Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How Many Big Box Stores Does it Take to Sell Me a Working Laptop?

So luckily my parents don't really know how to use the internet well enough to ever stumble across my blog so I feel like this is a safe enough place to talk about something related to their Christmas present.  My sisters and I are planning to get them a laptop to replace their 10-year-old barely-working OTV-built CRT-monitored dinosaur that they are scared to turn on because they're worried it is going to get a virus or crash or break the internet.

What I'm looking for is a 15.6" laptop under $400 with decent enough specs that it will stay relatively fast for several years.  And something that works, preferably.

Unfortunately, obtaining this laptop is easier said than done.  Upon doing a bit of research into laptop prices for what I want comparing local big-box chains vs. ordering online (Dell, Lenovo), the local places seemed to offer the best prices so I decided to go against my principles and buy a computer from Best Buy or Future Shop.

What principles?  Back in the good old days of 2005 I had an excellent experience with Future Shop's impeccable customer service.  There was a printer I wanted that was on sale, it was -40 outside, I drove a 1991 Chevy Sprint, and it was the last day of the sale and the printer was not available in store (according to the website) so I wanted to call and find out if I could get a rain check on the printer instead of risking my life to drive down to the store.  If I remember correctly I had to phone them about 20 times (no exag) before a 15 year old from customer service answered the phone 15 minutes before the store closed and told me I couldn't get a rain check over the phone, I had to come into the store within the next 15 minutes.  In the end I found out the printer was available at Staples for a price match and ditched my Future Shop rain check because I hate Future Shop.  I vowed never to go back.

I have since bought a few things from FS but nothing big and I hate myself every time I do.

Anyway back to the laptop saga.  On Sunday I went into Best Buy because I hate FS (even though they're the same company?), picked out a $400 Acer, the sales associate went to check if it was in stock and then proceeded to physically search all of the laptop storage cabinets for about 10 minutes (no exag) before finally saying "Yeah.... we don't have it in stock.  Sorry.  You can buy it online if you want."  WHAT?  Are you telling me your Geek Squad-written software that tells you what you have in stock was WRONG, or did someone hide all the laptops?  Either way, great sales skills.  He didn't even TRY to sell me a nearly identical Compaq model, just please go away I don't like people ahhhhhhh why does everyone ask me questions at my job selling computersssss

The next morning I checked out the FS website at about 8:45 and noticed there was a sale on the above mentioned Compaq for $300!!! until 9 AM.  I did some quick Googling to make sure it was the same model and that the reviews seemed solid and started going through the process.  I started typing in all of my info around 8:58 and was still entering info (there were about 5 steps to complete the ordering process) slightly after 9 but the price had not changed from $300 so I figured I was still going to get the sale price.  I submitted my order at 9:05 and as soon as I clicked that button, the price that was charged to my credit card changed to $350.  WTF Future Shop, thanks for tricking me.  I called customer service who said it was because the website takes a few minutes to update their prices when the sale ends so that's why it was still saying I was going to get the cheaper price.  SERIOUSLY I was 5 minutes over.  You can't just give me the sale price?  I was looking for my credit card which is why I was late.

Anyway long story short I decided that despite this stupidity, $350 was still the cheapest price I was going to get so went to the store to pick it up.  Brought it home, turned it on, and the display was bright red and super pixely.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME Future Shop.  After all that.

So I went back to FS for the second time that day, stood in line for customer service for 10 minutes, then found out I should be standing in the computer service line.  The tech guy had a look and was like "oh yeah this is broken" so I exchanged for a new one, had a feeling that maybe I should try it out in the store to make sure it also wasn't broken, shrugged it off, took it home, turned it on, red screen, back to Future Shop.


"I'm really sorry... this isn't a good impression of our store..."  YA THINK??  I did a straight-up return and vowed never to shop at Future Shop again.  This time I will try to hold myself to that.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hole in the Wall

A couple years ago my friend Jess told me about a restaurant near Saskatoon called Hole in the Wall.  According to her it was the fanciest place around with the best food around too.  It was pretty expensive so she had gone a couple times on very special occasions.  I was really interested in checking it out so last year for Brahm's birthday I registered us both in a cooking class at the restaurant - 80 bucks a person got you cooking lessons, a 5 course meal, 2 glasses of wine, recipes, and an apron.  Pretty reasonable for all that!  But this year when my birthday rolled around we decided to try the other Hole in the Wall experience of just sitting and eating for 4 hours - and it was AWESOME.

Hole in the Wall has tasting menus which allow a party of two (or more) to choose 3 appetizers and 2 or 3 main courses off the menu, which really there can't be a better way to do things when you go there.  Now, sit back and enjoy my sort of crappy low-light photos of our evening at Hole in the Wall.

First, we started off with some insanely good jalapeno cornbread.  Wow... this stuff was amazing.  And this is just the free bread.

Next came our three appetizer choices:

Can't remember the Spanish name but these are goat cheese-stuffed prunes wrapped in bacon.  WOW.  So rich.  So amazing.  Definitely our favourite appetizer.  Oh maaaan those were so good.

