Observations Archives (69 posts)
If you’re in Toronto before Aug 26, 2012 then check out the Picasso exhibit at the AGO. It features 147 works, my favourite being Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race).
As an added bonus I spent a bit of time looking at some Canadian art by The Group of Seven. I can’t wait to get back up to Georgian Bay to take some photos where these artists spent a great a deal of time.
I’ve been a happy Zip.ca customer since 2005 but lately I’ve started to notice a few “cracks” in their service.
Last year I waited months to get my hands on a copy of The Wild And Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. When the DVD finally arrived in the mail it was cracked down the middle. Zip.ca said they would send out another but they never did. I suspect they only had one in their entire library (which is why it took so long to get to me in the first place).
Last week I received another cracked DVD called Italy Revealed that isn’t very easy to find. Note the crack on the left side of the disc below the DVD video logo.
When I flipped the disc over I was surprised to see scratches and dirt on the disc as it was thrown on the ground and stepped on. You can’t really see it in the image below there a several indentations on the surface of the disc.
I think that Zip.ca should slow down a little and check some of their discs before they get sent out. Maybe they should clean their DVDSs once in a while and inspect them before sending them out. I would describe this as good service. Failure to provide good service can result in blog postings by unhappy customers. Sigh.
This segment on 60 Minutes blew my mind. You couldn’t pay me a billion dollars to do what this kid is doing.
Posted in Observations at 8:48 PM
I can’t believe how good that was. I’m going to watch it again.
Posted in Observations at 11:15 PM
If you’ve been looking for a great analysis of those sneaky Hostess ads from old Spider-Man comics then Deconstructing Hostess from Josh Cooley is a must read.
Posted in Observations at 4:43 PM
This week I’ve been playing a few pranks on my 10-year-old son. While he’s asleep I position a large toy at his bedside so that it’s the first thing he sees in the morning.
On Monday morning it was his giant South Park Kyle doll sitting on a chair beside his bed. Wednesday morning it was his one-legged Superman doll reaching out to him.
Last night I positioned a pair of my pants and shoes to make it look like there was a person laying underneath his bed. I know. I’m a terrible father but he gets a kick out of it and thinks I’m nuts.
Posted in Observations at 12:18 PM
The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay went through my friend’s neighbourhood in Vancouver today. I watched the live webcam for a few minutes, didn’t really see Andy, Lisa or Samuel but they assure me that they were there. Right beside that woman in the yellow coat.
Posted in Observations at 4:50 PM
Who isn’t a fan of director J.J. Abrams’ work? I had no idea that he gave a TED Talk in March 2007 called J.J. Abrams’ mystery box. Aside from having one too many Red Bull’s before his talk, I think you’ll find his fascination for mystery to be inspiring.
Posted in Observations at 2:30 PM
I generally don’t drink bottled water. I know that a lot of it is just expensive tap water. Why would you pay NestlÃ© or Coke more than a dollar to package municipal water? Drink Coke, buy a beer or use the water fountain. It’s free! The price of bottled water is up to 10,000 times the cost of tap water.
I’ve been a hypocrite and a moron in the past and I’ve purchased bottled water. When I go camping I purchase large containers of water from the grocery store and maybe a case of bottled water. Dumb.
Put your bottle of water down and take a look at The Facts About Bottled Water. Some of the stats are mind boggling:
- Americans spend $61 billion/year on bottled water
- 40% of all bottled water comes from the tap
- it takes 3 bottles of water to produce 1 plastic bottle
- only 1 in 5 water bottles are recycled
I’ll get off my high horse and stop preaching now, but still, $61 billion dollars a year! Imagine if the world put that money into developing clean drinking water instead of bottling it up.
Posted in Observations at 10:10 AM
It doesn’t matter if I go to Starbucks or Tim Hortons, the person behind the counter always puts my cup of coffee on the edge of the counter, closest to them. When did serving a customer become an olympic sport? Why do I have to hurl my body at the counter and lean forward as far as I can to reach my precious cup of black gold?
If you work at Tim’s or Starbucks then serve your customers and not yourselves. Put the damn cup on the other side of the counter for a change or I’m going to start lecturing each and every one of you on customer service. End of rant.
Posted in Observations at 8:29 PM
Fred & Friends always has some cool stuff for sale. One of these days I have to order one of their Feet First Manhole Mats. If you’re looking for some unusual gifts that are pretty unique then you’re sure to find something on this site.
Posted in Observations at 11:48 PM
If you’ve never heard of TED then you’re missing out on some of the best entertainment and learning that isn’t on TV. TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.
All around the globe there are TED conferences where some of the world’s most fascinating people are given 18 minutes to share what’s on their minds. Below is a sampling of some TED talks that I’ve recently watched and bookmarked.
Taryn Simon’s large format photographs reveal parts of America that most people will never see such as the JFK Airport quarantine area, artwork at CIA headquarters and a research facility with 75 cadavers on a 6 acre plot of land. The second part of Simon’s talk is a series of portraits. Each photo features a wrongly accused death-row inmate that was mistakenly identified in a line-up photo.
Once the exec editor at WIRED magazine, Kevin Kelly likes to talk about “cool tools”. His discussion about the web as The Cloud and a single machine is insightful and fascinating. Find out more by watching his talk at TED. (Thanks to Karen for this link).
This is one of the funnier TED talks that you will see. John Lloyd entertains with a series of questions and clever observations about things unseen. (Link via Daring Fireball)
One of the more interesting predictions that Negroponte makes is “that fingers are a very, very high-resolution input medium.” for a computing interface. Can you say iPhone?
Chris Jordan uses his large-format photography to help us visualize some of the shocking statistics that we live with each day.
I finally registered for my Toronto Hydro Time-Of-Use Account which lets me see how much electricity my household consumes. Most of the homes in Toronto have a smart meter which just means that the meter is digital and can provide an accurate report of your electricity consumption on an hourly basis.
The green bars represent the lowest price of consumption (10 PM - 7 AM) while the red indicates a higher price for electricity during peak periods of the day (5PM - 11PM).
Over the summer our household consumed under 400 kWh/month of electricity which averages out to $22 per month. I’m assuming that this rate of consumption is good because I’m always turning off the lights, unplugging the coffee maker, turning off powerbars and using the air conditioning as little as possible.
