Me: So … my bill is really expensive.
Her: Sucks.
Me: What the deal with the system access fee?
Her: Well, we don’t charge it anymore, but if you change your plan to one of our new ones you’ll end up paying more to match the features on your old plan.
Me: Oh, I see. So … can you let me know when my contract ends.
Her: July 2011.
Me: And what’s the early cancelation fee on my account?
Her: $200.
Me: That’s great. And if I want to keep my number the company I switch to needs to cancel the contract on my behalf?
Her: Yes. Are you thinking of switching because of all our stupid fees?
Me: No shit, Sherlock.
Her: Well, even though I implied you were shit out of luck previously, I was kind of lying.
Me: Why am I not surprised.
On the phone with a Fido Customer Support lady.

My bill is now a shocking $12 less. And I lost unlimited call forwarding (they charge for that now?) and visual voice mail in the process. Our entrenched telecom companies kind of suck—a lot. I think i’ll try and speak to a real retention person at some point.

LeVack Block's Two Year Anniversary

   12 December 2009, late at night

It’s 2:15 on a Friday night. I got back from LeVack Block on Ossington an hour or so ago. It was their two year anniversary. It was a pretty good party. Rather than sleep, I thought i’d figure out how to generate my Blansdowne site using Sinatra, instead of generating all the static pages up front. I’ve actually got it all working, though I need to handle errors better. I’m impressed at how productive I am this late at night.

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Blansdowne Art

   15 October 2009, terribly early in the morning

I was interviewed yesterday about this blog and Blansdowne by Redmond Entwistle for a video installation project he is doing for Gallery TPW. It was a strange experience being interviewed about the area, since I don’t think my website or my opinion are particularly important. I also haven’t lived here that long. I suppose the total dearth of people blogging about the area is what elevates this blog to a position of authority it probably doesn’t deserve. The video he was working on sounds like it’ll be interesting, so if you’re in the city you should go check it out. The opening is this Saturday.

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Nuit Blanche 2009

    5 October 2009, terribly early in the morning

Nuit Blanche was a bit of a bust this year. In previous years my friends and I have usually checked out the area around Yorkville, U of T and the AGO. There is usually a pretty big concentration of exhibits to see. The problem is that those areas are usually jammed full of people. This year we decided to check out Queen West, which is the 3rd zone for art. It’s a bit out of the way, so I thought it would be less packed. This was foolish on my part. Queen West was also shockingly boring. There really wasn’t much happening. We saw them put the ants back on the Cameron House. We saw some nude life drawing class thing at Coupe Bizarre. There was a lite brite installation in Trinity Bellwoods. We saw the hydrophone, again. I had a drink with Matt and my brother at the Gladstone, which was nice. Though the areas closer to the core are more packed, that’s really where you want to go for Nuit Blanche. I think the only way to enjoy the festival now that it’s clearly popular is to start your night at 2:00AM. You should also go through the listings and figure out what you want to see. I think had I seen how little there really was to do on Queen West, I might have suggested a different route for the night. It’s a shame there wasn’t more happening in my neighbourhood this year. Funktion Gallery was open, and across the street was some sort of pole dancing photobooth thing, which was kind of sexy-cool. Now, if only the Run for the Cure wasn’t the next day.

[What L thought of the night. On the other hand, my friend Matt quite enjoyed himself. It’s clear looking at the Torontoist coverage that there was a lot of cool stuff to be seen, if you were well prepared.]

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   30 September 2009, early morning

I managed to catch a cold. I think I get them whenever the weather starts to shift. So i’m sitting at home, alternating between sleeping and thinking about eating.

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And We're Back

    8 September 2009, terribly early in the morning

One day I’ll have to experiment with letting other people post to the site while I’m away. It seems strange that the site goes quiet for a week or so when I decide to take a vacation. Edmonton was fun. My mini-cousins are cute. The Rockies are pretty majestic. That about sums up my trip. It was awesome.



