April 30, 2008

The Ordinary Folk's Guide To Wine Selection

Category: Entertainment — Cranky @

What wine do you serve with halibut? Is red or white appropriate for cuts of pork? What do you serve with lamb? These questions are not the focus of this article.

Instead, I bring you a little slice of reality, targeted towards the average person. So! Just in case you were wondering:

Cheezies: A medium blush wine is preferred. The strong taste of a red would clash, and a white would be lost.

Ballpark Franks: A robust red, or a stronger shiraz is ideal. The flavour of a good hot dog is complemented by a strong wine.

Ramen noodles: A white wine helps to cleanse the palate of the heavily salted spice packet.

Kraft Dinner: A mild merlot wine hits the sweet spot with this dinnertime classic.

Ben And Jerry’s (Chocolate varieties): Let’s face it. Sometimes women get dumped. And when they do, dinner is a container of ice cream. A fruity blush wine is the appropriate choice.

Smoked Oysters/Mussels: It doesn’t matter. You won’t taste it.

Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup: A strong shiraz is the clear partner for this delicacy.

Hickory Sticks: Again, this is a “cleansing the palate” issue. Go with a neutral white.

Popcorn: For this, the greatest food ever, I recommend a bottle of Zenato Amarone, any year. It’s an oaky red, $40-$50 per bottle, and one of the great values in expensive wines. While it’s possible that no wine is up to the task of accompanying this, the grand master of tastiness, this subtle contender does its best.


April 25, 2008

That Slate's A Little Dirty – Let's See What We Can Do.

Category: Life — Cranky @

Most of us walk around carrying the burden of our history. We wear guilt for our misdeeds, anger towards others, and even hatred, although that emotional weight is usually reserved for a select few.

As we age, the burden of all of that negativity gets heavier. There are always new feelings to throw on top of the heap, and new people to judge and categorize by impact. Carrying this baggage is exhausting. It’s poorly organized, and smells terrible. So, out with the old! Time to roll up my sleeves and do a little work – remarkably easy work. Time to say goodbye to the unpleasant past.

I forgive everybody.

The school kids who made my weekday life unhappy for a decade or so? Forgiven. They were kids, and they were doing what kids have done throughout history – single out the ones who don’t fit, and use them as targets to help their own sense of self.

Anthony, my personal bully from elementary school, is also forgiven. I hope that as he moved through the decades he grew to be a better man. I knew very little about him, but what I know now of human behaviour leads me to think somebody at home may have been leaning pretty heavily on him.

I forgive the people who broke into my cars repeatedly in the 1990’s. Stereo decks are just stuff, and repainting car doors took from me both money and time, but in retrospect there are far worse things that could happen. I hope the circumstances of their lives are better since then.

I forgive my sister’s ex-husband for his behaviour. In no way can I grant him any absolution, and forgiving him changes nothing outside of my own mind, but I sincerely hope he finds some peace. It must be exhausting to be so angry.

I forgive myself for every bad choice and every misdeed. The past is gone, and as of this moment I’m starting clean.

Finally, I forgive my brother for making the final, irreversible choice that he did. This act of forgiveness was the most difficult, and it has taken well over ten years, but it’s done.

I can’t say what the future holds, but I will not carry the past into it. It’s a new day.


April 18, 2008

Yeah, It's Expensive. Get Over It.

Category: Economy — Cranky @

When I peruse the news in the United States, I come across a lot of articles complaining about the cost of gasoline. Today the national average for Americans is about $3.45 per gallon, and while historically that’s a steep price, I think the American drivers need to reframe their view.

So excuse me for saying so, but, “Suck it up, you bunch of Yankee pansies.”

In Alberta – you know, the place where the oil is – we are paying the lowest price in Canada. $4.65 per gallon for regular. Those of us foolish enough to drive cars that take premium fuel are paying about $5 a gallon. Again, historically this is very high.

Now other countries get their turn – and they’ll tell us, “Suck it up, you bunch of Canuck pansies.” And rightly so. After all, most Europeans pay between $8 and $9.50 per gallon.

For a comparison of gasoline prices, see the chart located here.

Fuel is dramatically less expensive in the U.S., so much so that it is probably seriously undervalued. American drivers pay 60% less than their European counterparts do, and they bitch about how the big, bad oil companies have them over a barrel.

They’ve had it good for a long time, but now the party is over – and we’re in the same boat. Instead of bitching, it’s time to begin to align our economies to accept the fact that a finite, heavily-desired product traded on the global market is never going to be cheap again.

Of course realigning the U.S. economy involves rescuing it from the bottom of a heavily-used toilet that doesn’t flush… but that’s another issue.