Thursday, March 29, 2012

First Ride of the Season

Cervélo R3 similar to what my friend bought

I went for my first ride of the season last week. My friend, Jenny, called me up and asked if I wanted to go out. She had bought a new bike over the winter from Wheels of Bloor and was going to take it in for a bike fit. They were going to adjust it to fit her body and riding style.

I have to say I was quite jealous. Jenny had bought a Cervélo R3 road bike. It was beautiful. And she got a great deal to boot. Cervélo, a Canadian company, had a manufacturer's deal where if you bought two bikes from them you got $1000 off each! So she bought one and so did one of her friends. If I had only known...

The store is located near High Park. It was a lovely day as I rode down to meet her there. We've had some record-breaking temperatures in Toronto over the past week or so. It got to at least 26C this particular day when the normal daytime high is only supposed to be 5C.

On my way across Bloor I bumped into a former colleague of mine from Trader, Shawn Belzner. He left the company a few years ago to work in New Zealand where his ex had found a job. They lived out there for three or four years and he's been back for about the same amount of time. So it's probably been close to eight years since we last saw each other in person.

Shawn was heading across the street from his small office near Christie Pits to get a slice of pizza for lunch. We stood by the road for 15-20 minutes and caught up on the latest gossip.

Afterwards I continued over to the bike store. Surprisingly I beat Jenny there even after stopping to chat with Shawn. She left slightly before me and she had driven her car. But, she had parked at High Park and half walked/half rode to the store.

The guys there made a few adjustments and we went out for a ride.

We rode around High Park for a little while. Unfortunately it's not a very big place when you're on your bike. So we went south to the trail along the waterfront and rode a bit longer.

Since it was my first ride of the season and I still had to ride back I didn't want to stay out too long. So a short time later I cut the ride short and headed back.

There were two body parts I knew would hurt - my butt and toes. For some reason my shoes feel way too tight now. And my saddle seems to be hard as a rock. Either that or my skinny ol' rump has no padding.

Still it was great to get out again. It was an amazing day to ride. And it was nice meeting old friends again.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wedding Show

My friend Yonni was involved with The Ultimate Wedding Show last weekend. It was held at Living Arts Centre in Mississauga. It's close to Square One (which is where I parked for free).

I got there not long after 1:00. The fashion show that Yonni was in was supposed to start at 2:00. She was going to model some dresses along with a few other girls.

There weren't very many booths at the Living Arts Centre. I didn't actually look through them while I was waiting for the fashion show part to start.

Coincidentally one of my other friends, Cathy, was there too. Her mother does flower arrangements. She was helping at her booth. I was sitting on some stairs waiting for the fashion show to start when I looked over and saw her off in the distance.

When I went over Cathy mentioned she saw me sitting there and had waved her arms trying to catch my attention. She thought I was looking in her direction at one point, but when I didn't react she thought it wasn't me.

The fashion show was held in what I believed was a strange location–on the staircase leading up to the upper levels of the building. I thought to myself, this is a disaster waiting to happen. With all the young ladies in long dresses walking up and down the stairs... I just hoped there was an ambulance waiting nearby. Thankfully, for everyone, things went smoothly.

My job was to try to take a few pictures for Yonni. The organizer asked me if I could take shots for him as well when he saw me. So I did that too.

It was my first time shooting a "fashion show". I suppose some of the models weren't very experienced either. Quite a few of them zipped down and up the stairs barely stopping to let any of the photographers get any shots.

A couple of us went upstairs to take some posed shots afterward. That's what you see above–five of the 10 to 15 models who wanted some extra shots taken. That was a bit better for getting some decent pics. Good for me, good for them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Kakuro. No, it's not the name of some Japanese anime character. It's one of my new favorite games right behind Sudoku.

Like Sudoku it's a numbers puzzle. The object of the game is fairly simple. You have a board with squares that you have to fill in with numbers (in each row and column). The clues are written either above the column or to the left side of the row. They are the sum of all the boxes in said column or row. The trick is each square in a particular column or row must have a different digit (from 1 to 9).

