Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fowling, a Quirky Sport That Combines Football and Bowling

Hey there sport! Great to see you. Wassup? Played any new sports lately? Well fill your coffee mug and latch onto a virtual doughnut or muffin while I regale you with the details of a new sport that could be right up your alley!

A new sport that combines football and bowling is taking Michigan by storm. Fowling is the brainchild of entrepreneur Chris Hutt who’s so confident the hybrid sport is going to be huge that  he  has converted a 34,000-square-foot industrial site into what he calls the Fowling Warehouse.

Hutt said that he invented the game years ago along with a few buddies, while tailgating at the Indianapolis 500. It started off as an accident, when a couple of guys were playing catch with a football and someone made a bad pass. The ball rolled and knocked over a few bowling pins that were lying around. Inspiration struck right at that magical moment, and fowling (pronounced foal-ing) was born. Hutt and his friends quickly set up a few spare pins at the end of the lane and knocked them out with the football all day, making up the rules as they went along. And by the end of the day, they had the entire sport fleshed out.

They continued fowling at the speedway for a few years, during which time they improved on the game even more. The narrow lane became a bit of a nuisance, so they expanded the game to 40 pins, with two platforms. “After a full day of fowling, we decided we’ve got to have a tournament,” Hutt said. “Everybody signed up, 24 teams with goofy names for the inaugural Superfowl Saturday.”

This year marked the 11th anniversary of Superfowl Saturday – in the past decade, Hutt brought the sport back with him to Detroit and also set it up in various other places. The Indianapolis Superfowl is still a major event, but Detroit hosts a tournament on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s called ‘Turkey Fowl’.

The Fowling Warehouse facility in Hamtramck features 20 lanes, where players or teams try to knock out all 10 of their opponent’s bowling pins by tossing a single football from about 48 ft away. There’s two ways to end a fowling match – either knock out all of the opponent’s pins, or play a shot called ‘Bonk’. That’s when a player knocks out only the middle pin on the first throw, with the remaining nine intact.

Hutt says that the sport isn’t easy, but it isn’t complicated either. He revealed that about 60 Bonks are played a month – players who manage the complicated shot can ‘honk your Bonk’. That is, sound a Great Lakes freighter horn at the bar. According to Hutt, the sonic blast “lets everyone know that you’re the coolest person in the room.”

The team that eventually wins the Turkey Fowl is awarded the Kraut Cup – literally a cup of sauerkraut! The story goes that when two guys won the very first match, they asked, “Where’s our trophy?” Hutt says that he ran into the bar bus to find something to use as a trophy, and the only thing he managed to find was an old can of sauerkraut. So the tradition continued.

The Warehouse also features a 175-seater beer garden and a stage for live music, which draws large crowds on weekend nights. A special deal allows visitors unlimited fowling for $10 until closing, at 2am. Guests can also reserve lanes two hours at a time for group play, with up to 10 players per lane.

27-year-old Grace, a visitor from Detroit, said: “It’s just a great place to hang out. It’s the best of both worlds. You’re bowling and you’re playing football at the same time.”

Hutt plans to expand his fowling empire in the coming years. “This will work in any major city,” he said. “We really want to target the college towns.”

Well there you go. Don’t know about you but I can see that as a big draw in Minnesota and other parts of the frozen north, can’t you...and I include all of Canada, Northern Europe and Siberia. Not much to do for six months other than shovel snow and ice. Speaking of which, I fail to understand how people would want to come inside from the cold only to go to an indoor rink and spend several hours throwing rocks and sweeping the ice, can you? At least the Scots, who invented curling, also invented Scotch Whiskey to help them fend off the chill! Fowling makes much more sense to me.

See ya, eh!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cantaloupe, the affordable superfood

Hey there! Hot enough for you? It was about 31 here yesterday and promises to be the same today. The newsfolk keep talking about Ottawa or Toronto being hotter than New Delhi or somewhere else. Maybe so but Bangkok is the hottest city on Earth day in and day out. It was 36C there yesterday! Pour yourself an Icespresso, why don’t’cha and help yourself to a virtual supermuffin while you’re about it. Speaking of super...

When we talk about superfoods, we tend to focus on expensive, exotic things like goji berries or aronia berries. But there are plenty of incredibly healthy foods that are within reach on a tighter budget. You can add cantaloupe to your growing list of affordable superfoods!

Superfood can be a confusing term, because it’s one that marketers often use to tout a food’s real or inflated health benefits. The meaning of the word superfood has been a bit altered by marketing efforts, and I think it’s time for us to co-opt it again. Can we just use superfood to mean food with proven health benefits? Isn’t that what we expect when we see “superfood” in the news or on food packaging?

We know that foods like quinoa, kale and collard greens are nutrient-dense, but there are lots of more humble fruits and veggies that deserve space on our plates. Cantaloupe is one of those unsung nutritional heroes, but not in the way that you might expect.

