Month: June 2009

Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a grey-haired man with a mullethawk* riding a bike across an intersection in front of my car, with a very old printer lashed to the handlebars with several strings of Christmas lights.

* Sides of his head shaved, medium length hair on top, and long at the back.

Grand River Brewing

Yesterday Andrew and I went for a spin on the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail (for my inaugural ride of the year, it was lovely, and highly recommended), and made a most excellent discovery on the way home.

Just after turning onto Ainslie Street in Galt, we saw signs for Grand River Brewing on an old industrial building, and the store was open. New beer? Exploration necessary!

So we parked and headed inside (all nice and sweaty and in our biking gear — classy!). After exchanging hellos with the guy on duty, Andrew noted that he hadn’t been there before, and asked what the guy recommended. In response he invited us back to the bar to do some tasting. Now THAT is the right answer. 🙂

Their tasting room is gorgeous, by the way. A perfect blend old and new, polished and worn, fresh and historic. We bellied up to the bar and sampled all but one of their regular brews and one of their seasonals:

We didn’t get a chance to try the Hannenberg Pils on site, but did buy some and each had one with dinner, and it was excellent. I’m definitely going to have to try their other seasonal brews as well, though the Russian Gun Imperial Stout intimidates me a bit. 🙂

The guy who served as our bartender, host, and tour guide (and whose name, regrettably, I didn’t catch, but he had a cool pinup tattoo on his left forearm), was great to talk to. Self-confessed beer geek, passionate about beer and Grand River’s beers especially, and very knowledgeable.

He told us about the histories behind each of the styles and the reasons for making each beer the way it was. Did you know that before Prohibition beers tended to be considerably stronger — like 8 or 9 percent alcohol, but even after Prohibition pressure from temperance groups kept brewers from making the beers that strong again? And the Galt Knife Lager is actually named for the building they’re in — the former Galt Knife factory.

I was actually fairly surprised to find that I really liked every one of the beers we tried, and they ranged considerably in style and flavour. The alcohol content ranged between 3.5 and 5 percent, intentionally low, since they focused a lot on brewing flavourful beers you could sit and sip. (They’re not for pounding back, and the Coors Light crowd probably wouldn’t be big fans, either.) They’re not afraid of hops, but all the beers were really nicely balanced, and didn’t tip the scales with bitterness.

We ended up buying some of each kind in bottles. They sell 500ml bottles and 1.9 litre growlers (there’s a deposit on both kinds of bottles, and they have to be returned to the brewery). Andrew also got a growler of the Mill Race Mild (Andrew really likes growlers), which is the most English style of the beers, to drink with his family, since they’re pretty solid beer snobs, and of UK extraction. We’re pretty confident they’ll like it.

Grand River doesn’t sell in the LCBO or Beer Store, though not for lack of trying. Alas, the LCBO insisted on jumping through a few too many hoops and made it just not worth it. And even so, they sell everything they make and can barely keep up with demand as it is. (We toured the brewery itself, and the guy told us they sell both from their retail outlet, and sell kegs to pubs.) A map to the brewery is here, and though they’re a bit out of the way coming from KW, we’ll certainly be making a return trip, and not just to return the empties. 🙂

Awesome to see a small, local business making a great product, and doing really well on their own terms. If you like beer, go check them out!

Seeking Simone

My charming daughter #2, Rose, has gotten her artsy on with some friends (and, I guess, fellow alumni of mine/hers) and made a web series! Like Dr. Horrible, but with less singing and more gayness! (Well, maybe not…)

It’s Seeking Simone and the first two episodes are up now. There’s also a trailer with hot girl-on-girl action, and who doesn’t enjoy that?

The series is about gay online dating, specifically in Toronto, but really, you don’t have to have experience with any of those things to enjoy it. Being familiar with online dating, and having gone to the same theatre school as Rose, I admit there were a few cringe-worthy moments. (I also felt like a total insider, already being familiar with Rose’s own online fairy tale, resulting in the fabulous wedding to the equally fabulous Kate.) And hey, not only lesbians like Buffy! 🙂

Go check it out! Support the arts in Canada! And hot chicks!

Cuz I needed more reasons to hate Rogers…

Note: Looks like this and several other posts from this week vanished, so I’ve grabbed them from Google Reader and have republished.

Starting a couple/few weeks ago, I started getting phone calls from 1-800-395-8813. I answered the first time, and, receiving no response, I hung up. Subsequent calls (which happened daily), I ignored after glancing at the caller number, because I dislike phones and disliking engaging with them (which is why I didn’t do anything about it right away).

The calls continued every day, though, which started to piss me off really quickly. So I tried to find out if there was a way to block numbers from my phone. No dice. So I called Rogers, which is my carrier, and talked to one of their CSRs about how to block numbers. Unsurprisingly, the only way to do that that they offer is called Call Manager, and it’s $5/month. No thanks.

So I looked the number up online, and saw it was apparently some telemarketing presence, and other people had reported the calls, too. So I did a bit more digging to find out if anyone had figured out how to block them. Turns out it’s a call centre company called Gemma Communications, and there were a couple ways listed for making them go away.

You could call 416-256-1800, which is their office number, and talk to some woman, who, apparently, tends to be bitchy and/or evasive, but will arrange to have you removed from the call list. Or you can call the 800-number back and go through their automated system to remove your number (mostly involves pressing 1 a bunch of times).

Again, since I dislike using the phone, I sure as hell wasn’t going to waste time with someone bitchy, so I called the number back, and found out that Gemma Communications is authorized by… Rogers. Oh yes, Rogers would kindly have signed me up to pay them $5/month to keep them from spamming me. Grr.

