Coffee

I’m having a heck of a time getting a decent cup of coffee here.

To be fair, I spoiled myself in Van about as much as I could. If you knew where to look, there were a number of places that served truly superb coffee. At work, we were using very good beans, blends, and never more than a week old grind.

On the other hand, all I want is for someone to give me some cream for my coffee. Even milk would be fine, just squirt some cow juice in a cup and hand it to me along with the cup of black tar that people here drink as coffee.

I guess it’s a North American thing, but after I get a cup, I expect to turn and find a small table with cream, milk, sugar and sugar free sweetener. Here, there’s loads of the sweet stuff, but no dairy to be found.

For my first few days around the office, I was forced into machine coffee. The office here just got these new machines that make free espresso drinks. ‘Free’ is new to people and the in thing to do is to go down to the lobby and hang out by the vending machines drinking what tastes like tar cut with lemon juice. Or, tar au citron, en Francaise.

I later found that there is an espresso bar in the basement of the building. Here, I tried in vain to get milk with coffee. I started with asking for a cafe (which is an espresso), then asked for ‘creme’ (this got me a latte). I shook my head, and pointed at the big cup on the machine, and ended up with a cafe double (two espresso), again, I said ‘avec creme’ and the barrista poured out half of my coffee and gave me the same latte I got earlier. I gave up and took what she had. Since then, I’ve found 6 different ways to order a latte, and a few other ways to get black coffee.

I’ve tried a few other places around the city, but still not much luck, until I found what I’d really been craving.

The milk jug was watered down with ice, and they brewed filtered coffee with espresso beans, but it was the best tasting coffee I’d had since I got here.

While searching google for some quick answers, I discovered that there are other people that have had a similar experience. I’m going to keep trying, different places, and different methods of ordering until I get it right. I know that there is good coffee somewhere in this city.

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Learning to Bathe.

Our hotel has a bathtub, and a shower. Two things that I should be familiar with.

The first evening we were here I wanted to have a shower. I smelled like airport, and that is never good. The tub only had half of a glass shower curtain, but I figured that would be enough to cover the splash back. I got in, turned on the water, and the shower head windmilled around in it’s socket, soaking me, the wall, the roof, the glass, the floor and me again with each spin. After the shock subsided, I turned off the sprinkler, dried the walls, roof and floor and went back to bed.

I didn’t smell that bad.

The next morning I knew better than to attempt a shower. The socket that held the head was too loose to be of use, and I didn’t want to douse the bathroom again.

Instead, I opted for the safer option – the bath. I hadn’t had a bath in years, but I still knew the basics, so I started to fill the tub. As there is no way to set our bathtub to shoot water from exclusively one pipe – it’s both or nothin – I decided to wait until the tub was partially full, then set the shower head carefully at the bottom of the tub where it should shoot water back into the tub. I then left to make a pot of coffee. Coffee takes precedence over cleanliness when one has jet lag.

Two minutes later I stepped into a puddle in my bathroom. Over an inch deep and racing towards my sleeping wife. Panic would normally have set in instantly, but I was puzzled by something else. There was water coming from the roof – like a giant rain storm. It didn’t rain in the bathroom in North America. At least, not since that first apartment on Jervis in Vancouver. But that place was special. I started to think that if the water on the floor came from the rain from the roof, then there was no way that I could have done this, and therefore no way Sarah could be angry.

I was twice wrong.

Upon further inspection, the shower head had flipped around like an angry snake, and was now pointed at the roof. Very little water had actually made it into the bathtub , and I now had more water around my ankles standing outside than in.

Turning off the water, I ran back out into the bedroom. There was no escape at this point, the water had already made it half way across the floor and was moving faster every minute. Waking Sarah up I muttered something about a plumbing problem and tossed her a towel.

It took us nearly 30 minutes and all of our towels to mop up the damage. I’m still certain that some of the water drained out into the building somewhere, but I have no idea where. Obviously there are no guests in that part of the hotel, or I would have gotten a bill from the hotel that evening instead of a box of chocolates.

