IT REALLY IS A SUPERSTORE

Since buying an apartment I’ve really come to appreciate stores that offer items that help you run an entire household. A great store is one that offers a wide selection, good quality, and decent prices. A lot of my readers with families know this already but in my books, the Real Canadian Superstore chain of stores is a winner.

Even though there’s an IGA Marketplace within walking distance to my apartment, I have rarely gone there. IGA’s selection and prices really can’t compare to Superstore. A 12-pack of Coke at IGA is about $4.50. I was at Superstore this weekend and the same product is $3.35. Not to mention I can get a billion more different products at Superstore, from a Blu-ray player to sheets for my bed.

When I went to Superstore this Saturday, I was able to make a cash deposit to my CIBC banking account, shop for groceries, and also use the Superstore gas bar to get petrol for my car. It’s really difficult to beat that convenience.

Well, thus ends my commercial endorsement for Superstore. The Superstore people should really compensate me for such a positive blog post.

WEBCAM SECURITY

So my Mom’s sister and mother are in town. They’re also known as my aunt and grandma respectively. This is the first time they’ve been in Vancouver since both my sister and I bought our apartments. Both of them stated an interest in seeing our homes.

Now I’m not sure if this was a smart decision but I gave an extra set of keys to my apartment to my parents. This means they theoretically can come into my home any time they want though they’ve promised me they’d never enter my apartment unless they got my permission. Anyways, they asked me if they could show auntie and grandma my apartment on Monday morning before heading off to the casino. I said yes but with some a strict guideline. No one should attempt to clean anything in my apartment.

To ensure this guideline was followed, I made sure my webcam was enabled. I turned on both streaming and motion detection. If motion was detected, it would e-mail me. Sure enough around 11:30am I got an e-mail from my webcam. So I turned on the stream and proceeded to watch as my parents, my aunt, and my grandma took a tour of my apartment. It all looked on the up and up. My grandma did take a long, hard look inside my fridge. I also watched my aunt take some photos so she could let my cousins (her kids) see what my place looked like. Then things went a bit awry. I watched in real-time as my Mom went to my utility closet, grabbed my Swiffer, attached a wet cloth, and proceed to Swiffer my kitchen and bathroom floor. The same floors I cleaned thoroughly the day before.

Stunned at this breach of protocol, I immediately called my Mom’s cell phone. The chatter was probably too loud for her to hear the ring through her purse. The phone went unanswered as I could only hopelessly watch my Mom clean my already clean floors. Only when she had put away my Swiffer could she hear her cell ring.

I watched onscreen as she answered.

“Mom, why did you get the Swiffer out? Come on, you promised.”

What followed was a bit of stunned silence as Mom tried to comprehend what was happening. She asked me if I was somehow watching her. I said yes, my webcam had shown me everything. She then relayed this fact to everyone else in my apartment. I then told her where the webcam was (in plain sight right on the coffee table).

I think she was kinda embarrassed because immediately walked behind the camera so I couldn’t see her anymore. She told me they left some cake in the fridge for me and they’d be leaving now. We said our goodbyes and they left in a pretty big hurry after that.

I saved a lot of still photos from the whole visit. I won’t post them here out of respect for my family. I will say that when I showed them to my sister, she was very amused.

THE RETURN OF MY XBOX 360

I got back my Xbox 360 today. To be more accurate, Microsoft sent back to me another Xbox 360 which I’m hoping doesn’t break on me again.

The odds were very low that I would get back my own 360 in a repaired state. The options I faced were either getting a completely new console (the latest Jasper revision) or one that had been broken but since repaired. Obviously the former choice was more desirable as the Jasper revision ran cooler, consumed less power, and had all the advantages of a redesign of some 360 internal components. Also, I was hoping to get, at the very least, a console with an HDMI port that was not present on my first 360.

