Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My first Jets game

First seat view...
I feel like I found a unicorn. A friend called me up, out of the blue and asked if I wanted to go to the Jets game last night. As I do not have a super sports oriented group of friends, this invite was particularly unexpected. I was hoping to get to take in a game and figured eventually my number would come up in the lottery system, although maybe not this year.

I have always enjoyed attending random sporting events now and again, I may not understand every play but hey, it's not like I understand all the finer points of everything in the arts either. When I visited New York a last summer I took in a Yankee game - just because. It turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip. I tried to take in a Moose game once a year and although it's been a while for the Bombers and Goldeyes I've been to both of those as well. My lack of attendance at Bomber games can be blamed on the fact that I am a fair weather sports fan only and since the Bombers sell out so frequently my chances of rounding up a group and getting tickets on the day of are pretty slim.

Now, besides the obvious loss, the game was fantastic, I'm hooked. Winnipeg Girl would officially love to join you at a game if you have an extra ticket (especially if it's free (!) as last nights was - I'll pick up the tab for  the overpriced beer and even be the DD). The atmosphere was incredible. While I do question why it takes worshiping guys who make millions to bring out civic and national pride, it is undeniable that being surround by so many people with so much passion for anything is catching.

Second seat view (we rotated between a pair and single seat)
Thank you to the random guy next to me who tried to explain icing, and a shout out to my cousin and her husband who won the "kiss cam" in their superhero costumes. I also thoroughly enjoyed the dude in the stormtrooper costume and I sat just down from a row of Santas. I don't understand how the guy in the full green bodysuit was able to see the game though...

I love the now legendary Winnipeg shout of "TRUE NORTH" during the anthem, and on the ride home I felt a small victory in the world of boys vs. girls as I schooled my male passengers on the Legend of the Octopus (thank you google, as they refused to believe me). I don't know if Winnipeg needs another "thing" as we already claim rights to the "White Out" and now the True North shout, and, although I'm grossly fascinated by the throwing of random sea-creatures (and a 4 ft shark????) perhaps if we ever go that route we could do something a little less gross - maybe fly remote controlled planes or giant paper airplanes?

Here's hoping this wasn't my first and only Jets game - GO JETS GO!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A tale of two neighbourhoods

Last week a Winnipeg family suffered a terrible fire that will change their lives forever. Of course the commenters who troll the comment sections of the various media outlets were out in full force. What a difference being rich makes. Almost a year ago, another Winnipeg family suffered a catastrophic fire where they also lost everything, but the commenters were a little less sympathetic. Now, strangely, the comments on the FreeP stories seem to have disappeared; all the links I followed on the North End fire offered me the chance to be the first commenter - somehow I don't think that everyone forgot to comment on that site.

The one comment on the Linden Woods fire that took a shot at the comments that usually end up on any story about the North End (or other supposedly less than desirable place) got deleted; I don't remember what it was exactly and it wasn't as articulate as it could have been but it touched on the fact that if were to comment in the same way about this we would need to question if this was perhaps a grow-op (even though the article clearly stated it wasn't, but that never stops the genius commenters normally, although I do think it was all said tongue in cheek) Of course if it was a true mirror of they type of comment generally made about the North End it would have read more like this "What do you expect in a neighbourhood like that, it was probably Asian gangs growing marijuana, houses there are always getting shot at"

In the North End fire, although there were sympathetic comments on the CBC story many of them also chose to zero in on the father of the 10 children, attacking his character and the fact that he had so many children. I can only presume that in the mysteriously missing FreeP comments section there was the standard "burn the whole neighbourhood down" comment that I see every time there is reference to fire in my neighbourhood. Curiously in the case of the Linden Woods fire, the commenters lambaste the the Free Press for daring to mention who the victim was or what he did for a living, saying it wasn't relevant. Yet telling the world that the father of 10 was unemployed and on welfare was apparently relevant to the North End fire. To be fair, the FreeP only mentioned he was unemployed, it was the commenters in the CBC story that felt the need to mention that he was on welfare, and link to a story (that I couldn't open because I'm not a paid Globe subscriber) that implied it would dish all sorts of other details about this man and his life.