On the third day, I pulled a chair into our bathroom, and sat there holding the shower head while filling the bathtub from a small distance away. This method seems to work.

In Paris

We have arrived in Paris. (Also, this is post 200!)

Clearing customs was refreshingly easy, it’s not like coming into the US, or even Canada. Although we had to do it twice.

In Frankfurt, our first EU stop, we had to go through customs, and then back through security. The security guards scrutinized our luggage much more closely than the customs guard did – but I think that’s because we were carrying two contraband items. A bottle of Maple Syrup, and a recently released DVD of Wall-E. They took the syrup and left the DVD only after two of the guards performed for us, doing their best impressions of the two main characters.

‘Wall-Eeee’
‘e-va’
‘WALL-ee!’
‘EEE-va!!’

This continued as we cleared security in search of the next gate. Not such an easy task. The Frankfurt airport isn’t very user friendly to begin with. The corridors are long and windy, and often you have to pass several unmarked hallways before coming to the one marked as yours. The temptation to turn too soon was very strong. To make matters worse, we actually watched a staff member come up to one of the signs and flip it around to point in the opposite direction. I think the only thing we were missing to complete the experience was David Bowie and a pack of goblins.

The Paris side was better still. We had to actively search for a customs guard at CDG, and when we did find him, he just waived us through. As long as we didn’t have liquor or cigarettes to declare he wasn’t interested. I think that this might have been because we were ‘Schengen’ at the time. Over here there is this great idea of a borderless Europe. Once you’ve entered into the Schengen region – an area comprised of 26 countries in Western Continental Europe – you can travel as freely as if you were passing provincial or state borders in Canada or the US. In our case, we didn’t have any goods to declare, and our handbag wasn’t meowing, so we were fine.

Almost ready to leave…

In the months, weeks and days leading up to leaving Vancouver, we crammed in a lot of stuff. Most of it involved visiting with friends, family and coworkers, all of whom we hope to see again in Paris.

Towards the end of October, Jo and Keltie popped over from the island for Fright Night at the PNE, and a quick round of Karaoke. I have a video of the singing, but it is not yet time to make my public singing debut.

Allene came to town, twice, during the last month we were here. The first time to show off her new puppy, and the second to show off her Violin playing with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

The following weekend, we caught up with some High School friends of Sarah’s at a ‘Forbidden Love Child’ themed Halloween party. My favourite combination was Wolverina, a ballerina crossed with Wolverine. The Gene Simmons / Richard Simmons outfit gets bonus points for name continuity.

We snuck in two Brunches with David, Eddie, Kevin and Sheila, and numerous lunch and coffee visits with coworkers past and present.

On a totally unrelated note, I finally caved and bought some of the freshly roasted chestnuts. They taste like yams.

A week before the big trip, Sarah finished working at Vancity. They gave her quite the send off at Steamworks Brewing Co before she could officially call herself gone. There were two people leaving that day, which was cause for a shin dig, and they each brought an Irish Man with them to liven things up.

We had initially planned to leave at the end of August/September/October. We didn’t, we left mid November and were actually around for one last Remembrance Day, which I was happy to participate in. It rained, of course. Victory square was packed, making it difficult to find a spot to stand. I eventually managed to find a place near the top of the hill where I was able to share an umbrella with a homeless fellow and a drink with a veteran. I caught the tail end of a parade, but didn’t really hear much of the music.

Our final days were busy busy busy. We completely reworked our banking, and moved all of our RRSPs to a new institution, we got rid of all of our possessions in the last 4 days, and said all of our au revoirs and a bientots. Most of the packing was left, in traditional style, to the last minute. On the evening before we left, a bunch of our friends came over to say good bye. They also (much to our relief) did nearly all of the packing of our stuff.

