Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Patio Job

This past week I have been employed working on reconstructing a patio and retaining wall. See the pictures of what we have done so far by clicking here.

The Property we were working on.


The manual labour of moving the old retaining wall bricks to the front yard and into the dumpsters, excavating old limestone and clay, moving in new gravel and limestone and moving in new designer bricks wore me out. In fact Tuesday night I went to bed at 7:00 P.M. and didn't wake up until 6:30 A.M. the next morning. This past week I gained the realization of mussels I never knew I had!

Friday, October 28, 2005

An Interesting Article on exactly who my Uncle really is...

Bob Young

Globetechnology: Bob Young realizes it's time to hang his hat on a bold, new venture

Had the paper copy of the article (linked above) put in my family's mailbox today. Since we don't subscribe to this said newspaper I didn't see it until today. The article provides a good deal of background on how my uncle made his money and what his interests are in today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Major Announcement....

SPAR

I had been playing telephone tag for well over a week with someone I know. My mother had talked to her mother after church about a week a go. The friend's mother had said she was looking for people to work for her over this coming holiday season. So yesterday I finally got to talk to her expecting a job interview. Well, there was nothing of the sort. In fact, we agreed that I could start Monday at a pretty good pay rate that even competes with what I was making in New York. I also hear rumours that this might lead to future employment with the company.

Nonetheless, I am looking forward to Monday!

Word Verification

Due to the high number of spam comments on this blog, I have turned on the word verification form. I have also advised Google and Blogger of the spam comments and the attached blogs. Google/Blogger has been sweeping the blogs for spam like this and have been quite successful in doing so.

Please feel free to comment, but please refrain from advertising stuff that doesn't have anything to do with the topic you are commenting on. Thanks!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Work, Work, Work and a little Oskee Wee Wee

What a week!

I worked my but off all week and got in a little enjoyment on Friday night. But lets start at the beginning (which I hear is a good place to start!).

Last Saturday (not yesterday):

I helped retrieve about 30-40 air conditioners. I swear the manager of Coldex and I spent more time travelling between the customers homes then we did in the homes. Why? Because each of us knew exactly what to do and went in and ripped out the units and loaded them up and moved on. I was sore after that day from lifting, fetching and carrying.

Sunday (not today):

This day saw me running around like usual in my church as per usual. However, the paramedics and firefighters had to make an appearance as one of the participants in the nursery was having trouble. Word is nothing much is wrong after a CAT scan and blood tests. Apparently little guys going through toddlers see increases in temperatures which results in a high white blood count. But, to say the least, everyone involved in the Sunday school was a little concerned. Thank goodness there is a couple of nurses who are members of the church who responded. Many thanks to York Region Paramedics and Central York Fire Fighters.

Monday to Thursday:

I worked for Coldex sorting and sifting through their refrigerators to figure out what to throw out and what to keep. Also, I helped move out the refrigerators to a storage unit as Coldex is moving out of their current office by the end of the month.

Wednesday I got up to be out the door and on my way out of town with the manager from Coldex. We were off to Ottawa for the day to deliver fridges to the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. While we were there we met up with Bill Arends who recently had surgery and was out of commission for a little while. We had lunch at East Side Marios at the St. Laurent Mall. The food was good but the waiter was horrible. We had to wait for our main course for over an hour. Sure he brought out the salad and bread on time, however, the main course was a signficant wait after finishing the salad. He said he put the orders in seperatly. Um...so why then was Bill able to finish three coffees before seeing his food? No tip for you mister!

Thursday night I helped set up tables for the 21st annual Aurora United Church Fall Event. The event ended up raising over fifteen thousand dollars which goes towards the capital fund of the church (to keep the roof on, the place carpeted, etc.) in order that the church might house various community groups. This has been a quite successful fundraiser for some time.

