Friday, September 25, 2009

My first taste of Durian (gelato)

It was done on a whim, but I must admit I have had an odd fascination over the durian fruit for a long time now. Greg and I decided to try durian flavoured gelato today.

Luckily it is only a block away - this is the kind of distance I can still hobble without too much worry. Yes, the back still hurts when I move wrong, but the doctor does say I should try to keep moving as it's the fastest way to recovery. But back to durian gelato - we wander into Amato Gelato, which is conveniently empty due to the construction on their street - they face the Olympic Village site and their block is being resurfaced. This is a store that takes their gelato seriously. There must be over fifty different flavours on display - durian is the only flavour they keep covered up. (The lady behind the counter doesn't like the smell.)

I ask about the durian gelato and she offers to let me taste it first. She is expecting that like so many other customers, I will try it and then move on to a different flavour. My first reaction to the taste is to comment 'Wow, I can see why so many people hate this.' Our server was surprised when we proceeded anyway to get an order of durian gelato.

We took a minute to sit outside where we could eat our gelato and contemplate this strange flavour. Later I was asked if it was 'good' and it wasn't an easy question to answer. My guess is that there is not much of a market for artificial durian flavouring, so this stuff is probably made with real durian fruit. It was not overly sweet - in fact, I do not remember much sweetness at all. I do remember the taste, which is not nearly as strong as the aroma.

I'll leave it to others to describe the taste and aroma of durian. The net result of my gastronomical taste test is that now I am less intimidated by the real thing. Gelato is already creamy and the thing people always talk about with durian is the creamy texture. Now that I understand the flavour, I'm game to try it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not a good start to the week

Warning, this is a whiny, complaining post. I pulled a muscle in my back again this morning - not nearly as bad as the last time, but enough to remind me that things aren't well with my back. I was swimming this morning and then later pulled it while lifting the dog into her stroller.

I'm beginning to wonder if the stroller is a good thing or not.

I know that I am supposed to bend my knees and stuff when picking up the dog, but there are times when I have to act quickly, like to prevent her from getting into something she shouldn't. Today was one of those days and I knew immediately that I had hurt myself again.

Mostly I'm just grumpy because someone switched the coffee beans at work and now I can't (or don't dare) have coffee anymore. I didn't realize I was drinking caffeinated coffee and had a couple cups on Monday morning. By the afternoon I had the usual chest pains that I get when I over caffeinate, and Tuesday had the withdrawl headaches. I really don't want to wake up on Thursday now.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

High Speed Adventure

Friday was the last day for Greg's car to be insured. We also weren't sure how much gas was left in it. The second statement is pretty much normal as the gas gauge hasn't worked in quite a while. Naturally, it was a good day for him to bring his car to work, which inspired the Quality Assurance Lunch Drive 3000. (I don't know where I am going with this, Tommy made that last bit up.)

Anyway, Greg, Tommy and I left the office for lunch and all piled into the Charger. I managed to call shotgun, so all was good in the world. At least, if I was going to die in a head on collision, I'd see it coming. Here's a photo of Greg in action - as you can see, I had every reason to fear for my life. The next is a self portrait of me, doing the aforementioned life-fearing. You can just see the raw terror in my face. Look hard, you will see it.

We had only travelled about five hundred yards when Greg stopped the car abruptly. Standing on the street corner was a former co-worker of ours, Phil. No wait, this was clearly Phil's evil twin brother, as you can see by the fu man chu he was sporting. Since Phil's evil twin is even cooler than Phil, we stopped to let him in and he joined us for lunch. Tommy was not dismayed.

Once underway, we were in search of some open road - not an easy feat in Vancouver. We settled for a bridge, where Greg could stomp on the gas for a minute at a time. We enjoyed the note of the exhaust, all noted the strong presence of gas fumes (this was reassuring, as it meant the car wasn't yet empty) and enjoyed the ride with all the windows down. I do believe that Tommy enjoyed this part of the trip.

The plan was to meet up with another couple ex-co-workers at H-Mart for some Korean food. Andy and Neil eventually arrived and from that point on my little story gets boring. I'll understand if you stop reading here. See this picture of Tommy? Even he was losing interest by then.

We made it back to the office without running out of gas, although I don't remember the fumes being as strong as when we set out. I do hope Greg made it home later that night without incident. I guess we will have to hop over to his blog to find out.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jury Duty

I have been selected for Jury Duty. Yes, I capitalized it because well, it's a rare event in my life. In fact, I have never served on a jury before. I believe I have been summoned once before but there was some reason why I could not attend - it was many years ago when I was still on the east coast and my memory isn't serving at the moment.

I haven't got anything more to say about this right now. I'm a little excited at the possibility - I still have this naive sense that 'courtroom' and 'drama' are words that belong in the same sentence. Intellectually I realize that I will probably need more coffee than I have ever used before just to stay awake through what are boring proceedings. But one can always hope, right?

Of course if I am selected I will take the role seriously. Just because serving on a jury is a new experience doesn't mean I can't do the job properly. I may have to find someone to give me some guidelines on what I can and cannot blog about though. Who wouldn't?

Oh yeah, I had a filling at the dentist today and this was the first time in my life that my dentist was late for the appointment. This is something I just took for granted before. He seems to have done a good job though so if I had to pick the failings in my dentist, that would be it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Summer Vacation

After a few failed attempts, we finally managed to fit in a vacation this summer. My in-laws arrived for a week for a visit and that was enough for me to take some much needed time off from the office. It was a lot of driving around and sight seeing, but really, we don't do that sort of thing enough as locals so a lot of the sights were still kind of new for us as well. Or at least, they were places we would want to go.

The important part for our visiting family was that they wanted to see where we were living now and get an appreciation for our neighborhood. So the first half of their trip was spent here in Vancouver, where we ate locally, took several walking tours and generally just woke up each day and figured out what to do. It was a little stressful at times figuring out what to do, but we managed to do it without any fistfights. That's good for family visits, isn't it?

I'm kidding of course - the vacation was a good one in part because the second half of the week was spent in Seattle, where all four of us were tourists. While we have made many trips to Sea-Tac airport to pick up or drop off folks, this was only my second time to see some of the sights in downtown Seattle. I had just as much fun this time as I did then. As an added bonus we also were able to take in a lot of Bellevue simply because that is where our hotel was. They had quite a lot there that we would never have found if not for the fact that we I had forgotten to print out the hotel address, forcing us to wander through downtown Bellevue asking for directions (futile, both times the locals had no idea where our hotel was) and searching for free wifi, which ultimately gave us the info we needed.

Overall it was a good vacation. My litmus test for such things is to consider how many times I thought about work while I'm away. This week, the only consideration I made was what little trinkets to get for my team back at the office. Oh, and the dragonfly was one that my wife spotted while we were out walking the dog and showing her parents the sea wall along English Bay.