There are varying degrees of difficulty (from 1 to 5) on the Metro Games website play on. When I first started I wasn't very good at all. I didn't even like playing. My sister is the one who convinced me to give it a shot. I got hooked because after finishing the Sudoku puzzle I was looking for something else to do. That and I found it fun.

It took me awhile, but after some time I started to improve. Now I can get through levels 1-3 without too much trouble. Level 4 and 5 are more difficult, but I can get solve them from time to time.

If you're ever bored and are looking for a challenge you might want to give it a try.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Save your Money

Save your Money–I think this is a statement that's foreign to many people nowadays. The debt level of so many Canadians has grown bigger and bigger in recent times. This has been encouraged by current record low interest rates. But experts fear that if they happen to rise a lot of people won't be able to deal with it. So we all have to be very careful. Don't spend what you don't have.

One way to save your money is to buy only what you need (versus what you want). Let's face it, we all have plenty of wants. That's a problem I've dealt with in the past. I liked clothes and I would often go shopping. At one point I dug through my things at home and discovered I had 20-30 pairs of pants (some of which I rarely wore). I believe many others aren't unlike me in this way. We walk into a store and see something we like and without thinking about it put it on our credit card.

Don't necessarily buy name brand. Sometimes you can save a lot by purchasing generic or less well known brands for certain things. Or, if there's a particular brand you can't live without, try buying off season (for clothes or sports equipment like bicycles or skis etc.) when stores are trying to clear their shelves for new merchandise.

Don't forget–The Little Things Add Up! $3 for that caffè latte and $1.50 for multi-grain bagel in the morning, plus $4 for a juice and blueberry muffin for your mid-afternoon snack may seem like pocket change now. But, it really adds up in the long run. And most people will buy more than that throughout the day. You can be sure of it. Instead of going out, why not bring snacks to work or have them at home? You can save a lot by doing that.

We have to prepare ourselves for the future. It's a fact of life, we're all going to get old. At one point we either won't be able to or won't want to work any more. We can't and shouldn't rely on the government to supplement our income with things like pensions or Old Age Security.

Right now there's a huge number of baby boomers nearing retirement age. Our tax dollars will be stretched to the limit trying to care for them. With the way things are going who knows if there will be anything left when we reach that stage in our lives. The only people we can rely on is ourselves.

It's imperative we save our own money and invest it wisely. It's never too late to start. If you haven't already done so, today is the day to start.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Visit to the Metro Toronto Zoo

Polar Bear Cub (four months old)

I visited the Zoo recently. Being the penny pincher I am, I had bought a couple of coupons from Groupon last fall for $10 each. The normal adult admission fee is $23.

Of course the catch was you had to use the coupon between late fall and late winter (when the weather is frigid and it gets dark early). The pitfalls to that are since it's freezing outside you're freezing inside and the zoo closes early.

A good deal of animals were understandably "off display". Since they didn't want to turn them all into popsicles they were kept hidden away inside. It made walking through the majority of the zoo like a walk in the park (and not in a good way). All you saw were vast empty spaces filled with the odd Canada goose hanging about here and there.

And since it gets dark earlier at this time of year, the zoo officially closes at 4:30 p.m. So you don't have much time to see the very little that is on display.

I have to say it still was alright. There were quite a few indoor pavilions (African Rainforest, Indo-Malaya and Australasia) to see. There was a Clouded Leopard and Sumatran Orangutans in the Indo-Malaya pavilions, Western Lowland Gorillas and Ring-tailed Lemurs in the African pavilion and Bennett's Wallabies, a Komodo Dragon and a variety of tropical fish in the Australasian pavilion.

As well I saw a lone tiger outside in the African Savannah section. He was in a small cage though. There also were two Lions, a couple of Hyenas and one lonely Cheetah on display outside too.

One of the highlights for me was seeing the Polar Bear cub in the Americas section. It was really cute. It actually was moving around and playing a little, unlike his parents who were napping in another section.

Still, next time, I might consider paying full price and fighting the masses when the weather is actually pleasant outside. At least then I'd get to see most of the animals that were hidden away this time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lost... and Found

I recently started working three days a week (Monday to Wednesday) with my friend, Sid, at his Hot Towel company. When I first started about a year ago I was only driving on Tuesdays. Since I have to learn new routes Sid's been coming with me.

