New Thing #266: The Lego Store



To say that I loved Lego as a kid might be one of the biggest understatements ever made. There was only one person in the world who loved them more, and that was my dad.

So today when were walking through Fairview Mall on important pants buying business I let out an audible gasp when I passed The Lego Store.

I had no idea that this Mecca to the six the sided brick existed, let alone in this neck of the woods.

The store is just overwhelming, and teaming with customers and Lego Experts alike. If it weren’t for the primary colours everywhere you’d swear you were in an Apple store

The walls are neatly stacked with all types of Lego sets from the traditional castles, to modern works of architecture and robots. George Lucas seems to be financing his next Star Wars production entirely on the basis of Lego sets alone. The 3,104 piece Imperial Star Destroyer alone is $500 (if anyone is looking for Christmas gift ideas for me this year).

There’s a wall devoted to buying bricks piece meal which would have been a fantastic resource when I was kid. I’d never be stuck three-quarters of the way through a giant ship build only to find that I didn’t have one of those little blue three bangers.

Plus, you can mix and match heads, bodies, hair, legs and accessories to make your own custom Lego guy.

Oh, and Audrey thought it was pretty cool too.



New Thing #265: Watch Farscape



I’m not exactly sure of the reason why I hadn’t watched Farscape before today. I can definitely say that my whole outlook on the series was completey off though. I thought it was a schlocky, two-bit, low budget production that didn’t take itself seriously. That probably had to do with the giant muppet character that I always associated with the show and might have just been me mixing it up with another sci-fi series that was on at the time. 

It has a bit of a Buck Rogers feel to it, what with the main character getting transported to another point in the universe after a space travel experiment goes awry, and all. The cool thing is that unlike the Star Trek universe, the aliens aren’t relegated to either one bump on their nose or two. They’re really unique and all seem to have an interesting back story to their race.

The ship and weapon designs were also pretty cool and I can’t wait to see what other cool technology this universe has to offer. And since all 88 episodes are available on Netflix I can find out anytime I want.

New Thing #264: Mountain View Coffee Factory Caf??



Mountain View Coffee is a coffee wholesaler down off the Lakeshore in the east end. My friend Lynn told me about it a while back, but as I found the hard way, they’re not open on the weekend. So with a day off to fill I trotted on down around lunch time.

What I was interested in was that they proport to change up the beans regularly so that coffee people can try new things. But that isn’t really apparent when you walk in, and I didn’t see anything espousing the virtues of whatever they were using behind the counter today. I figured this would be a place where they’d give you a little spiel about what you’d be drinking that day. But I guess not. 

The space is big and open, which you’d expect in a warehouse facility, but they’ve managed to add enough warth with some tables and furniture to make it inviting to stay and enjoy your beverage. Plus they have free wifi which is always a plus. 

I had a cappuccino that wasn’t, well, terrible. It wasn’t great either. But it was good enough to accompany the latest issue of The Walking Dead in a nice quiet environement.

I think the biggest problem they’ll have is that Mercury Espresso Bar is literrally just up the street from them and their product is vastly superior.

New Thing #263: ??ubr??wka Bison Grass Vodka



Back in the day I used to drink a lot of dry vodka martinis. I still enjoy them on occasion, so I was intrigued by the ??ubrówka Bison Grass Vodka at the LCBO today. With a bit of gift card goodness in my pocket, I splured on a bottle.

I’m glad I did because this unique, earthy, yet sweet flavour really brings personality to a tried and true cocktail. Hints of vanilla and a bit of liquorice really make it interesting.

After working until two in the morning, this is a nice cap to a very long day. Now I think I’ll go pass out on the couch. 

New Thing #262: Pay for Starbucks with a Phone



I haven’t frequented a Starbucks in a very, very long time. Thankfully I have Crema, the wonderful independant coffee shop mere steps away from my office. So when I need my coffee fix, I’ve got it covered for most of the week.

But Starbucks introduced new functionality to their iPhone app. And I just couldn’t resist the allure of using my iPhone to pay for my drink. And as far as apps go, this one is top notch; packing in a ton of functionality into a minimalist design.

