Simply Biscotti-number 8 in a series of ….who knows and who cares

Originally before I had a blog site, I had thought that if I had a blog site I would use it only to chronicle eating my way through the dessert counter at Simply Biscotti on Preston St. in Ottawa.  I thought it would be a cool project in this, my life beyond full-time, flat-out work and it would be completed within a relatively short time frame-say six months or so.  I was wrong-headed about it all.  Giving myself a deadline, even an artificial one, makes the whole thing into another job-I have had plenty of work that came with deadlines in my lifetime and why would you want to put a time limit on such an enjoyable experience. 

Simply Biscotti is doing a great business by the looks of it.  Rosa has added more seating by developing the second floor over her shop.  Good thing too for there’s quite a bit of new development planned for Little Italy and that bodes well for Rosa and Simply Biscotti.

This past week my friend and I combined a brisk early morning walk with breakfast at Rosa’s.  We each enjoyed a latte and a nicely spiced pumpkin muffin.  The muffin would be good with cream cheese icing but that’s not really breakfast food, is it?

 


Blog of a Blog-Ottawa International Writers Festival

The Writers Festival here in Ottawa ends today.  This year (since I am beyond full-time, flat-out work) I have had the luxury of attending a number of events.  One of the events was based on the book (and therefore the Canadian comedy troupe) Air Farce.  I volunteered to blog about the event for the Writers Festival and if you are so inclined, you can find my contribution along with blogs on other events in this link to the Festival Blog.  

I have a story, a true story about another festival event but that’s for another day.

 

Attempts at printing double sided-aka-it’s not me, eh, madam

I have a long-standing love/hate relationship with technology.  Truth be known, that relationship extends to anything mechanical.   It’s interesting to observe the jargon that each trade/profession uses too-is that necessary?  Is it to keep the rest of us in the dark?

Issue:  The issue was simple, straightforward-to print a Word document double-sided using my iMac and HP printer.  (In these days of trying to minimize the use of scarce resources, it seemed like a reasonable goal.).  I can print double-sided from web pages..why not Word?

Action taken:

  • Scroll through all relevant items on the menu bar, look under system preferences-oh look-a box to check off that says double-sided.  Use the administrator name and password and make the change.  Nada-no double-sided option appears when I go to print.
  • Spend 2 more hours looking for things-search on the internet-there’s a forum-others have had the same issue-try those suggestions.  Nada-no double-sided option appears when I go to print.
  • Call AppleCare-we verify versions and lots of other stuff-check for upgrades-and in the end he says-it’s not Apple-“we’ve done what we can do”.  It’s not me, eh, madam. You should call Microsoft. 
  • Call Microsoft-we verify versions and case history and look at drop down boxes. (After he asks if my printer has the capability of printing double-sided!) The double-sided option is greyed out and in the end she says “we’ve done what we can do”.   It’s not me, eh, madam.  You should call HP. 

Future:

  • Hard as it is to predict the future-this is my go at it….should I decide to pursue the challenge of printing double-sided from Word rather than just going single sided and using a bunch of paper:   I call HP-we verify versions and look for upgrades.  There’s no solution-and in the end, they say-we’ve done what we can do.  It’s not me, eh, madam.  It’s the paper-I should call the paper company.  I call the paper company… and end up finally barking up a tree…likely the wrong one.  Ah now I’m just getting silly.


Paying homage to my gut (reaction)

The Lead-Up

History: Over the years I have not always paid attention to any visceral responses I have to situations or decisions.   It’s easy enough to talk yourself out of a gut reaction and try to rationalize your way to a decision.  You know, look at all the facts and make a decision-use your head-simple enough.  Then again, there’s been many a time when, upon reflection, I should have listened to my gut.  

Customer Service: Once upon a time I attended a seminar about customer service. While the seminar was held many years ago one of the examples used by the presenter stuck with me.  She spoke about how easy it was to lose customer confidence-the example she used was air travel.  You board the airplane, get settled and before you take off you try to turn on the overhead light and it doesn’t work. When this happens you think ‘what else on this airplane doesn’t work?’  

The News Story

Today Ottawa Public Health held a news conference to report several thousand people have been exposed to potential HIV or Hepatitis infection as a result of poor standards during treatment at one local clinic.

Within the last year or so I was referred to said clinic.  Briefly put, from what I observed in both the exterior office and the consulting office, there was a lack of orderliness and cleanliness.  The physician recommended a procedure and I asked where the procedure was conducted, I was told there an operating room (or some such thing) in the back of the office.  I initially made an appointment for a future date but pretty much as I left the office thought-“No Way!”-if this is what the front of the office looks like…what does the room in the back look like?  I called back and cancelled the appointment. I did it based on a gut reaction.  I reported my experience and decision to my family doctor.  While the news report says the probability of infection is low, there are thousands of people who will soon receive a registered letter about their treatment in that office. Despite the odds of infection (which are apparently very low) the information is bound to cause many people a great deal of worry. Tonight I am paying homage to my gut.

Have you had an experience where your gut reaction got it right?

