Thursday, January 19, 2017

Kitchen Bumpkin

I’ve admitted here before, the grocery store is like a second home to me! The fact likely points to some serious organizational failings, along with possible compulsion issues and undue budget strains, but I’m good with it.

I’m there every day, so when there are promotional stamps, or gas discounts to collect, my Air Miles card is perpetually poised for a swipe.

We redeemed grocery store stamps for a frying pan last year (See “Teeny Stamp Nonsense” January 6, 2016). At least now, the stamps are digital, and not actual flimsy physical stamps you have to stick on a card!

Last night, Susan and I redeemed the latest stamps I’ve been collecting for three Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives.

We redeemed stamps, but still had to cough up cash for these knives, which I take it, are special.

Susan chose the 4 inch paring knife, the 6 inch slicing knife, and the 8 inch Chef’s knife.

I’m not sure I have the necessary permits to drive these things, but whatever.

On the website of the German company, there are knives for carving, slicing, paring, skinning and peeling, as well as special purpose knives for tomatos, vegetables, bagels, boning, bread, sandwiches, steak and sausages.

Who knew?

There are also Honesuki, Gyutoh, Kudamono, Santoku, Shotoh and Sujihiki knives available on the website.

I still know nothing about knives, but what I just wrote is already more than I’ve ever known, need to know, or care to know.

Dismiss me as a kitchen bumpkin, I can handle it.

There is an 8 inch bread knife on the website, regularly $575.00, available for $459.99 right now. Don’t just sit there, add to cart!

A couple of days ago, a grocery store cashier remarked on the number of stamps I’d collected. The telltale total appears on the bill. She helpfully pointed out the deadline for the stamps-for-knives swap was January 25th.


I was sure the deadline was sometime in February, hence the decision to redeem our stamps last night, before they, possibly, run out of stock.

Our newly-acquired knives, according to what’s printed on the blades, are ice hardened. How high-brow! The internet explains that’s the Henckels term for cryogenic tempering, which involves immersing finished knife blades in liquid nitrogen. Apparently, it’s common in the knife business and maximizes the hardness of stainless steel.

As we surveyed the choice of knives in the grocery store last night, Susan pointed out that with two more stamps, we could get the sharpener.

I’d better get back to the grocery store today to get those two missing stamps!

I guess that’s the point.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Air Miles To Go Before We Sleep

Whew! We made it.

Susan and I dashed off to our local grocery store yesterday and quickly racked up more than $70 worth of groceries, so we could get an extra 20 Air Miles before December 31st.

It was a coupon I had received. 

I was glad to hear earlier this month, the company behind Air Miles had scrapped plans to let accumulated miles expire at the end of this year.

Loyalty One had warned Air Miles collectors their first miles would expire December 31st 2016. There was a huge backlash and a class action lawsuit was filed by an Alberta man.

A lot of people hurriedly cashed-in their Air Miles after hearing that Loyalty One planned to let them expire. Now that Loyalty One has changed its mind, those people must be even more ticked!

I can remember years ago, going into my boss’s office to ask for a raise. I asked if I could have more money. He said no. I asked if I could have more vacation time. He said no. I asked if I could have a parking space in the garage. He said no. I asked if I could have a radio station coat. He said he’d see what he could do. I got the coat.

Stand back! When my claws come out, I am one scary tough negotiator, right?

In 2000, after being told by the same boss that budgets were frozen, I left his office with a pile of Air Miles points. As a result, I’m sentimentally attached to Air Miles.

I believe we got a flight for one person to western Canada out of those Air Miles.

Here we are, on the verge of 2017, still doing that Air Miles thing, hoping to reach some ever-elusive goal.

You got it Puck, what fools we mortals be…

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Life In Our City

I know when I’m standing at the lookout, gazing out across the city where I was born, raised, educated and employed, I feel a lot of things, including a great affection for Montreal. I often wonder whether other Montrealers feel the same things? How do they spend their time in Montreal? What do they know about Montreal that I don’t? 

I was able to ask those questions of Sam Roberts, Nikki Yanofsky, Stefano Faita, Valerie Plante and Dori Yeats, to name a few. I’m curious to know what our city means to well-known Montrealers.

That’s one of the fun things I get to do as host of “City Life”!

Just as fun, is getting to talk about the issues that are percolating in our city. Our panelists are Montrealers, commenting on Montreal issues. There were some gigantic issues to discuss over the fall season, including the city spying on journalists, the city legislating against pit bulls, the PQ’s identity politics, honoring Leonard Cohen, and whether Trump’s election win might have an eventual impact on our city.