   31 August 2009, early morning

I’m in Edmonton with Shima. It’s been two days of awesome so far. So, don’t expect too much on this site for the next few days.


Making Toast

   28 August 2009, terribly early in the morning

As I mentioned before, Shima and I had a $250 dollar gift certificate to William Ashely we needed to spend. I somehow managed to convince her that the best use for this money was to buy the most extravagant toaster imaginable. When I saw the toaster I knew it had to be ours. How could we say no to a a giant block of metal with a push button interface?

I decided to film our toaster making toast. It’s not particularly exciting, but if you’ve ever wondered how annoying I sound in real life, then now is your chance to find out. (In my head I sound way more awesome.)

Bizarre, right?

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Typhoon Mortar and Pestle

   24 August 2009, terribly early in the morning

Shima’s previous place of employment was nice enough to give us a $250 dollar gift certificate to William Ashley as a wedding gift. If you are unaware, William Ashley is one of those shops where you can go and buy fancy place settings and china and other fancy things for your home. $250 is a lot of money, but at a place like William Ashley it actually doesn’t go that far. You can easily get one 5-piece place setting, which might work well if you lived alone and never entertained, but to get a set of four would cost upwards of $600. Because neither of us has been dying to eat off expensive-ass plates, we had made no progress spending the money on the card. And so a year passed. Yesterday we went to the store committed to spend it all. More so, we decided we would only buy things we would never think of buying with real money. These were to be the most opulent purchases we could make — well, within our gift-card budget.

Shima needed a mortar and pestle, so we left with the following:

A typhoon mortar and pestle.

This is probably the most expensive small-ass cast-iron mortar and pestle you can buy in Toronto. We are going to crush saffron in it. That was $50 bucks. ($50! My god.)

Our second purchase was to be a magnificent toaster. Sadly, they were out of stock. We are waiting for them to let us know when they are back in stock. Expect another blog post about that in the near future.

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#hoHOTo '09

   19 August 2009, early morning

I attended #hoHOTo last night. It was a bit of a let down compared to the last one. The Christmas party came together rather quickly, and may have contributed to all the hype that seemed to develop around the event. Pretty much every single tech-geek I know attended the event. Added to this mix were a bunch of advertising and marketing people I wasn’t expecting. The venue, the Modclub, was a good spot to host the event, as it consists (more or less) of one big space. It was a party. Last nights event apparently sold out, though you couldn’t tell from the lack of a crowd. The fact the space was split in two probably didn’t help matters much. Almost everyone I knew who had gone to the first event didn’t come to the second. (And I know some people who bought tickets and didn’t bother showing up, there was such a lack of interest in the event.) That’s not to say it wasn’t a nice night out. I saw Ali and Tyler and Laurence. I had some beer. I met some random peoples.

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Spread the Crazy

   30 July 2009, terribly early in the morning

When I was growing up my mom wouldn’t let us throw out our nail clippings in the garbage, like normal people might. You weren’t supposed to keep them in your house, so we would flush them down the toilet or sink. It’s either a Hindu superstition or a Tamil superstition. My grandmother made her do the same thing. I guess nail clippings are bad? I don’t really know. It strikes me as an odd thing to be superstitious about. The thing is, I am 29 years old and I don’t live at home, but I still do this. Worse yet, I’ve somehow managed to get Shima to do this as well. This is how you spread the crazy.

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Mmmm, Delicious

    7 July 2009, early morning

As you may know, I love Threadless. This came up again recently at a fund raising post-bar-exam party Tiff threw. I mentioned in passing that I really like Threadless shirts that have cute cartoon characters doing ridiculous things. For exanmple, Cookie Loves Milk. I also mentioned a shirt my brother recently bought, which features a piece of toast putting jam on itself. That toast is so happy. Tiff, in addition to being a lawyer and a marathon runner, is also a baker. For my birthday she turned the t-shirt into a cake. And this wasn’t some half-assed endeavour: the cake was crazy. (She also entered the cake in a contest, which turns out to be a MetaFilter Project.) I felt bad chopping the cake up.

