Archive for November, 2007

 Toronto Hydro has a neat little scam going.  We recently received our first bill for services totaling $77.57, but the bill is for $574.05.  Which means that our bill is nearly $500 over what it should be.  It turns out that there is a whopping $390 “Security Deposit-Residential” deposit despite my good credit.  Awesome.  Then, there is a $30 account set up fee.  Here’s where the scam gets good…  I was charged GST on my deposit.  Does that make sense?

I’m actually skirting my way around the whole thing.  If you sign up for payment by direct debit, they waive the security deposit.  Is this legal?

Aside from the deposit thing, we’re far from getting scammed by Toronto Hyrdo.  I believe we’re getting a good rate and great service.  No complaints.  Rogers, on the other hand…

We got a call from my favourite telecom yesterday in regards to an online Customer Satisfaction Survey they sent me where I tore them a new one.  I spoke to a customer service rep who apologized for all the problems we experienced and said she wanted to offer me something to make me happy.  “Would you be interested in a rate reduction on your home phone service, as a sign of goodwill from Rogers?”  Well, of course I would.

She offered us 3% off our home phone bill per month for the next twelve months.  This amounts to roughly $36 a year.  Not a super great deal, but that’s less money I would be giving Rogers each month without it.  Then she mentions that this is a promotional deal for one year and if I cancel my service or CHANGE MY HOME PHONE PLAN IN ANY WAY, I’ll be charged a $100 promo plan cancellation fee.  It took every ounce of strength in my body not to tell her where to shove her promo deal.

Rogers… if you appreciate my service as a customer, and my frankness in explaining why I’m unhappy with you, offer me a deal that actually is a deal.  Don’t feed me poison and tell me it’s cake.  I’ll be passing this story along to the Customer Service department at Rogers along with a letter detailing our home phone/internet/TV fun from earlier this fall in the hopes that I can ensure I will never hear from them again asking my opinion of their service and offering me a terrible deal for my pain and suffering.

On a happier note, keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for the ultra-rare “Saturday post”, right here for your reading, viewing and listening enjoyment.  It promises to be a feast for all your senses*.

*Note that tomorrow’s post will not be a feast for your sense of taste or smell, and aside from the tactile response as a result of touching your keyboard, it will not excite your sense of touch.  Still, the others will be pretty happy about it.  The management apologizes for any confusion.

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I took some time last night to remedy the poor lighting situation we had in our master bedroom by setting up a few new lamps, so now I can enjoy “A Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley before bed in the comfort of my duvet.  Yes, I am an old man.

With our house slowly falling into order and our schedules becoming somewhat normal, I can safely begin to reflect on what married life is like, and it’s pretty awesome.  Having your best friend around all the time can lead to some moments of tension and stress, but no more than having your entire brand new pots and pans littering your living room.  For every minor disagreement we have, there are countless other moments of support (for long work days and asinine co-workers), tenderness (cuddling on the couch watching TV) and fun (arguing about who gets to wash the dishes, or quoting Kriss Kross at the breakfast table).

As we’re discovering new idiosyncrasies about one another that we never saw before, we’re also finding that we have more in common than we ever thought, and rather than having less to talk about (a fear for many newly married couples) we almost have too much to talk about.  It’s pretty awesome, and for those of you who aren’t yet married, I highly recommend signing up for a membership and joining the club.

The process, however, is not all wine and roses.  For example, this weekend we have to sort through our wedding photo proofs (that we’ve had for over a week and have been putting off) to choose the pictures that will remind us of our perfect day when our memories have long since been filled with children’s birthdates and teacher’s names, or when senility finally takes its final hold (it’s just lightly grasping at this point).  It’s going to be a daunting process, but at least I’ll have my best friend there to help out.

Sorry if all that was a little too cheesy for most of you.  If all that ‘schmaltz’ left your eyes stinging, you can wash them out with a trip to Matthew’s Interview Blog.  He’s a 10 year-old homeschooled kid who does amazing interviews with people all over the world.  He’s set to interview me at some point in what I hope will be the near future.

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After work last night, I met Brian downtown for some pool and a couple of drinks at The Charlotte Room near MEC.  Sadly, thanks to poor service, a snooty attitude and a tournament night we had to find a new watering hole.  We walked east to the Duke of Whathisface (not the actual name, but I forget what it is and I’m too lazy to look it up) where they have a table in a back room.

Note to self- I’m still terrible at pool.   We had a good time though, and were entertained during our game by some barely 19 drunks near the table.  Good times.

When I got home, I got to relive what has become a regular berating in our household when the Leafs lose to the Habs.  Sadly, since we only have basic cable and that doesn’t include TSN, we couldn’t watch the game firsthand and annoy our landlords upstairs by screaming and shouting at every goal, penalty or off-side.

Since it’s only Wednesday, I’m going to stay sane by focusing on what will be the highlight of my week… having a quiet Saturday brunch with my beautiful wife.  Only three days away.

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Slowly but surely, boxes are leaving our home and their former contents are finding places here and there.  At the rate we’ve been going, we should be unpacked and moved in before February.  That’s perfect, as I’ll be giving up unpacking for Lent… and forever.  I can regain my unpacking strength by eating pancakes and ash or whatever it is you’re supposed to eat during Lent.

It’s kind of weird talking about Lent seeing as it’s not even Christmas yet.  Granted, it’s been Christmas shopping season for the better part of a month now, according to every major retail outlet I’ve been to this month.  For me, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve slow-roasted an elf on an open fire or swiped candy canes from a department store Santa’s display.