I have spent my entire adult life loathing my wallet, and since I want to be prepared for everything it’s always woefully fatter than it should be. This is the first step towards losing the plastic that bulks up my back pocket. 

I just wish I could use it anywhere but Starbucks. Ick.

New Thing #261: Peanut Butter & Onion Sandwich


As I type this, I continue to eat my Peanut Butter and Onion Sandwich. I’ve capitalized it to give it the respect it deserves.

I really didn’t think I’d like this one, and I’m as surprised as you are that I did.

It’s such a simple concoction and the flavours really do work well together. Like was explained to me, a lot of south east Asian cooking involved the two ingredients together, although once cooked they’re a little easier to digest. Raw onions aren’t the easiest thing on your stomach after all.

It’s certainly pretty chewy and takes a bit more effort to eat than a normal sandwich, so I can’t see myself eating one of these every day. But I think I’ve found a great way to freak out Audrey’s friends when they come over once she’s a little older.

New Thing #260: Dry Cucumber Soda



I’d never heard of Dry brand soda before today, but when I saw the bottle sitting next to the register at Mercury Espresso Bar I couldn’t resist. The design is just plain beautiful and I love the idea of sodas that are based on more obscure, natural flavours.

I had a tough choice to make though, but eventually I left the rhubarb and vanilla bean varieties on the counter and picked up a the cucumber. 

The soda boils down to a subtle flavour addition to a good bottle of soda water. The cucumber certainly comes through, but doesn’t overpower the drink. There’s also a bit of a floral aftertaste, almost gin-like. 

When I checked out their website I found out that their sodas are all natural and use simply four ingredients across the board. I absolutely love this product and can’t wait to try out the rest of their offerings. 

As an added bonus, the website offers up spirit pairings for all of their sodas. It’s like they knew I was coming. 

New Thing #259: XBox Dashboard Preview



I was lucky enough to get into the XBox Dashboard preview program again this year and found the update sitting there waiting for me this afternoon. After a few minutes of installing, it was like I a brand new XBox sitting in in my living room.

It surpasses the last UI redesign in leaps and bounds, taking the Windows Metro interface and morphing it with the XBox’s. It’s much simpler to find content now and Kinect voice commands are even more prevalent across the system. And unlike the last dashboard, this one feels snappier than ever, maybe even more so than the original blade design.

I didn’t get a chance to delve as deeply into it as I’d like, but everything I saw impressed the heck out of me. It sure has been a great week of tech-geek treasures for me.

New Thing #258: Collingwood Canadian Whiskey



It’s the one on the left and it’s fantastic.

[Update] Forgive me for not elaborating further when I first tasted this somewhat local whiskey. I had tasted everything on that table by the time I made my post and brevity was in everyone’s best intersest.

My original review still stands though, but this whiskey deserves a little more than that. 

Right off the bat it’s smooth. Very smooth. And the maple notes really help, bringing a sweetness that isn’t overpowering, but very welcoming. 

You don’t quite feel like you’ve just eaten a plate of pancakes, but you have that same sense of satisfaction with each sip. 

Also, it’s also quite affordable. So if you’re at all interested in this, please, go buy a bottle right now and support what the guys at Collingwood Whiskey are doing. 

New Thing #257: iPhone 4S



[Photo taken with old, stupid, outdated iPhone 4 that was awesome up until the moment I got this one.]

I’m being facetious. I love my iPhone 4, but now I love my iPhone 4S more. And for one reason: Siri.

I am continually amazed at how much Star Trek technology has actually infiltrated my life.

First the iPhone gave me a Star Trek communicator in my pocket. Then the iPad became every touch screen interface I’d watch people interact with across the Enterprise. Now Siri is my very own “Computer” that I get to ask anything of.

I just wish they’d managed to emulate Majel Barrett-Roddenberry’s voice. And figured out a way for it to make me tea. That’s probably why the iPhone 5 is taking so long.

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