Freedom 77

There must be someone I can blame for this and its inevitable application here in Canada:

A gradual rise in the state pension age to 68 has been put forward as part of a major proposed shake-up of UK pensions. In return, the basic state pension would be increased and rise in line with earnings rather than inflation.

When I am still at the desk at 71 trying to explain something to a boss 50 years younger than me I really will need to know who I can blame…other than me, of course.

In The Days Of The Bubble

Jay has been noting events at the disasterously bad idea of Pajama Media – great evidence in itself that the A-list idea of 2003 never was – and I repeat the noting of this quotation below from the discussion board at “” just for its sheer 1998-ish-ness:

When the only evident sign of investment is in the party you throw to announce an organization with an illegal name offering a service that no one understands and that you yourself aren’t entirely able to define, you’ve got a real problem.

Interesting to note that the URL for the thing is “”, still referencing that allegedly “illegal” name “Open Source Media” – illegal in that it was owned by some other media called “Open Source”, a fairly well known US public radio show. Nutty.

…but maybe now is the time to try to sell dog food over the internet.

Last Day To Vote

Have I been a nag? I have, haven’t I. Well, today is the last day. Round One of the Canadian Blogging Awards is over at midnight tonight and then we will see if the place and the beer blog get a top five ranking in any of the categories. You know, fourth is not bad. I am not demanding a first and – secret secret – it was I who nominated the Flea for best blog as I think he simply is the best one going.

So do vote. Incessantly. All that soft stuff above is nothing but a veiled attempt to make me come off as reasonable when all I want is the shower of praise and the spotlight and the prizes. There are prizes, right?


Ian has been on a bit of a roll lately. Today he raises the question of standardization and homogenization of commercial culture on the road:

But on a long road trip, the understanding that you are never more than fifty miles from a Wendy’s chili (low fat, kids!) or the 100% positivity that the Starbucks in Barstow has hazelnut syrup can be… oddly comforting. I’ve railed against predictability and ninnyism my whole life, and yet I am given succor that there are 12,804 places to get a large fries with McDonalds’ bizarrely tasty hot mustard sauce. Omnitopia offers sanitation, can always provide a bathroom in moments of desperation. But it also means you will never try that fascinating-looking Mexican place three miles off the freeway. You will stop frequenting that indie bookstore, but why bother when Barnes & Noble lets you read on the couch in the aisle? Holding a Starbucks latté, for that matter?

While that attraction to the familiar is there my reaction to travel is the opposite. I want to find that Mexican place and add it to my own set of stepping stones as I travel across the river. The more I travel often through the same places the more I find the places I don’t expect to find there. So now I know there is a guy making “Syrians” in the centre of New Hampshire, that Di Pietros in South Portland, Maine is a little friendlier than the pizza is good, that there is such a thing as a chocolate Boston there, too, and salt potatoes in Syracuse and Cambodian diners here in Kingston. That is one reason why I have come to dislike the train or the plane as well. The car comes with brakes you get to use yourself. I plan to use them, too. I have to head into the Big Smoke overnight Thursday and I may stop, oh, about fifty kilometres off the 401 at an old church in the country for six small bottles of the finest pale ale in Ontario.

Sometimes it does not work out. Like the bad bathrooms. Like the roads you shouldn’t have taken. Like this summer’s side trip to the Connecticut shore where we had a hard time finding the spot until we found Mystic and the Sea Swirl. It is all about the hunt and it just takes time.

C’est What, Toronto, Ontario

cest5I was in Toronto for a few days this week and was able to stop by a brewpub called C’est What. I have some notes to add later after I dig through my stuff but wanted to get these pictures up.

cest7The Next Day: I appear to have sprayed my things with notes-be-gone so I’ll do this from memory. I tried two of their own ales with my Porter Beef Ribs and like both a lot. The first was the redundantly named Brown Mild Ale. While it is true there is a style of that is a light coloured mild, it is rare enough that it is an exception to the general principle that mild is brown. At 3.3%, it is the right strength for a session of supping. The beer menu said it was nitro dispensed meaning instead of being pushed by the normal CO2 there is a measure of nitrogen added. This is the same idea behind cask flow ale in a can that leaves a tiny fine head. With this real ale, it works very well giving a creamy head that incorporates many of the flavours of the yeast. The beer was creamy with chocolate and walnut flavours. The hops were subdued giving a bit of structure to the finish. Very nice.








At the heart of the ale there is fresh clean water, exactly right for the style. This beer alone would bring me back to this pub. It is a beer that every brew pub should offer, that and/or ordinary bitter, a low alcohol version of a hopped light ale. My only complaint is that it costs the same as the other stronger ales. As 60% of the ingredients go in, ther should be some accomodation in the final cost I pay. That being said, $5.18 CND for a quality real ale pint is a good price.