Friday:
This was not a bad day. I finally caught up with Alan who used to work for Coldex as a contracted driver during the September rush to move the company's fridges out! He had called earlier to say that he had a landscaping project to lay brick. So Friday I met up with him and was part of a crew that took out a retaining wall that had gone wrong in north Aurora. The retaining wall, since the builder built the house fifteen years ago, had shifted about three inches. The wall had shifted for two reasons. The first was that some of the lower blocks were never glued and sealed properly when it was first installed. The second was two drain pipes from the gutters that come from the edge of the roof on the house and garage meet underground in a "T-Formation" then move on further. Well after the "T" meeting the drainage pipe starts going up hill a bit. So the water has frozen a bit and created small holes in the drainage pipe. This said drainage pipe is right behind the retaining wall. Brilliance! That leaking water then freezes and thaws causing the not properly sealed retaining wall to shift over time. Great landscaping brilliance courtesy of the builders that make the cookie cutter housing subdivisions! A couple of thousands later and this homeowner will have this problem fixed! I knew I wasn't a big fan of retaining walls for a reason.

I rushed home to have a shower and then hop in the car to head to Hamilton. The Ticats were in town to take on the Ottawa Renegades. I, being the nephew of the owner of the Ticats, got to sit in the owners box for the game. The owner also supplemented the attendance in the box with a couple of long time season ticket holders. Together we had a lot of fun and I left full of food. My brother, sister, myself and my brother's girlfriend couldn't find the box at first. In fact we happenned to walk in on the TSN set at Ivor Wynne Stadium. Also, we walked through the press box. Later in the game I checked out who was in the press box on the posted list and saw scouts for the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills. Also in the press box was non-other than Ottawa Sun sports Columnist Chris Stevenson.

I even got to ask my uncle a simple question, "Do you have trouble getting into the stadium sometimes?" Bob agreed he did have trouble on the odd occasion. But usually he makes a little fuss and people around the security guard (who won't let him in) start laughing. Usually the security guard apologizes in embarassment and lets him pass. But my uncle usually congratulates the security guard for doing a good job at not letting people in without a ticket.

Another note about Ivor Wynne for the ladies. My uncle noted one of the big problems he heard about was that the womens' bathrooms were not receiving positive reviews. So he introduced flowers into the bathrooms in nice vases. My uncle noted he got the idea from a receptionist. The female season ticket holders in the box with us that night noted they felt appreciated because of this move by my uncle. The guys kinda felt left out. :)

A very busy week it was!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

York Region Transit Strikes Out Again!

York Region Transit

This is an open e-mail to York Region Transit:

The added comments in brackets are meant to add some insight into my thinking that day and were not included in the original e-mail sent to transitinfo@york.ca

Re: Route 98 Southbound scheduled for 7:54 A.M.

Dear Sir/Madam:

On Saturday, I had to travel to Yonge & Major MacKenzie area yesterday to meet up with the manager of Coldex in order to do some work on Saturday.

So I checked the YRT schedule (thinking, hey they only messed up once so far, thats not too bad). Route 98, on Saturday, was supposed to stop at Yonge & Allaura Blvd. at 7:54 A.M.

Here is what happenned.

So I went out, bought a newspaper from the local convenience store and waited at the YRT bus stop at 7:40 A.M. I was totally enthralled in the newspaper article until I heard a bus sound. I looked up and barely had a chance to move when the YRT bus went wizzing by. I know it was the bus since it had "98 Bernard Terminal" on the front with about two people on the bus. I had barely enough time to wave at it. But it did not stop. I double checked my watch noticing the time was only 7:46 A.M.

To say the least I was not pleased. But thank goodness GO Transit has yet to give up the Newmarket "B" Yonge Street route as YRT's VIVA service has yet to start up this far. I walked accross Henderson Dr. at Yonge to the GO Transit stop. The YRT and GO Bus stops are seperate as the VIVA stop on the Soutn west corner of Yonge at Allaura/Henderson Dr. has been fully constructed (except for the fare machines) and the sign has been unbagged indicating that YRT stops at that stop. The GO Transit stop was moved to the North-West side so it could remain in operation while the new VIVA/YRT stop was constructed. I paid 4.15 to the GO Bus driver and went off to Major Mackenzie & Yonge Street.