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   25 June 2009, evening time

Micheal Jackson is dead. He was god damn brilliant. He will be missed. The dude was fucking Michael Jackson.

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A conversation with Threadless

   28 May 2009, late morning

Threadless looks like it might be phasing out XS t-shirts. I’m hurt and confused, so I shoot them an email.

Hey, I was wondering if you’re phasing out XS t-shirts? Some shirts don’t have the XS option, and they don’t list XS as being sold out. If you are going to get rid of XS, then you should get rid of XXXL as well. Letting super fat dudes enjoy your t-shirts while me and my girly-ass figure don’t get to is just not fair. Please, don’t make me start some sort crazy Internet protest. I fucking love Threadless so damn much. Ramanan

Threadless replies! They are quick. Sadly, my suspicions were correct.

Hey Ramanan! Yeah we are starting to slowly phase out certain sizes. Unfortunately XS is one of them. Take care, Charlie

Son of a bitch. I’m not giving up so easily. The conversation continues.

Damn it Charlie, you’ve got to fix this. You’re my man on the inside. Start talking up XS t-shirts in casual conversation. I’m counting on you. Cheers, Ramanan.

And that’s where the story ends. For now. Actually, probably forever, since I sound like a crazy dude.

Threadless is still the best t-shirt site on the planet. They are — were? — also one of the few that offered XS t-shirts.

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More Magnum Talks at the Drake

    8 May 2009, terribly early in the morning

I arrived at the Drake early to make sure I got a seat for the lectures by Magnum photographers Peter Marlow, David Allan Harvey, and Christopher Anderson. I arrived so early — before the doors officially opened — I had time to get a drink upstairs in the lounge. I ordered a Manhattan and sat at the bar reading a comic book. Christopher Anderson was sitting near by. If only I knew what he looked like. I finished my drink and went back downstairs, only to discover the room was packed. God damn it. This talk may have been even busier than the last. Somehow I managed to get a seat, after some miscommunication between me and a lady who was apparently not saving one for a friend.

Each photographer discussed the path they’ve taken when it comes to their photography. Peter Marlow was up first, and he was hilarious. He got his start by borrowing his buddies portfolio to secure a job as a cruise ship photographer. What? He managed to get press work while the cruise ship was docked in New York, and things moved from there. He showed us his early work, and then moved on to work he is currently doing exploring a factory closure in Liverpool. His early works are full of people, while this later work is about the absence of people.

Christopher Anderson was up next. He was actually showing us the portfolio he would present to the Magnum photographers next year when he goes up for full membership. We got to see a full retrospective of his work, and the stuff he is working on right now. He also presented his new book, Capitalio. He studied anthropology, but ended up choosing to pursue photography after working for a newspaper in their photo lab. Much of his work is about people — refugees — so his anthropology studies probably do come in handy. He has some pretty amazing photographs, though many of them seem to be the result of his not being too careful with his life.

David Allan Harvey was last. He started with some of his earliest photographs, an album he made for his grandparents when he was 14 or so, and then moved on from there to show new work he is doing on families that is in a similar vein. His plan is to create an exhibit and book that hopes to captures what he produced as a 14 year old boy — though he feels there is no real way to recapture that innocence. Harvey seems very interested in helping out aspiring photographers. A lot of his talk was advice for budding photographers and passing remarks about former students. I picture him more as a teacher than a photographer.

I was planning on mingling with the crowd after the talks, but Shima was making Persian food, and that trumped talking to strangers.

