The Trinidad moruga scorpion. Measuring up to two million Scoville units, it was once the Guinness Book of World Recrods holder for the hottest pepper in the world until it was dethroned by the Carolina Reaper pepper in 2013. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, user: Hankwang

The Trinidad moruga scorpion pepper. Measuring up to two million Scoville units, it was once the Guinness Book of World Records holder for the hottest pepper in the world until it was dethroned by the Carolina Reaper pepper in 2013.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, user: Hankwang

We Flugs are not very smart sometimes.

My brother and I are guilty of being occasional pepper experimenters who dare to indulge in the odd heat high.

Being the hot-food-curious guy that I am, I ended off 2014 at my brother’s garage get-together by sampling a pinch of flakes and seeds from these ridiculously hot peppers he bought called the Trinidad moruga scorpion.

It’s the second-hottest pepper on Earth next to the Carolina Reaper, and can be up to almost twice as hot as the ghost pepper a.k.a. bhut jolokia.

On the Scoville heat scale, this stinger can measure as high as two million SCU heat units.

In Calgary, you can get a hold of these “Dare ya, bro” peppers/sauces from vendors such as Hatari Bros. You can try your “luck” hunting them down at the farmers market.

I took about a minute of staring at this devil of a pepper, holding it in my hand preparing myself as it actually started to sting my palm.

I took one eyewitness’ sage advice and just broke off a pinch’s worth of the dried hellfire. In it went as I braced myself for an evening of pain and a subsequent morning of discomfort.

This one doesn’t mess around: for me the pain onset was not a gradual creeper that takes a moment to peak, like some peppers and sauces can be, but a fast-building peak, with myself looking so red one would think that I came home from a tropical vacation. Nose was sniffling like I caught the worst cold ever, tears were flowing, saliva streamed steadily, and I did slow breathing exercises throughout in order to make sure I didn’t lose my composure. The pain peak lasted about five minutes and, to my surprise, mouth felt back to normal after only about 45 minutes.

I’m just grateful that my bro played the nice host and still kept the cheese nibbling tray around after dinner.

To my surprise, however, it showed me mercy quickly, but made sure I wouldn’t forget its sudden sting.

And this was only a pinch’s worth. With hindsight, a whole dried pepper would have been an even dumber idea, one that I probably won’t try.

The Mucho Burrito Death by Johnny habanero & scotch bonnett pepper sauce I occasionally put on my meats and chicken wings is a cool-down compared to this.

If jalapenos are considered a challenge for you and you can’t handle the humble habanero (by comparison), this one’s burn will be too much to take. So like you would encountering any venomous insect while out on a tropical safari, keep away for your own good — and don’t try to grab and eat it.

Did I also tell you that we Flugs are not very smart sometimes?

threeframesIt was just like any other backyard summertime get-together in late July; barbecue on the go, beers in hand, buddies laughing and bonfire blazing.

With we Flugs being a family that never says no to a cheap or free firewood deal, sometimes people are bound to bring some over for us once in a while.

In this particular case though, what was brought to us that was intended for the fire pit turned out to be a little slice of Canadian food history.

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In this old apple box label, it looks like a Mrs. Suffsick from Sinaluta, Sask., at one point before I was born, seemed to really love Vernon, B.C. apples enough to custom order them. Stuff intended for firewood has a story, it seems.

On this old apple box label, it looks like a Mrs. Suffsick from Sinaluta, Sask., at one point before I was born, seemed to really love Vernon, B.C. apples enough to custom order them. Stuff intended for firewood has a story, it seems.

Needless to say, we couldn’t burn these.

These old apple labels that were donated to us by a family friend come from the early 20th century, starting from the World War I era going all the way until the 1960s when B.C.’s fruit was still packed and shipped in wooden boxes with all of these colourful labels, according to a former Kelowna Museums executive director quoted in this post from Good Fruit Grower.

There is even a postcard book of some of these labels.

