June 27, 2008

Rogers has us right where they want us

I am so completely burned and bummed out at the same time that Rogers Wireless has us all over a barrel. The iPhone 2.0 is largely deserving of the hype it's receiving, as I believe it will truly change the way that people access the Internet. With support for true 3G speeds, as Cnet.com reviewer Ken German says, it will put the Internet right in your pocket. No mobile phone, not even the Blackberry, has so been able to empower the consumer market - and Ted Rogers knows it.

We're in a dire situation in Canada, where Rogers is the only GSM carrier able to supply the iPhone, and as such there is no other competitor capable of competing with it. Rate plans were announced today, and they aren't exactly cheap. The cheapest plan is $60 for 150 minutes and unlimited evenings and weekends, plus 450 MB of data. There is no unlimited data plan, unlike AT&T.

So, if you want the iPhone, get ready to open your wallets and come over to the dark side. The $199 or $299 phone purchase price may seem like a great deal, but the 3 year contract - the ONLY way you can get this phone - will quickly wear you out. No one said that new technology should be cheap, but by comparison to our neighbours to the south, Canadians are getting a bum deal. That's what a mobile carrier monopoly has done for us.

June 23, 2008

Shopped till I dropped

E and I had a lovely weekend in Grove City, PA. The weather was warm and sunny, and the bargains were plentiful. It's a short four and a half hour drive from T.O., and judging by the number of Ontario plates I spotted in the parking lot, a very popular place for Canadians to come and spend a weekend getting "mad dealz" on clothing and accessories.

Prices were significantly discounted from what I would have paid in a local store, and PA also has no sales tax on clothing - yet another advantage. You could argue that we didn't really save all that much, since we had to drive down, pay for gas, meals, and two nights in a hotel. But on the other hand, the superior selection of "stuff" and the novelty of just getting away for the weekend made it seem like more of a mini-vacation, and less of a shopping chore. I am really not big into shopping, and crowded malls make me feel ill, so this was ok for me.

We stopped in the city of Erie on the return trip, just for curiosity sake. It doesn't have a heck of a lot happening on Sunday, as most businesses were closed, but they do have a beautiful lake front park. E and I spent the afternoon on Presque Isle park. We rented a couple bicycles and had a nice ride around the peninsula (yes - it is not truely an island). I'll post some pictures up asap.

June 20, 2008

Live in front of 21,000 spectators

I cannot believe it. What are the odds of getting picked from a crowd of just over twenty-one thousand to participate in a contest? My stats training would say the odds are about 1 in 21,000. Last night I became that 'one' person, when a lady at the Roger's Centre asked if I would participate in a on-field contest promotion at the Argos vs Ticats game last night.

I jumped at the opportunity, literally out of my seat, and up the aisle to follow this lady downstairs to the field sidelines where I would have a chance to throw a football through a target and, if successful, win a leather reclining chair, complete with Argos logo, cupholder, and double blue colours. It was the kind of chair a die hard fan would love, while his spouse would likely cringe at look at it, if it were in their living room - and I wanted that chair. I would not buy it in 100 years, were it even possible to find in a store, but HEY - we're talking FREE CHAIR here.

I had three throws to get a football through a target, which was about a foot in diameter, made of a board with a football player printed on it. This has to be done while sitting in said chair about 10 yards away. Do you think I could do it? Well, apparently not. I missed all three throws with my sad little throwing arm. Oh well - I had my 2 minutes of fame on the jumbotron while everyone got to watch. It was an experience I will never forget.

June 17, 2008

Facebook crashed my browser

Well the blog bug is at it again, and it's all thanks to Facebook. It used to be a very one-sided affair, when I posted updates on various events of my life on the intertubes. Back then, it used to be just me, typing away and then clicking 'post'. If I was lucky, some guy would post an inane "first post" comment, and that would be about all that would happen.

