Archive for January, 2009

Late last night I read a story on CBC.ca about a York T.A. who resigned over the provincial government legislating an end to the York strike.  Fair enough.  I guess he cared so much about the issue that he wanted to make a point.

Where it gets ridiculous is in his justification.  He wants a living wage that’s above the poverty line and he’s a Ph.d student, effectively working a part-time job as a student, in music.  The comments that follow the piece are a mish-mash of awesomeness and I highly recommend reading them.

One thing to keep in mind while you read it, is that this guy will now be an overeducated unemployed musician.  Way to take a stand.  On the plus side, countless undergrads who paid for their education, and all the non-unionized support staff on campus who prepare meals and work in parking for low wages can now get on with their lives.

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In keeping with yesterday’s post about gift cards, and how awesome TimHortons.com is for letting you combine balances on multiple cards to one card, let me share my experience with Chapters/Indigo.

I had a bunch of gift cards from them lying around with varying balances (all unknown to me) and I dreaded the thought of picking out some books and standing at the counter with a line behind me while the clerk checked each card.  So, I went online to Chapters.ca.

To check your balances, you need to create a profile with a login, but it turns out that this is a good idea.  Once you’re logged in, you can check the balance on all your cards (write it on a post-it note on the card for the next step) and they give you some options.  You can transfer all the balances to one card, or transfer all the balances to your online account.  Nice.

In order to transfer any balances, you have enter the card info again and the amount you want to transfer (although they don’t show the current balance, hence writing it on a post-it note).  It took me about 15 minutes from beginning to end, including picking out my purchases.

I opted to use my online account and bought a few books that took me over the limit for free shipping.  Any balance over your total can be paid by credit card and any credit remains in your online account.

Within a day, I got my shipping notification and my new books will be showing up shortly, free of charge.  WooT!

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Having family who live and breathe in both official languages resulted in a pretty weird coincidence this Christmas.  I received gifts of both designs available for Tim Hortons “Tim Cards” in both languages.

English on top, French on the bottom

English on top, French on the bottom

I noticed the coincidence on our way home from Christmas holidays, and as I think those things are interesting, I thought it was,well, interesting… maybe even “neat”.  La dee da, eh?  It was purely anecdotal until yesterday afternoon when I found out that instead of carrying 4 bloody cards around and having no idea what their balances are, I could go to TimHortons.com and combine all the balances onto one card.  Pretty sweet.

Once I had all the cards laid out in front of me, I noticed that the ‘cup’ cards were identical aside from the logos in French and English.  They were even in the same location on the card.

English on Top, French on the Bottom

English on Top, French on the Bottom

This only makes sense and it’s entirely what you’d expect.  To keep costs down, Tim’s used the exact same template for both markets and just printed the logo they needed.  This is pretty common.  What follows, on the other hand, is not.

It’s when I had both the hockey player cards together that I noticed something strange.  The pictures are exactly the same except that the boy is wearing a different coloured jersey and socks in each language.

As before, English on Top and French on the Bottom

As before, English on Top and French on the Bottom

I thought that was pretty weird and wondered why Tim’s would go to the trouble of using different images for the different markets.  I mean, I can’t really speak for the rest of Canada, but at the very least there are two different card designs in Ontario and Quebec.

I asked a co-worker what he thought of the two cards and he pointed out something that should have been obvious.  The English card has a kid in what looks vaguely like a Toronto Maple Leafs uniform, which probably wouldn’t be that popular in la belle provence, so the French card looks like the kid is in a Montreal Canadiens kit.

It’s pretty impressive that the marketing folks at Tim Hortons put that much thought into localising these cards to ‘ring’ with each market.  So, now I’m wondering about the rest of Canada.  Do you guys have cards geared by region?  Is the kid dressed all in Tim Hortons brown, or are you being forced to pay for your coffee each morning by swiping a card with the most dreaded and arguably worst Canadian team in the league?  Do you hear me western and eastern Canada?  Open up your wallets and share with the rest of us.

UPDATE (12pm): My buddy Landon has a card that was a gift from Canada’s “Bridge City”, (AKA Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) and it has the boy in blue on it too.  Can anyone from Alberta or BC chime in?

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Bottles of nice Scotch (even not-nice Scotch) sometimes come in a cardboard tube with a metal bottom and a removable metal top.  It’s a cylinder about the same height and girth as a standard wine bottle and they are surprisingly sturdy.  I keep one of these on my dresser at home, and when I’m getting ready for bed, I dump all the change from my pockets into it.  It’s pretty handy for pulling out enough change for a morning coffee, of if a guest needs fare for a TTC ride home, but for the most part, it’s just a way to build up some change.