When we got done with our deliveries last Monday I went over to my parents' place for dinner. They don't live too far from Sid's workplace. I had Sports Night with the Cornerstone Church group at 8:00. I was going to go up after eating.

Now whenever I go over to my parents' place, quite often I take the stuff out of my pockets (cell phone, wallet, keys etc.) because it's just more comfortable that way. It was around that time I discovered I didn't have my wallet on me.

I looked around their house and soon determined it wasn't there. Next I went out to the driveway and checked my car. It wasn't there either. So I drove back to Sid's place, but still no luck.

During the day Sid and I drove around everywhere. We started off at VIA Rail at the Gardiner and Islington. After that we made our way up to Jane and Finch, over to Steeles and Bathurst, across the 407 to Brampton, further west to Georgetown and finally back across the 407 and up the 400 to Barrie... yes, Barrie.

We made a lot of stops. In and out of the van over and over and over again. I believe my wallet could have dropped out anywhere.

After Sports Night I returned home and started making the calls. First to RBC Visa. They were able to cancel my credit and bank client cards and issue me new ones. I canceled my library card online too. I'd have to contact the rest of the places during regular business hours.

The next day I applied for a new heath card and driver's license and vehicle ownership slip at one of the Service Ontario offices. After work I canceled my Air Miles card and Petro Canada points card by phone and was reissued new ones. The bank and credit cards are supposed to arrive first. Everything else within two to three weeks.

Now fast forward to Thursday morning. As I'm getting ready to go into Nadurra to do some temp work I pick up the pair of jeans I wore on Sunday. Guess what?... You got it, my wallet is in my front pocket on the left side. Unbelievable!

Now I have to say I'm still happy to have found it. Even if just about everything in it is no longer valid. Still there was $30 cash, a couple of TTC tokens and some movie passes. So I still can use those. Though I had to shell out a few bucks for the new driver's license and vehicle ownership slip. I still came out on top. Hopefully it'll teach me to be a little more careful in the future.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Religion in School

Image from the National Post

The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled against two parents from Quebec (with the backing of the Catholic church there) who wanted to keep their children out of a mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture course taught in their school.

The parents stated the course, which covers a range of world religions such as Catholicism, Judaism, aboriginal spirituality and Islam, would interfere with their ability to transfer their Catholic faith to their children. That's why they didn't want them to take it. That's akin to thinking, if you close your eyes whatever you don't see doesn't exist. If you think your faith is the one true religion, then why don't you put it up against all others? What are you so concerned about?

I think it's terribly hypocritical of them (and the Catholic church in Quebec who financially supported their appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada) to try and shut out other religions from being taught. Especially when a lot of churches nowadays send out missionaries to many countries worldwide to spread their beliefs.

Shame on you!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why I Support Rob Ford

It seems like our mayor, Rob Ford, has come under a lot of criticism as of late. Let's be honest, running a city isn't an easy job. Especially one as big as Toronto.

I must say, I have to support him for is trying being fiscally responsible. When tabling a budget people don't seem to realize money doesn't grow on trees. If Mr. Ford continued spending recklessly then we'd end up like many other failed economies around the world. Look at the turmoil in Greece for proof positive of that.

No one likes to see their programs being cut back. But, cuts have to come from somewhere. Some people will be affected negatively. There's no way around it. Things will be more difficult for some of us. But, that's true for a lot of people around the world today, not just Torontonians. I think it's a reality we're going to have to learn to live with for the time being.

One thing I applaud him for is for not bowing into the pressure of unions. They've had it good for far too long. Did you know the outside workers of the Toronto wanted guaranteed jobs for life? Well, they didn't get it. Sure they got a 6% wage increase over four years in the latest round of bargaining, but only employees with 15 years seniority or more would be guaranteed work if their jobs got contracted out. That's how out of touch unions are these days.

Bravo, Mr. Ford, for sticking up to your guns and looking out for the best interests of your constituents. You can count on me for continuing support.