Unfortunately, none of what I wanted appeared on my repaired console. I essentially got back a first generation Xbox 360 that had previously died somehow and then repaired using who knows what kind of procedure. I actually don’t know what they did to fix this console. Considering the first Xbox 360s had a serious design flaw, I’m curious how they fixed that problem with a repair.

My “new” console no longer has a “manufacturing date” on the back. Instead, it now has a “service date”, which means the day it was brought back to life from whatever felled it in the first place. My 360 was revived on the last day of July of this year.

They extended the warranty of my console for another three months. If it decides to red ring on me again in December, I’m out of luck. On the other hand, they did give me a free month of Xbox Live.

I spent most of this evening finally playing games on my new TV. It was most pleasant.

ARNOLD HEIGHT

It should be no surprise to anyone that there’s a web site for just about anything on the Internet these days. So don’t be stunned when you visit ArnoldHeight.com. This site is billed as the “premier Schwarzenegger ‘Height-Site’ on the internet“. Yes, they’re referring to Arnold, not to be confused with any other Schwarzenegger. They also are quite proud of “being the ONLY site dedicated to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s vertical measurement“.

I guess the reason behind this site is that some people dispute his claims of being a certain height. Now I really don’t know how tall Arnie claims to be nor do I think he’s lying about his height. The web site supposedly is there to attempt to get the definitive answer on how tall the “Austrian Oak” is. There appears to be some serious research dedicated to determining his actual height.

What other gifts will the Internet bring us?

TRAILER ADDICT

http://www.traileraddict.com/emd/13455

If you’re anything like me then I feel sorry for you. No but seriously, if you’re like me, you like watching movie trailers online. For the longest time now Apple’s movie trailer site has been the best known place to do such viewing.

While certainly it’s a good site, there are alternatives out there. One other choice is Trailer Addict. This site offers movie trailers that sometimes Apple doesn’t have. Also, some of you might be adverse to using Quicktime. Trailer Addict does not use QT yet the quality of its trailers is fantastic.

I suggest you give it a look sometime. For your enjoyment the trailer above is from Trailer Addict, featuring a new movie from Michael Cera entitled Youth in Revolt.

BEFORE DISTRICT 9

This weekend I saw the film District 9. It’s by far this summer’s most unexpected hit. While you could easily imagine Harry Potter and Transformers to draw big crowds, I’m not sure one could safely say the same of District 9.

I thought the movie was great. I liked the documentary style used to tell the story. While some can’t stomach the handheld nature of similar movies, it wasn’t noticeable at all to me at least in D9. For a movie which has aliens as the main hook or draw, D9 has an incredibly human story behind. I think that’s partly why it’s a good film, despite the aliens involved, anyone can be drawn into the human element of the story. Of course the aliens look great and there are some pretty cool effects splattered here and there.

If you’re from Vancouver, there’s quite a local connection to D9. Director Neill Blomkamp is a graduate of the Vancouver Film School and has lived in Vancouver for ten years. He moved here when his family relocated from South Africa when he was 18. It’s quite possible some of you have at least seen him downtown or around the city. With the success of this film, I believe he’ll probably move from Vancouver before long.

The other local connection is the visual effects house that produced the CGI aliens for the movie. Imagine Engine, located just a few blocks from Mountain Equipment Co-op was responsible for making the on-screen aliens look realistic throughout the film. Save for one scene, all the creatures were CGI.

If you liked D9, it’s interesting to note the film was based off a short that Blomkamp made just a few years ago. That short, entitled Alive in Joburg is what you see above. If look closely, you might even see a familiar face from D9.

WORK READY

My employer runs a shuttle bus service in the mornings and evenings to and from Skytrain stations. It’s quite a nice gesture and is very convenient for those who don’t drive in.

I have the choice of Gilmore and Nanaimo stations to get picked up from. Due to the timing in the mornings, I tend to use the Gilmore pick up. Though I’ve used the shuttle dozens of times, I saw something today that I’d never seen before.