This collection of about a dozen that fell into our hands doesn’t include any of the more eclectic artworks that are supposedly out there, like a Biblical image of a snake biting into a juicy, delicious apple (guess B.C. fruit’s just that tempting), but still a neat rescue nonetheless.

Three of them have since been given new life by my brother, who built solid oak frames around the labels and gave them a thick lacquer finish. It was a birthday present for my mother this fall.

mapleleafappleshoweapplesorchardLesson? When you’re donated firewood from someone that will help you huddle and keep warm this winter, look before chucking first.

pizzaboxIn newsrooms everywhere, it’s considered tradition for the crew to order a ton of pizzas during an election day—whether the delivery guy gets a generous tip for (likely) bringing the order on a dolly, I guess depends on the newspaper or broadcaster’s respective size and/or budget.

But when the long night is over amid a flurry of quoting winners and losers at their respective HQs and talking with voters, the newsroom will have one more issue to deal with aside from running out of caffeine for the page layout crew in the morning’s small hours: What to do with all those empty boxes?

The sensible thing to do would be to just go and chuck them in the recycling bin but it’s important for journalists to have a sense of humour (cheaper therapy for coping with the job stress than seeing a shrink), so why not be creative? A lot can be done with all that cardboard.

Here’s a list of silly, albeit (mostly) practical uses for all of those empty, grease-stained pizza boxes.

Makeshift umbrellas: It just doesn’t feel respectful wearing the newspaper you work for over your noggin during a soggy day. As for digital editions, iPads not only don’t cover much of your head but also will probably break after taking so many raindrops or wet snowflakes. So what’s the next best thing? It would be a pizza box, of course. You’ll look ridiculous but it should work. Bonus is, unlike a traditional umbrella, you don’t have to use one hand to hold it if you position both ends on your shoulders just right, in the event you have to write something while standing up.

Office ceiling protection: If you’re one of those of people who sharpens pencils and throw them up into the ceiling tiles waiting for a callback or an important email to arrive, holding a few boxes up with some strips of scotch or duct tape at the spot above your desk is the perfect opportunity to eliminate your boredom- or procrastination-induced vandalism.

Build a cardboard Stonehenge model: In between sitting and hitting F5 on the keyboard for up-to-the-second poll results, take some glue and piece together a model of Stonehenge. Maybe it won’t be big enough to be a life-size model but should be enough to build one in equal size as seen in the classic rock ‘n’ roll mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap.

Give away to that one longtime columnist who’s also in a pub band that plays classic rock covers as an inside joke. Who knows, he might use it onstage when his trope plays at the company Christmas party.

Tower demolition by office chair: Unleash your inner Bam Margera from Jackass. Tower up the boxes and push your co-worker sitting in the chair as fast as possible towards them and see how much of a mess you make. Make sure the office chair has wheels or this won’t work. I bear no responsibility if you choose to do this while the incumbent mayoral candidate’s in the newsroom talking to the editorial board; hopefully s/he’ll understand that newsrooms aren’t exactly formal workplaces.

Desk height adjustment for your laptop: Desk too low for your typing comfort? No more outdated phone books to go around? Pile up a pizza box or two.

Sweat absorption: Cut into pieces according to your needs. Place a small oval-sized piece into grandpa’s old fedora for your 1950s-era reporter Halloween costume to absorb any forehead sweat, or if you’ve had a long shift and are starting to suffer from an embarrassing case of swass (sweaty ass) that may soak past your pants, place underneath your chair.

Quick-and-easy desk-clutter storage: Accountants sometimes deal with clients who store their receipts, income slips and other tax-related items into what they call the chaotically-disorganized “shoe-box method.” Why not adapt the “pizza-box method” for your newsroom desk? Any old notebooks or council agendas around that might be worth keeping, just in case of a new development or libel chill? Stuff all that paper in there.

Keep them: Nail one up on the part of your wall meant for your old lanyards, if you have one. Not only will you have that lingering smell of that special shift with you forever, but, if you’re lucky, you’ll have the pizza joint’s phone number right there in case you want to order another one of those delicious pies again.

