Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Go, Argos, Go!

I have to admit... I'm not much of a CFL (Canadian Football League) fan. To me, the league is made up of players who've yet to make it to the big time - the NFL (National Football League).

This was not always the case. Back when the first Grey Cup was played in 1909 we were the only game in town. The NFL was years away not having formed until 1920 (according to various internet sources).

Of course the CFL was much different back then. For one, it only included teams from eastern Canada (since we were a much more developed part of the country in those days). Winnipeg was the first team from the west to join and was routinely routed up by its eastern counterparts.

The CFL has had a storied past. We expanded to the U.S. at one point. Survived near bankruptcy another time. Teams have come and gone and have been resurrected yet again.

Now in the year of the Grey Cup's 100th Anniversary, the championship game was played in Toronto (where the first championship was won).

Before a sellout crowd of over 50,000 spectators the Toronto Argonauts prevailed beating the Calgary Stampeders 35-22.

While it's no Stanley Cup, MLB World Series win or NBA Championship trophy, in a city full of woeful professional sports franchises, this put a temporary stop to the bleeding.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

$6 Haircuts

$6 haircuts... yes, you heard right, $6 haircuts. There's a place on the northeast corner of Dundas West and Kensington Avenue that cuts men's hair for 6 bucks (and women $7).

I've been going to this place for awhile. Originally they were located right on Kensington Avenue and only charged $4. A friend from church told me about it.

Yes, the cuts are basic. But what do you expect at that price? And even though they barely speak English what do you really need to say when you walk in the doors (especially if you're a guy)? To me there isn't an awful lot you can do with men's hair. It's really all very simple. Normally I just go in and say, cut short, and they take it from there.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Old Friends

My friends Jim and Marilyn invited me over to their house up in Markham for dinner on the weekend. One of our friends, Ling, who now lives in Hong Kong was visiting for a few days. So they decided to round up the gang of former CPCers (Toronto Chinese Presbyterian Church) for a get together.

Our particular group formed during our college years through the Genesis fellowship there. That was more than 25 years ago. Over that time most people drifted to different corners of the city/country or even globe. I'm actually the only one who still attends CPC. Everyone else is gone.

The majority of us still live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Ling was the only one who left the country. Monica moved west to B.C. where she resided for a number of years. She recently returned to Ontario with her husband and kids at the beginning of the 2012. So it was nice seeing her too.

Even though most of them don't live that far from me I rarely see them anymore. I suppose it could be the fact that they're involved with church and family life. Most of them have young children which, I'm sure, keeps them quite busy.

Anyway, it was great to have the chance to meet up with everyone again. Until next time...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wind Mobile

Recently my Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go account expired. I had the option of renewing with them again, but decided to shop around. One carrier I found that offered a great deal was Wind Mobile.

I had been paying 30¢ a minute for phone calls with Virgin Mobile. Text messages were free to receive and 20¢ apiece to send. Wind offered 20¢ a minute outgoing phone calls and free incoming. Outgoing texts were 15¢ each and free to receive. So, as you can see, it was a much better deal.

Still I had concerns - One was about their reception (even in the city). I heard from a few people that they had poor reception in the city. When I asked the salesperson about it he said I could try it for 2-weeks and if I didn't find it adequate I could get a refund or something. Actually, I can't remember exactly what he said. All I know is that the reception has been fine for me, so I don't care. I'm not bringing it back.

My other concern was the choice of phones they had. I didn't want a Smart phone, but their selection of regular cell phones limited to say the least.

My previous phone was a trusty LG flip phone. I was hoping to find a reliable, relatively inexpensive equivalent with Wind. Their only flip phone option was the Samsung C414 at $99. I looked it up online and it got terrible reviews. A few people mentioned it would shut itself off on it's own. Not good.

They offered a non-flip, regular cell phone from Huawei, the 2801, for $49. They're a Chinese company. It only had one review that I could find online and it wasn't very good. Still it was better than the C414, so I chose the lesser of two evils and picked the Huawei.