Cantaloupe’s Health Benefits: Just the Facts

A cup of cantaloupe has only 60 calories and is a good source of antioxidants. It delivers 120 percent of your daily vitamin A along with 108 percent of your daily vitamin C and 14 percent of your daily potassium requirements. It’s a good source of fiber, niacin, vitamin B6 and folic acid.

Cantaloupe is also an incredibly hydrating food, which is good news during this scorcher of a summer. A 177 gram serving of cantaloupe contains 160 grams of water, making it more than 90 percent water.

All of that is good, but overall it’s nothing to write home about. Lots of fruits and veggies provide these nutrients. What makes cantaloupe so special is its price point.

World’s Healthiest Foods explains that cantaloupe’s biggest benefit is that we tend to eat more of it than other fruits because it’s more affordable. I know that at my house we ration out the fresh berries, because a tiny pint-sized container costs a fortune.  A cup of cantaloupe costs 40 cents on average, while a cup of blueberries costs four times as much.

Consuming more fruits—including cantaloupe—is associated with a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, according to a 2006 study. Metabolic syndrome is actually a blanket term for conditions that increase your risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes. It refers to symptoms like high blood pressure, a high waist to hip ratio, and high cholesterol.

When 20 to 25 percent of North Americans are suffering from metabolic syndrome, we need to promote healthy foods that are within reach, even on a budget. There’s a perception that eating healthy food has to cost a lot of money, and the way companies market pricey superfoods is part of what builds that false idea.

Cantaloupe seeds—which most people discard—are incredibly healthy, too. They’re a great source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. An analysis of a cantaloupe seed drink found that it was a good source of iron and magnesium, as well. There’s not a ton of research on the benefits of cantaloupe seeds, but what’s out there is definitely promising.

Cantaloupe gets a bad rap as the boring part of fruit salad, but there are more ways to eat it than just chopped up in a bowl without any fanfare. My favourite cantaloupe preparation is as a whole-fruit juice. Just throw some cubes into the blender, puree until smooth, and chill until you’re ready to drink or serve it up over ice. If you want a thinner drink, just add water until you reach the consistency you’re going for. Since cantaloupe is so high in water, you can drink chilled cantaloupe puree without straining out its healthy fiber. It has the consistency of tomato juice, and it’s super refreshing on a hot day.

You can also try chopping it up into a cucumber salad, baking it into muffins, freezing into a sorbet, or blending into your next smoothie. If you want to tap into the benefit of the seeds, try roasting them, like this recipe from The Kitchn:
To roast melon seeds, rinse, drain, and pat them dry. Toss the seeds with olive oil, salt, or other seasonings and toast them in a skillet until crispy and golden. You can also use the oven; spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 325°F for 20-40 minutes. Some people also brine the seeds first.

Hey...there are lots of things you can do with a cantaloupe without getting arrested. Let me know if you try any of the above, okay?

See ya, eh!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A 'Breaking Bad'Themed Cafe in Istanbul

G’day to you! Nice to see you spiralling down from cyberspace. I had the landing lights adjusted so they focus on the red carpet right next to the coffeepot. Better, eh! How’re you doing? Fill your coffee mug and snag a virtual doughnut while I fill your ears with the news of a badass coffeehouse you’ll want to try next time you find yourself in Istanbul...

If Breaking Bad’s Walter White ever decided to go into the coffee business and open his own cafe, it would probably look a lot like the awesome ‘Walter’s Coffee Roastery’, in Istanbul.

Inspired by the popular TV show Breaking Bad, Deniz Kosan, a young Turkish entrepreneur, has opened the “world’s first Coffee Super Lab.” 

Everything inside this unique cafe, right from the roasting equipment to the beaker-like espresso cups or the giant periodic table covering one of the walls reminds you of Walter White and his meth lab. 

Kosan, a big fan of Breaking Bad, and his cousin – who actually looks a lot like the chemistry professor turned criminal mastermind and even goes by the name Heisenberg- realized that there was a dearth of originality in the food industry, so they decided to open a coffee shop themed like a chemical lab.

Walter’s Coffee Roastery is not an officially licensed Breaking Bad venue – no actual names, terms, or logos from the TV series are used, but step into the and you’ll spot the many references in a heartbeat.

Looks like a place I’d like to visit although at the moment, Turkey is a little too close to the ISIS firing lines, methinks. Mind you, Turkish Airlines does sometimes have a good Toronto-Turkey-Bangkok airfare so who knows...

See ya, eh!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Helping Consumers and Heart Patients?

Pharmaceutical companies justify huge drug price markups on the ground that the research to develop the drug was, itself, hugely expensive. 

In February, a Canadian company, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International*, decided to raise the price of two heart-saving drugs (Nitropress, Isuprel) by 212 percent and 525 percent, respectively, even though it had conducted no research on the drugs. 

