“We’re Not a Flyer Store”

December 11th, 2010 by Potato

I’m pretty miserably sick here. Sore throat, cough, fever, and vile fluids being produced all over the place. I think the combination of thesis stress and digging out from over a meter of snow just did me in.

My cache of drugs was pretty low to be heading in to a major illness. In particular, I was just about out of advil; I had to ration them yesterday so that I’d still have one to take this morning to get me out the door to the pharmacy.

On the bright side, I was going through the Pharma Plus flyer, and just about everything I wanted was on sale. Advil, vitamins, mouthwash, nyquil, and cold-fx all had pretty substantial sales on. Plus, it was a big bonus airmiles promotion if I spent $50 or more (which wouldn’t be hard to hit with all the stuff on my list). There was even a 1-day sale on 7-up ($2.22 per 6-pack of bottles! awesome!) today. I didn’t feel like driving, especially since we got another dusting of snow last night, and that would involve sweeping the car off. The Pharma Plus is only like 3 blocks away, so I walked.

And when I got there, there was no sale tag out for the Advil, just one of the “switch to the store brand and save X” tags. I figured I must have remembered the flyer wrong, put some store brand ibuprofen in the cart, and moved on… but the vitamins had no sale tag either. Nor did the mouthwash. The toblerone did, but not the door-crasher one-day sale price, and the 7-up wasn’t even available in the bottles. Something was definitely wrong, so I went to the front of the store where the flyers usually are to double-check (maybe I had the effective day wrong? Maybe I dreamed it all in my fever?), and there were no flyers. There wasn’t even that tray where they usually sit. I asked the cashier for a flyer, and he said they’re not a flyer store.

What? I know they were a flyer store just a few months ago, the last time I was there. How can they not be a flyer store? Can they do that, opt to use the Pharma Plus name and everything but then not follow their flyer? And also, if they’re not a flyer store, why is Pharma Plus sending a flyer to my house? The next closest store is 4 km away, and I have to pass by three Shoppers Drug Marts (and this Pharma Plus) to get there. Not a very effective use of the advertising budget…

I have to say though that given the amount of snow that was dumped on London, the city has done a decent job at cleaning up the sidewalks. This is particularly remarkable because the city usually does a terrible job at keeping the sidewalks free of snow — the sidewalk ploughs seem to take a day or two before they come around, and by that time the snow has been packed down into an irregular icy surface by the passage of what pedestrians there are, and that’s nigh-impossible to walk on. The one issue is that at many intersections the sidewalk ploughs went by first, and now the street ploughs have put up an icy barrier for pedestrians to hop over. Nothing new to anyone out there, I’m sure, but with the amount of snow we have, those ice dams mean that we’re going to have some epic meltwater ponds forming soon…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

March 18th, 2010 by Potato

And what a St. Patrick’s day it was.

I locked myself out of the house today, what must be the first time ever in my life that’s happened. My new place has these stupid locks that automatically lock when the door closes (except at the cottage I’ve always lived with deadbolts where you need the key to lock the door, so it’s impossible to lock yourself out). I left my cell phone and my wallet inside as well.

Fortunately, a friend has a key to my place and could let me in later on in the evening… but going out with my friends was going to prove to be a challenge without ID or money. That’s when the luck o’ the Irish came into play. On Monday my new license arrived in the mail, which I picked up as I was walking to work. So I had opened it there, and left my old license in my desk drawer at work. Boom, ID, I could get into a bar.

Money was then not such a big issue: I could borrow from friends, or, as it turned out, get some from work since I had reimbursed a subject out of my own pocket yesterday, and was able to get paid back in cash today.

The biggest challenge turned out to be the lack of a cell phone for coordinating with my peeps. I got myself locked out because I was running out of the house in a big rush to do something at work… so I was at work while my friends were starting the day-long liver killing festival. I was supposed to meet them at Mike’s house. They knew I didn’t have my cell phone and would be just a little late… yet they left without me for the bar, but I didn’t know which bar.

