Monday, February 28, 2011

Overpaid for KFC & Taco Bell

Taco Bell on UrbanspoonOn Saturday evening my wife and I headed down to Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Taco Bell (7028 Yonge Street, Vaughan, Ontario).  This location is a shared counter serving both KFC chicken and Taco Bell products. 

We hadn't been to either a Taco Bell or KFC for quite sometime so we thought we would give it a try. 

We entered around 5:00 P.M. on Saturday to a small, yet manageable, line and had our order taken within five minutes.  But the fun part is getting from the front door to the cashier to type in your order.  You go through the usual que line similar to that of the bank.  However, at this location the front of the line ends where you pick up your order, yet you want to be at the other end of the counter. So there is quite often jockeying for position in order to get from the wrong end of the counter to the cashier while others are going the other way to pick up the orders.  Really it isn't a very orderly process but we did somehow end up ordering. 

The Order:  two hardshell tacos, fries, pepsi and a Caramel Apple Empanada and a two piece chicken with fries, cole slaw and a Pepsi. 

The tacos were the usual hardshell tacos I remembered as teen growing up in Aurora.  The tacos are normally $0.99 each and are packed with ground beef, lettuce and cheese.  Pretty good substitute for a simple hamburger.

The fries were dissapointing as they were the usual KFC fries and not  the Taco Bell fries I remembed from yesteryear.  The package size was smaller than a small fries at your local McDonald's.  The fries were also not very tasty and semi cold.   

The Caramel Apple Empanada was better.  It tasted like a mexican version of the McDonald's apple pie except it hasn't been warmed.

My wife had the two piece chicken meal.  It looked sad looking in terms of portion size.  There was two smallish pieces of KFC chicken with a thimble full of neon green cole slaw.  Really for over seven bucks it was a dissapointing amount of portions. 

We left feeling a little dejected that we still hadn't found a good fried chicken place in the Toronto area (Church's chicken in Vancouver is awesome!).  We definately will not return for a long time.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Election Fever

"ELECTION!"

Seems to be the most popular and least popular word in Canada right now.

Last year Ontarians had municipal elections to elect local government.  In Toronto Rob Ford took over and has been cleaning house since David Miller has left.  News for Rob though, the campaigns over and you have four years to do whatever you do.  So you can stop campaigning and dropping "Stop the Gravy Train!" antics (sloganeering?) and start looking for some CHACHING (read: money) savings for the 2012 budget because, as of this writing, there is over eight hundred million dollar shortfall that must be made up by this time next year in order to balance the 2012 budget. 

Further in Municipal politics, in Aurora the Phyllis Morris which seems to have restored order to council under new Aurora Mayor Geoff Dawe after the previous fractious term.   So far this term it has been only Wendy Gaertner who has stirred the pot by going on and on with questions to staff ad nauseaum to try, as she puts it, "clarify" her thinking.  Other councillors have pointed out that staff have been ready willing and able to answer questions and provide material to councillors before a council meeting is held.  Councillor Evelyn Buck, who has been previously Aurora Mayor and Councillor, has pointed out the only reason to ask a question of staff at a council meeting is to show information that will further a debate point and not to research out your point.  Bottom line to Wendy, council meetings are for presenting your points, making a collective decision and moving onto the next item.  Time for contemplating which way the wind blows on an issue is at General Committee or various other comittees and doing your homework with staff assistance during office hours at the town hall.  If you cannot understand this concept, please resign right now so someone that does can occupy your chair and the town's business can move forward.