What do you spend per month on your electricity consumption?
I know that I could probably lower the household electricity consumption if we consistently run the dishwasher after 9 PM and before we go to bed. I work at home which means my computer is running most of the day. Maybe getting a laptop instead of a tower could reduce electricity consumption as well. I don’t know.
Posted in Observations at 7:24 PM
New Scientist has an interesting article on why humans prefer cockiness to expertise but it is John Gruber’s take on this essay that I enjoyed most:
This might be the best explanation of how someone like, say, Rob Enderle continues to be quoted as an expert regarding issues on which he is almost always completely wrong.
See Daring Fireball for more. Poor Rob Enderle should quietly retire and play some backgammon.
Posted in Observations at 11:40 PM
Yesterday I was at Best Buy to pick up the latest Indianna Jones game for Wii. They advertised that it would be released on June 9. The store I went to didn’t have any copies on display.
I asked one of the salespeople if they had the game. He didn’t know. He asked another salesperson who said the game came in earlier but they were still in the shipping boxes at the back of the store. This was at 5:30 PM!
My son and I looked at these two salespeople. They looked at us with blank stares. I started laughing in disbelief, shook my head and said, “I need one copy”. Why do they call these guys in blue shirts, salespeople?
Five minutes later this salesperson wandered back with one copy in his hand. I guess it was too much work to bring back a few copies of the game and put them on display for the other customers.
I walked over to the music section looking for the new Chickenfoot CD (also advertised). I gave up looking after a few minutes and realized that it was probably hidden in the back of the store.
I went home and bought the Chickenfoot album on iTunes. Now I know why bricks and mortar stores are doomed when it comes to selling music.
I needed to get my Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card renewed in a hurry. Ten years ago my card expired, then I moved and just never bothered to get a new card.
For ten years I was healthy and never needed to use OHIP until a few weeks ago. I sprained my knee while playing hockey. I couldn’t see my doctor or get an X-ray until my health card was renewed.
Here is how I renewed my health card in under 5 minutes:
- Visit your local OHIP office during a snow storm. If you make it to the OHIP office the lineups will be very short!
- Enter the OHIP office on crutches and you probably won’t have to take a number. The woman behind the counter took pity on me and sent me to the front of the line.
- Make sure you have a valid driver’s license and proof of your current address (car insurance, phone bill, etc.)
Before you know it, you’ll be walking or limping out of the OHIP office with a temporary card that is valid for doctor and hospital visits.
Posted in Observations at 8:03 PM
I just listened to Merlin Mann’s latest podcast: Gangs, Constraints, and Courageous Blocks. If you struggle with to-do lists, drown in email and hate phone interruptions then you might want to take 10 minutes to listen to what Merlin has to say which is:
Learn how ganging and constraints can help you create the blocks of time you need to devote 100% of your attention to making your best work.
Posted in Observations at 8:53 PM
Cory Doctorow wrote an article for Wired magazine called Dumpster Diving back in 1997. This story caught my eye because the dumpster diving was taking place in Markham, Ontario where a lot of Canadian corporate head offices are located.
A lot valuable garbage gets thrown out that dumpster divers like Darren Atkinson turn into cash. Doctorow wrote an update to this story for Forbes.com —Â It’s Just Garbage. Ten years later, Atkinson is still pulling computer chips and monitors out of the trash as a full-time job.
One of the most interesting things about this story is that none of these high-tech corporations recycle anything! A lot of materials that could be recycled go straight into the dump. Why do residents in Toronto have to recycle their garbage and when corporations could care less what gets dumped into the landfill?
What is wrong with this country? Every couple of years somebody in Canada thinks it would be a good idea to ban fighting in the National Hockey League. Today the Globe and Mail published this:
A recent Harris-Decima poll found that 54 per cent of Canadians believe the NHL should ban fighting, while 40 per cent favoured continuing to penalize it with five-minute major penalties.
Have we become a nation of wimps? You can’t ban fighting in hockey, it is part of the game. It’s like telling the NFL that there shall be no more quarterback sacks. Give me a break!
Four years ago The Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine called on the National Hockey League to ban fighting. Groups like this are just contributing to the pansification of the game.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman admits fighting sells tickets and won’t ban it. Instead, the league will look at the rules of engagement when it comes to fighting. Nobody likes to see another player get sucker punched and hurt but an outright ban is not the answer.
I’m with Joe Thornton on this issue:
I think it would be a shame to take it out of the game. It’s part of hockey, like tying up your laces or shooting the puck. It’s been part of hockey for a long, long time.
Posted in Observations at 1:22 PM
I used to rent an office for my web design business, then I got tired of driving back and forth to work and paying someone else’s mortgage. Solution? Work from a home office and save money.
By conservative estimates I save more than $20,000 per year and 156 hours of time with a home office. Sound too good to be true? Here is breakdown of my time and cost savings:
- I used to pay a monthly rent of $803
- Now I write off a portion of my mortgage, heat, and hydro (conservative estimate of $400/month)
- Annual savings: $14,436/year
- No longer pay for Internet service at business rates
- Use my residential DSL service instead and save $80/month
- Annual savings: $960/year
- No commute saves me 40 minutes per day (13 hours/month)
- Fuel cost savings ($150/month)
- Less ‘wear and tear’ on my car and I’m putting less CO2 into the air
- Annual savings: $1,800/year and 156 hours/year (6.5 days)
- After school daycare and summer daycare ($300/month)
- Picking up son after school is a forced coffee break
- Annual savings: $3,600/year
- Lunches ($200/month)
- Coffee ($60/month)
- I tend to eat a lot more leftovers now and throw out less food
- Annual savings: $3,120/year
I was very conservative with these time and cost savings, yet my calculations show that I save $23,916 per year by having a home office.
I take only 2 weeks of vacation each year (self-employment has its cons as well). By simply not having to commute to work ever day I gain 6 days of free time each year or another week of vacation. Too bad I can’t bank those hours for a week in July.
In addition to the financial and time benefits, I tend to be more productive with a home office. I don’t have people from neighboring offices interrupting my work flow with general conversation, computer help, thin walls and bad music.