Last week, I decided that the tube was nearly full (about 10 cm from the top) and that it was time to cash in a year or so of spare change.  I headed to Loblaws where they have a CoinStar machine (I’m too lazy to roll all that change myself) and spent nearly 15 minutes pouring all the coins into it.  When all was said and done, I had over $177 in coins, which meant I took home $160 after the fee (rougly 10 cents on the dollar, which is pretty pricey but still better than rolling $177 in coin).

So, what will I do with my new-found wealth?  Well, that money is going to a worthy cause, namely the DDGGF.  The DDGGF, or the Dave Duncan Gretsch Guitar Fund is non-profit fund set up expressly with the aim of procuring Dave Duncan a Gretsch guitar.  The recent “Economic Downturn” has had an adverse effect on the performance of the fund, but those of us on the board of directors are confident that we’ll reach our goal soon.

In addition to cashing in random spare change, I also have a shortlist of peronal items that I’ll be selling.  Most notably, all my U2 vinyl will soon be on the chopping block, so stay tuned for a post about my collection and how it will be sold.

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I think that a state of normalcy has returned to our household after a few solid weeks of frustrating sleeplessness thanks to one of my newest best friends, melatonin.  For some reason, our collective sleeping habits, as bad as they once were, got a lot worse, and neither of us could settle into a good sleeping pattern that left us feeling rested and refreshed.

Yesterday, we threw in the towel and tried melatonin and I can’t believe how well it worked.  I went to bed around 11pm feeling skeptical, but as I lay there in the dark (which apparently activates it), I felt my body get all tingly, then I woke up this morning feeling great.

Apparently I’m only supposed to use it for a night or two to get my rhythm back, so like most of my best friends, I’ll be seeing melatonin pretty sporadically over time, but I think it’s going to be a rewarding relationship.

In other news, we went snowshoeing at Horseshoe Valley Resort on the weekend and it was sunny and crisp.  We had a great time out in the bush and I’m upset that I forgot to bring my camera as there were fresh animal tracks EVERYWHERE.  I assume they’re up all night walking around, which means they need to elevate their levels of melatonin, I guess.

That’s right.  It all comes full circle here.

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I’d like to say that I’m back in tip-top shape and ready to take on the world after a few days spent at home sick, but it’s probably more accurate to say that I’m merely functional.  Mind you, it’s nice to at least be functional again.

Sadly, waking up in the early afternoon each day usually left me watching any number of the courtroom reality shows that are the staple of daytime US network television.  Shows like Judge Mathis, Judge Judy, Divorce Court and Judge Alex did very little to make me feel less nauseous, and instead just added a loss of faith in mankind to my illness.  Fortunately, with three season of The IT Crowd on my laptop, that feeling didn’t last long. I personally credit Graham Linehan (the show’s head writer, director and orginator) with my speedy recovery.

How’s that for a plug?

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No, let me correct that. I AM out. For two days now, my gut has been tied up in knots and sleeping has been near impossible. I don’t think it’s a flu, but it doesn’t feel like food poisoning either. It DOES feel like something I had last year, so I know it won’t kill me. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon.

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I sometimes use these points to mark momentous times in my life, so that I can back later and figure out exactly what happened when.  You’d be surprised to find out how often I go perusing randomly through my archive when I’m bored, or try to search for a specific post using a keyword in the search widget (on the right, in my menu).

For example, not long ago, I reread the post I wrote the day after I proposed to Danielle (read it here) and I often use my summaries of various cottage weekends posted here to distinguish them from each other.

Today, I feel compelled to write about Obama’s inauguration, but I’m not quite sure what to say.  Frankly, I’m impressed with the American people for electing a an Afro-American president, but aside from that, how much change will there actually be?  Can he live up to the hype?

I’m just glad that GWB and his band of merry men are out of work and that it appears that one of Obama’s missions is to begin undoing what has been done in the last 8 years, but that’s not earth-moving change, that’s just putting back the clock.  I guess the next 4 years will tell the whole story.

Perhaps I’m just being a pessimist, but I prefer to think of myself as being a realist.  If we get our expectations too high, Obama will surely fail and crumple under that pressure.

So, let’s just sit back and enjoy the show today, and in the meantime, we Canadians can ignore the total clusterf**k that we call ‘parliament’ here at home.  On the plus side, the Bank of Canada cut the lending rate to 1%, so Danielle and I are one big step closer to owning an affordable house.  Will we take advantage of this economic downturn to better our lives?  Yes, we can.

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