i was talking to vince recently and since our planned trip to las vegas earlier this year didn't fly, we decided to consider the possibility of going down over the holidays. originally i had been hoping to volunteer to go down to vegas for business (and thereby have my hotel and flight paid for!!), but unfortunately that plan fell through. oh well ... if i had gone on business, i would have had to work 10-hour days, so there wouldn't have been much time for fun.
nothing's been confirmed yet, but i'm really looking forward to this. i haven't had a vacation since europe two years ago and i really need one. i know that keith is going to vegas with his parents around christmas, so we can hit the poker rooms together ...
i took my car to the dealership today for the 48000 km checkup. this checkpoint is supposed to occur two years after the date of purchase. well, i reached it in slightly over 19 months. i do drive my car a LOT, but i do bring it in for regular oil changes and i hope i'm not shortening its lifespan with all this added mileage. i'm not planning on selling my car anyways, all i want is for my car to last me 10 years without any major problems.
me & my car have had a great relationship for a year and a half now and hopefully it'll continue for a long time!
with all that added mileage, thank goodness i didn't lease ...
after work today, my co-workers took me out for dinner at duff's wings! i know my b-day's still 6 days away but it was really nice of them to do this for me. thanks everyone!
winston and clement actually had a competition to see who could eat more armageddon wings. i can't believe anyone would want to punish themselves in the name of bragging rights, but that's me. poor winston claimed that while eating his first wing, he felt a blood rush in his leg muscles. that scared him good and he stopped after two wings. clement was a little braver (or foolish, depending on your point of view). he started sweating profusely after the first wing, which is usual whenever he eats spicy food, but he kept right on going. he had to take a cooling-down period after each wing. then, he went crazy and had three armageddon wings in a row with no break. when the smoke cleared he had finished 6. i think it is an amazing feat to finish even 2 of those wings. after witnessing that feat, all i can say is that i'm not worthy. clement is the man.
since it was my b-day, i was forced to try one of the armageddon wings. now, i've written about those wings before, and how tasting the sauce caused my tongue to go numb a few weeks ago. well, that's nothing compared to actually eating a wing baked in that sauce. strangely, when i bit into the wing, i didn't feel anything out of the ordinary for the first 20 seconds. i actually managed to finish half of a wing before the agony started. my mouth was numb and on fire for the next 15 minutes. it was so painful i couldn't talk, and i was draining glasses of ice water like there was no tomorrow. of course, everyone had a good laugh. ruvena took a few photos of me in a semi-incapacitated state. she said that in one of the photos, i resembled jesus, praying to the heavens. i'll have to see that one.
if it's your b-day and you're forced to eat an armageddon wing as part of your b-day celebration, here's the strategy - wolf it down as fast as you can before the sauce gets absorbed into your mouth and tongue. if you don't do it in 30 seconds, you'll probably fail.
i finally regained the feeling in my mouth and tongue about 20 minutes later. i don't want to ever go through that experience again. well, at least not until my b-day next year ...
after installing xp two weeks ago on my pc, the final unresolved issue was the fact that my computer could not produce any sounds. well, I finally got my creative sb live! value sound card working on xp tonight after at least 10 hours of solid troubleshooting over the past two weeks. anyways, here's how I did it:
finally, two full weeks since I popped in the xp install cd, all is finally well with andrew's computer.
it's 3am, i'm tired and i need some sleep. on the bright side, i was about to dump a whole pile of $$$ on a new sound card and possibly even new speakers, so i saved myself a bundle tonight.
one of the most enjoyable parts of a new home/condo purchase is selecting the interior finishings, such as the flooring, the colour of the tiles and countertops, the cabinet handles, and so on. today i had the opportunity to savour that experience first-hand at the menkes decor centre in downtown north york.
here's how it works: basic furnishings are free. virtually everything is upgradeable, but upgrades cost $$$. thus, it's possible to go through the entire selection process without spending any money, but it's also possible to spend well over $10000. the problem is, all of the nice-looking finishings are upgrades. the decor centre is like a candy store for adults. it's easy to go crazy and get every possible upgrade available ... until you realize just how much it's going to cost.
i went in with a budget in mind and i barely managed to meet it, managing to fit in hardwood floors in the living/dining room, a glass-top stove, and a black marble countertop in the washroom. oh well ... easy come, easy go. i really hope i'll be able to have enough $$$ saved by the closing date or i'll be sleeping on the street.
last but not least, i'd like to wish my mom and dad a happy 32nd anniversary today! congratulations on reaching this milestone, and i love you both!
today was my first trip ever to a live nfl game! we had bought tickets for the rams-bills game four months ago and today was the big day. in the morning, peter and vince drove over to my place to park their car in my apartment's visitor parking area. however, i forgot to turn on my cellphone and since they didn't know my suite number, they had to wait in the lobby until i realized what happened! sorry guys!
upon reaching fort erie we wound up waiting for over half an hour at the border. once we crossed to the american side, we were greeted by an electronic sign that said "have your documents ready for the offider". yep, it said offider, not officer. quite the entertaining typo.