I failed to mention that I did a major home renovation so that I could have a really nice large, bright, home office. Instead of putting my money into rent I invested in my home for the long term.
Home Office Cons
Having a home office isn’t for everyone. If you have to do a major renovation then there is a huge disruption to your family life, not to mention the stress of delays and cost overruns.
You have to be disciplined to work at home because you’re faced with distractions all day long. I’ve talked to people that tried working at home but spent more time watching TV or cleaning than actually working for their clients.
If you’re a workaholic you can end up spending all of your time in a home office. It can be hard to turn off and spend time with family, cut the grass, have a life.
Isolation can also be an issue if you’re a very social person and need the buzz of an office around you to be productive. Sometimes I miss the water cooler conversation which is why I try to get out and have lunch with friends and colleagues whenever I can.
For me the pros of having a home office far outweigh the cons. I just wish I made the move sooner.
Posted in Observations at 8:34 PM
Don’t you love it when your spouse
- goes shopping for herself just two days before Christmas
- purchases the item you picked up for her the day before
- complains that all she wants for Christmas is a replacement battery for her cellphone.
What do you think would happen if I gave my wife a cellphone battery for Christmas? You can’t win. Merry Christmas.
Posted in Observations at 12:15 PM
Buy a gift card for $30 and get up to $70 in free offers ($10 off at Chapters, $10 off at HBC, free popcorn, drinks and more). I’m even thinking of picking up a card for myself. I doubt that I’ll come close to using up all of the free offers but to me this card is a no-brainer.
I don’t know why but I often misspell the word church as churjch. Apparently I’m not alone.
Posted in Observations at 11:52 PM
On Monday morning at 8:30 AM I was at the Court House in Toronto, waiting to perform my civic duty as a potential juror. By 11:30 AM I was released from jury duty and felt like a bird let out of a cage.
How do you get out of jury duty in the city of Toronto? One way is to be self-employed. I was ‘one of those people’ that dared to stand up and asked to be released.
My reasons were simple:
- I’m self-employed and don’t get paid for being there. Some companies pay their staff when they are on jury duty. My company isn’t one of them.
- I’m in the middle of several projects for various clients, all of which have tight deadlines. My inability to meet these deadlines would hurt my client’s business and jeopardize my relationship with them.
- Unhappy clients lead to drinking beer, financial hardship and unemployment cheques.
The court asked me to have one of my clients fax them a letter and explain how my participation in jury duty would hurt their business. By 11:35 AM I was sitting in a client’s office explaining why I need a letter faxed to the Ministry of the Attorney General ASAP.
Posted in Observations at 9:37 PM
Our dog Satchmo is a cockapoo and he loves steak. Last night I fed him a few pieces of steak which he loves. It’s now Sunday afternoon and every 5 minutes he drops silent but deadly cockapoo stink bomb that makes my eyes water.
No more steak for this doggy.
Posted in Observations at 2:41 PM
The “lovely” made it back safely from Managua in Nicaragua and that means two things: I just had my best cup of coffee ever with a fabulous cigar from Joya De Esteli.
The coffee is a full bodied, smooth roast from CafÃ© Las Flores and it tastes incredible! An instant favourite. The cigar is incredibly fresh and smells amazing. It feels like Christmas morning for this web designer.
I’m always amazed at how many typos and grammatical errors I see in newspapers like the Toronto Star or the Globe and Mail. I make my fair share of grammatical errors on this blog but I don’t have a full-time editor looking over my shoulder.
Today’s business section (page B3) had this headline:
IS THIS BELL’S iPHONE KILLER?
Telco aims to steals Rogers’ thunder
The Star gets full marks for using a lowercase i for iPhone but “aims to steals”? This is the type of error I expect to see on a sign in front of a community centre!
Posted in Observations at 2:41 PM
If you own a house, you probably have grass and that grass needs cutting once a week. With all the rain we’ve had this month, that grass can grow pretty fast.
I’m not an environmentalist but I use a push mower to cut my grass. I was given a Gardena push mower from my father about 5 years ago. It used to do a great job but this year it seems to take a lot of effort and the grass doesn’t look evenly cut.
I was considering an electric lawnmower as a replacement when a bell rang, and rang, and rang. It was the knife sharpening guy driving down my street. I ran downstairs, opened the front door and yelled, “wait!”
I asked the knife sharpening guy if he sharpens lawnmower blades. He looked at me like I was an idiot. Twenty minutes and $35 later I had a lawnmower with blades like a Ginsu knife.
The knife sharpening guy said that the blades should remain sharp for about two years. Now I can gently push my mower and cut the grass with ease no matter how tall or thick it is.
I love that I don’t have to visit the gas station every couple of weeks and fill up a gas can for my lawnmower. This spring the CBC noted that High pump prices spur push mower sales. I’m saving money by using a push mower and it is environmentally friendly.
Incidentally, my father just replaced his old gas mower. No, he didn’t get a push mower. He picked up a top of the line Toro gas mower with an electric starter! It has 6.75 HP, pulls itself along (you only have to nudge it now and again to keep it straight) and belches its fair share of pollution into the air over Toronto.
I have to admit that the electric starter is a pretty cool feature.
Posted in Observations at 4:21 PM
It’s true. Surfing the web hampers your sense of smell. My wife was reading her favourite blogs just a few minutes ago a mere two feet from our dishwasher. Unbeknownst to her, the heating element in the dishwasher was slowly melting the lid of a Starbucks thermos (it fell from the rack).
She got up from her laptop, walked out of the kitchen and upstairs to my office to ask me if I could smell “that”. I just finished sniffing my Power Mac G5, worried that the CPU was beginning to melt. I ran downstairs to find the source of the burning plastic.
I went downstairs to the kitchen and the acrid fumes from the dishwasher were overpowering. I was amazed.
How could anyone sit two feet from a piece of burning plastic and not know where it was coming from? And she complains that the 9-year-old becomes a zombie when he plays the Wii. Sheesh!
Posted in Observations at 9:18 PM
Grand Theft Morality was a recent story on CNN Headline news. I think that CNN’s Glenn Beck is over-reacting a little bit when he attributes violence in video games to killing people although he makes some interesting points.