The pick up point is near the intersection which is also near a bus stop. Usually the people milling about are other EA employees or people waiting for one of the two buses at the stop. While I was waiting for the shuttle this morning, I heard some dude whistle in my general direction from his car. I’m a pretty observant dude and there were clearly no women around me who were “whistle-worthy”. As well, there weren’t any dudes around me who could be classified as “whistle-worthy” either.

It didn’t make any sense but I soon forgot about the whole thing. Not five minutes later, something else happened. A dude in a pickup truck hauling a small trailer approached the intersection in the opposite lane and began honking his horn in short bursts. He then turned off to the right and appeared to pull over.

My initial thought was he was honking at nothing since I didn’t see any traffic ahead of him that would require him to toodle his horn. Then out of nowhere, two dudes who had been just milling around the bus stop ran across four lanes of traffic against the light to where the truck dude had pulled over. Both the dudes were wearing flannel shirts and constructions boots. They each looked like construction workers.

It now instantly clear to me what was happening. These were day labourers looking for work, any work they could find. I’m not sure about the legality of such arrangements in that WBC rules must be followed in construction work.

Anyways, I’ve only read about such short-term jobs in the US where many illegal immigrants work in such a manner to eke out a living. In fact, here’s a web site listing where you can find such workers in many cities.

It also made sense that just around the corner from the Gilmore station is a Home Depot. In many cities, it’s natural for these workers to gather near a Home Depot where contractors are bound to be.

So there you go. If you want to partake in some shady construction labour, try the Gilmore Skytrain station.

EXERCISE

When I first moved into my new apartment I had this idea that I would combine practicality and exercise into this one task. The idea would be for me to use the stairs to walk up to my apartment when returning from work. Since I live on the 28th floor, this seemed like a great opportunity to get a good workout.

Of course, since moving in I haven’t even entered the main stairwell once. Perhaps, I’ll try it for the first time this week.

MORE SIDE BUSINESS UPDATES

In a previous post I mentioned how I’m running a small side business at work selling soft drinks. Since the fridge where the drinks are located is away from my desk, I rely on the honour system for payment. In my previous updates, I wrote how only a few cans seemed to go unpaid for. Unfortunately, in the intervening weeks, the amount of theft just increased.

One week I counted sixteen cans that were just taken. That’s well over a case of drinks stolen. Then another week nine cans were stolen. I decided this was not acceptable. Last week, I just left the fridge empty. If the thieves thought they would continue to get a free ride, they were wrong.

On Monday, I sent out a team wide e-mail detailing the brazen theft and also explaining how the drinks are bought using my money, not from the team budget. So when people steal drinks, they’re actually stealing from me. I announced that I was going to try something new. The drinks would now be in a smaller bar fridge next to my desk. I essentially now dared people to steal from right underneath my nose. Would people be that brazen.

After I sent out my message, I got several replies, all sympathetic. One of our production coordinators was actually nice enough to reimburse me the lost revenue from the team budget. That was a nice touch.

We’ll see what happens in this new situation. I wonder if people will try to rip me off again.

XBOX UPDATE

As I mentioned in a previous post, my Xbox 360, which has faithfully entertained me for the last three years, broke down last week.

As part of the free repair process, it was picked up by UPS near my apartment building around 3pm last Tuesday. By 8pm on Friday, it was already in Don Mills, Ontario where Microsoft has its service centre. The speed by which it arrived makes me think it was delivered via rail though I guess technically one could drive to Ontario in three days but that would be one hell of a drive.

Unfortunately, since it arrived in Ontario late Friday, it wasn’t technically delivered until the following Monday which meant it was just sitting there for two days. Some dude named “Cesar” signed for my console this morning. Officially, Microsoft has now acknowledged it has my console. What, if anything, they are going to do with my Xbox 360 is unknown. Ideally, it would be great if they just shipped me a working replacement console by Tuesday morning which means it possibly could get to me before the weekend.

I would love to do some gaming this Saturday.