Guess Who? Randy Bachman

The 15th Annual Ottawa International Writers Festival is about to get underway.  There have been a number of pre-festival events.  Last night I went to see Randy Bachman. It was lovely evening.  Lawrence Wall of CBC radio one introduced Randy Bachman.  Both men are originally from Winnipeg and they shared a number of reminiscences.  Lawrence recounted The Guess Who playing a noon hour concert at their Winnipeg High School when the band was at the peak of its popularity.  It was an example of what made the Guess Who beloved in their home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  

Musician, singer, songwriter and storyteller

Randy Bachman Ottawa International Writers Festival

Bachman regaled the audience for well over an hour (more time than initially promised) with stories that are found in his recently published book (this is the writers festival) Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories.  If you are of a certain vintage, or you like rock (and roll) music dating back several decades, you will be familiar with Bachman’s program on CBC radio.  It airs a number of times during the week and Bachman and his wife Denise play songs and he tells stories of his experiences over decades in the business.  He often plays his guitar (s) and provides an interesting and varied dialogue on a world most of us never will have never known.  It’s not all roses for Bachman spoke of the time he spent away from his family (8 children) as they were born and grew.

Bachman had great rapport with the audience last night.  He talked about how he got started in music (with violin lessons) and how in his teens he would skip school in the afternoons and hang out with Lenny Breau.  He has so many experiences to recount-from living the life of a musician in obscurity to one who was at the top of the charts.  From living in a beat up van while on the road, to meeting Gerry Dorsey before he entered the agent’s office and came out with a new name-Englebert Humperdinck! There were great tales of how songs and song titles came to be. Bachman played his guitar and did some singing-all to the audience’s delight. He announced that next year he and his full band will do a cross-country tour that will be  2.5 hours of story telling and music based on his book.  

Small world-art imitating life

To my quiet delight, as the event seats filled, the Ottawa based actor and playwright Pierre Brault sat beside me.  We have seen and enjoyed Brault in a number of performances here in Ottawa.  One of those was the one-man play  5 O’Clock Bells Brault both wrote and performed based on the life of Lenny Breau.  I spoke briefly to Pierre-he has not had the opportunity to meet Randy Bachhman. That seems like a shame.  There is only one degree of separation-Pierre Brault-Lenny Breau-Randy Bachman.

And finally

Bachman has a great sense of humour, enough truly interesting stories to fill a book (funny thing) and for all his accomplishments he appears approachable and grounded. 

Woodworking (in America) Part III

Picking up from an earlier blog here’s a bit more detail on Woodworking In America (WIA) 2011 and some examples of the seminars that were held.  

Saw Sharpening De-mystified by Ron Herman

The quality of your work and your ability to do good work depends on the condition of your tools.  It’s important for craftsmen (and women) to keep their tools sharp.  Ron demonstrated simple and proper file techniques for the accurate sharpening of both rip and cross-cut saws.   The methods were effective and straight forward.  A novice could use his techniques and get great results.  Here’s a short intro video by Ron about saw sharpening.

Ron Herman, Master Housewright

Ron Herman is a master housewright.  He specializes in the restoration of heritage homes using traditional hand tool methods.  

Shooting Boards That Work by Ron Herman

 A shooting board is a workshop appliance that is used to trim end grain on moldings and trim to perfect angles of either 45 or 90 degrees.  Ron discussed the use of shooting boards and how to simply construct a shooting board (aka a jig) to allow you to bring you more precision to your work.  He gave a number of useful tips and tricks as well as techniques for using handplanes for shooting perfect miters (a miter joint is one where each side of the joint is cut at 45 degrees).  Ron had a very good rapport with the audience.  His sense of humour and his simple, no-nonsense approach to the subject backed up with years of practical experience made for a very entertaining and enlightening seminar.  

Unlocking Japanese Planes, Chisels and Saws by Jay van Arsdale

Jay van Arsdale

Jay was inspired to become involved in Japanese woodworking after seeing a demonstration by a Japanese tea house builder in the 1970’s.  If you want to learn more about Japanese joinery have a look at this video.  Jay is very knowledgeable.  His presentation incorporated information on Japanese culture and how the tools were developed and why they work so well compared western designs. Did you know western planes cut on the ‘push’ stroke while Japanese planes cut on the ‘pull’ stroke.  Jay provided information on both the construction and use of Japanese tools and he gave advice on how to use these tools to produce excellent results.

Japanese Joinery 101 by Jay Van Arsdale

Japanese joinery is much more precise than western joinery.  It is designed to hold together without the use of any adhesives.   Jay showed a number of finished examples and he cut some other joints to demonstrate the intricacy and precision that the Japanese bring to their craft.

Have you heard enough about WIA?  There are pictures of tools and toolmakers present in the ‘marketplace’ at WIA-would seeing some of that be of interest?  

Friday Food- Dolsot Bi Bim Bab

We just returned from a road trip to Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio and into Kentucky.  I thought I’d write a few accounts of the sights and experiences.  Here’s the first:

Dolsot Bi Bim Bab

is a rice dish mixed with seven kinds of vegetables, chicken and topped with egg and served with spicy sauce on the side.  It’s heated in a stone bowl and, boy oh boy, is that bowl hot when it gets to your table!  It results in crispy rice as part of the flavour.  There is a cooked egg on top and the server mixes the egg in and adds spicy sauce according to your desired spiciness-mild, medium or hot.  Mild for me, please.   It makes a very tasty meal.  An Asian beer would have been a nice accompaniment for this dish.

We hadn’t eaten much Korean food before but really enjoyed this meal.  If you’d like this dish, try the Korean Riverside Restaurant on Madison Street in Covington, Kentucky.  The neighbourhood is not what one would call beautiful but the food and the service were both really enjoyable.  

Have you eaten much Korean food and if so, do you have a favourite Korean dish?