Sunday, November 27, 2011

My beef with Groupon and Ristorante Roma

Last week I got an e-mail from Groupon for one of their "Now! Deals". Groupon is one of many discount coupons providers that offer deals to a variety of retailers, restaurants and other service providers. As a subscriber to their free service I get e-mails sent daily to me.

Unlike regular Groupons which, when purchased, are usually good for anywhere from six months to a year, Now! Deals are a one day offer for a particular good, service or restaurant.

On Friday I saw one for $1 for $40 worth of food at Ristorante Roma, an Italian restaurant on Bloor east of Dufferin. Not being one to pass up a great deal I eagerly bought one. There was one stipulation - the Groupon had to be used between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Now, being a last minute purchase it was hard for me to find someone to go with. Unlike me, most of my friends work Monday through Friday. I contacted a few people, but in the end no one else could go. I suppose it didn't help that it was already late in the afternoon as well. Earlier in the day I had run an errand for my sister getting the all season tires on her car changed to winter.

Before I went, I called the restaurant up to see if it was very busy and if there would be much of a wait for a table. I asked the young lady who answered this and mention I had a Groupon. She said it wasn't busy and I told her I'd be down in about half an hour. It was already 2:00 in the afternoon by this time. So after the phone call I quickly hopped on the subway and made my way downtown.

When I arrived at the restaurant I gave my Groupon to the hostess/server. She told me I could sit anywhere since there weren't too many people there at the time. Even though I was on my own I picked a table for four near the back of the restaurant.

The server came by with a menu and asked me if I'd like something to drink. I just asked for a glass of water and went back to studying the menu.

A short time later a young lady came in on her own. She also had a $1 for $40 Groupon just like me. She sat at the table beside me and we chatted about how good the deal was.

A few minutes later I gave the server my order and she took it into the kitchen. Not long after we saw and older lady walking around mumbling some things under her breath. She seemed perturbed about something.

Well, we found out what it was about when she came out and told us she was the owner and that she couldn't honour our Groupons. She told us that she didn't order them from Groupon and that she didn't know how they got on their site. She was trying to contact them to resolve the problem. She said the last time she ordered from them was three months ago.

She told us that she was losing a lot of money honouring the coupons. Quite a few people had already come in to this point. So we were the people she decided to cut it off at.

The other girl was quite annoyed at that. She walked pretty far to get there. And I had taken the subway down from my place which also took awhile. So not only did I waste transit fare, but a good part of my afternoon.

I e-mailed Groupon about this. After a couple of days they got back to me. All they could offer was an apology and refund my $1. There was no explanation of what happened. I don't know who made the error, Groupon or the restaurant, but I wasn't very impressed with either of them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Santa Claus Parade

I went to the Santa Claus Parade for the first time in I don't know how long after church today. Well... I don't know if I could really say I went to the parade... it was more of a passing glance.

The Santa Claus Parade is always held on a Sunday. So normally I'll be at church in the morning. After that I always go eat lunch in Chinatown. That's my normal routine. The problem is for most of the parades in Toronto, if you want to get a good spot you have to arrive early (which I didn't).

This year Tony, Iris and her brother Tae Hoon decided to go too. Like I mentioned we went to have lunch at our usual haunt, Rol Jui, beforehand. For some reason, this week, the food took longer than normal to arrive.

Since Tony was planning on meeting some international students to watch the parade together he had to take off early. Iris and her brother waited a bit longer, but they decided to get take out and eat while watching the parade too. One of their dishes didn't arrive by the time they wanted to leave. So I brought it over to them after I finished eating.

When I was done at Rol Jui I walked over to Dundas and University where Tony found me from his perch upon the stairs at the CIBC Banking Centre (on the northwest corner). I gave them their food and joined them there.

Iris told me Tae Hoon was across the street on the east side. He was closer to the action (as the parade was going down that side of University Avenue), but we had a higher vantage point.

I don't believe Tony and Iris managed to meet any of the other international students. Some were blocked up at Bloor Street where the parade had begun earlier in the day. A couple of others came by to say, hi. I think they were a bit bored and decided to leave.

I have to say, it wasn't so interesting for me either, having gone to other parades such as Pride. I guess I'm "all grown up" now and Santa and the commercialized side of Christmas has lost some of its magic for me.

Anyway, I thought I should still try to catch it. Just because it's a longstanding part of the history of Toronto. As a long time resident here I don't think I always appreciate all the culture and traditions our city has to offer. I think I should try to see it through new eyes like visitors and people new to Toronto often do. That way I'll enjoy where I live even more.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We Are Family Fund Raiser

The 3rd Annual We Are Family Fundraiser for Project 417 was held at the beginning of November. This year we had it at the Royal Canadian Legion, Todmorden Branch on Pape Avenue, south of O'Connor.

The Lester McLean Band played again. This time they had some guest vocalists. The girl pictured above is Quisha Wint. Everyone performed well.