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Magnum Lectures

    6 May 2009, early morning

After meeting a friend for drinks at the Beaconsfield I popped into the Drake. Magnum was holding a free lecture as part of the CONTACT photography festival. Last night, Mark Power, Bruno Barbey, and Chien-Chi Chang spoke about photography and the projects they were working on. I arrived late, at the tail end of Mark Power’s talk. The Underground at the Drake was packed. If you’re short like me you really need to arrive at events like this on time. I stood on my tip toes and watched and listened as each photographer went through their photos. Of the group, I enjoyed Chien-Chi Chang’s ‘talk’ the best, though mostly he made sarcastic remarks, asked for more drinks, and stood in silence. The photographs for his new project on Chinese immigrants living in New York who have been seperated from their family for years are amazing. There is another talk happening on Thursday i’ll definitely have to check out. This Friday there is an exhibit on war photography by Magnum I think everyone should go see.

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Random Yathavan

    1 May 2009, terribly early in the morning

I mentioned Yathavan in passing in my last post. It’s been about two years since I saw him last, a long time. Early yesterday morning I sent him a text message to see if his number still worked. He replied later that day: good stuff.

After work I went to the Manulife Centre to buy replacement ear pads for my Grado SR60s. Ear pads in hand I rushed off, but forgot my (mom’s) umbrella at the shop. A few minutes later Bay Bloor Radio called me to let me know — this has to be one of the few times giving a store your number pays off — so I headed back. Just as I get to store I see Yathavan walking into the Manulife Centre. What!?

The universe is a crazy place.


Shima at Mike's 2003

   29 April 2009, evening time

Shima at Mike's

I took this photo a week or so after I met Shima. We’re at my friend Mike’s house for a Konichiwa Japan event — it was cooking day. It’s the very first picture I have of her. It’s not particularly good, since I had to take it secretly. Shima didn’t like it when I took her picture then. (I suppose she doesn’t now, either, though she gets much less angry about it.) In the background is Toshi, who is now back in Japan. On the right is my friend Mike, who passed away from cancer a few years ago. (I know too many people who have died of cancer.) The night I met Shima properly I had come to V2 to meet Mike, who was visiting one of Shima’s friends. He disappeared — more or less — when I arrived with my friend Yathavan, so I ended up hanging out with Shima and her friends. And the rest is history.

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But it's for the foster child

   29 April 2009, terribly early in the morning

I started watching Degrassi Jr. High with Shima yesterday. For each episode, I’d write a little twitter message about what we were watching and send it off. For the series premier:

Damn it Steph the boys are only voting for you because you skanked out. They don’t respect you. You sold out Voula for Joey!? #degrassi

The second episode is about Voula wanting to go to the school dance:

Oh Voula and your stereotypical vaguely ethnic immigrant father. He’s only strict because he loves you. You’re to young to do the dancing.

I’ve seen most if not all of Degrassi Jr. High several times now. Still, if you asked me about the specifics of this episode I’d be at a loss. The show was on so long ago, it’s hard to remember the details. Sometimes the Internet pisses me off. Stuff like this makes me happy:

@funkaoshi but it’s for the foster child

And it was!

Degrassi Jr. High is amazing. I had forgotten how well put together it was. Despite some bad acting and 80s cheesiness, it’s still very compelling and smart. Also, I love Catlin. (Who, surprisingly, has no lines 3 episodes in.)

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Good Food Box

   28 April 2009, late afternoon

A resident in our building managed to wrangle enough people together to make BeBloor (well, her unit) a drop off spot for Foodshare. Shima and I were one of the initial people to buy a Good Food Box. We opted for the $22 organic small box, being the ritzy-ass people that we are. (For $12 we could have got the small non-organic box.) What does $22 get you? Well, conveniently they gave us a list along with the vegetables and fruit. This is good, because I had no idea what swiss chard looks like. This week:

  • 1 organic lettuce-romaine
  • 1 organic tomato (hot house?)
  • 1 bunch of organic bananas
  • 4 organic oranges
  • 1 lbs of organic apples
  • 1 organic swiss chard
  • 2 lbs of organic mini potatoes
  • 1 bag of organic carrots
  • 1 bunch of organic chives
  • 2 lbs of organic rutabaga

I have no idea what you do with a rutabaga. It was the mystery local produce of the week. Exciting. The apples, potatoes and chives were also locally sourced. Bonus. Now we need to figure out if this is actually cost-effective, though I think we’ll keep buying the boxes: It’s very convenient.

