talk about myself ;)  I know I did this meme a while back but I thought I'd get even more...random.

1) I have a very limited temperature tolerance threshold.  Ask Hubbs.  I get cold when it dips below 8 Celsius, and I get hot when it rises above 23 Celsius, give or take a degree.  This means that I am very finicky with the thermostat in my home, and also with the heater in the car, and especially with my bedroom temperatures.  To maximize warmth, it is best to contrast it with surrounding coolness, right?  Okay, that's not logical but it works for me.  I like to drop the temperature in the bedroom a few degrees so that it is a bit cool at night and in the mornings, and then I like to snuggle up and get warm with my Hubbs and also a nice heavy down or faux-down comforter.  It sucks when I wake up in the morning and it is cold, but the sleep is awesome.  Hubbs, by contrast, likes it warm.  He doesn't like to see temperatures dip below 0 but I think he thrives in 20+ conditions.  If/when we go to Vegas, I will probably be uncomfortable most of the time (the A/C being too cold, the outdoors being too hot), but I think Hubbs will love it.

2) I am not a fan of sour foods or candies.  Lemons only work in my water or fizzy drinks, or as a means to prevent browning apples, or as a zest for cooking.  Grapefruits, unless they are covered in sugar or Splenda, are also inedible in my books.  I prefer the "Delicious" apples to the "Granny" ones, and I cringe (and salivate simultaneously - but not in a good way) at the thought of sucking on one of those sour candies.  Hubbs, of course, loves all things sour.  They do say opposites attract.

3) I have a mild version of OCD; I'm convinced of that.  If I get on a "kick" about something, it consumes my thoughts for a long time, or until I complete the given task.  For example, when I discovered that Trade Secrets scratch remover for the floor, I became a vigilant scratch-remover for a full week.  That means that, the moment I would sit down, I'd scan the area around me to see if any scratches had surfaced or been missed, and the moment I spotted one, I'd be up and running for the oil and the cloth.  Then I'd go on a thorough search of scratches until I was convinced I had found them all, and removed them.  Then I'd sit back down, and repeat the process.  A full week of this, I kid you not.  Lately I've been on spider web patrol, because for some reason our place has them.  Not many, mind you.  Only enough for me to get paranoid and go OCD on it.

4) I like to take naps.  Short ones, long ones, it doesn't really matter.  Sometimes my most restful ones have only been 10-15 minutes long.  I think I operate more effectively when naps are a regular part of my life.  I think Hubbs believes this to be true, too! ;) Of course, when I'm teaching I do not have this luxury.  However, for now I will enjoy napping to my heart's content. :)

5) I love buying cleaning products.  It is a sickness, really.  I walk through those "cleaning" aisles at the supermarket and I want to buy up everything for my place, even though I don't clean nearly as often as I should.  Right now my stash is low, and I've limited myself to only the following (which I know is a ridiculously long list by most sane people's standards): Method Daily Shower Spray, Method Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Windex Lime, Nature Clean detergent, Method Granite spray, Method Stainless Steel spray, Easy-Off Ceramic Glasstop cleaner, VIM, Seventh Generation All-Purpose Spray, CLR spray, and VIM floor cleaner.  I also have several pairs of cleaning gloves, multiple sponges, and all sorts of floor care apparati (Swiffer, Swiffer Wetjet, Vlieda floor/wall mop, broom, brush).  I'm running low on the shower cleaner, too, so I'm off to buy more today.  I might end up with other "goodies" by the time I return.  Don't judge.

6) Flyers are my friends.  :) Okay, not literally, but I like them.  A lot.  Other people throw them into the recycle bin beside the mailboxes upon receipt, not even bothering to glance over them for a second.  I, however, take them up to my apartment and read them over carefully and thoroughly before I recycle them.  I love to know about sales.  I love being told about what I supposedly "need."  I love to see price reductions of 60%! Sale blowout! Don't miss!  When Hubbs & I first met, it was much to my disappointment to discover that he was not into flyers; he even had a note up on his mailbox indicating his refusal to accept flyers of any kind.  I'd have to wait until we visited my in-laws (who kindly set aside flyers for me to read) in order to catch up on the week's sales.  Then I'd have to pour over the flyers at their place, rudely shunning conversation until such time that my flyer addiction was satiated.  

