The Revealing Spring

It’s starting to maybe look like spring could finally make an appearance up here in southwestern Ontario. We have had a few days of above zero weather and that always leads to one of my favorite things about spring: random items slowly revealed in snowbanks. The other night was my first object seem this year. Someone was unfortunate enough to lose their nice running shoe this winter.

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I Had Forgotten How Much Moving Sucks!

Moving is not on the list of my most favoured activities.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s on my list of things to do that suck the most.  I have no problem with the concept of moving.  The idea of leaving one place behind and dwelling in a new one is perfectly fine with me.  I have moved 6 times now in the last 8 1/2 years so I obviously don’t have any problem with switching locales.

Everything that goes along with moving is what irritates me the most.  You have to change your address with a million different places.  You have to switch your internet/phone/cable services to a new place and then wait around to have them hooked up.  You have to pack up everything you own and move it to a new place only to take it all out of the boxes and put it back where it was anyway.  I hate the amount of garbage moving produces and how much stuff I end up hauling to Goodwill and Salvation Army, asking myself why I ever bought it in the first place.

This time was especially difficult because I had to go through all of that with the boyfriend and he had never moved before.  Ever.  So that meant there was 25+ years worth of unmoved stuff in our place to go through on top of all the stuff I brought with me when I moved into his house and everything we had acquired since then.

It also doesn’t help that the boyfriend is incredibly particular and paranoid about his stuff and whether it will get broken, stolen or mangled inside the boxes we packed them in and this created more than one argument about what should be packed with what.  It also doesn’t help that I’m one of those people that will just fill a box up with whatever is around me until it is full and then move on to the next box and do the same thing.

The boyfriend is of the mind that all like objects should go into the same box and be carefully labelled so we know where everything is for moving/unpacking purposes.  Now, this may sound sane and logical to you, and it is, but eventually, after you put the easy stuff all into the same boxes (ie. books, movies, games/game systems, etc…) then you’re left with a myriad of miscellaneous objects that have no real category.  Eventually, we just packed all the remainder items into the final boxes to be surprises later during the unpacking process.

Another interesting issue during the entire situation was our kitty, Mr. Pip.  He did not enjoy the constant movement of heavy items, the change happening all around him or anything else of the sort.  He would go into hiding for hours, spaz out and run around the house like a crazy nutcase or scratch at the furniture to show his protest.  On the day of the actual move, we shut him in the basement which had already been cleaned out, while we loaded the U-Haul up with stuff and drove it to the new place.  On the second round, we decided to take him with us in my car and when we went into the basement to find him, he had somehow disappeared.

After some frantic searching by the boyfriend and confused searching by me, we discovered that he had hidden himself inside the wall, far beyond our reach behind the hot water heater.  After some discussion, the choice was made to leave him there for the time being, get the rest of the stuff to the new place, eat some dinner and then go back to get him later when he’d had time to chill out and there wasn’t so much noise.  As evidenced by the following photograph, after some initial few days of hiding under beds and skulking around the apartment, he’s settled in quite nicely:

A very lazy and comfortable Mr. Pip

The boyfriend is a little less settled as of yet.  He’s constantly putting things away and trying to decide what the best placement for everything is.  I come home from work every night and something is a little different, another box is unpacked or there is some other piece of decor placed on a shelf.  We have a roommate as well and being as we’re all nerds, I keep coming home to things like the terror dog from Ghostbusters on top of the DVD shelf, or a statue of Robocop on the other side of it.  Mario and Yoshi grace the top of our entertainment stand, but since I like them and Yoshi is mine, I don’t mind.  All the big stuff is mostly where it’s supposed to go except that I may switch my books shelves and desk because I have back problems for some reason, where it’s sitting now hurts my lower back.

It’s taking a while to settle in.  It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in an apartment and the boyfriend never has.  We had to get used to doing the laundry downstairs and paying for it, hauling groceries up the stairs in multiple trips without being able to leave the car open or the door open, and hearing neighbours walk around sometimes.  I will say that it’s starting to feel like home and I’m back into a routine, which is nice.  We’ve got a year lease and then, who knows?  We may end up moving again or sticking around for a while.  All I know is, when we do move, I’m tempted to hire someone to do all the work for me.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in a small town.  I was always in the same room of the same house on the same street for all the first nineteen years of my life until I moved to the big city.  So really, my hometown and my parents’ house still feels very much like home to me.  I will always look at the place I grew up as home.

The back of the house I grew up in

However, I have now lived in the city for almost 9 years and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else again.  I’m used to the pace and the constant stimulation that you don’t get back in the country and probably will never leave again.  Or at least, not for many years.

A view of the city I live in from the apartment I lived in a few years ago

Nausea Rules My Life No More!

