NO MAIL

UPDATE: All is well, mail is working at both addresses now.

There is currently a problem with the mail server that handles my erwin at erwintang dot com address. I’m not sure what the hell is going on. I can’t send or receive mail. Unfortunately, I am not the administrator of the server. The person who is the admin is leaving for Alberta for a few days.

In any case, if you did send me mail at the above address after 6pm PST on Dec. 20, please re-send your mail to this address: erwin@erwintang.com. Please use this address until I get things figured out. Sorry for the inconvenience.

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

I am home at my parents’ place for the next few days. Yesterday, I had a very good lunch with Chris and Joanna, who are regulars here at erwintang.com I also got to meet Chris’ wife, Debbie, for the first time.

After I arrived home this late afternoon, I decided to take a long anticipated trip to Lougheed Town Centre. What I hadn’t realized beforehand was that I hadn’t driven in about three months. During the first minute or so of driving, I was like, “Whoa… I’m driving a car… I’m driving a car…”.

I think you really do forget what it’s like to control a couple thousand pounds of steel and glass as it hurtles down the road. In any case, I made it to the mall without incident and without any problems finding parking.

I entered the mall from my usual entrance. As I made my way there, I saw where they had put the new IHOP. It’s located right where the old Pizza Hut used to be. I was surprised by the low-key nature of this IHOP. The signage for it is very minimal. There’s no actual external sign outside of the restaurant. A few medium-sized decal stickers on the windows identify it as an IHOP. You can’t really see what kind of restaurant it is from afar.

Some of the entrances are different now. They are now graced with automatic doors. As I walked through, the mall seemed different but familiar at the same time. The new London Drugs was a sure sign things were different, but other parts of the mall were decidedly unchanged, even with the new flooring.

I did a quick tour of the whole mall and I saw that there were still spaces left for new retailers. It didn’t take me long to get a feel for the new expansion.

A funny thing happened today. At SJC, I was talking to my neighbours Rastin and Susan and I found out that Rastin used to be the manager of the cheapo movie theatre at Lougheed Mall. What a small world. He said the place was run very cheaply. This was not a revelation to me.

In the next few days, I look forward to going to IHOP with my sister, and completing my tour of the new Lougheed Town Centre.

Since my sister isn’t here yet, I actually get to sleep in a bed tonight. After that, I’m relegated to a mattress underneath a desk.

I’ll check in with you guys tomorrow.

SLEEPY

I had a very full day today. I managed to get as far east as Brentwood Mall. I haven’t been that far from campus in over two months.

I’d write more, but I think I’m going to sleep now.

GOLD MINE

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. This is almost a sure-fire way of making yourself into a success. Unfortunately, it requires you to have a little bit of money first, or at least investors.

Someone should open up a Vietnamese pho noodle restaurant in Yaletown. I bet it’d be overrun with customers. Think about it. Yaletown is filled with trendy, cutting edge, and sometimes pretentious eateries. What would go against that, but still offer food that people want to eat? The universal appeal of pho is undeniable.

I’ve seen people of different cultural backgrounds and different socio-economical origins come together to eat a steaming bowl of pho noodle soup. It’s the one thing they can agree on and be addicted to.

The downtown core is sadly lacking in pho joints. They are far and few between, and poorly advertised. There are none in Yaletown.

If I had the gumption and the cash, I’d open a pho restaurant right in Yaletown. Somewhere along Hamilton or Mainland. I’d make it friendly and not too trendy. I’d call it just Pho and the sign would be back lit with blue neon. Inside, the furniture would be nice but not avant-garde. The kitchen staff would consist of real Vietnamese cooks. I’d have a web site. I might even take orders over the Internet for delivery around the Yaletown area.

Pho would be clean, classy, affordable, approachable, and worthy of every diner’s dollar. I tell ya, it’s a gold mine waiting to be discovered.

If I had $200K, I’d be on this mofo in a second. Anyone who does, you’d be foolish to not at least look into this.

I can’t believe I just gave away this great potential business opportunity! It’s money for the taking folks!

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

My lunch arrangements are done. I am meeting Martin tomorrow on-campus and on Thursday I’m meeting Joanna and Chris at Swiss Chalet.

Martin and I used to work at Cypress Solutions. This was a dark period in my life, and Martin was one of the few good things to come from working there. He’s working as an electronics technologist at the Chem department. He says we have a lot to talk about. I am looking forward to it.