To make our new home feel more homey for Christmas this year, Danielle and I will be procuring and decorating a REAL tree.  I’m pretty sure that she’ll enjoy decorating it more than I will, but picking out the tree and getting it home is what I’m looking forward to.  It’s not easy to get into High Park in the middle of the night with a hatchet, chopping down the perfect tree and getting it back out to your car without being spotted, but it’s worth it.

Does anyone out there have any advice for our first Christmas together?  Are there things we should do, or things we shouldn’t do?  I mean, aside from me going to jail for stealing public property or eating an elf.

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If you buy a particularly classy bottle of booze from the LCBO, it might come in a cardboard tube with a lid.  This is especially common with single malt scotches and fine whiskies.  It’s sort of like a larger version of the tubes that tennis balls come in, but nicer.

I keep one of those tubes on my dresser, and at the end of each day, I empty the change from my pocket into it.  When I need a couple of bucks for my morning coffee, I dig out a twoonie or loonie, but for the most part, the silver and copper are left to accumulate over time.  Periodically, I cash in my booty and it’s pretty rare that I let my money bin fill to the brim.

On account of how busy things have been over the last few months, not only did I let my change tube fill up, but I let it start overflowing.  So on Sunday afternoon I headed to my local Dominion with 10 pounds of change and spent 15 minutes dumping it all into a Coinstar machine.   When all was said and done, the machine had counted over $170 and after taking their cut, Dominion let me walk out with over $155.  Yeah!

It’s hard not to think of this as a windfall, but in reality, it’s always been my money and if anything, it’s a reminder of all the money I’ve spent since I last cashed in.  The only reason I have spare change is because I make purchases that result in a little change coming back into my pocket, and ending up in a cardboard tube in my bedroom.

It’s an impressive total, and in the years I’ve been doing this ritual, it’s by far the highest amount I’ve turned in.  I’m going to be more diligent in the future about collecting change and I’ll use that money to fund something specific like my raging poutine-addiction.

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As you read this, countless Americans are tearing apart stores for insane deals. In the US, today is known as Black Friday (not to be confused with the terrible film of the same name), as the day after Thanksgiving is always known. It’s the unofficial kickoff to the Christmas shopping season in the States, which leaves a bad taste in many people’s mouths.

For those not into consumerism, today is also known as “International Buy Nothing Day“, a Canadian idea where you simply buy nothing today in protest. I plan on finding a common ground somewhere in between. I won’t buy a 40” LCD TV, but I will pick up a bottle of wine. On matters like this, I prefer to remain a moderate.

So, while I don’t encourage you to buy absolutely nothing today, I will encourage you to hold off on your Christmas shopping until later. Actually, to ease the crowds, I’d prefer you hold off on your Christmas shopping until I’ve done mine.

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After months of being patient with Mother Nature, she finally gave me the gift for which I’ve been waiting so long, and I’m grateful. I noticed the tipping point last night around 9pm when I drove to Danielle’s office to pick her up after a particularly long day of work. The rain that had been falling steadily all day was bouncing off the windshield and hood as hail, and every fifth drop of rain landed with a splat, which meant it was turning to sleet.

By the time we went to bed around 11:30, it sounded like someone was throwing kernels of corn at our windows, and I was giddy to see the world turn white overnight. I was not disappointed.

While waiting at my bus stop this morning, I saw kids walking to school and making snowballs to throw at one another. Granted, they were more slushballs than snowballs, but in late November you take what you can get.

Tonight I’m going to start my winter workout regime by getting back into the swing of things at Manhunt Toronto (although Karim can’t join me thanks to his Ultimate Frisbee league). It’s like urban hide-and-seek, only better. Long-time readers may even remember the banner that used to accompany my post every Thursday. It will resurface once my attendance becomes more regular.

Around the time my attendance got spotty last fall, the numbers for the game were dwindling, but I’ve seen the collection for a few games around the city since and noticed that instead of scraping together 12 or 13 people, they now have 30 or 40. I hope that continues, because it would make for a kickass game. I also hope that today’s weather doesn’t discourage people from coming out and slipping sliding around Bloor and Bathurst.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go burn more incense at my shrine to Jack Frost.

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Last night, while watching the Rick Mercer Report (of all things), I learned a few things that raised my eyebrows a little.  Well, more than a little.

  1. There is an electric car made here in Canada called the ZENN (Zero Emission, No Noise).  It’s Canadian -owned and operated.
  2. Their products cannot be driven legally on the roads of any Canadian province.  Although BC is really close to legislating that they’re okay, none of the provinces have yet followed the Federal Government in approving their use on roads.  They currently build cars for sale in the US.
  3. These cars are CHEEEEEEEEEAP.  According to the clip on the RMR last night, they start at $12,000.  I should have said “a MEASLY $12,000”.  Not only is it cheap to buy, but it’s cheap to run!

I’ve never really figured out why the Canadian Government dug their heels in about passing legislation allowing electric cars to run on our roads, and I’m just as perplexed that the provincial governments are now doing the same.  They’re safe, affordable and environmentally friendly.  They even look like they have a fair amount of pep, even if they are a little small.

Will a ZENN work for me and Danielle?  Probably not as our primary vehicle.  We do very little driving around the city (favouring the ridiculously expensive and poorly serviced TTC), and primarily need a car for our long-haul trips to the Ottawa Valley or Montreal.  I’d be surprised if the ZENN had the kind of battery power we’d need for those trips.  Given that the website lists a range of 35 miles (56 km) with a top speed of 25 miles per hour(40 km per hour), it’s safe to say that this is the perfect urban vehicle, but little else.

If you want to check out the 5:46 clip about ZENN cars from the Rick Mercer Report, you can go to the RMR site and under ‘Latest Videos’, hover over the little images below the video screen and click on the one titled “Rick drives and electric car”.  It’s worth 6 minutes of your time.

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