Interesting comment by a 17-year-old who plays the game and thinks Beck is a little off:
Pardon me, but i played gta4 religiously on my ps3 when i got it, and i have played all of the previous titles. I have4 points to make. 1. I am not a more effective killer because of it. 2. I dont see women as hookers, now or ever before. 3. I am still sickened when i hear of a real killing on the news or in a nearby area. 4. I would never be able to pull the trigger on an innocent person in the street. Im 17 years old and i am currently passing my college course with top marks! SHUT IT!
I still wouldn’t let my 9-year-old near this game.
Posted in Observations at 11:39 PM
I prefer the 192 page Plain Notebook with blank pages so that I can make sketches, to-do lists and take notes at meetings. If you don’t have a Moleskine notebook then you’re missing out on a good thing.
Moleskine photo Â© 2007 The European Paper Company. All rights reserved.
Posted in Observations at 9:51 PM
According to a BBC News story, your morning cup of coffee might be your best defense against dementia:
Coffee may cut the risk of dementia by blocking the damage cholesterol can inflict on the body, research suggests.
So if you’re over 40, have high cholesterol and an expanding waistline you’re at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s. I’m going to grab a coffee.
My wife’s Subaru or should I say $ubaru needs a new exhaust system. Nothing about Subaru repairs are cheap. Our punishment this time will be $1,300.00.
My Mustang GT needs a pair of new Flowmasters that will be much, much cheaper and sound way better than the piece of crap Subaru muffler that I have to purchase.
Subaru has definitely lost me as a customer. Some people swear by them, I swear at them.
Posted in Observations at 7:19 PM
A few years ago my wife and I bought a 2000 Subaru Legacy GT. It’s been a great car until last month. It kept over-heating so we replaced the radiator, the thermostat, and various hoses. $1,000 later we thought we were in the clear.
The car ran smoothly for about a week and then it over-heated again. We took it back to the mechanic that made the repairs. He kept the vehicle for a week and ran a lot of tests (usually a bad sign that you’re going to get a really large bill in the future).
After a gazillion pressure tests the mechanic determined that the head gasket needed to be replaced. Cost: $2,000. Groan. Most people start looking for a new car when they received that kind of news but where can you get a decent car for $2,000 these days? And we just spent $1,000 on this dying Legacy. We caved and okayed the repairs.
The mecahnic also found a cracked timing belt, damaged water pump and another $700 in repairs that we didn’t count on. After hearing this news my stomach began to ache and I quickly developed a headache.
So in the month of February we spent around $4,000 on fixing our Subaru Legacy GT which to me, is like buying a new car. The kicker is that there still a lot of little things wrong with the car.
Most of the dashboard lights are out so we never know how much gas is in the tank or how fast we’re driving. The RPM gauge is lit up which is really helpful when you’re driving a vehicle with automatic transmisison. The engine light works and stays lit whenever you start the car — something about a vapour sensor that we can ignore. There are also 3 other LED lights that are burned out (heated seat indicator, side mirror defrost, side window defrost).
I used to think that Subaru made decent vehicles. Now I think that their vehicles are crap. I’ll never purchase another.
I’ve done fewer repairs to my 20-year-old Mustang GT Cobra (which is hard to believe) and it runs perfectly. After 20 years the dashboard lights always turn on and all of the LED indicators work perfectly. The original radiator lasted 15 years and I’ve only had to do minor repairs to the vehicle — headlight switch, power window switch, belts, etc.
I should have dumped the Subaru Legacy GT and put the $4,000 into my Mustang for some new performance parts.
In the next few years we’ll have to replace the Subaru and I’d love to hear what people recommend as their favourite vehicle.
Posted in Observations at 4:33 PM
My 8-year-old son was listening to some music with his friend yesterday. They were brainstorming, trying to come up with some cool sounding band names. Why? Because one day they are going to be in a rock band and they want to be ready.
Here are some of the wicked awesome band names they chose:
- Five Minuts Past Midnight
- The Chosen One
- Always Colour With Red
- The Bad Lands!
- Don’t Get Caut
- Get this!
- Explotion with BLOOD
- You Know Who I’m Run Like Heck!
I left the spelling mistakes in there. They might have been intentional if he wasn’t in grade 3. I find them amusing.
Before you recommend a child psychologist my son hasn’t been watching Rambo movies, yet. I suspect some of the names have been inspired by old AC/DC - Got Blood If You Want It.
Posted in Observations at 7:58 PM
We had a lot of snow last night in Toronto which tends to make everything look nice and clean for a few days. Soon the dirt and salt will make everything look grey again. Soon you’ll be able to see the pile of gravel in front of our house that didn’t make it into the garage. Soon our renovation will be complete but in the meantime, I’m loving the new house.
I just watched The Cruise Indoctrination Video Scientology Tried To Suppress on Gawker. I can’t decide if I feel sorry for this little man or jealous that somebody so rich and powerful can seem so crazy.
If you watch the video you’ll wonder what Tom is blathering on about? Nick Denton sums it up best when he says, “if Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch was an 8 on the scale of scary, this is a 10.”
If Scientology is so great and makes such a difference in the world then why is it so secretive? Why would Scientology remove this video from so many websites and prevent people from seeing it (other than the fact that it makes Tom look nuts)?
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Scientology is a cult as many have suggested. Weird stuff.
UPDATE: Derober has an abridged version of the Cruise video called Scientology Defined. Subtitles explain some of the terms and concepts that Cruise refers to.
The Un-Funny TRUTH about Scientology is another video making the rounds that looks at the slimy side of the church.
Posted in Observations at 4:17 PM
If you love USB gadgets (like my father) then your desk is probably full of power cables, routers, card readers and lots of cable. Van Mardian has a simple and useful site called Declutter your desk. For $33.42 (CDN) he’ll show you how to hide your desktop clutter. Brilliant.
Posted in Observations at 10:36 AM
When I was 18 I bought a Timex Ironman watch that worked for over 6 years. Since then I’ve had a number of wristwatches that never seemed to last for more than 2 years — Alfred Sung, Seiko, Fossil, Swatch and others. All of these watches were in the $100 - $200.