The second ale I tried was their hemp ale. This is a favorite of mine whenever I have had it, the hemp replacing or adding to the hop effect. Depending on the amount and selection of hooping, the tastes can be quite different. In this version, it is basically a basic best bitter of 4.5% to 5.0% in terms of mouthfeel which has a layer of sweet green vegetableness added to it. And the green tastes like…fresh broad beans. Should gross but it is not. Quite good with the ribs. cest3The ribs themselves were worth attending again, though the were a smidge underdone for my liking. Meat should fall off ribs and the inner tissue should have essentially melted away. There was a bit too much of a gnaw to the meal but in terms of flavour and texture it was spot on. Served with a spring salad overly drenched in dressing and tastey fine cut herbed french fries. You can order extra ribs and I did, hence the Freddie Flinstone pile on the plate.

This is the second time I have been to C’est What and each time I think there is something less manic about brewing that I would think normal. Less brewiana-esque than most and a little cool or, better, laid back. But I suppose that is the market they are playing to. Odd to see errors like the menu saying Black Sheep Ale is from Scotland when it is from Yorkshire. Nerds usually do not get that wrong. That being said, the quality of the beers – especially in terms of the yeast selection – is as good as I have every tried.

Vote Vote Votevotevote!

Don’t let the moment slip away. Now is the time to suck up to my ego and vote for Gen X at 40 and A Good Beer Blog in the Canadian Blog Awards for best blog, best culture blog, best group blog and best blog post series. I sucked up to my ego just now myself. I feel better for it. Just today and tomorrow to get through the first round. In exchange, I provide you a small glimpse of the art of someone else, a pleading moment captured in pastels between Kirk and Spock. It’s like he’s saying “Vote, Spock, Vote!” Isn’t that fair exchange?

Google Bubble

Micheal is putting the boogie curse on my one share of Google. I suppose that the collapse of Google in itself would trigger the end of this bubble economy. But what of the small investor who puts just enough in to get the annual report and little else? What of me that person? Shouldn’t that investor be able to trust in a system that allows irrationality to provide a 3000% annual return and a few decent share splits on an information product that can’t even assure you that the answer provided is the authoritative one on the topic?

The Other Vote

Given the likelihood that the Federal government will fall tonight, is anyone clambering for fixed election dates these days? Regardless of the content of the issues, north and south of the border folks are less than happy with the administration of their national governments if the polls are to be believed. Given the split in the naiton below, three more years must pass before the voice of the people can be herd. With a bit of care and luck up here, another minority might get in which effectively keeps the feet to the fire. I think this particular feature of Parliamentary democracy is to be preferred.

Camera Recommendations?

For the third time in 2005, the basic Sony Cyber-shot has died. The first time it was the day before my cousin’s wedding in the US…so I had to buy another. Likely cause I thought was sand in the lens. That camera, a DSC-P32, had done yeoman’s service so I did not feel too bad. Then the next one was on the second day of summer vacation only a few months later. Maybe the DSC-S40 was getting treated too roughly. Likely problem I thought was a jarring of the lens. So I bought another in the US. Tonight we get that third one back from the trip. It was working fine at lunch but by 5 pm it can’t take a sharp picture, it keeps telling me to reset the date and it takes 15 seconds to “access”. I am thinking that the likely cause is that Sony can’t build a camera. They are being relegated to file back-up and shelf riding service.

I am sick of Sony, refuse now to be tied to their proprietary memory sticks and need your advice. What can I buy that is cheap and will not die?

Friday Chatter

Just as with the child whose non-meal time symptoms passed within a day and a half, so it has come to pass with me. I credit the chanting and the placement of the gerbil statutettes. So it is Friday and it is a day off booked far in advance to coincide with an teachers’ in-service day and as we monitor the route south, it is interesting to note how useful the New York State road condition web pages are. One would be content to wait until tomorrow were Ithaca not the sort of place where you can curl with rutabagas…rutabagi?

So it is sunny and clear here, we have new winter tires and are likely wise to stay put and chat. Topics?:

  • VOTE EVERY DAY!!! The awards let you vote each day from yesterday to next Wednesday. We need you to make your mark as often as you can. And join the GX40 nation while you are at it. There is a rumour that you should vote in every category to make the web widget work. And look for both beer and here in best blog, best culture blog, best group blog and best blog post series. And remember…your idleness is the Flea’s best friend.
  • Now that the necessity of scrounging is done…are winter tires the best value for technology or what? $425.00 gets you a full set installed including taxes and they take away the old bald things you were driving on. Can an iPod do that? I have driven year round on winter tires to the amusement of others but been caught in tornado inducing downpours and stuck to the asphalt while all around me hydroplaned. Plus you have only one set of tires to buy every two years. I expect vigourous discourse on this topic. It’s a gem.

I need a coffee to consider other topics. But that one above is a winner. Go with that for a while.

Update: I took a look south and you can see Watertown. We are making a run. If we are stuck in Watertown, we will find a high school basketball game to watch tonight. You could even see a laker:

Click for a bigger view. I don’t know why it is blue. I must have had the camera set on something other than auto. The wall of cloud behind the laker in the big picture is the lake effect show machine.