Journalists and commentators Martin Patriquin, Christopher Nardi, Ann Lagace-Dowson, Toula Drimonis, Ethan Cox, Marlene Jennings, Paul Gott, and Nakuset all have insightful and compelling things to say. Certainly, we cannot overlook what Christopher is doing for the resurging bowtie; the man fearlessly worked a wooden bowtie frame on our eighth show of the season!

Olympic wrestler Dori Yeats is a pit bull owner
The reports put together by our editorial team are weighty and intensely relevant. “City Life” reporter Dan Spector has taken raw looks at rape culture in our city, radicalization, gentrification, police investigating police, and whether the Charbonneau commission made a difference in the level of corruption in our city. 

We gave Mayor Coderre a report card, and in another report, we learned Montreal pimps do their most effective recruiting in the homes of young girls. We have highly relevant guests on “City Life” to discuss the reports we air. With their experience and expertise, they shed light on what we can do and where we’re going.

Every show I host, I learn something about the city I love. That’s got me hooked!

We have passionate documentary filmmakers on “City Life”, who share the stories they’ve found of homeless violin players, Montreal’s jazz history, Mohawk ironworkers, and a man who exuberantly, or over-exuberantly, preaches the Bible on the metro.

Juno-winning blues singer and guitarist Steve Hill shared his favorite Montreal burger joint, Nikki Yanofsky shared her favorite place in Montreal to shop and Projet Montreal leader Valerie Plante talked about what she wants to do for Montrealers.

Opposition leader Valerie Plante on our last show of the season
I had a lot of fun hosting the fall season and I’m chomping at the bit for the winter season, which begins in January.

Thank you to our guests, our panelists and our viewers!

The show makes me a more complete Montrealer. It can’t be helped; it’ll make you one, too.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Knotty and Nice

I was toasty warm this morning, laying lazily in bed under a heavy pile of blankets with a large and wonderful dog at my feet, and a small and wonderful dog near my face.

I could hear the sound of the city plow rumble past and groaning tractors clearing driveways of freshly falling snow.

I hadn’t started my day yet and could hear my son moving around the house, preparing to walk to the train.

I asked if he would like a lift to the train station, but he declined.

The next thing I know, I’m an unwilling contestant on a high pressure game show!

He came into the room with a winter boot in his hand and exclaimed, “I need this knot undone in the next minute, otherwise I’m going to be late!”

Good parents want to be there for their children, whatever the situation, but I’m usually the one crankily dropping frustrations like this on my wife.

I got out of bed and scurried to the kitchen in search of more light. Reeling somewhat, I put on my glasses and quickly pulled a fork from the utensil drawer as Tristan muttered, unhelpfully, “I’ve gotta leave now!”

I was faced with a daunting task; I had the will to resolve the puzzle; I was on the clock; and apparently, I was the next contestant on “Knotty and Nice”.


This was not how I had planned to start my Monday!

I am unable to open any sort of package the way product manufacturers expect me to open them. I inevitably lose patience and rip things apart. 

I’m also terrible at untying knots!

As I attacked the knot in his boot, I hoped I could deliver an unfettered lace in time.

I’m not sure how, but with focus and strategic prying, I got the knot undone with uncommon efficiency and handed my son the boot. He tugged it onto his foot, laced it, and hurried out the door.

Good deed done. Nerves shot. Prize secured.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Rust Goes Better

A few weeks ago, I dug a brand new pair of skates out of the closet.

They were given to me as a gift, but, at the time, I was already using another pair of skates.

You know how it is, once you find a pair of skates you like, you wear them until they can no longer be worn.

I had never worn the skates I found in the closet, but one of the blades had a patch of rust on it.

I had also decided I should take my son’s old skates to a buy-and-sell sports store. His little skates, which hadn’t been worn in years, had also developed some rust on one of the blades.

With possible products like CLR or Brasso in mind, I headed to a well-known hardware store. I found a clerk in one of the aisles and asked him to recommend a product for the removal of rust from a skate blade. He recommended CLR and gave me an aisle number.

I was perhaps thirty steps away, when he came running after me with the suggestion that I buy a 2-litre bottle of Coke instead!

I expressed surprise that he was recommending something we drank, but he insisted, rather enthusiastically, it would be as effective, and cheaper. As he put it, “Ca va faire top clean!”

It’s probably not wise that an employee of a well-known chain store is recommending a popular beverage for the removal of rust, which is why I’m not mentioning the name of the store!

Eventually, I bought the Coke, poured it into a plastic container and put the skates in it to soak.

I have heard stories about dastardly Coca-Cola eating away at screws, nails and coins!

I let the skates soak overnight and the next day, was able to remove small flecks of rust, but not the biggest spots.

Really, I’m no further ahead.

Whether we’re talking about Coke as a beverage or as a rust remover, I still can't say for sure whether it’s the real thing.