Now today, thank the creators of Web 2.0, and Facebook! Logging on to FB has gotten to be a part of the daily routine. I don't always update my profile, but more often I am just curious to see what crazy shiat my friends are doing. Who's crazy cat is in the photos today? Maybe a friend of mine found out she has an alien foot? Who's status update is the wittiest of them all? These are things a guy really needs to know.

The apps and profile settings are getting cluttered and wearing me down. I had to trim out some less useful apps today. Now I have to do FB spring cleaning! It literally crashed my Internet Explorer in the process. Is this a sign that I have gone too far? FB overload has kicked in, and threatens to cause a burnout, just as the blog craze burned me out in '07. I'm certain that I can handle the addiction this time around.

Let's keep it coming!

test blog


October 8, 2007

There's no such thing as Scotchtoberfest!

Oberkrainer Club - Breslau, ON

Sometimes when things just seem to be going wrong by the minute, you wind up turning things around 180 degrees in just the nick of time. That's how yesterday felt for me, and if it wasn't for the brave encouragement from E to go and check out perhaps the biggest Oktoberfest in the entire country, the day would just have been another ordinary day.

We drove out to Kitchner-Waterloo with the most realistic of expectations: to take in the famous festival that this German city puts on every year to world renouned review. It's located practically on the doorstep to Toronto, so we could not pass up the chance to go and see what a real Oktoberfest was like. A short hour and a half drive got us to downtown and, even better, free Sunday parking. Such a freebie is usually never found in T.O.

When we arrived in the afternoon, a few downtown blocks on King St were closed to traffic, and there were several hundred people milling about - taking in the music from a live polka band, buying bratwurst, schnitzel, apple strudel, etc. There was a beer tent, and other smaller tents - some selling hats, kids toys, and other apparrel. We thought that the crowds were pretty light for a Sunday, considering that the brochure advertised that over 700,000 people attended last year's fest. We went to see the Joseph Schneider Haus, which the original home, now preserved, was built by some guy named Joseph Schneider in 1816.

We took a short trip up to St Jacob's to do some window shopping, and see some local crafts, only to return to Kitchner after 6PM and find that most of the Festhallen were closed up for the night. What kind of party festival is that? We ended up going to a little Slovenian Club in Breslau, ON, just outside of Kitchner for dinner. It turned out to be a whole lot of fun.

Miss Oktoberfest 2007 made an appearance at the club

That's some good apple strudel!

Us with 'Uncle Hans', the festival mascot

September 26, 2007

Getting prepped for Grey Cup 2007

RHM and I. photo taken in Regina, Sept 1, 2003

It's been a while since the last post, and undoubtedly a lot has been missed that I could have blogged about. I admit it's been my own fault, but it's my blog and I can do with it what ever I please :). I don't mean to keep you dear lurkers in the dark as to my whereabouts and activities - I'm welcoming you back with open arms, hopefully, with a new round of regular posts.

I still have some things to fix, such as figuring out why this blog looks so awful in IE 7. Seriously, it looks good in Firefox. If you are using IE 7 please don't think that's the way I intended the site to look. It's always a work in progress.

This year's Grey Cup just happens to be in my city. I managed to procure some fairly expensive tickets, as all the cheap seats were already sold out. That's the price I had to pay for waiting this long to make a decision. My subconscious knew I was ultimately going to go, so why didn't it convey that knowledge to the part of my brain that controls the credit card? It took too long to get the nerve to do it. At least the seats will be great... lower bowl, and around the 30 yard line. That's good enough for me. I'm very glad to hear that my good friend RHM will be coming to town to join E and I for this grand event. Yea, verily. If there is one person on the internet with a more out of date website than me, it is that guy.

The bonus is that if there was ever a year for the Riders to make it to the finals and have a good shot at winning the Cup, it is this year. I know that they can do it.


I'm back baby!

April 27, 2007

Sometimes things just fall into place

Crap… I must have slept in such a way last night that this morning I have a sore neck. It aches all down the right side.