I discovered something over the holidays, my friends, and I have to tell you, it’s something absolutely wonderful.  I can play first person shooters again.  I can run around in a virtual world and kill the enemy and not throw up all over the floor.  At least for a couple of hours anyway.  Let me explain.

A while ago, I posted about having Simulation Sickness, a condition where certain people cannot handle the visual graphics and movement of certain kinds of video games.  For me, it was most prominently first person shooters.  I LOVE first person shooters so you can imagine how this upset me.  I missed out on a tonne of triple A titles in the last eight years or so of my life when this little ailment started.

However, over these past Christmas holidays, I was invited by the awesome members and friends of The Games Day Podcast to a marathon gaming session that lasted from 11:00 am until about 2:00 am.  I was stoked because I hadn’t gamed like that since high school when I used to have all the guys over for hours and play the crap out of 007 Goldeneye for the 64.

I knew that first person shooters would definitely play a huge roll in the days events because they are awesome, but I knew there would be a plethora of games for me to play so I didn’t worry too much about it.  When we got there we checked out the demo for Just Cause 2 which was totally awesome.  I was happy because it was third person and the game play rocked.

We also checked out DJ Hero, which is a hell of a lot harder than it looks and despite my original thoughts on the concept, some of the mashups were actually pretty cool.

Eventually, I was drawn to the back room where some people were playing Call of Duty: Black Ops, specifically, the zombie mode.  I sat down and watched for a while before someone put the controller in my hand.  I stared at it for a few seconds before I started playing, expecting the well known hot flash followed by cold sweat and nausea.  However, a few rounds into playing, this hadn’t arrived.  I kept playing, learning the controls and getting used to the feel of it again as I wondered why I wasn’t getting sick.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that playing a first person shooter on an HD television did not cause the nausea I used to experience on an standard definition television.

As you can imagine, I was overjoyed.  This was pretty much the game I played for the entire rest of the day, switching out with the other players, learning how to best play the game and experiencing multiplayer online gaming for the first time.  Eventually, they filmed the last episode of the year, the topic being Game of the Year 2010.  I got to sit in the background and play COD: Black Ops while they filmed it, which was awesome.

Eventually, I played for too long and I did start to feel nauseous, but I didn’t let this discourage me.  Since then, I’ve purchased my own copy of the game and I have found that I can play for about two hours or so at a time before I need to turn the game off.  I’m freaking thrilled.  I have so many plans to play catch up with all the games I missed and to get in on massive online death match rounds.

So happy gaming to all of you out there in 2011…the year I didn’t throw up during a first person shooter!

A badly drawn representation of my joyful reaction to being able to play FPS again

The Boyfriend’s Restaurant Review

The boyfriend recently wrote a Facebook note about our experiences in our local restaurants. We’re constantly on the lookout for a restaurant we both like and can visit often when we’re feeling peckish but it seems in our town, we’re cursed to really only find ones that are very average or horrible. I’m accepting of our city’s failure to provide delicious food at decent prices but the boyfriend is not. The following is his take on the restaurants we’ve visited in the last couple of years. Here and there I’ve inserted my own comments in bold when I felt it was necessary.

Is it really that hard to find a restaurant in London that is truly exceptional? Apparently so… here’s my restaurant review roundup:

NOTE: I’ve starred my personal favourites.

Archies Fish & Chips

Archies is your average fish & chips place. The food is generally good, but not exceptional. It has a friendly relaxed (casual) atmosphere.

  • Taste: Average-Decent.
  • Portions: Good.
  • Price: Average.
  • Service: Good.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Rating: 3.5/5 (Decent).

We did the breakfast buffet on a Sunday once and it was the strangest thing to have fish products included in a breakfast buffet. However, it was surprisingly delicious.

Bernie’s Bar & Grill

Decent bar & grill.

  • Taste: Average-good.
  • Portions: Fair.
  • Price: Average-good.
  • Service: Good.
  • Presentation: Good.
  • Comments: Bernies was my favourite bar & grill for a while. Until they changed their suicide wings so they now taste more like “not even moderately spicey” wings. Also their battered mushrooms are way too greasy.
  • Rating: 3/5 (Meh).

I will say that Bernie’s has a really good spinach and artichoke dip and their potato skins are marvelous.

Big City Diner (Big City Bistro)

Located where East Town pizza use to be is a steaming pile of a restaurant which I have no idea how they stay in business.

  • Taste: Meh.
  • Portions: Small.
  • Price: Awful.
  • Service: Atrocious. People who came in AFTER me were served first, had to wait forever for a pathetically small meal that was overpriced and tasted average.
  • Presentation: Meh.
  • Comments: This is the worst dining experience I’ve ever had in London. Congratulations on being London’s crappiest restaurant.
  • Rating: 0/5 (Worst Place Ever).

