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Random Thoughts

19 November 2005

the dreaded driver's license renewal day

with my driver's license expiring in 2 weeks, it was time to renew my license and have my photo retaken. so, off to sheppard and allen i went. i was in and out pretty quickly, but the little visit caused a pretty large dent in my wallet, as i had to renew my plate sticker as well.

i hate how with the current system, your new license is not available right after your photo is taken; rather, the license is mailed to you after 6 weeks. this just prolongs the agony of not knowing whether your new license photo looks nice, or is just plain butt-ugly.

let's face it, the license photo is the photo which causes everyone the most grief. you have one chance to look good, and that's it. if you mess up, you're stuck with it for the next 5 years. no other photo gets seen by as many people as often. passport photos aren't as stressful because you can retake a passport photo if you don't like the way your first one turned out.

i really liked my original license photo, the one i got way back when i was 16 and passed my G test. i had somewhat of a bad hair day that day, but the photo turned out really well ...

18 November 2005

used books ordered online resulted in a broken mailslot

public service announcement: avoid buying books from here's what happened to me:

Dear Alibris Customer Service,

I am writing to express my extreme dissatisfaction with a recent purchase from
your online bookstore.  I purchased two used copies of "Integrated Chinese:
Traditional Character Edition" from your store, for a total of $60.04 CDN.

I live in an apartment without a mailbox system in the lobby.  Mail is delivered to
individual suites through a mailslot in each suite's front door.  When I arrived home
on Friday, November 18th, I found that the books had arrived, but that significant
damage had been caused by the mail delivery person, who apparently had arrived
while I was at work that day.

The problem was that the books were too large for my mailslot.  

Instead of dropping off the books at the post office,
allowing me to pick them up at my leisure (and which I believe is standard practice,
based on my past purchases from Amazon), the mail delivery person shoved
the books through the mailslot.  As a result, my mailslot was destroyed and one
of the books was bent out of shape.

I have attached a few photos to this e-mail for your perusal, summarized below.

- Photo PB180750.jpg gives an overall view of my entranceway.

- Photo PB180751.jpg shows the location within the front door where the mail slot
used to be.

- Photo PB180752.jpg shows the two books lying on the floor.  Note that one of the
books is curled up within my mailslot, which used to be on the door.  Also note that
the packaging on the other book has been torn, for some reason. 

- Photo PB180753.jpg provides an overhead view of the two books and the mailslot.

- Photo PB180754.jpg provides a closeup of the book curled up within my mailslot. 

(Based on the evidence, I am guessing that the mail delivery person
attempted to shove the first book into the mailslot, but wound up breaking the
mailslot.  With the mailslot gone, it was possible to insert the second book,
relatively unscathed, through the larger hole left behind in the door.)

Needless to say, the book which had been rolled up and shoved through the mailslot
first was no longer in "Like New" condition - this book was permanently warped as
a result of the mail delivery person's actions.  Additionally, I have had to pay
out of my own pocket to replace the damaged mailslot.

In fairness, it is true that I do not know the identity of the mail delivery
person.  I do not know if he/she is one of your employees, or an employee of Canada Post,
or a third party.  What I am unhappy about is the fact that there were no instructions
given to the mail delivery person to leave the books with the nearest
post office for pickup if the delivery could not be completed in person.

I have purchased books online from many times in the past, without incident.
Whenever books from arrived while I was not home, I would receive a
small form in the mail, indicating the time/location to pick up the package.
I have no idea why Alibris does not follow a similar approach for deliveries.  This
leads me to conclude that the blame for this incident lies with your company.

As a result of this experience, I regret to say that I will never do business again
with Alibris.


and for your viewing pleasure, the photos:


13 November 2005

west-end restaurant review

as another tribute to the neighbourhood i'll soon be leaving behind, i'm going to write a brief review of restaurants located in the west end. now, there aren't very many restaurants actually in high park (hey, it is a park after all). so, most of the restaurants you'll see in the list below are actually located in the surrounding areas to the east (parkdale), north (the junction) and west (bloor west village). i've sorted the restaurants by cuisine, and i've eaten at each of them at least once.

so, without further ado, here we go:

Japanese: Yumi (2384 Bloor St W, east of Jane) has a great lobster tempura entree which is really Yumi. (ok ok, i admit that was a really bad pun.) they also have the usual japanese fare, such as sushi, teriyaki and sashimi, but i almost always order the lobster tempura.

Mexican: Rio Grande (1661 Bloor St W, between Dundas and Keele), interestingly, was a restaurant i first visited before my move to the west end. i came to the neighbourhood to visit ranil one day back in early 2003, and we wound up eating here for dinner. my memory of my visit is a little fuzzy, bu i do remember that i wasn't able to finish all of my food, which included a burrito of some type. the other thing about the visit was that i was sitting right next to the fireplace, and it got really hot. if your only experience with mexican food is taco bell, give this place a try.

West Indian: Ali's West Indian Roti Shop (1446 Queen St W, east of Lansdowne) operates out of the cne's food building every year while the cne is running. i first tried their roties about 5-6 years ago at the cne, and now that i'm living in the west end, i'm able to enjoy their food year-round. my favourite menu items are the beef and chicken paratha roties.

