Archive for March, 2008

On Saturday night, in the midst of a household-wide bout of viral illness, we decided to get Indian takeout and we’d heard wonderful things about a place on Gerrard Street East near Greenwood called Lahore Tikka House.  Our expectations were high given that it was located in the middle of Little India and we were sure that a place coming with such high praise would easily blow us away, and let me tell you… it blew alright.

We called in our order for lamb curry, butter chicken, rice and naan and were surprised when they told us our order would be ready for pickup in 10 or 15 minutes.  Danielle, being the less ill and more able of the two of us, headed off by car while I lounged in a Tussed-out haze and salivated at the thought of our upcoming feast.

Danielle returned nearly 40 minutes later after waiting at the restaurant for nearly a half hour to get our food that should have been ready before she even arrived.  Still, having to wait for fresh food is far better than getting cold, dated food on time, so we were patient and opted to forgive the Lahore Tikka House.  That didn’t last long.

As we unpacked the food, we noticed that we had lots of rice and naan, but only one main dish.  Our butter chicken wasn’t included.  A phone call was placed to the restaurant where the same guy who had taken our order the first time and had also served Danielle in person explained that he hadn’t charged us for the Butter Chicken even though he left it out of our order.  Although we’d repeated our order three times when we made it originally, he’d left it off and even though he remembered when Danielle picked it up, he didn’t add it to the order.  Rather than telling us that we had enough rice and naan to feed a small army, but only one main dish, he let us get home and start eating before we noticed.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that our state of illness made this a bigger deal than it normally would have been, but this guy had no desire to remedy the situation and help us get our second main dish that would keep our dinner from consisting of tons of rice and bread and little else. Worse yet, our only main dish consisted mainly of bone and marrow meat.  Yeah, that IS as delectable as it sounds.  Easily 1/3 of the contents of the dish were bone, and what wasn’t bone wasn’t that tasty.

Take it from us, if you’re looking for a fix for your Indian food craving, pass the Lahore Tikka House by and head to The Bombay Palace.

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After a few days of living with Danielle’s illness and being surrounded by sick people at work, on the street and in close quarters on the TTC, it seems that my time has finally come.  I woke up this morning with a sore throat and a general feeling of malaise.  My sinuses are seizing up like the motor on a 1991 Volvo Turbo Wagon (sigh) and every muscle and joint in my body feels like it’s being chiseled at by tiny little munchkins with pitchforks.  Let the good times begin!

At least it’s starting to sound like an actual TTC strike isn’t likely.  Instead, the union will probably go into a work-t0-rule situation where the members will show up for work, but do little else.  They’ll opt for casual clothes instead of uniforms and work really slowly, unpleasantly and with little zeal.  For many, it’ll be a regular work day but without the uniforms.  For others, it will mean cutting back drastically on the customer service they pride themselves in.

After witnessing a recent non-TTC-related protest (don’t ask) and discussing it with a few folks, I thought it might be pretty funny to picket the striking picket lines if the TTC did go out.  We could make up funny signs and protest the strike in style.  I’ll guess I’ll just have to shelve that idea for six months when they threaten to strike next.

In less sarcastic and more positive news, I’m presently sitting above the odds in Tim Hortons ‘Roll Up the Rim to Win’.  I have 4 wins (2 donuts, 2 coffees) to my 26 ‘Pleas Try Again’s.  Since the odds of winning are 1 in 9 (11.11%), I can lose plenty more times before I fall under the odds.  Granted, if I tally my results with Danielle’s losing streak, we fall collectively short, but I’m not going to do that.  There was nothing in our wedding vows about amalgamating our combined Tim Hortons statistical data, so she’s on her own.

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For almost a year now, much of my personal life has been guided by Excel spreadsheets.  What started as budgeting and expense tracking for a wedding has become budgeting and expense tracking for a marriage.  Right now it’s mostly keeping track of monthly bills and regular expenses or large expenditures, but after some recent conversations I’m wondering if there’s some value in spending a few months tracking where every dollar goes.

It’s amazing how much time we spend thinking about where we want our money to take us, and all the things we can do with it only to watch it disappear into ridiculous and meaningless purchases.  I’m as guilty of this as anyone, especially since I’m a bit of a hoarder.  I often catch myself saying “Hmm, I could use this for something” and then squirreling away whatever it is I will probably never use again.

In figuring out how best to make our living space livable, Danielle and I are often shocked at the amount of stuff we both have, so maybe this spring we should take stock and clear a lot of it out.  Rather than just throwing it out or giving it away, we could have a garage sale to earn a bit of money from our years of keeping things, and giving strangers a few bargains.  We could even print the flyers on the backs of old term papers that we keep for some reason.

Stay tuned for details of our garage sale, and we will not accept trades for any items.

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Sickness hangs thick in the air at our house as Danielle is finally starting to recover from the worst of her cold/flu, but I fear that I’m starting to show some of the early symptoms.  Of course, I realized this on the same day Torontoist posts two news stories that will only make me feel worse.

The first has the head of Environment Canada bracing us for a winter that runs steadily into April with more snow to come.  I’m indifferent about a long winter, but everyone around me is getting cagey and jittery so I’ll be just as happy as them when we get a full week of spring temperatures and we can all see our lawns again.