So, as you can see, this narcissist is impossibly neurotic, possibly bordering on DSM-IV diagnosable.  I am a particular sort of person and fussy to the utmost, and sometimes I still feel shocked and amazed that I found such a patient man to love my strange self.  (Hubbs - if you're reading this, I love you!).  But I guess, really, we all have a bit of weird in us.  I can think of equally strange habits and preferences in some of my friends, too.  Feel free to share with me your random weirdness...y'know, just so that I don't feel like such a knob ;)

Monday, November 24, 2008



**WARNING: Rant ahead.  Skip to avoid the verbally-violent ramblings of a righteously-indignant woman.**

I have an incredibly low tolerance for adulterers.  You can reference my McCain post to see a glimpse of my wrathful hate towards cheating scumbags.  IMHO, the vows uttered on the altar are sacred and binding, regardless of one's religious leanings.  The words spoken represent an oath and a commitment that lasts forever, and should not be broken in any way, shape, or form until death separates the spouses.  Though I suppose this sentiment is oft-associated with marriage and divorce, I believe it applies equally to monogamy.  Unless one's pledged vows are, "I will love and honour and cherish you and be faithful to you only until things get uncomfortable or tough or boring," or "I will love and honour and cherish you and also some other people, and be sort of faithful to you, excluding a few other people that I might chance upon and be sexually attracted to," one is both legally and morally bound to remain monogamous to their spouse, as per the binding oral contract they've pledged to them.

My sudden wrath was awakend by yesterday's headlines concerning Gordon Ramsay, of Hell's Kitchen and potty-mouthed fame.  If the News of the World is to be believed, then Ramsay is the biggest douche-bag ever, even beating out John McCain who left his disfigured wife for an heiress.

(Disclaimer - Although I realize that NoTW isn't exactly the most reputable source, and journalistic integrity is debatably lacking in their articles, more often than not, scandalous reports of this nature are not so out-to-lunch as one might think.  The British tabloids are far better able to sniff out truthful stories than their U.S. counterparts, and I believe that this is an example of such.)

So it seems that good ol' groping Gordy had a hard time keeping it in his pants....for seven years. This means that for more than half of his married life (which is 12 years), he has allegedly been sleeping with a "professional mistress" on the side.  She, a supposedly-reformed married-man-dating homewrecker, has opportunistically profitted from her shameless pursuits by writing books and columns about mistressing, and by offering "counseling" to other ho-bags who are dating married guys.  She (whose name deserves no mention on this blog) has previously claimed to be "reformed" from her home-wrecking ways, though NoTW seems to suggest otherwise.  Apparently, Gordon the Git and this slut (and I do not use this term lightly, being fully aware of the many connotations associated with the word) enjoyed a tryst only a few days ago.

As I've read about his supposed philandering, I cannot help but feel incredibly sorry for his wife Tana, who has shown a united front with the cheating cad by publicly standing with him in photo opps yesterday.  Of course, no comment of denial has been issued by either Rat-Bastard Ramsay or his publicist, and Tana has also refused to comment on the allegations.  To me, the lack of denial speaks volumes to the truthfulness of these claims.  If one is truly innocent, why would one not immediately leap to their own defense with both a vehement denial and equally-immediate legal action?  To avoid addressing it at all is to me a tacit confession of guilt.

It offends me even more that the "brand" that this two-timing wanker has been trying to pawn off in books and on TV is that of a loyal, loving family-man.  On numerous occassions in interviews, recreant Ramsay has boasted of his fidelity and attraction to his wife alone, and alluded to their supposedly-active sex life.  Evidently, this lying loser failed to mention that he also found a certain skank equally attractive for the better part of his marriage.  