I completed the call list removal, and haven’t heard from them since. Needless to say, however, I’m still bitter. I hate Rogers and hate dealing with them for MANY reasons already, but this has just catalyzed me to take steps to give them even less of my business. I’d love to think that their shitty product offerings, worse customer service, and incessant nickel and diming would be enough to torpedo the company, but I do know how Canadia loves its old school monopolies…

And the winner is…

A few days ago I posted about a contest I’m running as part of a Canadian Tire Father’s Day promotion.

Many thanks to the folks who entered — some very entertaining and creative offerings. 🙂

After careful perusal and a few guffaws, I had to go with the entry that made me snort aloud at the line, “They monkeys will have plenty of room to roam there. Or, you know, lay about casually in the fields.”

And so the winner is… Joe Boughner! Gotta give him props for preying on my fondness for the sockbeast as well, though I’d actually pretty much settled on him as the winner before I found out that he’s going to be extra qualified to win the contest, since he and his wife, Amy, announced their impending parenthood this week. Congratulations!

Here’s hoping the wheelbarrow helps with hauling home all the stuffs you’re gonna need for your first offspring. 🙂

Update! The lovely and talented Joe was unable to fulfill his obligations as Miss Wheelbarrownia, and so I needed a new winner. But picking one myself made me feel bad, so I wrote all the other commenters’ names on slips of paper, put them in my lunch bag, shook them up, and made James, my desk neighbour at work, pick one from the bag.

And the new winner is… Violet! Fortunately I know for a fact she has both a yard AND a husband who is a father. Wins all around!

Father’s Day wheelin’ — and a contest!

Recently I was contacted to participate in a promotion for Canadian Tire, the idea being to make Father’s Day gift buying easier by taking one of the items from their Father’s Day Make Life Easier for Dad gift guide for a test drive (or dig, or saw…) Either these folks already knew what Canadian Tire junkies my Dad and Andrew are, or picking me was a really, really smart guess. 🙂

As luck would have it, Andrew had yard work to be done, and his wheelbarrow has been on its last legs (tire?) for some time, so the unanimous choice was the Yardworks Auto Levelling Wheelbarrow. (SKU: 060-4520).

I was particularly intrigued with the Auto Levelling part, given that a) my balance sucks, and b) I moved around many, many loads of wood from the drying piles in the driveway to the wood chute in our garage in my youth, and never got to be any good at maneuvering.

The wheelbarrow was sent via Purolator, and arrived in three pieces: the bucket (where the stuff goes), the wooden handles, and a box with the wheels, brackets, and other parts. The bucket is sizable (considerably deeper than Andrew’s old wheelbarrow) but all the stuff still fit easily into the back seat of my Sentra. (The bucket had a fair-sized ding in one of the front corners when it arrived, but Andrew just hammered it out, and it didn’t interfere with assembly.)

Yardworks Auto Levelling Wheelbarrow

Andrew did most of the assembly by himself, which is a good thing, since he’s one of those types who actually reads all the directions and whatnot. I did have to give him a hand with attaching the bucket to the handles and the two other levelling wood parts, but he managed the rest with aplomb. Full assembly took about an hour.

The wheelbarrow was promptly put to work that afternoon. Andrew mixed up a load of dirt and compost for his herb garden, which involved a couple of crossings of the yard with a full bucket, as well as off-roading a bit over a pile of clay near the composter (it came from his basement when he installed weeping tile — he’s so handy!) 🙂

Yardworks Auto Levelling Wheelbarrow

Andrew has also since used the wheelbarrow to take his full laundry basket out to the wash line, mostly just because he can. (That also required off-roading off the edge of the deck, down the stairs, and over the clay pile. Boys and their toys…)

One of his favourite features is the bumper on the front. In my case I’d need the bumper to prevent me from crashing into things (my depth perception rocks). In Andrew’s case, it makes it very stable for tilting forward and a nice solid surface to rest on when you dump the bucket.

Yardworks Auto Levelling Wheelbarrow

In terms of maneuverability, Andrew thinks it’s much better than his old wheelbarrow (which has just one — flat — tire and isn’t self-levelling). I’m inclined to agree. The bucket is also very deep, and while Andrew said more width would be nice, he suspects it would screw up the balance and maneuverability.

The tires are pneumatic, so don’t go driving it over a bunch of nails or anything, but they are quite large and well-treaded, and their size helps put the wheelbarrow at a good height.

All in all, four thumbs up (two from Andrew and two from me). No thumbs up from Gordie, though (that’s Andrew’s dog) both because he doesn’t have any and because he didn’t appreciate us trying to put him in it (the ultimate test of Auto Levelling — something that moves around!)

And now the even better part — the contest!

Part of the promotion included enabling me to give away the same product I chose to one of my readers. (Well, not exactly the same one — you get your own.) So the winner will get their own Yardworks Auto Levelling Wheelbarrow. Just in time for Father’s Day! Though I can’t make you give it up to dear old dad…

For shipping purposes, the contest is only open to folks living in Canada or the US of A. (That’s right, we Canadians share.) And it may not be terribly useful to apartment dwellers, but hey, if you want to enter, I don’t judge you. 🙂

Here’s how to enter… Leave a comment that answers the question after the scenario below. The response that most makes me laugh, think, or become really, really afraid of you (or, ideally, all of the above) wins! Points are given for originality, and if more than one person gives the same answer, and I really like the answer, whoever leaves it first will win. Feel free to pass this along to friends/family/random people with dads, etc. The more the merrier!

I’ll choose a winner on Friday, June 19th.

The Scenario: It’s midnight on a dark and stormy Friday night. My phone rings. As I blearily answer it, I realize it’s you, and you sound a little agitated. You tell me you need my help and ask me to come over right away with the wheelbarrow.

What are we going to be doing when I get there?