Friday, October 31, 2008

Ras Trent

I once posted a rant about NBC pulling their videos from YouTube. (I’m too lazy to go back and find the link; do a search, if you want to find it.) But their site has gotten much better; you can now view the videos—even if you’re in Canada!—and you can embed them. For example:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Construction Season is almost over

How do you know when winter is starting? Because serna’s lips are chapped all the time. I need to get some better lip balm. Blistex just isn’t cutting it anymore.

P.S. You’re welcome. I know all of my blog readers have been fervently worrying lately, saying to themselves, “When oh when will serna post about the state of his lips?!?”

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A comedy of BBQ errors

As planned, I cooked a roast on the BBQ last night, and used the side burner. It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, but it did work.

First of all, here’s how I cooked the roast: It’s called the “indirect method” of cooking on a BBQ. You turn on one side of the BBQ, but not the other, and you put the meat on the side that’s not on. In other words, it’s not the heat from the flames that is cooking the meat, it is the indirect heat inside the BBQ. So you do the following:

  1. Season the grill. (It’s a good idea to do this every time you cook—although I don’t always do it. I didn’t last night.)
  2. Get a drip tray, and put it under the BBQ racks, on the side that will not be on.
  3. Turn on the other side of the BBQ, on medium heat.
  4. For best results, you should be using a meat thermometre, which will tell you when the meat is done. I have a nice one, from President’s Choice, that I just tell I’m cooking beef, and I want it cooked “medium” (vs. well done, or whatever), and it knows what internal temperature the meat has to reach. It’s got an end that you stick into the meat, and an electronic part that sits outside the BBQ (connected by a wire which must be burn-resistant). If you’re using one too, you should stick it in the meat.
  5. When it’s up to temperature, put the meat in the BBQ, on the side that isn’t on (above the drip tray).
  6. Wait for the meat thermometre to tell you that the meat is done.
If you follow these steps, you’ll end up with a great roast. Also, you should resist the temptation to keep opening the BBQ, to look at the meat, because every time you do, heat escapes. Just let the thermometre do its job.

But here’s what happened to me:

First of all, I turned on the BBQ, and then, just for fun, I decided to try the side burner. I wasn’t ready to cook the potatoes, yet, but I figured I’d give it a shot. And to my great chagrin, it didn’t work. (Didn’t I just write that yesterday? Every time I want to test it, it will work, but every time I want to use it, it won’t.) Luckily, though, I grabbed a lighter, and was pleased to find out that I can start it manually; it’s just the lighter button on the BBQ that doesn’t work. (Even though I can clearly see the spark, whenever I press the button.)

So I put in the meat, and went inside to… I don’t remember what I did. Watch TV or check my email or something. Maybe I was peeling the potatoes. And a little while later, I went out to check the meat, and saw that it was lightly raining. I figured I’d better cover the electronic thermometre, so I went inside and got a little plastic bag, which was the perfect size to put on top of the thermometre like a little tent.

Now, my back door doesn’t open directly onto the back yard, it’s too high. So there is a set of wooden stairs that goes down to the lawn. On my way back into the house, the bottom stair—which has been getting ready to give way for a long time—finally broke. So now, any time I use the stairs, I have to bypass that step.

A little while later, I went out to check on the food again, to find that the little plastic bag tent had blown off the thermometre. So I went back in the house and got something to rest on top of the bag, to hold it down in the wind. (There wasn’t a lot of wind, but a bit.)

A little while later, I went out to find out that the bag had blown off again—but this time, it blew onto the BBQ, and melted against the side! I pulled off what I could, and then ran inside to find something to try and scrape off the rest. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get it off. (Plus, since it was raining out, I tracked water and mud all over the kitchen.) The bag was red, so I now have a big red rectangle on the BBQ. I hope it’s not going to smell every time I turn it on.

I went in and got another plastic bag—although I wasn’t able to find one small enough, like the last one had been—and got more (and heavier) weights to hold it down.