It may not be the most glamorous watch in the world but I love my Ironman for 5 reasons:
- it’s proven to actually work for more that 2 years
- water resistant to 100 metres
- costs less than $100
- includes a stopwatch, alarm, timer and has dual timezones
I found a review that has a good tip for the dual time zone feature. Keep the time the same for the second time zone but switch to a 24-hour clock view. When you press the START button to view the second time zone you’ll get the 24-hour clock.
If you’re tired of designer wrist watches that only seem to last for two years then I suggest you try an Ironman for a change.
I’m sitting in West Vancouver, working on my wife’s laptop computer. I should be enjoying my Christmas vacation but I’m a little panicked. I’ve had 3 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours and I have to finish designing a web page for Disney, create 53 French language coupons for Procter & Gamble and update a few other sites.
Instead of actually working I’m waiting for a 796 MB trial version of Photoshop CS3 to download. The version of Photoshop CS2 that I hoped to use doesn’t want to activate on this tired iBook G4. Silly me, I didn’t bring the installer discs and serial numbers to reinstall Photoshop. Trying. To. Remain. Calm.
452 MB remaining.
Lately I’ve been in a frenzied rush to finish one job after the other and I’m running out of energy. The endless stream of rush jobs and constant panics has to end. I think they call this type of decision-making a new year’s resolution.
326 MB remaining.
Did I mention that it is December 19th and I haven’t started my Christmas shopping yet? You know that time of year where you exchange money in the form of gift certificates because you can’t figure out what to purchase for people.
My excuse is that I’m a guy and I hate shopping. What do I really need for Christmas? Nothing. Okay maybe Photoshop CS2 running on this damn computer would be nice.
If I need something I’ll go to the store and purchase it. Christmas is for children. I’m not saying that adults shouldn’t exchange a small gifts at all but there is always this unnecessary pressure to buy something and spend a certain amount of money.
175 MB remaining.
I know a few people that decided they weren’t going to give in to Christmas consumer pressure. Their families don’t buy any gifts (for the adults). Instead, they donate it to a hospital or a charity. I would rather contribute to a cure for cancer than a gift that somebody won’t like and doesn’t really need.
Now I feel like a cross between Scrooge and Andy Rooney from 60 Minutes.
126 MB remaining.
I can barely keep my eyes open now. It’s 3 AM, Toronto time. Need sleep.
40 MB remaining.
I was a few minutes late in picking up my son Daniel from school last week. He was getting some tutoring from his grade 3 teacher after school. She’s a fabulous teacher, works the kids hard and has been very generous in terms of giving up her time to tutor kids.
When I arrived at the front of the school she seemed very quiet. I apologized for being a little late and explained that I was on a business call. She seemed a little embarrassed about something and said that Daniel would explain. As she hurried off I asked Daniel what was wrong.
He said, “oh, nothing’s wrong. I told my teacher that you were probably at the beer store again, and that’s why you were late. I told her that every day you make a list and go to the beer store to get more beer.”
I was shocked, embarrassed, then angry. I asked him why he would tell such a lie? I love beer but I don’t drink a lot of it let alone make a list every day and visit the beer store. He thought it would be funny to make up an answer like he did.
After a few minutes I started to laugh. His teacher is pretty conservative when it comes to things like alcohol and she must think I’m a complete alcoholic. Anything I say to her will make it seem like I’m trying to cover up a drinking problem. Kids!
I made sure that I was on time when I picked up Daniel the following day. Before she could say anything I said, “sorry for being late, there was a long line at the beer store.” She looked surprised then started to laugh. I can only imagine what other stories Daniel has told his teacher about me.
Posted in Observations at 11:39 PM
I turn off my lights when I’m not using them. I turn my computer off instead of putting it too sleep. I turn off my power bars if I’m not going to be using them for a while. I try to be green, to a point.
I hate the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) also known as the compact fluorescent light bulb. Yeah, I know it’s supposed to replace our old incandescent light bulbs but the light they emit is cold, sterile, ugly. Give me a halogen light any day. I don’t care how much energy they use, or waste.
The colour temperature in most CFLs is pretty lousy in my opinion. Until Philips or GE can make a CFL that produces a warm light that is comparable to incandescent lamps then I’m holding out. I don’t care if I can reduce greenhouse gases, I’m not switching.Compact fluorescent light bulbs suck.
If the province of Ontario follows through on their plan to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2012, well, I’ll just stock up on them like my friend Bill once did when Canadian Tire had a sale. I’ll purchase enough light bulbs until I go blind or die.
I’ll continue to recycle, conserve water by using rain barrels, upgrade my furnace, drive a small car, take public transit, use a push mower, but give up my halogen lights. Never.
Now I know how Charlton Heston feels about his guns.
Posted in Observations at 11:50 PM
I took this photo a couple of weeks ago of our house reno. Work has been insanely busy and I haven’t had a chance to post anything until now.
Posted in Observations at 5:05 PM
I went to a Country Style drive thru the other morning and ordered a medium regular coffee with a toasted sesame seed bagel (with cream cheese). I wanted to go to Tim Horton’s but thought, I’ll support the little guy instead.
My medium coffee looked a little large and my bagel was wrapped and warm so I paid and drove off. It seemed a little expensive but it was too early to argue or think for that matter.
My large coffee didn’t have any sugar in it. None! I ordered a medium regular and received a large coffee with cream. Duoh!
My bagel was toasted and it had sesame seeds but instead of regular cream cheese it had melted cheddar and microwaved egg! I’ve never tasted anything so bland. They didn’t even butter the bagel. Duoh!
Country Style can’t get a simple drive thru order right which is why they will be out of business in the next couple of years. The last time I tried the drive thru at this location (Kingston Road and Midland) they served me a warm, not hot medium regular coffee.
I’m done. Country Style Crap won’t be seeing Bombippy again. I’ll stick with Tim Horton’s or Starbucks.
Posted in Observations at 10:25 PM
Today’s high temperature in Toronto is 91 F. With the humidity it feels closer to 95 F. So why do you suppose I saw a woman at Danforth and Main Street wearing ear muffs?
I saw another woman riding a pink bicycle with a scarf, goggles, toque and a jacket. Did I mention the guy I saw wearing a winter hat and a winter jacket?