Later this year is an Ontario provincial election.  The main issues in the election are going to be increasing electricity rates and the HST.  Premier Dalton McGuinty has overseen increases in electricity rates of over fifty percent in the past four years plus is promising further increases to electricity rates in the next five years as well.  All of this, McGuinty says, to invest in new green infrastructure like wind mills on the lake and gas powered plants.  Dalton McGuinty also oversaw the imposition of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) which takes the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the old Ontario Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and melds them into one tax that is imposed on anything the GST was on before.  This meant the Ontarians saw a further eight percent increase to their electiricity and Natural Gas bills as previously these bills didn't have the old PST imposed on them.  Overall, Dalton McGuinty has a lot of explaining to do for these items and others.  But what does Dalton do?  He asks what the Progressive Conservatives (PCs) are going to do in the future? Where is there plan?  Do the PC's have a plan?  PC leader Tim Hudak says the PC plan will be released in due time once it has been formulated, revised and released. Dalton, the real question here is do you have a plan?  What is that plan? A clear plan for Ontario is what is needed in these troubled economic times.  So put the Liberal party plan out there for the voters to decide on and stop worrying what the other side can do.  The election is when the decision will be made and the election can only be a good thing.

Federally, there is a 2011 Budget coming out soon.  The Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois are refusing to support the budget no matter what.  The Conservative government, in a minority position in the House of Commons, needs another party to the budget to get it passed, if not, as per the Constitution, an election must be called.  With Liberals and Bloc Quebecois out of the picture the only party left is the NDP.  NDP leader Jack Layton has met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in consulation over what the budget would look like.   The decision is now up to Stephen Harper, does he put some of the items the NDP is hoping for into the budget to get it passed?  Or not.  If not, an election, that most Canadians don't want. will be called.  If Stephen puts some of the items into the budget, will it be enough for the NDP to support the budget and allow Parliament to continue on?  Probably as the NDP, for financial and health reasons doesn't want an election at this time.  Financial?  Canadians have had four federal elections in just over ten years and three of those have resulted in minority parlimaments under either a Liberal or Conservative government with threats of a coalition government mixed in for good measure.  Health?  Jack Layton is currently undergoing cancer treatment and obviously would rather concentrate his time and energy on that instead of criss crossing Canada over a months time in election mode.

So there you have it, us poor saps in Ontario by the end of 2011 may, but not necessarily definately, will have gone through three elections in about a years time.  It almost makes you wonder who the guy at the front door is trying to do...sell you something you don't need or get elected.  If it is the latter then I have a questions before you can start..who are you? and which ballot exactly are you on? Now what are going to do exactly?  Thanks...bye...I got three or four more of you coming by and I still have to cook dinner.

Elections...it is enough to make almost anyone feverish.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DAB Kwik Seal Kitchen & Bath D-U-D!

This past holiday weekend I rolled up my sleeves and got to work on fixing the caulking around the top of my tub.  There was a little bit of mold showing through the clear caulking on the tub that I discovered when removing the decorative rubber piece the previous owners had installed. 

I inquired with my handy man father on how to do this process and went to the ever trusty YouTube to do a little more research before setting up to work.  I followed the steps my father had laid out wich matched this YoutTube video:



Note: The only addition I would make next time is to put masking tape on the top and bottom to form an outline where the caulking should go.

I ensured the tub was clean and doubly dry before opening the DAB Kwik Caulk Kitchen & Bath caulk I picked up from Home Depot and applying the caulk to the tub and tile.

The packing said to wait at least 36 hours before using the shower.  This afternoon at 3:30 P.M., just short of 48 hours 48 hour mark, I rinsed the tub with luke warm water and shower cleaner.  As the water rolled down the wall I ran my finger over the fresh caulk and noticed the caulking flecking off in bunches from around the section where the tile meets the tub.  I ran my finger over the caulk and noticed the remenants on my finger resembled a milky finish.  I looked again and noticed a part of the moulding between the tub tile underneath was showuing through.  The caulk was coming off. in either milk or flake format.  What a complete waste of time.

I ventured over to Home Depot with receipt in hand and returned the caulking.  I ventured over the to the pain section where Home Depot has the caulking and noticed one of the workers there restocking the shelves.  I retold my story of what happenned and showed her the product I used.  She couldn't believe it happenned but recommended the GE Silicone caulking and proceeded to help me out choosing the right one based on colour and purpose and ensured I had a caulking gun to do the job.  I ventured to the check out and left store. 