By the time I was ready to put on the potatoes, there was no more drama to be had for the night. I started the side burner (with the lighter), and put them on to boil. They actually boiled and cooked quicker than they would have on the stove, even with the rain. (I put the cover on the pot, so that the rain wouldn’t get into the potatoes too much.) And I did a pretty good job of timing it, too, because I got the potatoes to finish just as the meat was finishing. When I took the pot off and brought it inside I realized that it was covered with black soot, but that came off easily in the sink.

And as for the roast? It came out beautifully.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The BBQ again. I hope this isn’t going to become a saga…

I wrote that the side burner on our BBQ wasn’t working. On Saturday, Andrea and I finally got around to borrowing her dad’s van, so that we could bring it back to the store, and either get it fixed, or get a refund. (Or rather, she finally made me get my butt in gear to do it.)

But before we did, I decided to try it one last time. We’d look pretty dumb if we got there and it worked, eh? Well, fortunately or unfortunately, it worked fine. So either:

  1. It was too windy the first time I tried to use it
  2. God just doesn’t want me to use the side burner on our BBQ, and it’s going to work every time I test it, but not when I actually want to use it
So we’re planning on cooking as many meals as possible on the BBQ for the next week or two, to keep trying it out. (If it works, but only intermittently, we can still take it back.) Tonight we’re going to try doing roast beef, and I’ll cook potatoes on the side burner. (I hope it’s not windy tonight.) (I also hope it’s not cold tonight.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Google Talk

I regularly praise Google products on this blog, but that doesn’t mean that they’re perfect. I’ve been trying for a few days now to get Google Talk working, but it just… won’t. (I have a friend who has got a new job where he can’t use MSN Messenger anymore, but can use Google Talk. I thought I’d give it a shot, so we could keep in touch. Well, other than email, I mean.)

My problem is that I already have a Google account, but not a Gmail account. I use my regular email account as a sign-in name, and use that for the Google services I use (Blogger and Google Docs, mostly). So can you use Google Talk if you don’t have a Gmail account? Google says yes; according to this page:

If you’d like to sign up for Google Talk for an existing Google Account:

  1. Sign in with your Google Account email address and password at
  2. Enter your desired Talk username and click check availability! If your chosen name isn’t available, you can select from the suggested alternatives, or enter another username and try again.
  3. Optionally, enter your first and/or last name in the appropriate fields. If you enter a name, it will show up on your friends’ Talk contact lists instead of your username.
  4. Click Continue.
Sounds good—except that it doesn’t work. When I click the link, I don’t get prompted to enter a username, and I don’t get an option to enter a first name or last name. I just get… well, not much of anything, really. I get a page called “My Account” where I can’t really do anything.

So if I’m going to keep in touch with my friend, I guess he’ll have to try and configure MSN Messenger to work through his proxy. (Eric, have you tried using Pidgin? It can connect to MSN Messenger—even through HTTP—and Google Talk, and probably any other chat services you use.)

Friday, October 10, 2008


I know, I haven’t posted in a long time. At least, not here. (I have been posting to the Bible Blog—although a bit less than usual—and to the Book Blog.)

And I still don’t have anything to say. (It’s my SOP to only say something when I feel I have something to say. Which isn’t a good way of doing things when you’re a blogger—isn’t it a blogger’s duty to fill up the internet with incessant garbage?) So I’ll try to make up for my silence by posting a joke that I heard recently.

There are two older gentlemen, let’s call them Roy and Bob. Roy is telling Bob about a great restaurant that he was at the night before.

“It sounds great,” says Bob. “I’d love to try it out. What was the name of the place?”

“Hmm… the name, what was the name?” Roy says to himself. “Red flower… red flower…”

“Carnation?” replies Bob.

“No, red flower with thorns…”

“Oh, you mean rose.”

Roy’s eyes light up. “Yes, rose, that’s it!” He turns to the woman beside him. “Rose, what was the name of the restaurant we went to last night?”

Monday, October 06, 2008

Nuit Blanche

We went to Nuit Blanche on Saturday night. It was… disappointing. If this is the state of Toronto’s art scene, I don’t expect us to be leading the world when it comes to art. (Not that I consider myself an expert, of course, so don’t just take my word for it.)

However, we managed to have a good time anyway, even without the art. For that matter, since I’m not a big patron of the arts, it might not even have made a difference if the art had been magnificent.