We started the evening with a big pile of stuff on the ground, and a couch that we couldn’t get rid of. Crystal, Kathryn, Bryn and Sarah pulled together and packed about 90% of what we had left. I was in charge of adding to the pile, and making signs to get rid of the couch. About 3 minutes after posting our sign, someone actually called to take it. Nick and Alex turned into movers to get rid of the behemoth (and took out part of the ladies door while doing so). I think that Chris’s job was to chill, which significantly helped the mood of the evening.

We spent our last night in Vancouver the same way we spent our first night. Sleeping on the floor under a pile of coats and towels. At least this time it was carpet, and not hardwood. The morning of the big move, we still had a fair bit to do. I had to return some stuff to Costco, set up mail forwarding, drop some dresses off at the Church and get a hair cut. Sarah had to buy cat food, a harness, and take the cat to the vet. We also had to clean the apartment in order to get some of our deposit back.

Finally, we took a cab to the airport and walked our way through customs where we said our last good byes to the city.

About a month before we left, one of Sarah’s coworkers started to ask where the tears were. He made a point of asking each time he’d see her if she’d cried about leaving the city. She’d swear that she was sad to leave everyone, but if you asked her, she would tell you that she was too stressed to cry. As we sat down on our plane to leave, the first tear appeared, and a few would be shed each hour as we flew away from Vancouver.

Sarah had left her favourite umbrella at the airport.

Facebook Video, and User Access Rights

I just discovered facebook video earlier this week. It’s pretty cool. I actually think it’s better quality than the YouTube stuff, but I suspect that’s because they’ve had longer to work on it, and they get way less traffic. (The video’s, not the site.)

The only problem with it is that it’s really private (I suppose that this is also a benefit). I’ve twice seen a cool video on facebook that I’ve wanted to share — but how can I share the link love if Person X and Person A are not already friends?

I don’t actually think that it’s possible.

Basically, I can watch whatever Person A links, because they are my friend. And I can share that link with our mutual friends. But, I cannot share the link with a friend of mine (X) that is not also a friend of A.

This means that the viewing rights are restricted to the complete list of A’s friends, and whoever happens to watch over my shoulder.

Right now, it’s almost painful how awful this is.

My Cousin, who works in Korea, just posted a bunch of photos and Videos from Korean Field Day. When I had field day, I wore a coloured ribbon to denote which ‘team’ I was on. At this school, they dress up. So, you have the Batman team vs the Superman team vs the Rag Doll team vs the Christmas Elf team vs the Pyjama team. Somehow they incorporate games where the sole purpose seems to be to yell at each other really loudly (picture Batman getting into a yelling match with an Elf); a fashion show; a talent and singing competition; and the most awesome relay race I’ve ever seen.

The relay race involved 20 Batmen lining up, and then another guy getting on top of one of them and running on the shoulders of the others. As the Top stepped got off the Bottoms, the Bottom would run from the back of the line to the front of the line so that he could be stepped on again. The line went like this in a race from one side of a field to another, and back again.

*sigh* Internet videos like this should be viral; like food poisoning at a family reunion.

Scientists Turn Tequila into Diamonds

This may be the best use of chemistry I’ve heard of all year.

Whoever thought that science was a dry subject might change their mind after learning about a new discovery in which tequila is turned into diamonds. A team of Mexican scientists found that the heated vapor from 80-proof (40% alcohol) tequila blanco, when deposited on a silicon or stainless steel substrate, can form diamond films.

Scientists Turn Tequila into Diamonds

From the article “There is no doubt; tequila has the exact proportion of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms necessary to form diamonds.”

daveandsarah.ca is back!

We have moved to a new domain name. Something a little easier to remember, I think.

The name may be familiar to a few of you as the URL that we used when we got married. We originally bought the address in early 2004, shortly after getting engaged. We had the address for a year, but let it lapse after moving to Vancouver. Checking the site in late 2005, I discovered that another Dave and Sarah, also from Victoria, had purchased the domain for their own marriage. Well, they let it lapse recently, and I grabbed the site again.

We’re probably going to hold on to this one for a while.

This is the second change in a list of few things that I wanted to change up a bit… more to come. Next step, I think, is changing up the stock blogger template for something more interesting.