Fish and Chips: Just 4 The Halibut (2978 Dundas St W, west of Keele) seems to be willing to make fresh batter for my order every time i enter the store. they have a dining area in the back but i've never used it; i always get takeout whenever i visit. they're closed on sundays and mondays.

Thai: Thai 4 You (1675 Bloor St W, between Dundas and Keele) and Simply Thai (2253 Bloor St W, west of Runnymede) are both great little local restaurants with excellent selections. the chefs are able to alter the spiciness of most dishes on the menu, just in case you like your thai food super-spicy or totally mild. if i recall correctly, the main difference between the two restaurants is that dinner entrees come with steamed rice at thai 4 you, but not at simply thai.

Italian: Vesuvio's (3010 Dundas St W, west of Keele) prides itself on its authentic italian cuisine. i've tried the pizza and lasagna, and both were great. another option in the neighbourhood is Queen's Pasta Cafe (2263 Bloor St. W, west of Runnymede), which has a huge selection of different pastas.

Pizza Slices: King Slice (1598 Bloor St W, west of Dundas) has the LARGEST pizza slices i have ever seen. the slices are so large, they are served to customers on 2 plates, not just one. oh, and they taste great too! my only gripe with this place is that quite often when i visit, there are no more slices left, meaning that i have to wait about 10 minutes for them to make fresh ones.

Chinese: umm ... nope. sorry, can't help you here. not to worry, however; chinatown's only a 15-minute drive away...

there are a few other restaurants i'd like to try before i leave the area. there's an indian restaurant in the junction beside vesuvio's, and there should be some fine polish restaurants along roncesvalles av. beata from mandarin class told me about one of them, but i can't remember the name right now ... <argh>

12 November 2005

high school reunion ... a bit of a disappointment

well, my dear old high school celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, and decided to hold a reunion to celebrate this milestone. so, for the first time in ages, kevin, ciro, chris and i returned to the scene of the crime, the place where we all met each other over 10 years ago and shared so many wonderful memories.

i had always wanted my high school to organize something like this. unfortunately, they've never been really enthusiastic about reunions. ideally, i feel that a reunion-type event should be held every 2-3 years, or maybe every 5 years, instead of ten. but, i figured ten was better than never, so i entered the building with a sense of optimism, wondering if i would meet any of the old friends i had lost touch with over the years.

the building itself didn't seem to have changed much. the foyer had some new decorations, but that was pretty much it. the class of 1995 composite, containing yours truly's photo (i can't believe my hair used to look like that!!) was still hanging on the wall, beside the entrance to the staff room. chris, ciro and i tried to sneak up to the second floor, but we were dismayed as the doors from the stairwells were locked.

i did meet many of my former teachers. even though many of them had since left MW for other endeavours, they still managed to attend the event, which i thought was great. of course, several of them were still teachers at the school. one of yvonne's former teachers was shocked to hear that yvonne's currently a grad student at ubc! (my sister was a total slacker during her MW days).

unfortunately, the alumni turnout was not as great. not counting ciro and kevin, i met only 2 people from my graduating class, which consisted of 90 people. the school just didn't do a good enough job of publicizing this event. had it not been for a chance encounter by ciro at a friend's wedding, i wouldn't have known about this reunion either. i think MW could do a better job of keeping in touch with its alumni. hopefully, future reunions wouldn't be as sparsely attended.

i did have a good time, though, and i'm definitely looking forward to the next reunion, whether it be 3, 5 or 10 years from now ...

01 November 2005

***headline: car accident at signet and steeles caused by andrew being nice***

on my way to work, i'll stop by at the tim hortons drive-thru at signet and steeles about once every 2 weeks or so, for some breakfast before the morning grind. today was one of those days ... so, i turned into the plaza from signet and tried to merge into the lineup of cars queuing for the drive-thru.

aiming for the drive-thru as well from another direction, however, was a woman in a blue civic, and after her car came to a stop, we were more or less positioned equally close to the car in front of us. however, like most drive-thrus, this one was only one lane wide, so it was clear that one of us would have to let the other person in once the car ahead of us moved forward.

since i was in a good mood, and i wasn't in a particular rush to get to work on time (or for no good reason whatsoever), i decided to let the woman in ahead of me. it took another few minutes to place my order of a medium double-double and a raisin bran muffin.

so, i get to the order window, and i pay for my coffee and muffin, when all of a sudden, i hear a loud BANG!! in front of me. i turn my attention to the plaza exit in front of me, the steeles avenue exit, and i see a blue civic and a tow truck in close proximity. both cars stop, and both drivers exit their cars and examine the area between their vehicles. apparently, the woman in the blue civic, the same woman who i encountered at the drive-thru entrance 5 minutes earlier, had just rear-ended the tow truck.

i quickly analysed what had just happened: had i refused to let the woman in at the drive-thru entrance, could i have been the one rear-ending the tow truck? no, because i would not have taken the steeles exit from the plaza ... i would have turned left, taking the plaza's signet exit to get to the office. however, what was true was that had i refused to let the woman in, she would probably not have gotten into that accident.

granted, the accident was very minor, but it still got me thinking.