Today, I went downtown again. The plan was to buy a small gift for a friend, and some Christmas cards. I did that easily, but then I wandered into Banana Republic. There was really no reason to go there. There were no gifts to buy there. However, as I perused the items, I found the pair of pants I’ve been looking for over a year. They are the replacements for the pair of khaki jeans I’ve been looking for. I love these pants. They fit really well, which is rare for me. It wasn’t cheap, but I know it’ll be worth the money I paid.

Speaking of money, I’m poor. I don’t think I’ve been this poor before. During undergrad, I always had scholarships, and then I worked during the summer for the co-op program. This time around, I’m paying for everything out of my own pocket. It sucks. I guess I won’t be buying more stuff at Banana anytime soon. I may get a loan. I’m going to buy more lottery tickets.

MONDAY MUSINGS

They say the holidays are a busy time, but I can’t say that’s the truth for me this year.

Today, I signed a card and chipped in for the gift for my supervisor. Whoops, I hope she’s not reading this.

I also did laundry. Someone gave me a copy of all the season one and season two episodes of The Family Guy on CD. Thanks Heather!

That was the extent of my day. I tried to co-ordinate lunch between friends. The logistics maybe difficult.

I did also find two interesting pieces of news. The first was that the long-delayed opening of the on-campus liquor store is going ahead. With the new construction going on at the Village, a new liquor store was slated to open. The inventory was moved in and the store was ready to go. Then, the wise, wise Campbell provincial government decided to get out of the liquor selling business. The on-campus liquor store was held in stasis, neither completely shut-down nor was it open either. Thousands of dollars was spent on this location, yet it appeared the government was going to let it go to waste, all in the name of “saving money”. I was speaking to Marcia earlier this weekend and the rumour was that Campbell’s sister-in-law wanted the retail space that the liquor store currently occupied.

We were certain that if indeed the liquor store was scrapped, and his sister-in-law moved in, we would have a conflict of interest on our hands. I almost wanted the liquor store to close after hearing that juicy rumour.

However, Marcia informed me today, that in fact, the liquor store will open soon. Oh well, I guess the province has lost an opportunity to oust our premier. We do get an on-campus liquor store though.

The second piece of news I received was that Pittsburgh Penguins forward Kris Beech was in hospital after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. Kris’ brother, Ryan and I are good friends. I met Ryan several years ago while we were living in Hamber at UBC. The Beech family was kind enough to let me attend Kris’ draft into the NHL, where he was taken 7th overall.

It looks like Kris will be okay, but he’ll be out several weeks before he can return to the ice. Let’s hope Kris has a speedy recovery and can join Mario back on PP soon.

LAZY SUNDAY

I woke up at 10am today. This might seem like a reasonable time to get up, but I didn’t fall asleep until 6am. I think I had too much caffeine.

Anyways, I got up for a good reason. Several residents of SJC had planned out a farewell brunch for one of our own. Dr. Richard Townsend has been staying with us for the last three months.

Richard came out of retirement to teach at the Educational Studies department. He’s from Toronto originally and he ventured out west for a change in pace. Richard was a shining light at SJC and could always be depended on to provide a positive and pleasant outlook on things. He was a popular presence around the College, and it was a delight to converse with him. Richard took an active role at SJC, and we were all better for it.

We wish him and his wife well, back in Toronto and back in much deserved retirement.

For Richard’s brunch, we decided to go to Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe on 4th. Sadly, in the five years of undergrad and half year of grad, I have never been to Sophie’s. I’ve heard many good things about it, so I was excited to go.

We lined up for almost half an hour for our table. Once inside, I was able to see the eccletic decor. On the wall next to me was a signed photo of Angela Jolie at Sophie’s. Neat. I even got to meet Sophie herself.

I had two pancakes, two scrambled eggs, and some bacon. It was good, but I’ve had better breakfasts. Denny’s makes better scrambled eggs in opinion. They add butter to theirs, which makes it so good. Over conversation, Arash told me that he’s been to the new IHOP at Lougheed Mall already! He stole my thunder! Arash lives at SJC with me, and he’s originally from Tsawwassen! There’s no way he should have gone to Lougheed Mall! Apparently, someone wanted to go to IHOP, and they drove all the way there. I spent ten minutes grilling him on what it looked like and how good it was. Arash said he lined up for almost 45 minutes for a table. Lineups at IHOP! That’s awful!

Richard came around to speak to us all personally during the brunch, a classy touch.

After we all got home, I slid back into bed and napped from 3pm to 6pm. I woke up pretty groggy.

I’ve done nothing all night. I’m looking forward to adjusting my sleeping schedule to more decent hours.

Alright, have yourselves a good Monday.