I think that more than anything, what the reporting for the Linden Woods fire stories are missing are more details about the cause of the fire. We've now learned that it was caused by a heater in the garage, but I want to know way more details and I think the media is missing out on a great opportunity to educate the public. Forgive me if one of the media outlets did go into more detail and I just happened to have missed it - I was pretending to have a bit of a life this weekend and reading excessive amounts of news is usually more of a weekday thing.

So what exactly caused the Linden Woods fire? Was it because they plugged a heater in with an extension cord? Did they drape something over the heater? Was it a baseboard heater with faulty wiring? Was the heater just plain left unattended like all the instruction manuals warn us never to do??

On a very random note, did you know that it seems to be Linden Woods not Lindenwoods? One of the main streets that crosses through there is Lindenwood Dr. so I suppose that's where the confusion comes from. It also seems as though business are split on what to call it as there are both when they use the community name in the business name. I think I corrected all my "errors" but I will likely revert to my old ways eventually - I've apparently been spelling it wrong for about 20 years already!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Postmaster

Well, we've reached the one time of year that people might actually use the post office. Packages have been trickling in to my place fairly steadily for the last few weeks (3 avid ebayers, one who also is seemingly addicted to Amazon/Chapters). However, even though I'm not all that old, I can see how the role of the local post office and mail carrier has changed.

When I first move into my house I had the same guy bring the fast food advertising mail at the same time every day but it seems as though as of the last year or so there has been a rotating cast that delivers. I never did get to find out if my guy was this guy, but I don't think he was. I also don't think they try very hard to deliver parcels that require a signature - I always seem to end up with the little notice that tells me to pick it up tomorrow at my local postal outlet. Although as I discovered the other day, they are not a "real" post office because I couldn't do anything regarding my claim for damages to the contents of my package there. I also get a kick out of how you MUST produce ID - when I used to live at my dad's place in the country, and the Post Mistress knew exactly who I was, she wouldn't release things without ID. Or the time when my dad was out of the country and having his mail forwarded to my house in the city and they weren't going to let me pick up a piece of mail with his name on it at the post office, even though clearly he was fine with having all of his mail go to my house and my ID has my address on it.

Enter the new Postmaster, the border-town entrepreneur. Anyone who has ever ordered anything from the States online has dealt with this problem:
Image from here 

But once you read the fine print, that only applies for shipping within the US. If, and why on earth would you, you would like that package shipped to the country that sees something like 90% of their population live within an hour of the border, then you can expect to pay through the nose and then customs and brokerage fees on top of that. I remember one time where shipping would be free to the US but $69 to Canada! Never mind the fact that it seems to take about 3 weeks on average for a parcel to reach Winnipeg.

Just in Pembina, ND alone there are at least three places that will accept a parcel for you for a fee (generally $5 for smaller packages). I have been using Pembina Parcel Service for years (Mike's Parcel Pickup and Corner Bar Parcel Pickup are some of the newer players in the game). Hetty, who, bless her, seems like she should probably be living in a lovely sunny retirement community somewhere rather than running what is arguably a very flourishing business (they've just expanded). Since I've been using Hetty from back in the day when you used to pick up your parcel using the honour system - you opened the garage, took your parcel and put your $5 in the honour box! - I feel a sense of loyalty to her. Plus, she always seems to at least vaguely remember me which is a nice touch in a society where we're all just numbers. I've been tempted to use Menke's Parcel in nearby Neche, ND as his prices are better, especially for smaller packages but his hours are pretty limited.