In the rare event you find yourself having to interview the owner for your story on the establishment’s failed government food-safety inspection, then you’ll have no need to Google the phone number first. What can I say? Seconds count when breaking a story.

Fall makes for a pretty good time to get some nice sunrise shots of Calgary and area’s new ‘burbs, as people inside all of those houses are on the cusp of getting ready for the day, opening their curtains greeting the morning sky… and the incoming construction noise and traffic.

Thanks to those of you who have taken a genuine interest in my insider’s look at outward growth as it happens and enjoyed my previous entries in this series.

If you’ve missed them, here are entries one and two.

This newest collection was taken over the course of late summer and early fall.

Rural meets suburban on the edge of Silverado in the southwest as acreage properties loom beyond the lots where luxury homes will soon be built.

Rural meets suburban on the edge of Silverado in the southwest as acreage properties loom beyond the lots where luxury homes will soon be built.

Welcome to Redstone, Skyview Ranch's neighbouring subdivision in the northeast. Parent walks child to (presumably) the school bus stop in a mainly-finished street. Pardon the pixelation; this was shot with night setting.

Welcome to Redstone, Skyview Ranch’s neighbouring community in the northeast. Parent walks child to (presumably) the school bus stop in a mainly-finished street. Pardon the pixelation; this was shot with night setting.

The moon sets in the southeast community of Mahogany on a row of lived-in houses still landing for their landscaping to be done and their garages built. At least Canada Post seems quick to keep up, though.

The moon sets in the southeast community of Mahogany on a row of lived-in houses still waiting for their landscaping to be done and their garages built. At least Canada Post seems quick to keep up, though.

Ummm... does building on a hill count as upward growth? Earth movers at work in our fastest-growing community of Evanston in the northwest.

Ummm… does building on a hill count as upward growth? Earth movers at work in our fastest-growing community of Evanston in the northwest.

A fleet of parked earth movers, likely due to servicing rest in Mahogany with the South Health Campus looming nearby.

Two earth movers drive to their destination while a fleet is parked beyond, likely due to servicing, in Mahogany as the South Health Campus looms nearby.

Auburn Bay in the southeast can serve as a good example of how challenging it can be to make out the downtown skyline from so far away. You may need to squint...

Auburn Bay in the southeast can serve as a good example of how challenging it can be to make out the downtown skyline in a cell phone picture from so far away. You may need to squint…

Another said example.

Another said example…

...But it's not hard to make out the lovely reflections in the water on a calm morning at Auburn Bay's lake.

…But it’s not hard to make out the lovely reflections in the water on a calm morning at Auburn Bay’s lake.

According to this panel of Pink Wood installed on a house's side at Ranchers' Rise in Okotoks, it's, well... Pink Wood, a type that's treated to help reduce flame spread in event of a fire, as well as help with mildew resistance.

According to this panel of Pink Wood installed on a house’s side at Ranchers’ Rise in Okotoks, it’s, well… Pink Wood, a type that’s treated to help reduce flame spread in event of a fire, as well as help with mildew resistance.

Good morning, Langdon.

Good morning, Langdon.

 

MacBook 1.1 (2007-), meet HP Compaq (2009-2013)... Oh, wipe that stupid smirk off your face, MacBook!

MacBook 1.1 (2007-), meet HP Compaq (2009-2013)… Oh, wipe that stupid smirk off your face, MacBook!

Earlier this month, I wrote that my HP Compaq kicked the bucket, likely due to loosened solder in one of the motherboard’s chips.

Well, a few weeks ago, I became alive again with a hand-me-down MacBook 1.1 from a very generous employer, whom I won’t flatter too much on the Internet. You know who you are and thank you so much.  It does the job for what I have to do in my day-to-day business and even makes things easier with MS Office and Adobe Creative Suite 4 installed. Lucky me, eh?

Anyhoo, when one replaces a laptop, there are some steps one may need to take to transfer files, troubleshoot bugs with apps and so on.

The list:

– Inform staff that I had a laptop again. This wounded soldier in the squad has been patched up and good to go again.