Though I realize that many justify affairs by rationalizing that something must be inherently wrong in the marital relationship beforehand, driving a spouse to "meet their needs" elsewhere, I would argue that the state of the marriage is irrelevant.  Sure, maybe there isn't enough love or affirmation or ego-stroking.  Maybe spats are everyday occurrences, and communication has broken down.  This does not alter the basic truth that both spouses stood before family, friends, and God (or whatever they believe in) and made an oral contract with one another promising unending love, respect, and faithfulness, until death parts one of them.  Ramsay the jerk-off is not yet dead.  Nor is his wife.  Therefore, if he has slept with someone other than his wife, he has violated his contract and broken his vows.  He has dishonoured Tana, disrespected her, and even if he loves her, he has shown her a contempt that borders on being a hate crime.  He has violated her trust, and been an unfaithful partner.  
I am sure some might also want to blame the hussy that has made a career out of ruining marriages and sleeping with married men.  I'm with you on that, but don't even get me started on the whores or scumbags that get involved with married folks.  That is a whole other post unto itself ;)  The point is, the responsibility for faithfulness rests with the one who is married and who has pledged the marriage vows.  Regardless of the evil seductive nature of the harlots and manwhores who tempt a spouse, the choice to cheat or to stay faithful is ultimately made by the one with the ring and the life partner.  Period.

So what is to become of the Ramsays, I do not yet know.  The next few days will likely reveal more sordid details, and I would imagine that a "refusal to dignify ridiculous claims with a response" will follow.  There will be a bunch of public outings undertaken by Tana and that sleazebag she's married to, and together they will likely attempt a weathering of the storm, even as their marriage falls apart behind closed doors.  The floozy will either release proof of the affair or deny it on several media outlets to extend her 15-minutes, and then she will either launch a career in reality TV or write a tell-all, or get paid for her silence (all the while still profiting from these allegations).  Once an opportunisitic b*tch, always one.

Either way, I'm done with Gordon Ramsay and his TV shows and his cookbooks.  Hubbs & I had been enjoying the Kitchen Nightmare series and had even contemplated picking up a recipe book authored by this scoundrel.  No longer.  Even if Tana takes him back, this conscience-less creep is dead to me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Why O, Why?


Given that I am a Christ-follower, some of my friends have questioned why I've chosen to support Barack Obama, particularly when Democratic values have not traditionally reflected the Biblical principles to which I hold.  

I guess my answer is this: human beings are broken and fallible.  Though they espouse a particular worldview or belief set, their own nature can often betray their ability to properly reflect these principles in action.  In these last few months, as both parties campaigned for the presidency and laid out their plans and policies for the U.S., I believe that the true nature of all of the candidates came to the fore.

The Republican ticket failed to "walk the talk" of the teachings of Scripture.  Their policies reflected a strong pro-life sentiment for the unborn (the proposed overturn of Roe v. Wade) but a seemingly complete disregard for life for those who have already been born (e.g. their pro-war sentiments, McCain's tacit approval of Bush and Cheney's Abu Ghraib torture, tax break that favour a wealthy minority and allow middle and lower class citizens to continue to suffer).  Their position on "straight talk" and honesty was marred, perhaps even nullified, by their unwillingness to be transparent in their campaign (e.g. the withheld the medical records and vetting procedures for Sarah Palin) and their eagerness to attack the character of their fellow brother in Christ using mistruths and misleading insinuations (e.g. ACORN, Rev. Wright, socialist accusations, implications of terrorist associations).  They based their campaign on a platform of fear and judgment and elective ignorance of facts and truth.  Not unlike the "Christian" Bush administration, this ticket conducted themselves in a way that did not show me any spiritual fruit indicative of those who truly know and follow Christ.   