I now have spent over three days about three hours on this project and am no further ahead than I was before.  I now have to remove the remenants of the old DAP caulking, scrub the newly exposed section with a mixture of bleach and water with a tooth brush, let dry, tape the top and bottom, recaulk, remove the masking tape and wait yet another 48 hours for the caulking to set.

DAP = Mike is no longer a customer / user.

A New Doctor not to Be

Back in 2010 my wife and I moved to Richmond Hill and our first house.  Later in 2010 I changed doctors so that the doctor would be convenient.  The doctor was available for an initial visit and I joined his practice. 

I chose the doctor after first meeting him for several reasons.  The main one was his hours extended beyond just the mere 9 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday to Friday that would require me to take time off work if I needed a physical or had something that wasn't putting me in bed for the day. As well, the doctor is part of a group practice.  This means if my doctor isn't available for any reason, there is an "On Call Doctor" who sees patients and has access to the my records within the same office.  Also, the office is open on Saturdays for Walk Ins for any patient of the practice.  So there were loads of pluses.  

My wife was looking to also move her doctor a little closer to home.  So she made an appointment with another doctor, Dr. Sakeenah Ameen, at the same group practice my doctor was part of.  We made the appointment for an initial visit back in January for yesterday (February 22nd) at 4:15 P.M.  My wife takes some time off work in order to make it the practice for the appointment.  

We check in with the receptionist and am informed the doctor isn't there.  We inquired when we were informed, the receptionist replied back on February 3rd a message was left.  Later we checked our call display and it shows there was a call but there was no record of a message left.  We both don't recall a message either as we would have easily rebooked the appointment. 

We inquired with the receptionist what our options were:

She replied that we could rebook for next week during the day.  This wasn't an option as my wife had already wasted a couple of hours off work for nothing and was unlikely to get time off next week due to a major project being undertaken that needs to be completed soon. 

We inquired if there was an evening appointment.  No the Doctor doesn't see patients in the evening for first time visits. We inquired if there was anything in the morning, the reply was the Doctor only does physicals between 9:00 A.M. and 11 A.M.  so that wasn't an option. 

My wife looked at me for any ideas.  I replied that obviously the receptionist isn't willing to bend on this issue and obviously doesn't want a new patient otherwise they wouldn't have booked patients originally when the doctor wasn't here and that if things changed, they office would have ensured that all the appointments had been rebooked and that more than a message would have been left. I told the receptionist, just before we left, that the Doctor was not interested in having my wife as a new patient as there was no effort by the Doctor's office to rebook the appointment.  My wife agreed and we left the office. 

My wife was totally annoyed that she had worked hard last week and put in some overtime hours.  She used at least two hours of overtime last week in order to leave work early for the Doctor's appointment yesterday.  What did she get in return? Nothing. 

She is also due for a physical, so the thinking was at least the evening hours would work so she wouldn't require to take more time off work.  But after wasting two hours it was all for not. 

Thanks Dr. Ameen for wasting 2 hours of my wife's time for absolutely nothing.  You've lost a frustrated patient.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Permission

Permission. 

Such a simple word, yet it means so much.

For a young child it means that your mom says you can go and play at your friends house and maybe even sleep over.

For a teen it means getting the keys to the car for the night because your parents trust you with that responsibility. 

For an adult, well there really is no permission.   That is unless you are married and your wife says you can do something. 

Recently, I had a request from the Webmaster, Brenda, of the Bolton & District Horticultural Society for permission to use the shovel photo I took in May 2008 on a tour of Merlin's Hollow. 

My reply was was in the affirmative and I only requested proper credit back via link to the photo albumn itself or a link to my main website.

In return the Bolton & District Horticultural Society got to use the photo and pat on the back blog entry as well. 