Progress: Done.

– Learn how to transfer files from a dead laptop’s hard disk to a… well… not-dead laptop.

Progress: Done. Did it all by myself with only a Philips screwdriver, 20 minutes of labour and 20 bucks spent! I’ve been introduced to gadgets called hard drive enclosures where you plug in a laptop hard disk and then it operates just like any other USB portable hard disk. Never knew these devices existed and am relieved that they do.

– Get Google Chrome and my printer working.

Progress: Need Snow Leopard (I have plain-vanilla Leopard). On its way from the Apple Store. This MacBook’s a bit of a cougar and is too old for Lion or Mountain Lion. Oh well, can’t be picky.

– Make a funny picture illustration with Creative Suite.

Progress: Done (see above). MacBook… why does he have to act so smug?

– Never write a blog post on my iPod Touch ever again.

Progress: Done and done. And I mean done!

– Now that I’ve switched to Mac, perpetuate the young, urban Mac-owner stereotype of bumming around by myself in an uptown coffee shop and write for an hour or two.

Progress: Out of character for this working-class suburbanite but I’ll do it once eventually.

– Repent for my sin of making that “found Jobs” joke in my last post.

Progress: Hmmm… nah. I’ve been interested in joining the Cult of Apple (partially, still prefer Android for mobile) for a while anyway. I guess Hell still awaits.

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The freelancer’s worst nightmare has happened to me: my laptop has died after four years of service.

It’s likely the motherboard and not the hard disk, which is a relief.

Still, being a web producer for publications, it’s a fairly harsh hit to have to take–I can only do so much with mobile apps.

Given my new no-nerd-box predicament, I had to immediately spring into action and do some more urgent items and think of other things for the near-future.

The list:

– Like a wounded soldier in the squad, take to the iPod Touch and my phone to inform editors of my dead laptop situation and direct urgent requests to my work partner, who owns a laptop that’s still very much alive and able.

Progress: Done.

– Tell said partner on the Internet that she’s my hero.

Progress: Done.

– Learn how recover files from a hard disk, transfer to new laptop, be grateful and relieved, take more-cautious backup steps, practice those steps for a while, get lazy again, repeat process in another half a decade.

Progress: Ongoing.

– Drink the Apple Kool-Aid and save for a MacBook. I’m liking reliable machines right now. You know how people in vulnerable points in their lives “find Jesus”? Well, I found Jobs.

Progress: Hell awaits for that joke.

– Realize that people might think I’m cheap, given that my dead laptop is an HP Compaq. Heck, now I worry if this makes me look undateable, even.

Progress: I have inner beauty.

– Use this computer-less downtime to read a book… a printed one. I bought one at Value Village the other day (guess I am cheap). It’s a humour memoir called Don’t Tell Mom I Work on the Rigs. She Thinks I’m a Piano Player in a Whorehouse. Appealing title for someone with a working-class upbringing like me.

Progress: One chapter in.

– Given I’m writing this on my iPod Touch, practice my touch-screen typing by cooking up another humour list like this one. “‘I drank my dog under the table,’ ‘Cops busted me for possession,’ ‘I ate too many shrooms’ and other excuses I’ve heard from construction workers for missing work” could stir up some laughs.

Progress: Never mind. Those are the only three good ones I can think of. Kind of a long title anyway.

– Be grateful once I get a new laptop and use it more to actually be a lot more productive and ease up on the procrastinating.

Progress:

I’ve caved and finally joined Vine. I’ve been wanting to join for a while but my ancient Android can’t upgrade to a version of it that supports Vine, which was finally released for Android recently.

So my workaround for now will be to just use my iPod Touch with WiFi.

In response to my post on making voice impressions, I’ve had a few Facebook comments asking me to actually demonstrate what I preach in making a (somewhat) good impersonation, so here you have it.

For this very first Vine, I “interview” Metallica frontman James Hetfield about things he’ll say in the band’s upcoming 3D concert movie.

In this Vine, I also realize that I need a haircut.