I guess the main reason why I support Obama is that throughout these last weeks of his presidential campaign, he walked with integrity and he spoke with intelligence.  He honored life and a spirit of reconciliation with his policies of negotiating with his enemies and ending unjust wars.  His heart for all people from every walk of life has been revealed throughout his life, both by his community organizing efforts and by his desire to help working and middle class people through such actions as the reduction of their taxes.  Obama has shown how much he values family, and has extolled the importance of proper education beginning in the home, and with parents who bear a huge responsibility for their children.   His plans reflect a desire to feed the hungry and help heal the sick (e.g. health care reform strategies), mandates left to all believers by Christ Himself.  Obama has also refused to slander others, even when they attacked him on a personal level; he has turned the other cheek and chosen forgiveness over retaliation.  He based his campagin on facts, on mercy, and on policy, and his victory demonstrates how powerfully his actions, and not his "Christian" label, have spoken to America's people. 

The Scriptures teach that Christ-followers will be known by their love, and that those who bear spiritual fruit show themselves to be Christ's disciples.  In Obama I have seen fruit.  In McCain and Palin, I have not.  Regardless of what the traditional Democratic belief set is, I have every confidence that President-Elect Barack Obama will live out the values that I hold dear, and bring them to the White House and into policy throughout the next four years. 

** P.S.  I also believe in a separation of Church and State...but don't get me started on that ;)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Looked in the Mirror and Said, "Hello, Narcissus!"


It is with some shame and embarrassment that I admit that I've joined the ranks of Twitter.  Initially, the impetus to do so came from watching Hubbs "tweet" with his friends; I wanted to see the exchanges and the jokes and this was the easier alternative to constantly asking him to show me his Twitter page.

However, since joining all of 2 days ago, I've been in constant tweet mode.  For those of you still pure and innocent to the ways of the Twitterdom, it is an online program (something like Facebook) that allows you to follow others (sort of like adding friends) and be followed by others.  "Following" entails reading these individuals' perpetual status updates and 140 characters-or-less statements made to others in their Twitterworld.  It's inane fun, and sometimes a helpful means of posting a "shout-out" to see if anyone in the city/area is interested in grabbing a bite to eat.   

However, it is also the height of narcissism, at least in my case.  To presume that someone, anyone, would care about my thoughts and opinions and mundane life events from minute to minute is incredibly self-centered and indulgent.  

And yet, I continue Twittering, tossing more useless information into the vacuous black hole of the World Wide Web.  

I must be a real narcissist.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Favourite Things ABC's

The vitriol coursing through my veins last night was replaced by sunshine and rainbows this morning.  As a result, my disposition shifted significantly, and now I'm ready to post my superficial list of things that give me warm fuzzies inside.  No, I'm not bipolar, but I think my mood is proportional to the number of hours of sleep I get.  I also wanted to post something positive to counter the negativity from yesterday; consider it a ying-yang, balance-out-the-universe sort of thing.

Autumn - the best season of the year...and also the prettiest.
Bookstores - I could seriously kill several hours wandering through these places
Christmas - caroling, presents, decorations galore...I love it all!
Date nights with my Hubbs
Envelopes that have self-sealing, adhesive flaps that I don't have to lick
Fuzzy slippers and flannel pajamas, especially in the winter (not sexy, but oh so comfy!)
Glow-in-the dark stuff (glow-sticks at concerts, stars on bedroom walls, etc.)
Hot chocolate made with real chocolate shavings and skim milk
IPhone - I don't own one, but I know how cool it is because I've been coveting Hubbs' phone
Jacuzzi tubs built for two
Kauai - I'd like to go back and lounge on the beach there
Laughter, which is indeed contagious
Massages that go deep into the tissues and release tension in my back
Nightlife and the buzz of it on busy streets at 10:00 p.m.
Ocean sounds
Pampered Chef goodies, especially my garlic press that works so well
Quick wit
Rieslings that are super sweet and fruity
Smells of fresh-baked goods and coffee in the morning
Travelling to and exploring new and exciting places with my man
Unexpected kindness from and for others that restores hope
Vegas - home of C.S.I. the original, neon lights, flashy shows, nickel slots, and outlet stores
Washed sheets and blankets on a newly-made bed - that first sleep is always the best
Young-at-heart attitudes people have, regardless of their biological age
Zero balances on credit card bills 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Black List ABC's


I'm feeling particularly vitriolic tonight, which means it is a great time to post a black list.  To protect the guilty, this list will exclude any people that rightfully belong there, save for politicians and/or celebrities already in the public eye; instead, I will focus the bulk of my hate on annoyances and peeves of the non-human variety.