The new location was pretty good. There was free parking close by. The venue was smaller. But, that was a good thing. It made things feel cozier.

Like previous years there was a bar selling drinks to raise money. As well they had items for their silent auction.

I couldn't stay as late as other years because I had to go to hockey. So I took fewer pictures this time. Still, you can view them on after I post them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Angry Birds... No, not those ones

This is a picture of our Cornerstone Sports Night team... well, not exactly. Thanks to the creative thinking of one of our members, Allan, our team name is Angry Birds. I think it's appropriate considering our shirt colour is red.

We started on October 3rd which was a Monday. That was a change from the previous years. In the past we always played on Thursdays. We also changed locations from Unionville High School at Warden and Highway 7 to Milliken Mills Secondary School at Denison and Kennedy. It has a large double gym there. That afforded us the luxury of expanding from three to six teams.

The first week was mainly an introduction for all the new people. We got to meet the members of our teams for the first time as well. The sport for that week was dodge ball (which our team did pretty well in).

The following week was Thanksgiving. So, instead of exercising, everyone stayed at home and ate turkey.

After that we had three weeks of European handball. I'm not sure what happened to the girls on our team the first week we returned. But, only Ellen showed up. We ended up playing short one player the whole night (since each team was supposed to field a contingent of three guys and two girls). Still we did well.

Each of the following two weeks we had three girls turn out. That was better. As usual we had around five guys to rotate through. That's an ideal number to give each one of us enough rest between shifts. Most of us have decent cardio which helps when you have to run so much.

To that end our results have been quite good. We're just a bunch of skinny guys that like running. Hopefully we can keep it up for the rest of the season.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day, 2011

I went to the Remembrance Day service at Old City Hall today. It was my first time attending it there. A couple of years ago I attended the service at Queen's Park with Premier McGuinty speaking. This time our mayor, Rob Ford, spoke.

By the time 11:00 a.m. rolled around, quite a crowd had amassed around the cenotaph. There were veterans and their guests, news crews and the general public. It was a nice service even though it was quite chilly out.

The bells at Old City Hall tolled at 11 o'clock. Then there were two minutes of silence. An elderly vet and young student read out In Flanders Fields afterward. There were musical interludes with hymns, the national anthem and other songs sung too.

At the end many different organizations laid wreathes of remembrance at the base of the cenotaph there. A time to pay tribute to all the men and women who've made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms we so often take for granted.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Okay, what's wrong with the picture above? I was researching shoe store names for a previous blog when I came upon this page from Town Shoes. It was promoting "Confessions" of "Shoe-Aholics" to win a $100 gift card to the store. (Personally, I think it's a bit irresponsible of them to encourage such an unfavorable addiction, but that's another story.)

Payton Colantonia, Shona Ancog et al... are you nuts? 279 pairs of shoes... 298 pairs of shoes... The list of names and ungodly number of shoes they own goes on. What is wrong with you all? These young ladies (and that's just a loose assumption) could singlehandedly bring our country out of the recession. Set them loose worldwide. They'll get the economy back on its feet in no time, no doubt. No need for the world financiers to worry about Greece's debt woes. There's a new sheriff in town and she has a pair of Michael Kors pumps in her holster. Quicker than you can say, drop those Ivanka Trump boots, I saw them first! She'll drop two or three hundred bucks on a pair and come back next week for more. With that sort of reckless spending the world could be free of the grip of its weakened economy faster than you could say, Birkenstock.

I don't know who taught them the value of money. But, they certainly failed big time. And I hope it's not their daddy's money they're spending but their own. That way when they lose their jobs and have no money to pay for food or rent, they can comfort themselves by lying in a pile of their shoes on the living room floor and cry about how foolish they were when they were young, carefree and impetuous.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Is Technology an Intrusion in our Lives?

Not my image

To Tweet or not to Tweet. To text or not to text. Why do we do it? Why do people feel the need to be in constant contact with one another lest a moment pass without us knowing what the other is up to? Is what any one of us doing at any particular point in time that important that we feel the need to broadcast it to the world? Does anyone really care that you're bored in chemistry class or about the new pair of Uggs you bought at Town Shoes or who your newest BFF is? Will the world stop turning if we stop Tweeting? Of course not.

So why the undying devotion to Twitter and texting and whatever else the gods of technology have blessed us with to keep our fingers busily typing away? Is this nothing more than a security blanket to let us know our friends are nearby and that they care about every single thing that we do? Are we comforted by the fact that someone, anyone out there, is somewhat interested in what happens in our lives? Does it validate us? Gives our meager existence meaning? Perhaps to some people it does.

For me... I just don't get it. It's a phenomenon I don't understand. Perhaps I'm getting old. The world is leaving me in its dust. In this case I can't say I care much. Tweet away my friends. As for me... I'll catch up with you at lunch next week and you can tell me what you've been up to face to face.