I have to say the Huawei 2801 is very basic. The interface is nowhere near intuitive as the LG. It's just not up to par. I like my old interface much better. But, to get the superior Wind plan it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. I could get away with spending $20 less a year and talk waaay more with them. That's just the way the Wind blows.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Me Time

It seems, to me, that a lot of people are overly busy in life. They run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to do this or that in order to keep ahead of the Joneses (or at the very least keep up).

Of course many of them have legitimate responsibilities. They're trying to provide a minimum standard of living for themselves or their families which is great. But, I think you have to be careful not to do it at the expense of your own well being.

A lot of people are terribly stressed out by the trials of everyday life. They're burnt out, used up, rundown, worn out. This can't go on. Either you have to stop it yourself or your body will do it on its own. One day it will say, enough is enough.

I'm suggesting everyone needs a bit of me time. Time on your own for yourself and no one else. Look at it as an investment. Like your car needs a tune up every now and then to run smoothly, so do you.

Take some time to read a book, go for a walk or meditate undisturbed. Meet up with friends; go for coffee, tea, lunch, brunch... see a movie.

When you invest time in yourself you recharge your batteries, you fill up your gas tank. That should give you the energy to tackle whatever challenges life puts in front of you.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We Are Family Fundraiser 4

This past Saturday was our 4th annual We Are Family fundraiser in support of Project 417 (the group I help with Sandwich Runs). Like last year we were at the Royal Canadian Legion Todmorden Memorial Hall (on Pape, south of O'Connor). And also like last year I believe the main organizers were Kathi Nicoll, Darlene Winning, Jenn Ford and Kara Purdy (but don't quote me on that).

Lester McLean and his band provided the music and DJ Jude Kelly spun tunes in between sets.

Finger food was served throughout the evening by volunteers and there was a silent auction (among other things) to raise a bit of extra money.

Joe Elkerton (the founder of Project 417) handed out the James Potter Memorial Volunteer Award to a very deserving Darlene Winning. Over the years she's given much of her time and knowledge to aid the organization. An incredible lady.

It was good to see a few old faces again (once a year it seems) and a few new ones as well. Here's to many more years of fundraising success.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Trip to Chicago - Day 2

The following day Sid and Pauline dropped me off downtown again. This time is was at West Roosevelt Road west of State Street (pretty much on the bridge over the south branch of the Chicago River). We were driving into the city when I saw a great view of the Willis Tower from the south. So I asked them to drop me off there so I could take some pictures.

After snapping a bunch of shots there I headed east along Roosevelt towards Lake Michigan. I ended up at Grant Park (where Buckingham Fountain is). I was at the south end where the large metal statues/sculpture of the legs/feet were.

From there I walked north on Michigan Avenue taking pictures along the way. I made it up to the Bean at Millennium Park (at Michigan and Madison Street). That's when I went into the Chicago Cultural Center (which I had missed the day before because I arrived just before it closed). Built in 1897 it was Chicago's first central public library. It has a beautiful stained-glass dome on the upper floor. Located on the south side of the building, it's the world’s largest stained-glass Tiffany dome - 38 feet in diameter with some 30,000 pieces of glass.

Afterwards I followed the route I had planned on going on the day before. I saw the Monadnock building at West Jackson Boulevard and South Dearborn Street; the Rookery building at West Adams Street and South La Salle Street; the Willis Tower at South Wacker Drive, south of West Adams Street; and 333 West Wacker, right at the bend/fork of the Chicago River.

By now I was back at Marina City and the Trump International Tower & Hotel at West Wacker and State Street. So I took more pictures of them and the surrounding city views along the river. It was only 4:30 p.m., but I decided to call it a day.

I texted Sid (with Pauline's Blackberry again) and arranged to have them pick me up at the Dunkin' Donuts across from the Trump hotel. Those guys went tire shopping and had a AYCE sushi lunch near the hotel before Sid took an afternoon nap.

We went to Famous Dave's BBQ for dinner. I can't remember where it was. The food there was pretty good though.