A small drawback to these types of services is that they charge per package so if (and this seems to happen frequently with places like the merchant decides to ship as product is available rather than all at once you might get dinged with multiple $5 fees. A couple of things that I have learned about online shopping that I feel worthy to pass on, as I have so little advice to bestow upon the world:
  • Always google the company and "promo code" or "coupon code". Often if they are not already offering free shipping or sale prices you can cut your cost quite a bit. I saved $50 on a pair of boots by doing this. No, I won't tell you how much the boots cost in the first place to be able to save that much; let's just say I think they're made from happy cows and sewn by virgin peasants or something, or at least they'd better be. Ultimately, in that case, as much as I would have liked to shop local, I saved over $110 by doing it my way vs. shopping at The Shoe Doctor.
  • If they will only allow you to pay with a credit card with a US address, change a less used card that you might have to online only statements and change your address to Pembina Parcel Service. I have a Visa that I only rarely use and almost always for that purpose. is a great site for used books and music that only accepts US address - although beware of the "shipped from ML" as this means it may not all come in one shipment
  • Before you shop ANY online retailer see if they participate in either or the aeroplan estore (as a bonus, I believe all of those stores listed ship to Canada, but I can't speak to the shipping differences that may exist). I've found that the ebay store will default to ebay Canada, so an item you were looking at may not show up in the search, simply save it in you watch list on and then find it again when you sign in to via airmiles/aeroplan.
Some of you may think it's nuts to go all the way to the border just to pick up a package, but that really depends. First, no one said you had to make a special trip, work it into a weekend away and then, even better, you can make the purchases part of your duty free allowance. Second, in the case of the company trying to charge me $69 for shipping it was technically cheaper for me to take time off work and spend the gas money to go and get it, plus it meant getting it much faster (I didn't actually have to take time off, I just did it when I would have been doing some other random thing with my time).

Oh, and on the off chance you do have a regular mail carrier or newspaper carrier, don't forget that a card with a Timmies gift card or something is much appreciated.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


The Times, what do you mean what is The Times? It's a community newspaper, maybe yours is called the Metro or Herald. No idea? Hmm... it's the thing your flyers come "wrapped" in. Ah ha! Ok, now that we're on the same page, The Times had a great article on the front page this week, talking about how Arlington is only one lane in either direction. First though, seriously, how many flyers can they stuff in that thing?? I actually cancelled my flyers a few months back because although I much prefer flipping through the glossy pages to looking at the online versions, I just could no longer justify the trees that were suffering for my pleasure. Plus, we get them at the office. If you find some of your flyers seem to be missing, it could be because the child-labourers who have to hand stuff and then deliver them in the freezing cold at a whopping $.05 a paper, found that it was a better idea to just dump them in the bush near Wilkes. Oh wait, sorry, that was me when I was 9. As if my parents let me do that. Times were different then, oh the 80's...

Wow, sorry, sugary holiday treats have started to turn my occasional inattention into full blown ADD. Moving along. Now, Arlington, for those who have never ventured down it, is absurdly wide from Portage to Notre Dame. Of course, it's only absurd because technically it's only one lane in either direction, yet clearly a total of four lanes wide. So according to MPI spokesman Brian Smiley "there hasn't been an unusually high number of insurance claims made by motorists using the street". Really? He should ask my best friend who was found 50% at fault for hitting someone who was turning left because my friend had opted to drive in the imaginary second lane that everyone drives in. Anyone who tries to treat Arlington as one lane treats everyone behind them to a serious case of road rage.

One could argue that we should all know it's only one lane because of the lack of painted lines creating separate lanes. However, in a city like Winnipeg, with a climate like ours and all the abuse our roads take, the lines tend to wear off pretty quickly and we are frequently left to our own expert judgment guesstimates as to which lane is which all over the city (don't even get me started on how the lines that finally did end up painted on DunOsMemCoBaIsaTer at St. Mary's force one lane into a lane that effectively deadends right after Portage rather than into the next closest lane to the median...) So we can be forgiven for thinking that a road that is clearly wide enough for 4 cars across is designed for, say, 4 cars. Europeans would probably think it's a six lane road!

For years, when you headed south and crossed over Notre Dame there was no indication that the clearly marked two lanes that you had just been on had only become one, other than the aforementioned missing lines - all the more reason one might presume that they had worn off. As well, generally the only place there is consistently parked cars is right at Notre Dame by the school/church, and even then half the time it's just the photo-radar car lying in wait (slow down there if you didn't already know - it's there ALL the time).

I think there should be a move to officially turn it into two lanes in either direction and while they're at it, they should solve how to make it so you don't get stuck behind someone trying to turn left onto Logan when all you want to do is head over the beautiful Arlington Bridge (the right lane is right turn only, but you could miss an entire light cycle stuck behind someone).

This post actually manages to tie in with my last post as well...
Photo from Times website

See the second car at the bottom left of the photo? The Scirocco? That's my friend. No strangers in Winnipeg.

So how do you guys drive on Arlington? One lane? Two lanes? Should it change?