There must be a radio contest I didn’t hear about or just maybe, all three of these people are completely whacked. I wish I had my camera to take a photo of the woman on the bike. Classic!
Posted in Observations at 1:17 PM
As our home renovation continues, I’m finding out that there are a few rebates and incentives I can take advantage of. It’s nice to get something back from the government instead of higher taxes and parking tickets. Read on!
Residential Toilet Replacement Program
The City offers Toronto residents a $60 or $75 cash incentive to replace a water-guzzling toilet with a City-selected water-efficient model. More info.
Retail Sales Tax Rebate on Solar Energy Systems
Owners of residential premises, including multi-residential buildings, can claim a refund of the 8% Retail Sales Tax (provincial sales tax) paid on new solar energy systems and on any expansions or upgrades to existing systems installed in their premises. More info.
Summer Savings 10/10
This program will offer residential consumers an incentive to reduce power use. Cutting use by 10 per cent during a set period will give consumers an additional 10 per cent rebate on their electricity bills. More info.
Homeowners living in Toronto who use natural gas heating can obtain free delivery and installation of up to two low-flow showerheads, aerators for kitchen and bathroom taps, water pipe insulation material and four compact fluorescent light bulbs. More info.
For even more energy related rebates in the remote areas of the province of Ontario (Whitby, Newmarket, Cambridge, Burlington and Maple), consult the Environment Canada website for a list of incentives and rebates. If your name is Dave, then just ignore this entire entry. Then again if your name is Dave and you live in Whitby you probably went to another website as soon as you read Green Incentives and Rebates.
Posted in Observations at 9:35 AM
Having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in a pool.
Posted in Observations at 4:43 PM
And now for something completely random.
I was reading a story about the population explosion of Canada Geese. They’ve nearly doubled since 1992. Geese don’t have many predators in urban areas and can live for up to 24 years.
To combat the population explosion of Canada Geese in the Detroit area, people are suggesting that they be allowed to hunt the birds and send them to soup kitchens and shelters. The only problem is that the meat is quite greasy, more so than duck. I’d be shocked if the grease was worse than what you’d get from a double cheeseburger at McDonalds.
So how long do you think a small bird like a Robin or a Sparrow lives? The average is only 2 years! Only about 25 per cent make it past the first year.
Okay enough with the useless Cliff Claven trivia. I was curious and now you have some impressive information for your 7-year-old.
Posted in Observations at 2:19 PM
My father is 67 years old. My 7-year-old son Daniel mentioned this to me recently. Since then I’ve discovered that Daniel has an interesting opinion of senior citizens.
A couple of days ago my father was driving Daniel to our house when he turned off the highway at the wrong exit. Realizing his mistake, my father said to Daniel, “your grandfather is stupidâ€”I took the wrong exit.”
Without missing a beat Daniel replied, “granddad, you’re not stupid, you’re just old.”
Posted in Observations at 12:09 PM
The denial of global warming seems to have struck a chord with a few readers and led to some interesting discussion. With the unusually warm weather, I’ve noticed a lot of recent stories on Digg about climate change.
- CBC documentary on Global Warming Deniers: The Denial Machine
- Climate Change Melts Kilimanjaro’s Snows
- NO SNOW IN THE ALPS Skiers Wondering When Winter Will Come
Poor Michael Crichton. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of love or respect for his book, State of Fear. Not only that, his publisher really seems to dislike him.
In his latest book, Crichton takes things a little too far with ‘the small penis rule’ by defaming Michael Crowley. What the heck am I talking about you ask? Take a look at this Cock and Bull article at The NewRepublic Online.
I have a strange feeling that some of you will really digg this story and never read another Michael Crichton novel again.
You know you are a regular customer when, the woman in the coffee shop sees you coming from across the street, makes your medium regular coffee and has it ready when you walk up to the counter. Now that, is service.
Posted in Observations at 10:53 AM
An older man and woman (probably in their 50s) were talking about a friend of theirs that just passed away. He was only 55.
She said to her friend, “55 was too young to die but he had a good life. It’s not the destination that matters but the journey along the way.”
Huh? I guess that is how some people deal with death—ignore it. Don’t live your life thinking that there is a destination, make the best of what you have right now. Enjoy life and live it to the fullest. Forget about what happens to you after you die. Don’t waste your time worrying or trying to figure that one out.
If that is what I believed then I would probably have about 20 wives. I would lie, cheat, and figure out the best way to make billions of dollars so that I could do whatever I want.
My name would probably be Conrad Black or Ken Lay. Maybe I would be a fat cabinet minister enjoying fine wine and steak dinners at the expense of the taxpayer.
Am I missing something?
Posted in Observations at 3:35 PM
Last night I went to see the musical Hair, with the lovely. She
made asked me to go.
Dancing. Singing. Dancing. Singing…
I looked at my ticket and noticed that the dancing and singing cost $92.50 (per ticket). That’s a lot of DVD rentals, movie passes, a Leaf game in the nose bleed seats or a season’s pass to the Toronto Argonauts.
Dancing. Singing. Dancing. Singing…
She had a great time.
Posted in Observations at 8:19 PM
I don’t know. I watched this video from Cousinos Firearms and it demonstrates how messed up some people are in the US. Is it just me or does anyone find it disturbing to watch Bubba helping a 6-year-old girl fire a machine gun? Link viea MetaFilter.
Posted in Observations at 11:17 AM
David Pogue of the NY Times has an article that caught my eye recently called 10 ways to please us, the customers. It’s a list of 10 things where companies fail miserably in terms of customer service and how they can improve.
My favourtie was number 7.
VII. Thou shalt remember the customer’s phone number. This means you, computer and cellphone companies. We call for help; we’re asked to type in our 10-digit phone numbers or 20-digit customer numbers; then when an agent picks up, we’re asked for that number again.
What - did you think we actually moved and changed our identities since placing the call?
If they can write software that sends a man to the moon, they can surely write call-center software that passes on to the agent the information we’ve already typed in.
It always amazes me when I phone Bell Canada for something and enter their automated phone system hell. You key in your 10-digit phone number, enter a several menus before you get a “live operator” that… asks you what your phone number is.