The second story reports that the TTC union is poised on the brink of yet another strike, this one starting as early as next week.  I’ve heard the issues, and I completely understand where the transit union is coming from on issues of safety and security.  I can even sympathize with their issues around compensation (although I like to gripe about how much money a ticket-taker gets for being surly and rude… not all of them, but more than enough), but when they hold a gun to the collective heads of everyone who lives in the city to get their ‘better way’, much of that sympathy flies out the window.

On the plus side, if this virus that’s incubating inside me like the parasite from Alien finally erupts into a full blown illness, I won’t have to deal with any of this.  I’ll just be at home on the couch with OJ, facial tissues and daytime TV.  Instead of walking to the work in a spring snowstorm, I’ll be watching Judge Judy dish out her own sassy form of justice, and getting caught up on all my gameshows.

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My whole ride into work on the nearly empty TTC this morning, I couldn’t help but hope that I somehow had forgotten that my office wasn’t open for Easter Monday.  I wasn’t shocked to find other tired-looking folks grumbling over coffees when I got here, but I certainly was disappointed.  Still, I’m better off than Danielle who is at home with the day off, but has spent nearly her entire 4-day weekend fighting the flu.

We spent most of the day on Friday cleaning our house and getting caught up on errands that we’ve ignored for a few weeks.  We managed to go through some boxes we haven’t touched since we moved in, and at least two full bags of garbage are now sitting outside waiting for the garbage truck.  It wasn’t a glamorous Good Friday, but it was productive.

On Saturday, with no more cleaning or errands left to do, we headed to the Stouffville Flea Market (which is FAR more lively in the summer) to browse their limitless supply of crap where we found a lid for our ridiculously large frying pan.  Now, should the mood ever strike, I can fry bacon in the nude without fear.  From there, we ventured to Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area for their Maple Syrup Festival.  We took a stroll through their sugarbush, took a hayride behind the smelliest horses on earth and drank cedar tea brewed over an open fire.

Yesterday, Danielle crashed hard in front of the TV with some DVDs, so I repotted some plants that were in dire need of fresh soil, played around with our new computer and cut a spraypaint stencil to brand our garbage cans, recycling bins and our green bin.  It seems that we have been the victim of ‘Refuse Container Bandits’ who are too cheap to buy their own bins and resorting to theft instead.

Be warned, if I catch you with one of our newly branded garbage cans, I will scald you with boiling cedar tea before I sell your organs from a stand at the Stouffville Flea Market.

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Uh.  Wow.  I’m not really sure what to say here.  I mean, with today being a holiday and all, I wasn’t expecting you to show up so I’m not really prepared.  To be honest, I’m probably not even out of bed yet.

Instead of reading this, you should get yourself to your local church to celebrate Good Friday.  After all, we know you aren’t shopping, because everything is closed.

Have a great and good Good Friday, for goodness’ sake.

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Well, after a good run with Ubuntu Linux, I’ve rejoined the world of Windows users after Danielle and I got a new computer.  That means I now have to learn Vista and unlearn Ubuntu.  I’d briefly considered running a dual-boot system, but figured there was no point.

Ubuntu was a very good choice given my computer situation.  I was able to continue using an older computer without feeling as many limitations as I did with Windows on that slower machine.  For anyone with a lagging computer, I’d highly recommend trying it out.

Now comes that awkward phase where I slowly transfer all my files and I have to remember which computer everything is on.  I also have to learn how to use all the bells and whistles that are standard with Vista, which should be fun.  So far, I’m a fan of how quickly everything works, but I’m not a huge fan of the image viewer.  I’ll probably have a more full review in the coming weeks.

Also, wireless networks are cool.  Very cool.  I can’t believe there are so many near my house, nor can I believe how many of them are completely unsecured and just plugged in out of the box.  Ridiculous.

Any tips for Vista?  Any “need to have” software or little configuration tips?

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There are some notable dates in the calendar that are fixed, like birthdays, Christmas and Canada Day.  Every year, they fall on the same day, so it’s hard for them to creep up on you.  Then there are the dates that aren’t fixed, like Good Friday/Easter, Victoria Day and Thanksgiving.  It’s like they float around the calendar looking for a place to land and one day you wake up to find that you don’t have to go to work.

We’re quickly approaching one of those floating milestones, and it was marked last night with my first win in this year’s NCAA College Basketball “March Madness” pool.  Long time readers will have suffered through this for years, but hopefully have rejoiced in my two wins in the last three years.  This year, I’m hoping to go back-to-back with a bracket that borders on ridiculous.

So far, only the play-in game has been played, so the pool is still open for anyone wanting to join.  Just leave a comment here and I’ll let our pool manager know (Jared).  It’s $5 to get in and there are prizes for first, second and third.  Last place wins their money back as a pity prize.

This pool takes absolutely no skill or college basketball knowledge, by the way.  I never follow college sports, and I’m not particularly interested in basketball as a sport.  One thing I love about March Madness is the seeming randomness of who wins, who advances and how the teams are picked in the first place.  With everything hinging on one loss and the winning team needing to keep on winning, it makes for some pretty intriguing sports.

I encourage you all to watch it.  And even if you don’t join a pool, fill out a bracket and follow along at home.  You can follow the games online at CBS Sportsline.

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