We decided to be adventurous and try the spiced chicken livers.  Brahm had never eaten liver and I had eaten it as a kid and liked it (my parents called it "brown meat") until I found out that it was liver and kids were supposed to hate liver, so I refused to eat it anymore.  These were really good though!

Our final appetizer was grilled scallops in parmesan cheese and brandy.  Really really good!  Starting with the bacon wrapped goat cheese prunes may have been a bad choice though because seriously, what could top that?  We would soon find out.

Next came the soup - cream of butternut squash.  So good!  I kept forgetting about taking pictures of the presentation and starting to eat and then remembering.

You can also see the delicious sangria in the background behind my water glass.  I enjoyed the fact that the sangria I had made in the summer in my first attempt and never having tasted it before tasted pretty similar!  Thus, I clearly know how to make a good sangria.

Next came the salad which I totally forgot to take a picture of.  It was mixed greens with cherry tomatoes, a guacamole dressing, and finished with a jumbo shrimp.  I have tried to like shrimp... but I just don't so I passed mine on to Brahm but the rest of the salad was excellent!

What I love about fancy restaurants and getting a multi-course meal is the palate-cleansing sorbet you get between appetizers and entrees.  Classy much?  We are so classy.  The sorbets of the evening were strawberry and lemon.

Everything on the entree menu looked so insane, it was hard to pick just three.  Once again we decided to be  a little adventurous and try something new, so we ordered roasted quail:

Which was okay... I didn't love it.  But I'm glad I tried it anyway.  They are just tiny little guys with not very much meat on them!  Sort of weird.  But tasty.  Maybe there is a trick to eating them that I don't know about.

Next were a couple of safer choices that we did know what they were all about:

Salmon with a dill sauce!  Salmon should always have a dill sauce.  You can't go wrong with salmon+dill!  Yumm!  It had a crispy layer on top where it had been pan fried, so delish.

And finally, OMGOMGOMG we chose the item on the menu that was listed as "the house specialty" and WOW, I can definitely see why.  These ribs were hands down the BEST I have ever eaten in my life, by about 50 landslides.  Wow.  I can't stop thinking about them.

SO GOOD.  So good.  Like seriously... SO GOOD.  We wrapped up the last 4 because we were starting to get full and I took them home and the next day at lunch I wasn't very hungry so I was like "well... I will just have 2 ribs now and eat the other ones later when I am hungrier" but then when I realized I was basically licking the plate and sucking on the bones I heated up the other two as well and kept telling my sister, who was in the other room, that these were the best ribs I've ever had in my life oh maaaaan these are so good ahhhhh.  So good.

A few times throughout the meal the chef, Nelson Urteaga, came and visited with us.  He recognized us from the cooking class last March and was SO sincerely happy for us that we had since graduated from engineering and had found jobs.  He told us he was going to come have a drink with us after dessert because finishing engineering was a cause for celebration.  Awww!  What a nice man.  You could tell he really loves what he does and cares about his customers.  He asked us what dessert we had made in the cooking class (I think to make sure we didn't get the same one that night) and asked us if we liked creme brulee, if he could make that for us.

And once again, easily the best creme brulee I've ever had... I would call myself a creme brulee expert to any extent but I could just tell that this is what really well-made creme brulee tastes like.  It was light and not too sweet and just a perfect way to end an amazing 4 hours of eating.

Unfortunately Chef Nelson got a little too busy in the kitchen to sit down with us after but still sent us out some complimentary Baileys and came over once again to congratulate us for being finished school and thank us for coming in.

It was an excellent and delicious evening at Hole in the Wall.  We left feeling full but not disgustingly stuffed.  I already can't wait to go back!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rain Barrel

My sisters and I learned to not be afraid of swimming in a rain barrel.  It was the rain barrel at my grandparents' house in Saskatoon.  During the summer my grandpa would fill it with warm water and I would spend an entire afternoon splashing around in this tiny barrel.

I don't remember clearly the first time I dunked my head, but I do remember that it was in that barrel and I felt so excited and empowered and brave, and I made sure my grandpa watched me do it again several times to prove I'd done it.  After that, all I wanted to do was stand in the rain barrel all day and dunk my head, holding my breath for a few seconds, plugging my nose, over and over.  I thought I had learned to swim.

Not entirely sure where the tube came into play... but I love this memory because it reminds me of how such a simple thing can be such an immense joy for a small child.

Thursday, November 18, 2010



GROSS hahahaha

Things that would be really gross if you made them into popsicles

  • Cream of mushroom soupsicles
  • Spaghetti and meat saucicles
  • Ketchupsicles
  • Mustardsicles
  • Mayosicles
  • Thousand Island dressingsicles
  • Ranchsicles
  • Any salad dressingsicles really
  • Potato soupsicles with corn in it
  • Oatmealsicles
  • Scrambled eggsicles
  • Gravysicles
  • Grated cheesicles
  • Cottage cheesicles

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Giant M&M

When I was 5 and my sister was 3 (give or take a year) my dad took us to this special children's concert at the Ex or possibly the Children's Festival on a Saturday morning.  I believe you had to pre-buy tickets so they knew exactly how many kids there were going to be, as throughout the concert the performers would take breaks and draw names for a bunch of different prizes.  Every kid there won a prize, and most kids got goody bags with colouring books, those little Crayola crayon packages, some stickers, that kind of stuff.