Last Friday I got my first chance to go to a concert at the ACC (Air Canada Centre). I bought tickets online to see Billy Joel the day they went on sale. RHM just happened to be in town for the same weekend, and I luckily had an extra ticket so myself, E, and RHM could all go together. However, due to the circumstances under which I purchased the tickets in February, the seats were not all together. We tried to make a deal with some scalpers, but in the end it could not be worked out, so RHM sat in a different section than E and I for the show.

My big expectations were lowered, because our seats were at the far end opposite the stage, and except for watching the big TV screen in the middle, I couldn’t really see the live action very well. The crowd was enthusiastic, but except for the people directly in front of the stage, the fans were rather passive – mainly content to sit and applaud at the end of each song. They were a much older crowed than E and I, by at least 10 years, and I felt a little out of place. Why does no one else my age listen to Billy? It seems I relate better to middle age adults than I do to my own generation.

The show was good, actually VERY good… but Billy was definitely showing signs of getting old. He had this habit between songs of rubbing the back of his bald head while talking, and moving his other hand over his jacket like he was trying to find the pocket – though he never did put his hand in the pocket. It was sold out. The band opened up with some minor hits; some of them I actually did not recognize from some of his early albums. The concert ended with all his big singles “Moving Out”, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”, “My Life”, “Big Shot”, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and more. Of course the final encore, my favourite of all of them, was “Piano Man”.

Experience-wise, I left feeling it was a pretty good show and had a positive experience. Would I do it again? I have to say probably not – at least not without some careful consideration. Considering the expensive cost of tickets and rather crappy acoustics of the ACC, I would say I could have just as much fun at the local pub on a Friday night, when they usually get a live group to come in and play. The latter is a much cheaper, more intimate setting, which I seem to enjoy more.

It was great to see RHM again, btw! Thanks for visiting... hope to see you again in T.O. soon! ;)

March 27, 2007

Toronto taxes its citizens to death

We're not yet home owners, but would like to be some day. I'm in the process of saving up for a down payment on a home/condo, but real estate prices continue to rise all the while. In addition to that, the City of Toronto continues to raise tax rates, in an effort to balance its budget. Just today it was announced that property taxes were going to go up by 3.8%. Not only that but the city has been pondering over the last nine months on what to do with its new and improved City of Toronto Act, which gives it new powers to collect taxes in ways it previously did not have legal authority.

Today Mayor Miller announced that he was seriously considering introducing new "sin" taxes this year, on purchases of alcoholic beverages at LCBO and Beer stores. Also recommended are taxes on tobacco products, cinema tickets, live events, and parking lots. Even suggested are road tolls for the Gardiner and DVP - which I think no city council could seriously consider. It would drastically affect traffic patterns, in a city where traffic is bad enough already, and further enrage motorists.

Why do these tax increases sound all too familiar to me? Oh yeah.. probably because I lived in Saskatchewan for 26 years prior to moving here! Miller should get a grip and stop making its citizens take on an ever increasing tax burden. I've moved from one socialist municipality to another, where the city cannot afford to pay for its expensive social programs and services.

March 9, 2007

The Brier comes to Hamilton


Last Saturday evening we drove out to Hamilton with my aunt and uncle to see draw #2 of the Brier. The tournament is taking place at Copps Colosseum and for the price of admission you can see four games at the same time! We had excellent seats, and sipped on Tim Horton's coffee during the games. It's not often that I get to see such top notch curling at a live event. These are the best teams in Canada, and probably the world, competing for the top prize. Actually, I'm not sure what that prize may be. Curling, unlike most other professional sports, is not a full time occupation for most of these guys and who have to support their families financially with other "day jobs".

Oh and while I may only be 15% stoOpid, it looks like E and my other friends are smarter than me... though I am fairly suspicious about how IBMScott got a perfect score.

December 2010

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