This place was awful. I ordered a hamburger and sweet potato fries and the burger was dry and small and there were about twelve sweet potato fries. This lovely little (and I stress LITTLE) cost me $15.

**Coras

Amazing delicious breakfasts served with fresh fruit.

  • Taste: Excellent!
  • Portions: Large.
  • Price: Decent.
  • Service: Excellent, friendly, they keep the coffee full 🙂
  • Presentation: Beautiful.
  • Comments: Coras is hands down my favourite breakfast restaurant in London and one of the few places that I am never let down by. IMHO it may be slightly more expensive than some other breakfast places, but the quality and the service makes it worth it.
  • Rating: 5/5 (Exceptional).

I freaking love Cora’s. Their Eggs Benadictine is phenomenal and their breakfast potatoes are so tasty smothered in white cheddar, onions and ketchup. It is a little pricey but considering the quality of the food, the atmosphere and the very friendly staff, it’s totally recommended. I agree with the boyfriend. Our server from the first visit recognized us on the return trip and commented how nice our comment card was. This place it totally awesome.

Crabby Joe’s

Your average bar & grill. Generally does not disappoint, but occasionally screws up royally.

  • Taste: Generally Good.
  • Portions: Decent.
  • Price: Okay.
  • Service: Poor.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Comments: Crabby Joes is a decent bar & grill and they have very good cheese fries (when they don’t screw them up which is about 50/50).
  • Rating: 3/5 (Average).

I have eaten several things off the menu and my favourite thus far is the spinach and artichoke dip. It’s delicious and always nice and hot. Boyfriend is right, depending on when you go and how busy it is, the service can really suck, however. Waiting forever for cheese fries that have way less than the one you ordered last time is kind of a bummer.

East Side Mario’s

Hey badda-boom-badda-meh!

  • Taste: Average:.
  • Portions: Average.
  • Price: Too much (IMHO).
  • Service: Poor-Average.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Comments: Nothing really impressed me with East Side Mario’s. It’s pasta, it’s priced average to somewhat high, there’s better options.
  • Rating: 2/5 (Sucks).

I kind of have a little soft spot for East Side’s because I worked there as a host for a year when I was in school. I had great times with fun people, and I definitely had my favourite dishes to eat (Mario’s potatoes…mmmmmm). However, having gone back since and seeing that they changed the menu and the way they prepare some of my fave foods, I haven’t been back since then. I think it’s become a nostalgia place.

Golden Griddle

Relaxed casual atmosphere, attentive friendly waiters, large portions, breakfast buffet.

  • Taste: Average.
  • Portions: Large.
  • Price: Average.
  • Service: Great.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Comments: Golden Griddle was my favourite breakfast place until I discovered Coras. It’s still not bad. I’ve never had bad service there and you get large portions for average prices. However, I’ve often had my food served luke-warm such that it gets cold while I’m eating it.
  • Rating: 3.5/5 (Decent).

I like this place, but honestly, it’s on the other side of town and we can get to Cora’s much faster when we have a hankering for breakfast food. Mmmm….breakfast food…

Jack Astor’s

Yet another average bar & grill.

  • Taste: Okay.
  • Portions: Average.
  • Price: Average-Slightly high.
  • Service: Average.
  • Presentation: Decent.
  • Rating: 2.5/5 (Meh).

This place is one of my personal favourites to actually visit with my friends from work at lunch for their lunch specials. They’re so damn good…especially with a beer.

**The Keg

Quality steak, pricey but delicious.

  • Taste: Excellent.
  • Portions: Very good.
  • Price: Very High 😦
  • Service: Excellent.
  • Presentation: Great.
  • Comments: The Keg is the only place I’ve had steak that didn’t disappoint me. However, you get what you paid for so prepare to have your wallet emptied.
  • Rating: 4/5 (Great, only -1 because of the price).

The Keg rocks…that is all.

Kelsey’s

The epitome of mediocre. If you love bland & average you’ll love Kelseys.

  • Taste: Average.
  • Portions: Average.
  • Price: Average-Meh.
  • Service: Average.
  • Presentation: Average-Meh.
  • Rating: 2.5/5 (Meh).

I used to be a total spaz for the balssalmic chicken penne…but again, they changed the recipe and now i just don’t care. I also rate it a meh.

Mandarin Chinese Buffet

For the cost to get in, I’d expect food with flavor!

  • Taste: Bland, bland bland.
  • Portions: N/A (buffet).
  • Price: High.
  • Service: N/A (buffet).
  • Presentation: Well, the buffet is nicely presented.
  • Comments: The Mandarin is grossly overrated. Everything is bland. Learn 2 spice.
  • Rating: 2.5/5 (Meh).

Nuts to the boyfriend, I love this place. Of course, he always says I like bland food. Personally I think he only likes food that so hot he can’t really taste the food.