Permission...sometimes it's so easy to get.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Man I wish I had that when I was Planning

Google recently launched a website for those getting married.  It is a simple concept really for Google.  Merely have great applications that those planning a wedding can use and then create a website that shows users how to use these services can be used for wedding planning. 

Now if only had that and the time to investigate the apps a little more, the planning for my wedding in 2009 would have been so much simpler.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Burger, Beer & Wings at Archie's

Archibald's Pub on UrbanspoonYesterday I headed over to Archibald's Pub (8950 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill) with my father for a little lunch.  

We easily arrived, entered and sat down.  The waitress came over with menus quickly and inquired what we would like to drink. 

After a while she returned with our drinks and we ordered.

The Order: ARCHIE'S FIRE RIVER ANGUS BURGER (7 oz. Canadian Angus beef served with all the trimmings) with fries and Coke and ARCHIE'S ROADHOUSE CRISPY WINGS with a Rickard's Red. 

Due to this being a weekday lunch time the restaurant wasn't that busy thus our food came quickly after we ordered. 

The burger was well put together and tasted great.  The fries seemed to be right out of the fryer and barely put on the plate before it was served. Both the burger and fries were freshly made and not sitting around.

My father seemed to enjoy the wings as they quickly dissappeared.  

Our waitress periodically came by to see if everything was fine and we had really nothing to say except our lunch was great. 

The decor though could be renovated as it looks a little dated.  Most customers sit along the window booths while the rest of the place is empty.  Hopefully with a little updating Archibald's can be seem a little more welcoming to the customers to sit more around the restaurant rather than just in the window booths. 

Overall Archibald's is a great lunch time place as there are not that many others there yet the food is great.  The evening meals can be a little slow in service from the kitchen as they get backed up depending on how many people are that bar.  But overall the food is fresh and the service is usually decent.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Shovel your own Snow!

Recently a merchant in downtown Newmarket complained to the local paper about the snow removal from Main Street in Newmarket. Patricia Carmichael, of Carmichael Salon and Day Spa, has complained that the town plows the snow from main street to the side of the road and creates a big wall of snow her clients have to climb over to access her store.  Ms. Carmichael believes the town should be digging out access points every so often for customers of main street to park their cars on the side of the street and then climb through the snow banks to the shops.  She herself has hired a contractor to do this type of service for her particular store but she still wishes the Town of Newmarket would do this service.  The paper even interviewed a 75 year old lady about the issue to paint the "wo is me" type mentality into the article about how it is hard for her to get the to merchants.   The town replied that they do not provide the service but does remove excess snow when the banks get high and when time permits.

It seams Ms. Carmichael misses the point.  Government (Town of Newmarket in this case) cannot do everything for all people.  The town currently plows the streets and the sidewalks in Newmarket and the snow from these operations must go somewhere, hence the walls.  To create the access points the town would have to pay additionally to have the contractor return and, depending on the circumstance, hand dig or plow out the access points.  This added cost would have to either be born by the entire town's taxpayers or by just the merchants on Main Street through a local improvement tax.  The local improvement tax would be calculated by the town on how much it costs to provide the service of creating the access points.  So Ms. Carmichael basically wants the town to pay for the cost and, thus, either pass on the cost to all taxpayers for her special perk or burden the businesses of Main Street in Newmarket with the cost via a local improvement tax.

The same two methods could be completed for those who live the new townhouse areas that have on street parking.  Along Bantry Avenue in Richmond Hill between Yonge Street and Bayview Avenue residents periodically dig out pathways between the sidewalk and the street across the boulevard so they can access their cars parked on the side of the road.  Should the Town of Richmond Hill be doing this service? If Ms. Carmichael is successful in getting the Town of Newmarket to create and pay for the creation of the access points, shouldn't the residents in the townhouses who want similar access points also have the right to the same service?  Wouldn't this just increase property taxes overall?