Alfalfa sprouts on perfectly delicious sandwiches
Bugs, especially of the bedbug variety
Crowds, especially those of slow-walkers who don't realize that they're in the way
Dogs that bark late at night and wake me up - stupid owners next door!
Episodes on TV that are "To be continued"
Fuzzies left on carpets and the floor from black sports socks
Gum that gets all rubbery or loses flavour in mere minutes
Headlights that shine way too bright and blind me at night
Ignorance in all of its forms
Juice that is warm - it's just not right
Kids that are allowed to run around and make tons of noise by their irresponsible parents
Laundry - it is never-ending
Meat-headed, juiced-up bodybuilders at my gym who grunt (proof of devolution?)
Neckaches that turn into brutal pounding headaches
Odors that are foul or that result from cooking on a Foreman Grill in an apartment
Palin, Sarah
Questions of a personal nature (e.g. baby-making) posed by nosy people
Rodents of all varieties
Sori (those nasty bumps on the back of fern leaves....ewww!)
Trash, particularly cigarette butts, littered in otherwise beautiful and pristine outdoor areas
Ugly feet and hammer toes/thumbs
Vehicles parked in MY spot, especially at work
Wet towels on the bed, on the floor, or on the counter
X-mas : It is spelled CHRISTMAS, and it isn't pronounced "cross-mas." It makes no sense. 
Yellow clothing that makes me even more yellow. 
Zits in unfortunate places 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tested...and Failed

Twice since we've arrived in this fine city, I have been tested, and I am ashamed to say that I have failed both times.  One of the most powerful things that Christ taught was that the things we do for the poor and hungry, sick and lame, we do for Him.  In both cases, I failed to do more because I hesitated. 

In the first instance, Hubbs and I were heading to 7-11 to grab a drink before returning home post-workout.  At the door of the 7-11 was a fairly disheveled looking older fellow, standing there with his bicycle resting on a streetlight.  I wasn't sure what his intentions were since he was standing such that he was blocking our way into the store, and I assumed that he was probably begging for change (a common occurrence in most major cities these days).  When we got to the door, this fellow opened it for us, and told us to have a nice evening.  He didn't hold out his hand, and he certainly did not give any indication that he wanted money.  However, I suddenly wanted to give him something, even if it was just $2.  I readied my change while Hubbs paid for our drinks, but by the time we exited the store a mere couple of minutes later, the man and his bicycle were gone.  I had lost my chance to bless him.

Several evenings ago, on our way to the grocery store, we chanced upon a lady who was indeed asking for change.  She was pacing up and down the sidewalk in front of the store, and when we approached, she asked us for some money so that she could buy something to eat.  She spoke coherently and told us she wasn't an addict or a drunk.  Unfortunately, I didn't have much change on me, but I gave her what little I had.  I still felt uneasy after we had left her and entered the store, so I turned to Hubbs and suggested that we buy her a sandwich or something to give to her on our way out.  The entirety of the shopping trip (a quick one) had me distracted with thoughts of what to buy this lady, and how hungry she must have been to ask for money.  Well, after we had paid for our groceries and her salad rolls (I opted for salad rolls since they are my favourite), we headed outside to try to find her.  No luck.  She was gone, and so was my lone opportunity to help her out in a real, tangible way.