when i reached the offider's, i mean officer's, toll booth, he chided me for not stopping my car at the stop sign. well, their stop sign was placed in the wrong spot. you're supposed to stop where the stop sign is, not 10 feet in front of it. anyways, the offider had a good time asking me where i was from, and how long i'd been driving, and how my disobedience of stop signs would get me in trouble. we finally managed to get away from his drivel and continued on our way.
as we got closer to the stadium, we started to see some interesting sights. scalpers were hawking tickets FROM THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, literally waving them in front of drivers. people were holding up signs saying "PARK HERE!" we even saw one drunk guy take a sip of beer from his bottle, then toss the bottle on someone else's front lawn, the bottle still half-full. these were things one would never expect to see in canada.
having arrived with only an hour to spare, we didn't have too much time for tailgating or pre-game festivities. after entering the gates to ralph wilson stadium, we entered the lower bowl where vince took a whole bunch of photos of the rams warming up. eating lunch inside the stadium was a big mistake. for $4.25 USD i got the worst-tasting cheeseburger in the world. it reminded me of the stuff my high school's cafeteria used to serve.
the first half featured some pretty good action by both teams. vince, peter and i were all cheering for the rams, as all three of us had picked the rams in our football pool. the only bad thing was the wind chill. up in section 317, the wind really packed a punch and i regretted that i did not bring gloves or a warmer jacket. the half ended with the score tied 17-17. during the half we went down to field level so that vince could take more photos.
i was near the concession stands, huddling to keep warm, when all of a sudden i heard a roar from the field! the rams had went 3-and-out on their opening possession of the second half and the bills returned the ensuing punt to the rams 5-yard line. the crowd was going wild. a few plays later it was 24-17. on the very next series, the rams again went 3-and-out, and this time the bills returned it all the way for a td to make it 31-17. game over. that was some of the worst special teams play i've watched in a very long time.
with the score 37-17 at the end of the third, we decided to leave early and beat the rush, and also just to get away from that fierce wind. we spent some time shopping at an outlet mall in niagara falls on the american side before returning to canada. before crossing the border, i stopped at the duty-free shop hoping to buy some liquor for my parents' upcoming anniversary, but i was told that since we hadn't spent 48 hours in the usa, we would be taxed on all purchases we made. oh well. at least the return crossing was quick and hassle-free.
for dinner, we went to the new fallsview casino's grand buffet. for the low low price of $20, we had all we could eat, including prime rib, crab legs, cocktail shrimp, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, and an amazing assortment of cakes and desserts. after the horrible lunch i was prepared and i definitely got my money's worth. i highly recommend this buffet. one interesting thing of note is that the buffet is only $4.95 if you get there after 1am. now, i'm not sure what the selection is like after 1am, but there's no way a $4.95 buffet could be a bad deal. if in the future, i'm ever in niagara falls after 1am, i'll know where to go for food.
what a great day ... guys, we're going to have to do this again next year ...
after years of putting up with the instability of the windows: millennium edition operating system, and having recently resolved the issue of insufficient RAM, i decided it was time to upgrade my pc to windows xp. unfortunately, i didn't do my homework thoroughly enough and took the plunge before asking around to see if there were any pitfalls involved in the procedure.
so, on wednesday, i popped in the cd and started the process. everything seemed ok until the registration of components. all of a sudden, a dark blue screen popped up on my monitor - it was not exactly the same shade of blue as the infamous "blue screens of death" of previous windows versions, but the purpose of the screen was the same. i had to restart my pc and try the installation again, but once again i got the same navy blue screen. after the installation failed on my third attempt, i realized that i was too far into the installation to back out, and i certainly couldn't proceed any further, so the only solution, sad as it was, was to nuke my primary partition and do a clean install from scratch. this meant that everything on my c drive was lost; fortunately, the d drive was unaffected.
even then, the installation process continued to come to a screeching halt at the same spot every time. it wasn't until i changed my sdram frequency from pc-133 to pc-100 in the bios did everything go smoothly. i was finally able to start xp successfully in the wee hours of friday the 12th.
after that, i had to go through the entire process of re-establishing my internet connection, re-configuring my e-mail accounts, re-installing all of my software, re-installing drivers for my sound card, and so on. as of today, i still haven't finished re-installing everything.
today, i talked to alfred on my phone (my new technical consultant!). guess what? alfred's an expert at computer repair and if only i had asked him about upgrading from me to xp before i started, he would have let me know that it was a bad idea! as for the pc-133 issue, he suggested that the performance of the heat sink on my motherboard may have been compromised by years of dust accumulation, and that that might have been the reason for the repeated failures when trying to run the installation at pc-133 frequency.
to the non-techies out there who didn't understand a word of today's entry ... sorry. i'll try to keep the technical mumbo-jumbo to a minimum in the future.
last, but not least, to alfred and chris: thanks for the help - i appreciate it! it's been over 3 years since i last saw alfred ... we've got a lot of catching up to do ...
i haven't had a day off work in over 2 months, so i thought remembrance day would be a nice day to go downtown and participate in the annual ceremony at old city hall. i remember that the last time i was there was 1998, but i don't remember it being as cold as it was last time. this year, there was a strong, biting wind. i thought mayor david miller's speech was very poignant and touching.
