NaBloPoMo 6: Waxing Nostalgic

It turned out to be a busy day today. Between presentations, swing dance and course work I am finding myself cheating yet again. I’ll try not to fall back too often on my nostalgic times in France, but here is one of my clandestine cooking experiences.


Hi everyone and welcome to Clandestine Cooking with Kevin. Today we will be going over the basics for all those first time clandestine cookers out there. The first thing you want to do is check your lease and make sure you are not allowed to cook in you room at residence, after all it’s not clandestine if you’re allowed to do it right? Let’s have a quick look shall we…yep there it is, plain as day “cooking is strictly forbidden in the rooms”.

The next thing you will want to do is look for that little loop hole just in case, let’s read on: “It is forbidden to introduce such electrical appliances into the room such as hotplates, microwaves, radiators, stoves, etcetera.” I don’t know about you but I have never heard of an electrical etcetera before ha, ha, ha! Ok, we seem to be in luck, they have forgotten to mention the clandestine cooker’s best friend: the electric kettle, or as I like to call it my “humidifier”. After all these dorm rooms get to be rather dry (wink, wink). Feel free to pick one up at your local appliance store or have a friend lend you one of the four they have lying around their house. This, combined with your industrial sized steal thermos, will be the central point for all your meals, so treat it them respect. This means hiding them as soon as cooking is done, preferably in a location that is supper inconvenient for even you to get to (undoubtedly forcing you to eat out instead just for ease of effort). Now on to the next step: shopping.

This can be daunting at first when you realize that you have no fridge to store anything in. Just follow these few tips and you should come out ok. First don’t buy too much; you can always go back for more if you run out (except for Sundays of coarse, where even the churches close for the day). Second go for non-perishables and dry goods like rice, macaroni, soup in a cup, cardboard, stale bread etc. When it comes to things like meats buy salamis or you can go straight to the source and buy a cow or a pig. Simply stake it in the inner courtyard and use a “carve as you need” mentality. If you opt for the cow you can even make cheese from the milk, only remember to thoroughly seal it in wax (you might be abroad to see a new culture, but you don’t want it growing in your dresser).

Now onto the fun part: cooking. Get your kettle going and put a cup of soup in your one and only slightly oversized mug and a few handfuls of macaroni into your thermos. Once the water boils fill you mug and thermos, then enjoy your soup while the macaroni cooks.

Now I know what you are thinking, Kevin how am I supposed to strain my macaroni without a strainer? My friend that is the joy of a thermos, most have a spout that lets liquids out and keeps solids in! Once you’ve done this, poor your noodles (providing they aren’t cooked to the inside of your thermos rendering it useless even for tea the next day) into your one and only slightly oversized mug, add lots of wax and very little cheese and what ever cut of meat you managed to get without getting kicked in the head or head butted. Voila! A meal fit for a king! Follow with tea (providing your kettle hasn’t shorted out for some unknown reason…I knew “free” was too good to be true) and cookies for dessert.

Well that’s all the time we have for today folks, thanks for tuning in. Please make sure you tune in next time where I will be showing how to cook a Christmas turkey with tinfoil, a radiator and two double A batteries (apple flavoured of coarse).


NaBloPoMo 5: Why Would I be Nervous

So I had a couple people ask me about the blog post when I bought condoms for the first time in France. I posted it originally on the Blog portion of my old Hotmail/MSN account. I went looking for it, but apparently it was all deleted as MSN moved to Live and now Outlook.

Thankfully I am a pack rat when it comes to digital files, so here is that original post. For your enjoyment, an un-revised, unedited re-posting of “Why Would I be Nervous”.


Well friends there comes a time in every boy’s life where he has to go out into the world and do those things that he just feels awkward doing. Things like: asking that girl out on a date, the first kiss (should I do it now, no maybe not…yes now! Wait no…ok, yes), crying, doing laundry (ZAP!…oh, so that’s what dryer sheets are for) and admitting the fact that spiders make him scream like a girl. But my friends, there is one thing that surpasses all of this for awkwardness in a boy’s life and that is buying condoms for the first time.

I have just recently lived this experience (go on laugh now at the virgin, but I am proud to flaunt it…my virginity that is and not the other thing the rest of you were thinking about) and no matter how much you tell yourself that one, I’m more than old enough to be buying these and two, I am in France and nothing spells condom more than that, you still feel strangely awkward going to the store to pick them up.

Now before my folks get any worried thoughts, I assure them it’s just a precaution illustrated by the following conversation recently had between a concerned friend and I:

“So Kevin, quite the party last night, saw you talking to a few girls. You know, just out of curiosity, do you carry. Ha ha, might help you solve that virginity problem”

“Hey I’m kinda proud of the fact, how many twenty three year old virgins do you know?”

“Beyond you…ah…well, none.”

“That few eh?…well in either case I don’t carry. I sort of want to get to know the girl before jumping into bed with her. Talk about it a bit you know?”

“But what if you’re drunk?”

“I don’t think I’d ever get drunk to that point. I like to think I’m pretty responsible with my alcohol.”