Montana’s Cookhouse

Average American style cuisine (Steaks, Burgers, etc.).

  • Taste: Okay.
  • Portions: Average.
  • Price: Meh.
  • Service: Awful-poor. Waited over an hour for my steak which was overdone and child-size.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Rating: 2/4 (Sucks).

Boo, they removed the Jack Daniel’s glazed salmon from the menu. I disapprove. Also, the moose and deer heads from the commercials kind of creep me out. Though we went there for a work birthday once and the birthday girl had to wear giant moose antlers while they sang…so that was pretty awesome.

A happy birthday was had indeed

Milestones

Fancy restaurant, popular, expensive at least the food was good.

  • Taste: Good.
  • Portions: Somewhat small.
  • Price: High.
  • Service: Average.
  • Presentation: Excellent.
  • Comments: Milestones is a decent place go if you’re looking for something fancy and not necessarily concerned about price and/or getting full. Also, having to wait with a beeper to get in sucked!
  • Rating: 3/5 (Okay).

Freaking expensive and a little too trendy for my tastes, but the food was delicious. We didn’t have to wait very long with the beeper, it was not a travesty of epic proportions in the least. I had a gift card from work for Administrative Professional’s Day, so that’s why we tried it out.

Smoke N Bones

Southern style chicken & ribs cooked in a smoker.

  • Taste: Okay.
  • Portions: Small-Average.
  • Price: Meh.
  • Service: Poor-Average. Never asked if I wanted a refill.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Comments: They have four of their own bbq sauces, but none of them are hotsauce? (wtf?) They were out of ribs when I went there which is what 90% of their menu contains.
  • Rating: 2.5/5 (Meh).

I don’t like spicy food…at all. I don’t really like southern cooking and they were out of ribs. So this pretty much sucked for me.

Smoke’s Poutinerie

All poutine, all the time.

  • Taste: Fail, how can you be an all poutine place with awful gravy?
  • Portions: Large.
  • Price: Decent.5196702353
  • Service: N/A
  • Presentation: It’s poutine!
  • Comments: Thrilled at the chance to try bacon on poutine I rushed to this place only to discover they have possibly the worst poutine gravy I’ve ever had and really if that’s all you serve, screwing it up is an epic fail.
  • Rating: 1/5 (Fail).

Contrary to popular belief, bacon does not make all things better. I thought I was going to throw up after about six bites of this. I gave all my bacon to the boyfriend and I still didn’t really enjoy the poutine.

Spaghetti Eddie’s

It’s pasta, what more do you expect!?

  • Taste: It’s spaghetti.
  • Portions: I expected more considering how dirt cheap it is to make spaghetti.
  • Price: Spaghetti is so cheap/easy to make there should’ve been more of it.
  • Service: Good.
  • Presentation: Good.
  • Comments: This place has a very unique atmosphere to it, but it’s cramped and for the cost I expected a lot more spaghetti. IMHO if you want pasta stay at home and make it, you’ll get 3x the amount (leftovers yay!) for half the price.
  • Rating: 2.5/5 (Meh).

Boyfriend is right, pasta is pasta and if you’re going to specialize in it, it should be better than this was. It was too expensive for what we got.

**The Symposium Cafe

Relaxed environment (comfy chairs!), friendly attentive service, high quality yummy food.

  • Taste: Excellent.
  • Portions: Good.
  • Price: Good.
  • Service: Good.
  • Presentation: Good.
  • Comments: I’ve only ate here once, but was very impressed. Look forward to going again. It seems to me like the perfect place for lunch.
  • Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good!).

I loved this place.  Their desserts are amazing….I had the cheesecake and it was so delicious.

**Tiger Jacks

Tacky atmosphere, good food with decent prices and good weekly specials. I love the atmosphere. There are stuffed tigers, tiger paintings and all kinds of the same all over the place. On Halloween, they dressed the tigers up. It was awesome.

  • Taste: Good-Very good.
  • Portions: Good.
  • Price: Fair.
  • Service: Good.
  • Presentation: Average-Good.
  • Comments: I’ve been to Tiger Jacks 3-4 times so far and they haven’t really let me down. The steak was kinda small, but the ribs and pizza were delicious.
  • Rating: 4/5 (Good).

I love the food here. The prices are decent and I’ve never been disappointed. The ribs were amazing and their ceasar salad is freaking awesome.
So there you have it.  We keep trying new places but most of them fail to provide what we’re looking for.  Also, I’m not really completely sure what we’re looking for at all, so that really doesn’t help.  I think we’re looking for huge helpings of delicious food at prices that don’t kill my bank account.  I’m starting to think that this may not really exist.  If anyone from around here has any suggestions of where to eat, let me know and we’ll check them out.