Last Night’s Dinner

If you know me, you know I’ve discovered a love of cooking (short version, reminds me of my mom). So I’ve been using a great app on iOS called AnyList (affiliate link). It’s also available via the web at Anylist.com.

The app lets me collect recipes I find on the web (at last count, I’ve got over *1,300* recipes in the app!) and create shopping lists. It does a LOT more so check it out yourself.

The key to all my recipes has been simplicity. I don’t want to cook anything complicated or requires hours to prepare. So it makes cooking a lot of fun.

Now that I’m married and the cook of the family, I’m branching out from making just my faves and instead trying to find stuff that myself, two boys and my lovely wife would also like. Last night, I made my best meal ever!

Using my fantastic 6 Qt 8-in-1 Multi-Use Express Crock (affiliate link), I first made Sweet and Tangy Slow Cooker Brisket. I’ve never made anything from a brisket before so I bought a small one. But it came out so well, I’ll buy the biggest one I can afford next time!

Alongside the brisket, I made Buffalo Cauliflower. It came out really tasty and was a nice change up from boring old cauliflower. I also made Garlicky Red Potatoes. They weren’t as garlicky as I’d hoped but they were still delicious.

This was the first time I’d tried to make three different things simultaneously. The Crockpot really helped because the slow cooker function meant I didn’t have to rush and the cauliflower and potatoes need similar temps and times to cook so I threw them all into the oven at the same time.

Best part is the brisket recipe has a *lot* of leftover sauce so tonight, I’ll make brown rice (again, really easily in the crockpot), throw it into the sauce, roast some Italian sausage and vegetables and make cornbread (SO GOOD!).

If there’s anyone who thinks they can’t cook (I’m looking at a lot of you guys out there), let me know and I’ll show you some recipes that are ridiculously easy to make!

@Tweetbot and @Twitterrific for Mac, iOS

Further proving that the people who run Twitter have no idea about Twitter, they’ve announced they are killing the native Twitter for Mac app.

Ignoring that first full-of-incredible-amounts-of-BULLSHIT sentence, those of us familiar with the app know they effectively killed it months ago and it hasn’t been in active development for a very long time. I was surprised to hear how many folks not only liked the native Twitter app but didn’t realize there were other, better options available.

I am a big fan of the Tapbots apps (affiliate links below):

Tweetbot for iPad

Tweetbot for iPhone

Tweetbot for Mac

But I am now a constant user of Twitterrifc from The Iconfactory (affiliate links below).

Twitterrifc for iPad

Twitterrifc for iPhone

Twitterrifc for Mac

Both Tweetbot and Twitterrific are more full-featured than the Twitter for Mac app and both block the annoying “Promoted Tweets” you see on the web site and in the Twitter for Mac app. Additionally, both have much greater control over muting and “muffling” (in the Twitterrific app) than anything else I’ve used.

I especially like Twitterrific’s Muffle feature. Unlike Tweetbot, which allows you to Mute “people, hashtags, or tweets via keywords” and therefore hide those tweets for a period of time (or forever), Twitterrific allows you to “muffle” tweets in the same way (and even faster/better). I personally prefer the Muffle feature because it lets me choose words or phrases that then get grayed out in my Twitter feed but not hidden:

In the above case, I still want to see tweets from BC Ferries but not the ones that have to do with Tsawwassen. And, if I do want to see the tweet, all I have to do is click on it and it expands.

This is a huge help when there is a news story or an event (the Olympics!) going on you don’t want to see information about but still want to see other tweets by that same account. The problem I always had with the way Tweetbot hides tweets is I would often forget that I’d hidden them. With the Twitterrific way, I still see the tweets.

But, make no mistake – both Tweetbot and Twitterrific are great apps and well worth the money if you are a fan of Twitter but want a better way to manage what you see in your feed. And both are made by great Mac developers you should support.

Good Bye Old Couch


It’s completely ridiculous but today, I’m a little sad and wistful.

After I moved to Nashville, TN from Vancouver, I found a nice little apartment. But it had no furniture. So, for the first time in my life, I went furniture shopping on my own.

I found this wonderful leather couch and loveseat combination. I loved the couch – its design, the suppleness of the leather, its length (I could lay down on it without body parts hanging off either end!), its depth, its softness, all of it. I was very proud of myself for striking a good deal with the sales guy and was very excited when it was delivered.

That couch remained with me for the next 16 years. It is the oldest object I own. Through twelve subsequent moves – eight different towns, two countries, four states and two provinces, that couch was there for me every day to rest on, watch TV on, eat on, talk on.

When I moved to Gibsons, we assumed the couch would join us. Sadly, the place I moved to has doors too narrow and windows too sealed to fit through. We tried and tried but it simply wouldn’t fit in the house. We thought we might be able to give it to a friend but they didn’t want it. In hindsight, I should have sold it while I was still in Vancouver.

So it’s been sitting on the deck for the past four months, getting moldy, rained on and neglected. Finally, we decided it had to go and today, we dismantled it and took it to the dump.

Except for a few cat scratch marks, that couch looked as good as the day I bought it. Even though I sat in the exact same end of it every day for 16 years, it showed no sign of age, sagging or collapse. The leather aged only slightly and even then, remarkably well. As we took it apart, we marveled at its inner workmanship. There were straps and connectors and bolts and all manner of carpentry inside to ensure it would last a lifetime.