Ah-ha! I remembered that Mike’s apartment intercom/buzzer system called his cell phone (since he doesn’t have a landline), so I just buzzed him that way. Unfortunately, he couldn’t hear me and just told the intercom that he wasn’t home (“I know that” I shouted in his lobby “but WHERE are you?”). He buzzed the door for me and hung up.

So much for that plan. Luck struck again though when another member of our group walked by on the street and told me where to go to find them.

Then it was us against the crowds. London’s a student town, and the weather was awesome today, so even though St. Paddy’s day fell on a Wednesday, there were lineups at all the bars. To try to avoid that, we went to one of the smaller ones away from Richmond St., and even they had a lineup. So Mike, like a ninja, goes and sneaks in the fire exit in the back. The place was nowhere near full, but they were being really anal about capacity (even though no other bar in the city was)… so without too much guilt, other members of our party start sneaking in. But with such a small place, they quickly found the ninjas out and kicked them out. In the frustration of being kicked out of a bar that they were behaving civilly in and paying good money for beer, one of Mike’s friends swiped a funny St. Patrick’s day hat (which I now have).

Anyway, it was a fairly crazy day. I feel like such a kid for all the shenanigans. I mean, I’m an old-ass man. I shouldn’t be locking myself out of the house, hiking around town without money or ID, let alone sneaking into crappy London bars on green beer day. But there you have it. Despite the disastrous start, it didn’t turn out to be all that bad a day in the end.

True Facts from My New Apartment

February 9th, 2010 by Potato

I’ve been using the same towel for two weeks now, and it doesn’t smell like death. Living mould-free is the way to go, I tell you.

I’ve been amazed at how quickly my desk re-cluttered. Not 3 weeks ago everything was packed up into boxes for the move, or thrown out as junk. For the first week or two I kept my desk as clean as possible so that there was plenty of open space to do double duty as my eating table (since the kitchen table was piled high with boxes of kitchen stuff to be properly put away after the move). Now after just a few days of working on my lecture for this morning, it’s every bit as bad as it was before the move, if not worse. Pop cans, candy wrappers, and papers piled everywhere.

Finally, a teaser: John Hempton at Bronte Capital had an interesting post about the demographic crunch coming our way in a few decades, and what that might mean for socialized medicine. Once I catch up on my sleep I plan on doing a short post on the matter.

Donating Books

January 19th, 2010 by Potato

We are fairly well-read people (in the sense that we read a lot, not that we’ve read all the classics), and own a buttload of books. I keep trying to rename our dining room “the library” since it’s basically wallpapered in bookshelves, but the name hasn’t stuck yet. Now as we find it’s time to move, we’re faced with the task of moving these hundreds and hundreds of heavy, heavy books.

We just don’t wanna.

After all, a lot of them we’re never going to read again, or loan out to friends to read, so why hold on to them? In just a brief round of going through the bookshelves, we found 5 boxes worth of books to pull out and discard without the slightest regret (i.e.: books we had zero emotional connection to and would have no desire to read again). The question became: what to do with them? We figured that they had to be worth something, and kept planning to haul them down to the used bookstore to see what we could get. Even if it was just a dime a book, that’d make the trip down worthwhile since we had so many.

Unfortunately, our time has been quite tight lately, especially during business hours, so we just haven’t gotten around to doing it. Now we’ve got just a few days left before the big move, and the damned books are still sitting there in their boxes, and we don’t want to move them! So, abandoning our plan to recoup some of the costs of these tomes, we started looking for convenience. Just any way to get rid of them that would be a step above the recycling pile. Much to our surprise, the London Public Library makes book donations very hassle-free: we called in and set up an appointment for a fellow to come to our house and pick the books up.

And of course, we love the library now: we can read all the books we want without having to pay for — or store them!

Autumn is Awesome

October 14th, 2009 by Potato

That is all.

I love these maples that go red at the tips and then work their way inward