I think Allyson won one of the goody bags, which is what I really wanted.  I loved getting to open goody bags and discover all of the new stuff I got.  As the concert wore on, my name still wasn't called.  They were running out of goody bags!  There were only 5 left on the stage!  There were no more goody bags left!  Was I going to be the only kid at the show who didn't win a prize?  This was not shaping up to be a good day.  All I wanted were my freaking red/yellow/green/blue/black Crayolas and some stickers.

Then suddenly they announced The Big Prize was about to be drawn for.  It was the last prize and apparently it was the one all the kids wanted.  Not me.  I didn't care.  I just wanted the goody bag.  One of the event volunteers walked onto the stage carrying...

He is now missing an eyebrow.  We tried to sell him multiple times at garage sales but alas, he still lives in my parents' basement.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Texts From My Mom v. II

Is it already time for another installment of Texts From My Mom?  Yes, yes it is.

The story here is that this afternoon Brahm and I drove out to Humboldt to go to a turkey supper at my parents' church.  All the food is donated and cooked by members of the congregation.  Also, this summer part of the highway was shut down between Saskatoon and Humboldt because it was under water so now there is some construction in that zone.

November 6, 2010

>i need 2 make 2 pies 4 tomorrow i have all the stuff 2 make them
(Me:  what kind of pies are you making?)
>i have canned pumpkin
>they r widening the hiway where the water overflowed
>Theres a bit of construction there roughrider game on now hope they win already lost 4 in a row

November 7, 2010

>We will b atthe church at 345 there is 1 lane traffic at the water not a problem but just so u no u might c ed smith* [*name changed] flying in his plan
(Then, a text received as I am driving on the highway in time to get there by 3:45, read at the church)
>Drive slow starts at 415 i wont b there til about 4
(Me:  Well we are here now)
>We at the church come

Bold represents one of the best texts I have ever received.  We did not see Ed flying in his plan, unfortunately.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Mystery of the Missing Cheese

My sister Allyson, sitting on the couch eating celery and cheese:

"Uh oh, I think I lost a piece of cheese."

Shakes out the blanket she is under, looks on the floor and the couch, wanders into her bedroom.

"Oh never mind, it's on my bed!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

DavidsTea Obsession Update

fWhen my recent online order comes in I will own 15 different varieties of loose leaf tea from DavidsTea.

I am SO addicted and I am never drinking bagged tea again.  Okay maybe... like I will take all my boxed stuff to work with me and drink it there or something.  But seriously.  It is so insanely good.  I don't even want to drink coffee ever again either because DavidsTea even has some tea/coffee blend type drinks (tea with coffee beans in it!) that are pretty excellent as well.  It is probably good that Saskatoon doesn't have one because I would be in there every day spending all my money.

I texted Yasmine, the friend/co-worker who introduced me to DavidsTea in the summer, today and told her that she has created a monster.  But as addictions go I think this one is pretty okay.

Seriously, go to the website and tell me you don't want to try every variety.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Texts from My Mom

You may remember that my mom loves texting.  She has recently developed the habit of replacing as many words as possible with letters or numbers, which make her already amusing texts even better.  So, in light of this development, I have decided to start a new blog feature called


My mom on the weather:

>Its so icy u can hardy walk on the sidewalks but on tue when u come home it supposed 2 b 10 4 a few days
>Seems 2 b nicer there than here
>R u going 2 bed now

My mom's Halloween costume:

>I have a witch costume on that i made out of black garbage bags me hot
>Its really cool i pulled the bottom of the skirt 2 make it look ragged and gathered the skirt with packing tape u would b proud if u saw it

My mom on biking and her weekend activities:

>Rode my bike 2 work scary cause roads r icy and bumpy but calm and fresh
>Went 2 mamma mia yesterday it was nice weather 12 said the van
(Me:  did you get any trick or treaters?)
>No at mamma mia in afternoon got home at 730 didn't see any but your house had a person ally carved a jackolantern put it on the step with a candle it looked cool in the dark
>Wish me luck riding the bike home on the treacherous humboldt streets maybe they melted during the day ill let u know how they r im sure u r dying 2 no haha
>Leaving now
>Made it melted lots since this am still scary tho lots traffic on 12th

My mom keeping up with my eating habits:

>Whats 4 lunch
(Me: I had soup and salad)
>Where r u going 4 supper
>Soup and salad good lunch
>Riding home 4 lunch roads good now not eating here depends whos cooking

And finally, a Tip of the Day:

>How r u enjoying your day wayne just told me about a website called dropbox.com he said its his tip of the day

I have to say I am getting sooo glad my mom knows how 2 text.  This daily amusement is so awesome haha.