Sadly, it didn’t. And I honestly feel bad that, in the end, I treated it so poorly. It deserved a better fate than to be destroyed and taken to the dump.

I’ll miss that couch.

Aukey’s 12,000mAh power bank for $12!


Amazon has a great deal on the “AUKEY 12000mAh Portable Charger”. I used a variation of this charger during my trip to Australia last month and it worked great.

It lists as costing $25.99 but check out this screenshot:

To get the deal, click on the drop-down menu where it says, “3 Applicable Promotion(s)”. Click on the bottom one where it says, “Save 54% each on AUKEY 12000mAh Portable Charger offered by Aukey Direct when you purchase 1 or more”. At checkout, you’ll see the price change to $12!

Shot of the Day

I was dreading taking the Olympus M1 to Australia with me instead of my beloved Nikon d600. I’ve never used the M1 on a regular basis and I’m unfamiliar with its controls. I know the D600 like the back of my hand and it’s a big, comfortable camera for me.

But the combination of the iPhone X (which takes some pretty damn good shots) and the M1 has been enough to not pine for the big D600…..much…. 🙂

Barangaroo City View and Hotels.com screwing us over

On their website, @hotelsdotcom represents the property we booked for a two night stay in Sydney, Australia as a “Hotel”. “Book this hotel and collect nights”…”11 other people are looking at this hotel…” The email from @hotelsdotcom says, ”Hotel Details…” So we thought we were booking a *HOTEL*. Turns out, it’s some AirBnB-type place.

I hate AirBnB-type places. We wanted to book a HOTEL. It’s why I went to HOTELS .com and not AirBnB.com. I wanted the boys, Jasper and Rory, to have the “fun” of staying in a HOTEL.

So the property charged us the full room rate (a little unusual for a hotel but not a problem) but then came an *additional* $620 for various “fees” (“Security deposit” and “Cleaning fee”) ahead of time. When I email the property to tell them that was unacceptable (we’re OK with paying the fees but not OK with being charged for them two weeks in advance), I was told (short version) that I was shit out of luck and can’t cancel *ANY OF THE CHARGES*, including the booking itself.

I reached out to @hotelsdotcom via Twitter. They tried for 7 hours to get in touch with this property with no luck (that itself seems suspicious to me). I called @hotelsdotcom support and was told they also couldn’t get in touch with the property. After explaining the situation, including the misleading description on the website, I was told nothing could be done. After having to be forceful with the first telephone rep (she didn’t want to transfer me to her “manager”), I got a second rep and explained everything all over again.

(BTW, at NO TIME did I ever raise my voice or use inappropriate language. I understand the telephone reps are just the frontline people and I would never treat them badly).

The 2nd rep (I don’t believe he was a manager) basically said the same thing with one additional detail: “I could “transfer the name of the booking to someone else.” “Who!?” I asked. he was suggesting I literally just ask complete strangers to take the booking over and then “they could pay me directly”. WTAF?

I asked to speak to yet another supervisor and then things got STUPID. This second rep claimed that there was no one “higher than him” that I could speak to. “Oh. I didn’t realize I was speaking to the CEO of Hotels.com. Nice to meet you sir.” When I called him on that, he said I couldn’t speak directly to his manager and that, if I wanted to contact him, I could write a letter – yes, a physical, actual letter. He even offered to give me the postal address – because his manager “doesn’t have a phone”.

OK. Now I’m pissed off. I get he’s trying to deflect but being stupid and lying to me is NOT the way to do it.

He reiterated the idiotic idea that I could ask someone else to take over the booking (!) and continued to refuse to allow me to escalate the issue any further.

So now *I’M* escalating it.

Our next step will be to dispute the charges with our credit card company. Followed by the pretty obvious reviews I’ll leave here, on Yelp, on TripAdvisor, etc about the utter ridiculousness of this situation.

I honestly don’t understand how, in this day and age, a customer’s satisfaction is not a company’s highest priority. It’s no skin off of anyone’s nose if the Barangaroo City View Hotel were to simply refund the money *AND CHARGE IT BACK TO US WHEN WE GO THERE*. Instead, they’ve been uncommunicative and uncooperative.

I don’t understand how Hotels.com can’t see that the way they represent this property is at the very least misleading if not downright deceptive. The fact they won’t stand behind their own statement – “Hotels.com is a leading provider of hotel accommodation worldwide” but we didn’t book a *HOTEL* – is ridiculous.

So bravo to Hotels.com and the Barangaroo City View. You’ve pissed off a customer for no readily apparent reason. We’ll still stay at a hotel in Sydney. It might even be the Barangaroo City View “hotel”. But, rest assured, both the hotel and Hotels.com will lose money over the issue. And it’s simply because they didn’t want to satisfy a customer.

Fucking morons.

My Wedding Day!

Today, at 4:30pm PT in Gibsons, BC, Canada, this kind, sweet, gentle, loving, giving, smart, funny, beautiful, sexy, truly AMAZING woman will make me the happiest man in the world by joining me in marriage.

Those of you who know her know I couldn’t have imagined a better woman, person, wife, lover, partner, and partner in crime. Those of you who don’t, I hope one day you’ll get to meet her. She will make your life better simply by her presence. She brings joy and happiness wherever she goes and the world is a better place because she is in it. And my world is immeasurably better for having known her.

Thank you, Melissa for letting me into your life, for loving me for who I am, faults and all, and for letting me become part of your family. I am honoured to be your husband. I cherish you. I adore you. And I love you to the stars and back.