That was because, reported The Wall Street Journal, all Valeant did was buy the rights to the already-approved drugs from another company (which, of course, had thought the drugs -- research and all -- had been fairly priced at the lower amounts). 

Said a Valeant spokesperson, "Our duty is to our shareholders and to maximize the value" of our products (even, apparently, if it owned the product for less than a day before jacking up the price as much as five-fold). 

Source: Wall Street Journal, 4-26-2015

*Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. is a publicly traded pharmaceutical company based in Montreal, Quebec. The company focuses on neurology, dermatology and infectious disease with several drugs in late-stage clinical trials and several currently on the market. In addition, Valeant has a portfolio of more than 500 products from its prior history as a group of specialty chemical and radiochemical research, development and supply companies with a history stretching back to the 1960s.

Valeant sells a wide range of drugs, including over-the counter medications and medical devices, as well as prescription drugs such as antidepressant Wellbutrin XL.[4] Kinerase, which uses kinetin as active ingredient, is one of the most popular products of Valeant.

An important part of the growth strategy for Valeant has been acquisitions, sometimes in the multi-billion dollar range, of medical and pharmaceutical companies. As of July 2015, the company was valued at over $116 billion by market capitalization, making it the largest public company in Canada and the largest pharmaceutical company in the nation.


$116 billion? No wonder, eh, with price hikes like the above. I mean, look at the way golf and country club membership fees have risen! 

See ya, eh!



Sunday, July 26, 2015

Kepler Telescope Finds Earth-like Planet

Hey there! Glad you could take a few minutes to spiral down from the cyber sky and join me for a mug of coffee and a virtual muffin or doughnut. Glad you could make it. Some interesting news from outer space, huh? You may have seen this on the news this week...

The Kepler Telescope, launched in 2009, orbits the earth in search of similar planets. Scientists are interested in planets with earth-like aspects because they might contain life. The telescope has discovered thousands of habitable planets since it has been launched six years ago.

Kepler 425b is its latest and most promising discovery. The planet is just slightly larger and hotter than our own. It is estimated to be 4% more massive and 10% hotter than Earth. A year on Kepler-425b is 385 days long, which is 5% longer than the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun. The only slightly more significant difference between Kepler-425b and Earth is the difference in circumference; Kepler-425b is 60% larger than Earth.

Kepler-425b is just one of twelve new planets to have been discovered that orbit their stars in the habitable zone. The habitable zone is just the right distance – not to close but not too far – that a planet has to be from a star in order for water to exist on it in liquid form. Current data cannot confirm the composition 425b’s surface. If the surface is indeed rocky, as the data suggest it is, then Kepler 425b is a serious candidate for potential life.

Even if no life at all will be discovered, the exciting discovery might reveal important information. Kepler 425-b is roughly 1.5 billion years older than Earth. Similarly, the star it orbits is also much older than our sun. A star exerts significantly more heat towards the end of its life. Therefore, Kepler 425b is possibly much hotter today than it was in the past. With this in mind, 425b may possibly forecast Earth’s conditions 1.5 billion years from now.

Okay...okay...but let's get down to the nitty gritty. Where do we line up for a Tim Hortons franchise? Does a Burger King store come with it?

See ya, eh!


(Photo By Shutterstock)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

One of Life's Fleeting Moments

Hiya! How’re you doing today? Got time for a coffee and a VT? Why not, eh? Say...I want to tell you about someone Nong and I met recently...

A couple weekends ago, we were out for our daily walk. It was a bright, sunny day and we were walking down Pitt St on our way to Cornwall Square. We happened to see a sign about an antique store just around the corner on 4th St.   

Always interested in odd stuff, we decided to stop in for a quick look. We met the owner and we chatted with him for 20-30 minutes about this, that and the other (such as the mandolin he had on the wall, e.g.). He seemed like a cheerful fellow. There were a couple of things I was interested in and promised I’d come back. Then we left and went on our way.

The fellow we met was John James Earle and he died less than a week later as a result of a scuba diving accident.

Life is strange, isn’t it? Sometimes people come into your life, even fleetingly, and now that I know more about him from the obits in the local papers - Standard Freeholder and Cornwall Seaway News, and despite his being 30 years younger than I am, I wish I had known him. Don’t know what will happen to his antique shop Earle’s Vintage (which was in his garage) but even if it remains open, I doubt it will be the same.

Born in 1972, John was a well-known fellow in town... an artist; ran for MPP; movie maker; sang and played in several bands including Rapunzel’s Tower, co-creator of a board game, always a new project on the go or thinking about (kind of like yours truly). Despite never smoking, John developed and survived tongue cancer... as a result of which, his singing ability was curtailed.  He loved to hunt and fish and from what I hear just loved life. Rest in peace, John.

20-30 minutes is not long enough to know someone...

See ya, eh.