COUNTRY STYLE RESPONDS

The following day after I sent my e-mail, Country Style responded. Here is their response:



Erwin: My name is Clark Mechan and I’m the regional manager for Country Style Foods here in western Canada. I can be reach by phone at (604) 535 – xxxx.

I must start of by apologizing on behalf of Country Style Foods and the owner of this franchise for the way you were treated while shopping at our UBC location. All of the incidences that you have mentioned in your e-mail really disturbed us here at head office, as much at it disturbed you. These things should never have had happened.

Country Style Foods prides it’s self on the way our stores are operated. To make sure, the people who buy a franchisee must go through a 6 week training program at our head office in Toronto.

Unfortunately it looks the training that this franchisee was giving was never pass on to the employee that served you.

Erwin I would like to assure you that I will personally visit this location and speak to the owner of this store. I will touch base with him on all of your concerns. I will also make sure that all of the areas that you mentioned in your e-mail are corrected.

I would also like to say again, that I’m sorry for what happened while shopping at this location. I would like you to know that Country Style Foods does value your business and we would appreciate if you would give

us an other opportunity to serve you.

If you are not satisfied with the service you receive on your next visit, I would welcome a call from you.

Regards.

Clark Mechan

Regional Manager / Western Canada

Country Style Foods Inc.

I’m glad they’re taking this seriously, but I’m wondering what, if anything, they’ll find when he makes his visit. I hope they report back to me on their findings and what they will change about operating procedures.

They want me to go back to Country Style again, but I assure you I won’t until they tell me they’ve changed things.

Regardless, it was nice to see them respond so quickly.

WHAT TO DO?

There are several people I want to have lunch with during the holidays. Coincidently, they all work in the same general area in Burnaby. Everyone has expressed interest in going to Swiss Chalet with me.

The problem is, I don’t think everyone of these people knows each other. I wonder what I should do. Should I invite everyone to one big lunch so I can see everyone at once? I’d have to keep the conversation kinda general to include everyone. Or, do I have several lunches at Swiss Chalet, so I can personalize each lunch with a specific group/person? This would mean I’d have to make several trips out to Burnaby from UBC though.

What would you do in my situation?

BUSY FRIDAY

I woke up at 12:30pm today and that was a bad thing. The first thing I did was to check my e-mail. One of the new messages was from my supervisor, Dr. Elizabeth Croft. She was reminding everyone in the research group to meet at 11:45am for the Christmas lunch… the lunch that had been planned for weeks.

My heart sank, I knew I forgot something! Since Monday, I’ve told myself I’m done all my responsibilities. Strangely, at the time, I didn’t get a wholehearted “yes” from myself. It was as if some part of me knew I had forgotten something. I had cast aside that sliver of doubt. Stupid me. I’m already not so close with my research group, now they probably think I’m an even bigger bastard.

Undeterred, I decided to continue with my original plans. I went downtown and caught a matinee showing of the latest Bond flick at Capitol 6. I can tell you, with the exception of Tinseltown, downtown Vancouver has the crappiest theatres in the Lower Mainland. The suburbs and their expansive Silvercity complexes are the place to go watch movies. Anyways, I was disappointed with the newest James Bond outing. It was boring at times. Halle Berry was alright, but the whole film lacked punch.

Afterwards, I went and did some shopping, for myself and for others. Again, I went on a crusade for a new pair of shoes. I looked and I looked, but nothing quite came close to my old pair of Roots oxfords. I’m not sure how I’ll resolve this.

Now, I’m home, a bit tired and glad to be dry. Some interesting stuff happened in the news today.

Poor, poor Moby. Weeks after Eninem threatened to punch him on live national television, Moby was actually attacked and maced outside a club yesterday. The motivation for the attack is unknown apparently. It sort of reminds me of an incident years ago in New York with Dan Rather. He was walking along in the street, when some stranger came up to him and said, “What’s the frequency Kenneth?“. He then proceeded to pummel Rather. Weird.

Moby is a well-known pacifist. I think that’s the root of his problem. If you’re going tell people you don’t like fighting, someone’s going to take a free swing at you, knowing you won’t fight back. Those glasses don’t help either.

In sports news, I read that Ted Nolan interviewed for the vacant head coaching position with the Calgary Flames. It’s about damn time in my mind. Nolan, in his rookie season as an NHL coach, led the Buffalo Sabres to a winning season. Nolan himself won the Jack Adams Trophy for the Coach of the Year. His reward for this? He was unceremoniously fired during the summer after his breakthrough season. He hasn’t coach at the NHL level since. I certainly hope it has nothing to do with the fact he has Native Indian roots.

I was told the name of the movie would not appear on the hotel bill