Did Microsoft write the software that these phone companies are using? Here’s a classic example of how Windows does exactly the same thing when it comes to frustrating the user.
Posted in Observations at 11:25 AM
This was the view of the Toronto skyline around 2 PM today. It is so hot and humid that I actually found it difficult to breathe. I love Toronto but I can’t stand this heat wave.
Posted in Observations at 6:59 PM
I just walked up the street to get a coffee at the Dip N’ Sip coffe shop. Not a classy joint but it’s open 24/7 and it gets me through the late nights of work.
On my way back to the office I noticed a cab in front of my building with the backdoor open. Inside was a blonde, all dolled up, laying down in the backseat, face down, puking onto Kingston Road. She must have seen my feet because she tried to look up and called out, “Paul… Paul?” Amused, I walked away before she could see who was looking down at her.
I hope she was drunk and not deathly ill because I found the whole thing kind of funny. I can sort of relate to her situation. There may have been a time or two in my past where I was in the backseat of a car, wanting to toss my cookies. Yeah, I know, it’s difficult to imagine.
Posted in Observations at 11:25 PM
The next time I’m having a stressful day, a problem or even a crisis I’ll just head down to Ashbridges Bay and talk to the friendly people on the Distress Phone. It looks like it might be free too! Bonus!
I took this photo during lunch (I have to say that so the wife thinks I’m not gallavanting around the city taking pictures instead of working) while walking around Ashbridges Bay. I’ll post more a little later on Bombippy Photos.
Posted in Observations at 3:40 PM
Lately I’ve noticed some fashion trends that are, disturbing.
Last week, I actually saw a man with a mullett hair-cut walking along Kingston Road in Scarborough. Didn’t this go out of style with Billy Ray Cyrus? I am no officially embarassed to be living in Scarborough.
Last summer I blogged about women who shouldn’t be wearing tiny t-shirts. Like dandelions in Toronto, this fashion trend seems to be getting out of hand.
I’m happy for all of you ladies that are proud of your bodies but do we really need to see you wearing your daughter’s t-shirts? Do we really need to see your Molson muscle (gut) hanging out of your shorts? Don’t get me wrong. A lot of women can pull of this look but far too many should be putting on another layer before they leave the house. Either that or hit the treadmill for a couple of weeks.
The other fashion trend that has been getting on my nerves lately is the baseball cap with the sunglasses on top. It’s almost like a uniform for some guys. You never see them wearing the sunglasses, they just sit on top of their caps.
I know I’m going to receive some negative feedback for the tiny t-shirt comments. Bring it on! What fashion trends get on your nerves?
Posted in Observations at 1:30 PM
My winter hockey league is done. Our team went to the semi-finals last night, tied 5-5, played a period of over-time, then lost in a shoot-out. I played 4 games this weekend and I’m wiped. It didn’t help that I pulled an all-nighter on Thursday but that’s another story.
One of the guys on the team was almost in tears after the game. Another guy said he wasn’t sure if he’d play next year—too much pressure during the playoffs. Me, I had fun. We lost. Whatever. Summer hockey starts this Wednesday night.
The best part about last night, was when I told one of the guys on my team, how old I was. He’s 23 and thought that I was 26 years-old, maybe 27. When I told him that I was 36, going on 37 he was shocked.
When you’re 36, and people think you’re 26, losing a hockey game just doesn’t seem like a big deal.
Posted in Observations at 12:28 PM
I got wind of a story that is creating quite a buzz onlineâ€”Canada’s Corruption Scandal Breaks Wide Open.
The Liberal Party of Canada is allegedly starting to panic and prepare for a snap election. Why? The Gomery Commission has created a publication ban on the testimony of three key witnesses. Once this is lifted the Liberals might be a little more than embarassed at the level of corruption in their party.
While the Canadian press is unable to report on this testimony, you are free to read it online if you know where to look (see link above). This calls into question the whole point of publication bans and their effectiveness.
The Canadian government can’t prevent Canadians from reading political blogs from around the world. A judge imposing a publication ban is pointless when you consider that most people have access to the Internet.
Despite the gun registry fiasco, Canadians for the most part forgave the Liberals and put Paul Martin into power. The sponsorship scandal won’t amount to a billion dollars of taxes payer’s wasted money but it may be enough to wake up the rest of the country.
Posted in Observations at 8:05 PM
There are some pretty good deals at FutureShop on DVDs right now. They have a lot of discs marked $9.99, buy 2 get another $9.99 for free.
I picked up the special editions of Fargo, Blue Velvet and The Princess Bride for $19.98 plus tax. Not a bad deal.
Posted in Observations at 5:08 PM
This post is for you homeowners out there. Last year I decided to get a new thermostat for our house. After a quick trip down to the Home Depot and I purchased a Honeywell thermostat (CT3600).
Installation was quite easy—connect a few wires, put in 3 AA batteries, and program your settings. This thermostat has a seven-day program capability. I can have different settings for each day of the week that lower the temperature when nobody is home. This saved us some money on our heating bills last winter. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat then crawl out of you cave and get one.
Now the bad news. Recently, the thermostat began going through batteries on a weekly basis. The replace battery light would flash and then the thermostat would shut off. This would be followed by complaints of “it’s freezing in this house!” After the second package of batteries was drained I called the company that services our furnace.
$90 later my furnace was cleaned and inspected. Everything looks great except the thermostat. It probably has a short somewhere and is draining the batteries each time they’re installed. The batteries should last a year. Just replace the thermostat is what the service guy told me.
Do you think I could find the receipt from a year ago? I called Honeywell to complain and tell them that there thermostats suck. After waiting for 10 minutes of listening to Christmas music and Honeywell ads that sound like they were read by adults with a grade four ed-u-ca-tion, I heard a human voice.
I told Brad (my service rep) how disappointed I was with my Honeywell thermostat. He assured me that there wasn’t a common problem with the model that I had. Then he asked me for my address and telephone number and put me on hold for 10 minutes!
I was so tempted to hang up but waited patiently. Finally, Brad came back on the line, apologized for the wait and explained that he had to authorize a replacement for me. Huh? I’m getting a replacement model? Yes.