How often have we all hesitated, and lost our window of opportunity to help out our fellow man?  I was quite upset after both of these encounters, and have felt much like one who has failed a test over and over.  What would I possibly have lost by being more generous from the outset?  How much more did I lose by being too cautious and too frugal?  It is a lesson that is now near to my heart, and one I hope to learn from the next time I have a chance to be sunshine in the life of a stranger.  I want to be one who gives the hungry something to eat, and the thirsty something to drink.  I want to follow Jesus in a way that is real and tangible in this hurting, broken world.  Do you? 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hungry and Thirsty


**Note: This is an evangelical post.  Feel free to skip it if you prefer to avoid all the church talk.**

One of the great adventures of moving, when one is a Christ-follower, is the search for a new community to worship with.  I affectionately call the experience "church-shopping."  It is a weird dynamic between finding a place where one can feel welcome and feel as though he/she belongs, and also one where the individual can share some commonalities, theologically-speaking, with others in the worship community while still leaving room to be challenged.

When Hubbs and I moved, we knew what we were looking for in a church home, and we were cognizant of the fact that it would potentially take us months before we would find the "perfect fit" for us.  He has some preferences when it comes to the singing, I have preferences when it comes to the theology (as evidenced in a church's statement of faith), and we both have strong and particular preferences when it comes to the teaching and preaching.  

So, as the diligent (some say obsessive-compulsive) Googler that I am, I started our church-shop online.  I found a dozen or so churches that seemed to be reasonably close to us in proximity, and began combing through their respective websites to see where they stood on the theological spectrum between uber-liberal and uber-conservative.  When I had narrowed the church choices down to a "Top 3," I picked the one that had the hippest website (superficial, I know...don't judge) and best write-ups, and decided that Hubbs and I would visit that one first.

Well, we've now attended that church twice, and we have no plans to go elsewhere.  We've already (thankfully) found a place of worship in this particular community of believers, and we are overjoyed.  A divine hand obviously led us to this place, since it exceeds all of Hubbs' and my expectations, and is so spiritually satisfying and encouraging that it excites us to return week after week.  This is a refreshing change of pace for me, in particular, since I have not felt such a sense of renewal and revival in many months.  

In attending this ministry (a word they often use to describe themselves), one thing has become wholly evident to me, and that is this: people are spiritually hungry and thirsty and long to be nourished with Truth.  I see this as I look around the packed theatre in which we congregate.  Hundreds of younger people (ages 20-30), Generation Y hipsters and urbanites, come together every week to hear the pastor teach straight from the Bible.  We're not talking about seeker-sensitive topical preaching, either.  This is no "What Would Jesus Say to Britney Spears" sort of series.  There are no blatant references to pop culture, and no gratuitous use of movie clips or music videos.  There are no frills and fireworks, no gimmicks or fluffy feel-good messages designed for those with the most minimal understanding of the Word.  

Instead, there is a Bible, and a pastor with a microphone.  There are exegetical explanations of the context of passages, and verse-by-verse explanations and discussions about the debates surrounding certain phrases and word choices.  There are references to original Greek and Hebrew words, and there are heavy questions and challenges posed by both the text and the teacher.  There is no "dumbing-down" of Scripture, but rather a thoughtful and intellectual approach to its study.  The pastor assumes the intelligence and critical thinking of his audience, rather than presume their ignorance and inability to read the Bible on their own.  

And these young hip urban Christ-followers come back, week after week, to be fed and to be led spiritually by their pastor into an academic and spiritual examination of Scripture as it has been revealed.  The unwavering adherence to the Bible, and the willingness to engage in a detailed exploration of its Truth hold incredible appeal for Hubbs and I.  We are thankful that we have found a worship community that is authentically interested in the Word and in seriously considering its content, both as it applied in its historical context and as it applies to us today.  We are energized by the young people who worship around us, and we are encouraged by the hunger and thirst of a "lost generation" of Gen Y'ers who are less interested in blind faith and church-as-routine than in genuine faith and authentic living reflecting a pursuit of Truth.