There is another way to resolve the issue of course.  Ms. Carmichael could do the work herself.  She could, shudder the thought, walk outside, grab the shovel and shovel the snow to a width of her snow shovel!  Oh for crying out loud! We can't have that, Ms. Carmichael might chip a nail!  This method would ensure that the Town doesn't get dinged with this expense and Ms. Carmichael could assist in resolving the issue.  This method is what the merchants on Yonge Street in Downtown Aurora use as well.  Heck, some merchants even shovel the entire sidewalk in front of their stores before the snow removal contractors from the Town of Aurora come by.  Imagine that, taking initiative and assist in resolving the issue and not depending on the government for assistance.

Ms. Carmichael grab a shovel or hire someone to do it for you!  The Town of Newmarket doesn't need to clear your snow.  Shovel your own Snow.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

What happened at Wendy's?

Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers on UrbanspoonToday I had a craving for a burger.  Mmmmmm burger, I thought to myself where is a good place?  Hero Burger? McDonald's? Nope, been there done that recently.

I headed to good old Dave's Wendy's (10520 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill) expecting an excellent burger, good fries with a Coke at an excellent price. 

I took the bus up to the location and was surprised the entire parking lot around the Wendy's store was plowed even though we were in the midst of Snowmaggeden! 

I entered to a mostly empty restaurant with only one person ordering at the counter.  The service seemed a little slower than normal, but I chalked it up to it being a slow day at the restaurant.   Eventually this person was served and it was my turn. 

The Order: 1 Single Combo (1 burger, medium fries and medium coke). 

I was suprised at what I got in return.  The order was correct, the size of fries and Coke hadn't changed.  The burger seemed well wrapped, the price was wrong.  $7.44 including taxes for a burger, fries and a coke! 

The single combo is now $5.89 base price and then a surcharge of $0.69 is required to make it a medium combo.  Before, a medium Single combo used to be $5.50ish and included all the medium sized items.  Talk about a price increase.

I've learned recently that old reliable burger fast food places like McDonald's, Wendy's and others are becoming expensive for what you receive.  The only way to get decent value from these places anymore is to use the coupons from the mailbox.  McDonald's normally sends out coupons periodically for a two can dine for $8.98 which allows me to purchase two Big Mac Meals for $10 and change.   What a big difference to what I received today for value for money that Wendy's offerred.

The food itself was satisfactory for a burger place. The fries were just as I remembered them, warm and tasty great with a little ketchup and washed down the with a Coke.  The quantity of the fries was the same as it always was.  Wendy's at least didn't mess around with that.

The single burger on the other hand looked a little sad.  The burger was find but there was one sheet of lettuce with a tomato smushed on top with ketchup, mustard and relish splattered on.  It didn't appear topped the way old Dave would have wanted it.  If I wanted a burger like this I would have gone to an elmentary school BBQ where a 9 year old could have served me.   

Things are starting to decline at least at this Wendy's, the price and burger topping are just the beginning. 

It makes you wonder what happenned at Wendy's since Dave has permanently left the company.  What happenned indeed.

Snowmaggedden!


Last night the local media have been calling for thirty centimetres of snow, blustry winds and cold temperatures.   Snomaggedden! was being proclaimed by The Toronto Star as the storm had Toronto in it's sites.

This morning I awoke to find about ten to fifteen centimetres of snow on my front stoop and driveway.  The only regret I have in the past year is moving from an apartment where the shovelling was done for me.  At least it wasn't as bad as where I used to live in Aurora with my parents.  It would probably take over an hour to clear the driveway instead of half an hour for a quick cleanup with my shovel. 

Snowmaggedden?  Hardly, my wife made it to work without an issue and Yonge Street in Richmond Hill had light traffic but was partially snowcovered.   Was Toronto snowed under and crying "UNCLE?" or calling in the military to shovel our sorry carcasses out?  No sir, except for the Downsview Airforce base, the army was barely seen today. 

My only regret?  We should have booked the cruise for this week so I could have been enjoying this:


instead of close two twenty centimetres of the white stuff.   

You win some,you lose some... - J. Askenberg

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