“Ah, so you running around with a lampshade on your head the other night was you being responsible with your alcohol?”


“So you’ll pick some up just to be on the safe side then?”

“Yeah, not a bad idea, come to think of it.”

And that friends, is the fateful conversation that had me standing outside my local supper store taking one deep breath before crossing the threshold of the automatic doors.

Now of coarse I gave myself a pretext to come down and buy the condoms. I did, after all, need some bread and cheese to go with my soup for supper that evening. I wasn’t just going to buy the condoms on their own. I mean, you just don’t do that.

I picked up my basket and started down the aisle to get my bread, then off to get my cheese. Along the way I passed the fruit stand and saw that they had some bananas for a reasonable price, so I figured what the heck, it might help make things look less suspicious with another item in my basket. With bread and banana’s in my basket I continued onto the cheese, found my brie and started to head in the direction of the toiletries aisle, but what did I spy on the shelf but dates! And at a reasonable price too, but I have to admit that the purchase was influenced by the thought that condoms are useless without a date! That is when I drew some very unwanted attention when I laughed allowed at my own bad joke and thereby sending the shopping excursion in a downward spiral.

Now fully conscious of the eyes of the world watching me I dove into the next available aisle only to find if full of other shoppers. Hoping to stave off suspicion, I looked for the first reasonable thing I could throw into my basket: tea! Thank the lord for at leas some small graces. After having carefully chosen a random mint tea and thrown it in my basket, I made an attempt for the toiletries aisle but thought that a dash past the six or seven aisle would be too obvious. I opted to meander through the aisles, but at every turn there were more people all looking with that smug look of “I know what you’re really here for, you can’t hide it with that!” so I would look to the selves for an excuse to be where I was. Peanut butter and honey from one aisle, sweet meats from another, canned veggies on the next, chips on the one following that and so on and so on.

I eventually made it to the toiletries aisle, my basket now laden down with enough random food to start a small party, and found it no less than empty. Not a soul! I sighed a sigh of relief and walked up to where they kept the condoms. One brand and only one style! Well that simplifies things. No need to investigate the various styles and flavours of condoms. I reached out my hand to pick up the box and just at that moment I saw someone out of the corner of my eye. Panic! What to do now? I’m committed! Just then I saw the band-aid on my finger and went: Perfect, I can get band-aids! With the grace of a person making up their mind on a product, I manoeuvred my hand over two items and took a package of band-aids of the shelf and then took two steps over to investigate the toothpastes.

In hindsight, that was not really the best idea. I mean who really doesn’t already know what toothpaste they are going to buy? At the very least the ploy worked long enough for the other person to leave the aisle, without picking anything up I might add, once again leaving me alone. Not passing up of this second opportunity, I grabbed the box of condoms, shoved it to the bottom of my basket (again not a good idea because they ended up at the top of the pile at the checkout) and made my way to the cashier, got wrung though, paid and left.

The right question to ask now is: How much did I spend? The answer: thirty-six euro. The better question to ask would be: How much did the condoms set me back? And the answer to that my friends is three euro twenty-three cents!

Oh well, at least now my parents can rest assured that if I am not slipping a ring onto a finger, that I am at least slipping something else on.

Joggling Take 2

Len and I were at it again this year, joggling the 3 km course at the Grand Beach Sun Run. We finished in 27 minutes, a far cry better than the 45 minutes it took us last year … we are of course hoping everyone will overlook the fact that we ran the 5 km loop last time.

This year was lots of fun and the shorter distance was a nice warm up for the Colour Me Rad Run that is coming up this weekend. We met up with a few people who remembered our efforts from last year and we introduced a whole new crowd of runners to joggling: the art of jogging and juggling. Among the crowd of inductees was a very excited golden retriever, who though it would be more fun to chase the jogglers and their balls than follow his master on the course.

Unfortunately our membership drive came up short, but we are hopeful that we will one day wrangle at least one person into this entertaining sport … or even perhaps that golden retriever.

Enjoy the photos and come out and see us this Sunday the 21st in Winnipeg at Colour Me Rad. We’re at the gate at 9h40.

Len showing off our heavier juggling balls that won't get carried away in the strong wind.

Len showing off our heavier juggling balls that won’t get carried away in the strong wind.

Hmm, what are these strange things floating in front of me?

Hmm, what are these strange things floating in front of me?

Len warming up for the run.

Len warming up for the run.

Getting warmed up.

Getting warmed up.

At least we are ahead of a couple people this year.

At least we are ahead of a couple people this year.

A little flourish at finish as Len crosses the finish line.

A little flourish at finish as Len crosses the finish line.

At the finish and in second place. Well second in the joggling category anyway.

At the finish and in second place. Well second in the joggling category anyway.

The Next Step in Joggling

I went skating with my family on the Forks River Trail on the Red River the other day. It was great fun to get out of the house after the long cold week we had had. It took me awhile to get used to the skates again, but once I got going I was hit with an odd question: could I skate and juggle without falling flat on my face?