Our good food box.

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Water Pressure

   13 April 2009, late afternoon

Warm water wets my hair. Quickly. I shower, knowing the water isn’t going to get cold. I could scald myself in the shower if I wanted. Oh how I missed you, Canadian Water Pressure and Plumbing. Truly, you are a beautiful thing.

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    3 April 2009, terribly early in the morning

— What do you for a living
— I’m a software developer.
— Where?

— And where are you staying
— Maida Vale
— That’s a big place.
— I don’t know his real address. I can give you my friends.

— And your brother, who you are staying with, how long has he been in London?
— A year or so. But he’s a British citizen. So am I.
— How’s that?
— We were born here.
— What?

He looks at my passport.

— Man, you should have said from the start, I would have asked you fewer questions.

And that’s how I got into London .

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Narooz 2009

   20 March 2009, terribly early in the morning

The best part about Persian New Year is that it is the first day of Spring. Shima and I have to buy a set of gold fish, and then we will be all ready to build our Persian New Year table. Happy Narooz.

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Frank at the AGO

    6 March 2009, evening time

I was going to write about how we were seated at Frank, the restaurant at the AGO, and then totally ignored, but Shima has done as much. That was a serious what the fuck moment? Have you ever been to a restaurant where you can see the waitresses talking about you, but they aren’t talking to you? Fuck that place. I would have told someone off if we weren’t in such a rush.

Update: Here is my take on things which I also posted at Yelp.

I’ve been to Frank, the restaurant inside the AGO, twice. The first time was quite good. The food was tasty and well presented, and the service was excellent. The second, it was so horrid I can’t imagine ever going back. So this is the sort of review that’s based solely on a single bad experience, and you should take that as a word of warning. I am a member at the AGO, so I really wanted to like this place.

My wife, cousin, and I were seated upstairs in the restaurant by the hostess. The restaurant was reasonably busy, but not overly so. The hostess is the only person that spoke to us that night. We looked over the menus at waited. And we waited some more. And then the hostess seated a fellow by himself at the table next to us. And then we watched a waitress bring him some water. And another came by, but he informed her that he was already being served. And we waited a little bit more. And then we watched two waitresses quite obviously chat about us from across the room. And then we got up and left. And no one asked us what was up on the way out either.

Fuck Frank. I can’t recall the last time I’ve been treated like that in Toronto. And I can’t for the life of me imagine why. The whole experience has left a bad taste in my mouth.

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Washing my Nudies

    6 March 2009, early morning

I only had a few more weeks to go after freezing my Nudies till I needed to wash them. I did this over the weekend, on March 1st, following the schedule I set for myself back in September. I think the jeans faded quite nicely and the fact I washed them was certainly more noticeable than it was when I washed my Julian Reds.

Like my Julian Reds, I washed the jeans on delicate in my washing machine. I used a little bit of tide, which I’m sure people on denim forums say is a no-no. When the machine started its spin cycle I opened the lid, took out the jeans, folded them neatly, and placed them back in the machine along its wall. I’m not sure this is necessary, but I didn’t want them banging around inside the machine. Unlike my Julian Reds, I washed the jeans in water that was somewhere between warm and hot, closer to hot. I think this might have helped with the fading and highlighting the contrast. Nudie recommends using water that is 60 Fahrenheits, which is probably what one would call lukewarm.

The raw selvedge denim Nudie uses in their jeans seems quite nice. They held up very well to non-stop wear for half a year. Even after being washed there are no holes or tears. If you are looking to buy a pair of dry denim jeans than a pair of Nudies is probably a very safe bet.

I am wearing a pair of APC black dry denim New Standards right now, but that’s a whole other story.

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