After a 20 minute phone call, some simple questions, and a lot of patience, I’m getting a new thermostat delivered to my door in the next 7 business days. I was shocked. Customer service is alive and well at Honeywell. Bell Canada could learn a few things from these guys.
Posted in Observations at 7:26 PM
If you’re Canadian then you’ll view my headline as a paradox. Bell Canada called me up at 6:15 PM while I was preparing dinner. They wanted to update my customer profile to imrpove their customer service. One of the questions they asked me was to confirm my user login for their Internet service—Bell Sympatico. At this point I’m thinking that this could be a scam or Bell is just that dumb.
Who sits at their computer in 2004 and enters a login and password to connect to the Internet? Hello? Router? Connection script? I’m always logged on with my router and laughed at her question.
The best part is when they asked me to hold the line and confirm the information I just gave them. I’m prompted to press 1 for English service and 2 for French service. I choose English, hear a slight pause and then get disconnected. Morons.
Posted in Observations at 7:44 PM
I used to read the Globe and Mail newspaper each morning. I had it delivered to my office in Markham. Now I don’t read the Globe and Mail because their distribution department is full of a bunch of dumb asses.
I moved my office to Toronto over a month ago. I notified the Globe and Mail of my address change and haven’t seen my newspaper since. Over the last three weeks I’ve made countless calls and complaints to their distribution department. I’ve been promised that the paper will “arrive tomorrow” three times now and have yet to see my Globe at 577 Kingston Road.
I can’t believe that this newspaper is still in business with the deplorable customer service they have.
Posted in Observations at 7:08 PM
On Wednesday night I decided to join a few of the guys on my hockey team, The Holy Rollers, for a beer. I don’t know a lot of the guys on this team and they were suprised to hear that I had my own business, a wife, a five year old, etc.
Most of these guys are in their early 20s, some are attending university, all of them are younger than I am which is probably why I felt like vomitting after our last game (I’m a little out of shape). One of the guys asked me about my age and I mentioned that I was 35 (I’m 36 in 22 days). They all looked amazed and said that they thought that I was 28 years old, tops.
Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty good about myself this week.
Posted in Observations at 7:46 PM
Back in August, a story appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer titled, The Insider: Starbucks’ prices won’t be cheaper for much longer The last time Starbucks raised their prices was in August 2000 (increase of 7¢ a cup). Well, 4 years have gone by and the price just went up again by about 7¢.
Last night I was working late and decided to go the the Starbucks in the Beaches. I usually get a Grande size coffee (medium) and it used to cost $1.87 CDN. Last night it cost $1.98 CDN. Ouch!
I love my Starbucks coffee but won’t be buying very much of it by the cup. I prefer to buy their beans and grind them at home.
There is also a local coffee shop down the street from my office called The Savoury Grounds Coffee Co. which has great coffee. Its medium size coffee is a little smaller than a Grande and costs $1.45—a little easier to stomach.
Posted in Observations at 5:01 PM
This weekend I went with a few of the boys to a Nascar race at Michigan International Speedway. On Saturday night we went to The Bone Yard for some BBQ ribs. We usually go to a sports bar called Kickers afterward but it was closed due to the power blackout.
So how do four Canadian guys amuse themselves in a Detroit suburb on a Saturday night? They go to a Seven Eleven and purchase some chewing tobacco. Then they drive around until they find a small town called Farmington which resembles Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show. Below is my recollection of what happened between 8 PM and 10 PM that night.
My friend Gary is the first to try some Wintergreen flavoured Kodiak Smokeless Tobacco. He takes a very small pinch and puts in his mouth. Real men chew tobacco so I take a small pinch out of the can and carefully place it in my mouth. The other two guys with us, John and Russ think we’re crazy and refuse to try. Naturally, I tease them and repeatedly call them a bunch of wimps.
Gary warned me that my mouth would start to salivate right away, which it did. He also said I would get a buzz from the nicotine but I wasn’t feeling anything. “Give it some time,” he said. He also warned me not to swallow any.
We wandered around the town for a little, spitting tobacco, looking for a place to get a pint. I was getting bored with this little piece of tobacco and decided to put a much bigger wad in the side of my mouth—the same way major league pitchers do between innings before they head back to the mound.
We approached the main street and in less than a minute I began to feel light-headed. Then I began to feel dizzy, unstable, reaching for the side of buildings to balance myself. I wobbled over to a park bench across from the movie theatre and sat down as my head begin to spin. I spit out the tobacco. I was amazed at how fast it affected the rest of my body.
The other three guys were killing themselves with laughter as I began to keel over on this bench. I was beginning to feel nauseous and worried about the huge slab of BBQ ribs I had earlier. Too late! I asked the guys to stop laughing and help me up. I was going to be sick.
I looked around and saw a pot of geraniums beside a building. Leaning against the building with one hand I bent over and emptied my dinner on top of those geraniums. A family out for ice cream walked by. I didn’t notice them but the guys assured me that this family was not impressed with my abdominal strength. They probably assumed I had a few too many pints at the pub across the street. I fertilized the geraniums for a little while and sat back down on the bench in disbelief.
Feeling dizzy and hot from hurling, John found some cold bottled water for me from one of the nearby stores. I noticed that Gary was buckled over as well but it was from laughing so hard. I was the entertainment for the evening. As if things couldn’t get any worse, I realized that a severe case of diarrhea was about to finish me off.
I sprang up and staggered around telling the guys that, “I need to find a bathroom! Now! I’m not kidding guys! I gotta go!!” John found me a washroom in the pub across the street. I was relieved. The stall was occupied. John tried the door a few times when I voice said, “I’ll be just a minute.” That minute seemed like an eternity.
I found relief in the washroom and wandered out to the bar where they guys were still laughing at my stupidity. The smell of food made nauseous again and I staggered outside. I had to vomit again but my pot of geraniums was across the street and the light was red. I didn’t care. I ran out into the street in front of a pickup truck that stopped to let me pass. Right in front of the truck I projectile vomited into the street—a first for me. I found another bench down the street and sipped my water for the next hour while they guys had a beer in the pub.
Back out our hotel, I cleaned up and went to bed. Passed out is more like it.
After great embarassment, I can now say that I have experienced chewing tobacco, that it is a disgusting habit and that I’m not a real man.