i then met vince and thomas for lunch in one of the downtown food courts in the financial district. the lunch brought back memories of the days when i worked in the downtown core as a co-op student, as i used to buy my lunch from those same food courts. after lunch, i walked around the underground PATH for awhile - i like how the banks decorate their indoor malls around christmastime.
later at night, i went to hart house as the hart house orchestra had its fall concert - tara was playing violin! the first half of the concert was great, but the second half featured shostakovich ... the performance was excellent, and the orchestra showed great technique and colour. however, i'm sorry tara, i really tried to enjoy the second half, but ... i can't stand early 20th century music, i just can't. i've tried to spend more time listening and appreciating it, but that atonal stuff just doesn't work for me. but, it was great meeting tara again, as i hadn't seen her in about a year and a half. good luck with your phd, tara!
today was the dreaded housecleaning day. the valuable moral is: the longer you go between housecleaning days, the more miserable housecleaning day becomes. i think i injured my left ring finger today while scrubbing the bathtub - i can't bend it backwards 90 degrees like the rest of my fingers can. i hope it heals soon.
oh yes, here's the long-awaited story regarding the region-free dvd player i bought on thanksgiving, october 11th. on october 24th, less than 2 weeks after the purchase, the dvd player started malfunctioning. it no longer played sound, plus the dvd would skip every 10 seconds. of course, the store at pacific mall where i bought the player (avcentre.net) would not accept any exchanges after 3 days of the purchase date, as per their store policy. so, i had to deal directly with the manufacturer, malata canada.
on the 26th, i drove all the way out to the malata warehouse on the mississauga/oakville border during my lunch break, and tried to explain the problem to the secretary there (no technicians were present). unfortunately, the lady's english wasn't very good, and i think she might not have understood me correctly.
on the 28th, i was told by the secretary that the technicians were unable to reproduce the problems that i mentioned, and hence i drove out to mississauga again. however, i was quickly able to show the secretary that indeed, there were still problems with the dvd player. this really bothered me because it takes me a very long time to drive from work to the malata warehouse.
finally, on november 4th, i returned to the warehouse for the third time. once again, they said that they had made no changes to the dvd player, and that they were unable to reproduce the problems that i had mentioned. however, this time, i was unable to reproduce the problems either. i had brought my own dvds to test the player with, and they all seemed to work, so i took the player home. however, i didn't believe them when they said that they didn't fix anything, because i know for a fact that the unit had malfunctioned. i'm not sure why they felt that they needed to lie to me. maybe they didn't want to admit that their products were unreliable or of poor quality. that night at home, i watched finding nemo from start to finish, and fortunately, the dvd player didn't have any problems. i guess the problem was resolved successfully in the end, but malata's customer service sure didn't give me a positive impression.
another moral from this experience is: it's really buyer beware when it comes to buying stuff at places like pacific mall. sure, you usually get very good deals, and the store owners know how to ply their wares, but when things go wrong, you'll often find that you have very few options available for recourse.
i tried curling for the first time ever today! nine of us went down to the avonlea curling club by the dvp and lawrence and rented a sheet of ice. i put some tape on the bottom of my left shoe to make it glide easier.
after a few minutes i quickly realized that it was nowhere near as easy as it looks on tv. when throwing the rock, i couldn't keep myself upright in that graceful lunge position for very long and i kept losing my balance. i wound up throwing the stones using my arm strength and not with my body weight. secondly, it was very difficult to gauge the correct strength to use when throwing rocks. if i threw it a little harder, the rock would go right through the house; if i threw if a little softer, the rock would come to a dead stop about halfway down the ice. plus, sweeping is no walk in the park. it's quite tiring to sweep those rocks all the way down the ice. forget about trying in-turns and out-turns, i just want to be able to throw the rock straight, and maybe take out a few opponent rocks in the process.
however, it was a lot of fun, and quite a good workout. it's something i'd definitely like to try again some time in the future.
tonight was wings night once again at my favourite chicken wing restaurant in toronto, duff's famous wings. tonight i was particularly brave (or foolish, or curious, depends on your point of view) for some reason and i decided to get a side order of their killer armageddon sauce, which is their spiciest chicken wing sauce.
all i did was dip my fork in the sauce and touch the tip of one of the prongs against my tongue. the next thing i knew, my tongue was on fire, and pretty soon after that the roof of my mouth was on fire too. i couldn't believe that the sauce had this strong an effect, given that such a small amount touched my tongue. it's a good thing i had waited until i had finished my meal before trying the sauce, or it might have ruined my meal.
i took the rest of the sauce home and i plan to bring it to work on monday so that the trash-talking hot-sauce lovers can try it. i'm looking forward to seeing their reactions!
yes, george w. bush has been re-elected by the american people and he's going to be The Man (TM) until 2008. i'm too disappointed about this result to comment right now. maybe i'll write something on a future date ... but this result tells me a lot about the american voters. in any event, i'm proud to be a canadian today.
for those of you out there looking for a web browser that's more secure than internet exploder and more stable than netscrape, give Firefox a try. i'm running it on the time bomb knows as windows:me and so far its performance and stability have been great.