I was talked into joggling, the art of jogging and juggling, by a co-worker last year and have been enjoying the sport ever since. I figured it couldn’t be that hard to bring it over to skating. So I took of my gloves, folded them into little balls, took out my little change purse and gave it a try.

The results were better than expected and I didn’t fall on my face! Although, I did drop my juggling “balls” a few times. My antics were quite enjoyable and brought a few smiles and many curious stares from the other skaters. I’ll definitely have to go out and try it again before spring. The only question now is what to call it? Skoggling? Skaggling?


The Perseid Meteor Shower and the Occult

Many of you are already aware of the height of the perseid meteor shower tomorrow (August 12), so I won’t spend any more time on the subject other than to tell you go out and enjoy the show.

However, if you’re up for a daytime viewing challenge, you can check out the daytime occultation of Venus. This has nothing to do with vampires sparkling in sunlight I’m afraid, but it does involve the Moon as it passes in front of Venus from our point of view.

From Winnipeg look to the west and try to locate the slim sliver of the crescent Moon. It will not be easy during the day, but will be a fun challenge. You may even have more luck locating Venus that will be sitting east of the Moon.

At 15:25 CDT the Venus will start its ingress behind the Moon. It will reappear at 16:17 CDT on the west side of the Moon.

This event will be an exercise in patience (first to find the Moon and Venus, second in waiting the 45 minutes between Venus’s disappearance and reappearance), but will be a fun one to tick off your viewing list and things to talk about with your friends.

Venus east of the Moon before ingress.

Venus after egress.

Why Jog When You Can Joggle

When I started at The Manitoba Museum we had the Circus! exhibit on. It was a great interactive display that looked at the science under the big top. Off to one side of the exhibit floor was a purple cart containing various juggling items, such as juggling balls and rings, the Diablo and Devil Sticks.

As an animator it was part of my job encourage visitors to explore all aspects of the exhibit, but at the time I didn’t know how to juggle and was feeling sheepish when visitors asked to either see how juggling worked or wanted to learn how to do it themselves.

This is when Len, one of my co-workers, stepped in. One of Len’s many hidden talents is being able to juggle; the other is finding situations where he can cause a little harmless trouble to lighten the day.

Len quickly took me under his wing and walked me through the basic steps of juggling in about ten minutes. In so doing he killed two birds for me with one juggling ball. I now had the basics to juggle and a great technique to teach visitors.

Over the weeks Len and I would pick up the juggling balls whenever the exhibit was quiet between school groups and practice. Len would keep me motivated by appealing to my competitive side and show me some new trick that he’d learnt and challenge me to get it. I didn’t always manage, but I did learn a couple cool moves this way to add to my repertoire.

As the one up man ship continued, Len jogged around the exhibit one day while juggling and at that moment a devious plan was born. Len and I would train to joggle (that’s juggling while jogging) the Manitoba Marathon Relay. We would of course need other team members, but the idea was now in the back of our minds.

As time went on we did manage to coerce a couple other people into the idea, but the run was sometime after the exhibit had closed and I fell negligent in keeping up my juggling outside of work.

The Manitoba Marathon came and went and Len began to wonder if our joggling debut would ever come to pass. Then he stumbled on the perfect event for us: The Grand Beach Sun Run! A short 5 km fun run that we could to without fear of killing too many people if we dropped our balls.

In a moment of what many might call insanity I agreed under the proviso that I test out my running skills before the run. So one week before the run I laced on my running shoes for the first time in probably a decade and went for a jog. By some miracle I managed to get my way through about 3 km, at that point I figured I could walk the rest of the 5 km at the run.

Len and I register for the Grand Beach Sun Run. We tried to tell them we were with JAM (Joggler’s Association of Manitoba) for the discount, but they wouldn’t buy it.

Then came the big day, July 15th. That morning I had already gotten up early to catch the conjunction with another co-worker. With no luck seeing the conjunction, I head off to got my groupies, my parent’s who could just not pass up an opportunity to see what crazy shenanigans I had gotten myself into, and met up with Len at a Tim Horton’s before driving out to Grand Beach.

Len and I registered, stretched and warmed up turning a couple heads and creating a great many smiles.

Warming up before the run

Len and I placed ourselves very strategically at the back of the pack so as not to kill anyone if we dropped a ball. When the horn went off, we took off at our slow pace just a few meters ahead of the walkers that were also doing the 5 km.

We encouraged each other on, we joked with race marshals as we joggled passed and, most importantly, we gave a great many cottagers something to talk about as they looked out their widows having breakfast.

When we hit the mid point, I was still going strong. I credit the rhythmic movement of my balls that probably half hypnotized my body into keep going.

The last stretch going down the beach

By the end Len and I joggled the whole 5 km and we did it in about 45 min., a full 15 min. bellow what we thought it would take us! Regrettably, the walkers lapped us on the home stretch, but next year they may not be so lucky.

Catching our breath at the end

One last juggle

My parents took a few videos, but without a video editor I can’t shrink them enough to up load them. I’ll try and figure something out and get them up as soon as possible. Sorry.