I called YRT at their phone number (1-866-MOVE-YRT) at 8:30 A.M. (when their call centre opens) and waited two to three minutes in order finally speak with an operator. Why did I have to wait for two to three minutes? So the automated system could tell me useless information that VIVA service was expanding, if I wanted information on this and that (including I believe what paint they use!....kiddding!).

The person on the phone picked up and I explained what happenned in a nice way. I even said I was considering submitting my GO Transit ticket to YRT in order to pay the difference
between GO's fare ($4.15) and YRTs ($3.10 with 10 Adult 2-zone tickets). I also said, to make figuring out which driver was at fault, that during that time between being passed by the YRT bus
(7:46 A.M.) and being picked up by the GO Bus (7:54 A.M.) that I saw bus number 9801 heading northbound on Yonge on Route 98 around 7:50 A.M.(which by jove is right on schedule!) I was put on hold for five minutes so she could contact the contractor.

The operator came back to say the contractor said the driver picked up three "timed" fares on that corner at 7:54 A.M without any incident. I questioned how they could be "timed" fares considering that the VIVA machine (which validates the tickets by printing the time on it) had yet to be installed and the only fare machines on the buses don't print the times on it. (When your a regular rider on transit, you tend to know these things). The operator was dumb founded. She was a little confused. I asked to double check whether she had the right intersection on the right route by indicating Route 98 southbound at Yonge and Allaura scheduled to arrive at 7:54 A.M.? She said yes.

She indicated that the bus I saw at 7:46 A.M. might have been an off duty bus.

Added to this morning's observations, which I didn't mention on the phone I saw route 32 go Westward Henderson as I walked Eastward to the corner of Yonge & Henderson. I also know this bus doesn't go south of Henderson on Yonge Street at anytime. I also note that the Industrial Parkway bus doesn't operate on weekends and that the only YRT route to operate
on that section of Yonge Street at that time was Route 98. I also believe that the yards for the Newmarket buses are in Newmarket, so the only bus that would go down there off duty, not being a GO Bus, would be Route 98. I know it wasn't a GO Bus since it was in your colour scheme and said "YRT" and "Moving York" on the side of the bus.

I then indicated, in a rather angry tone, that I was not interested in being lied to in order that YRT not admit to its mistake. She said that this was what the operator had told her. I indicated that this was the second incident in about three weeks of early buses costing me either time or money. I also suggested I might submit my complaint to the Mayor of Aurora (who is also Aurora's Regional Councillor) to handle because I was getting the run around by YRT. I then hung up the phone after spending almost ten minutes and getting no where.

I find this situation to be unacceptable. This is the second time a York Region Transit bus has caused me to either spend more money than I need to (the fare difference noted above) or time (see my original complaint below about another incident as submitted via your website).

I will be forwarding this e-mail to Aurora Mayor Tim Jones as this is the second time in three weeks I have had issues with buses arriving early. I will forward my complaint to Mayor Jones if this issue is not resolved to my satisfaction by Sunday, October 23rd.

I will no be thinking twice before utilizing YRT services in the future.

I hope this problem can be rectified as I encourage public transit use whenever possible. However, I find these incidents to be truly unacceptable.

Sincerely,

Michael Suddard

(see this posting for full story on my previous incident with York Region Transit referred to above)

Monday, October 10, 2005

York Region Transit Customer service

York Region Transit

On September 29th of this year I was working in the Jane and Langstaff area like I had been for the previous two weeks. The ride home was anything but enjoyable. The Route 20, northbound on Jane Street, came at 4:55 P.M. thus, I missed it. I saw it go by as I was finishing up work for the day and thought it was the previously scheduled bus operating really late. That was because the Route 20 northbound wasn't scheduled to arrive at Jane & Courtland until 5:05 P.M.

Apparently I was wrong. The 5:05 P.M. bus, which I was at Jane & Courtland for 5:00 P.M. for, never showed up and I was forced to take the 5:24 P.M. bus. Not only that but taking this later bus means I miss a connection to the Route 98 northbound bus further on in my route. In other words I take 4 YRT/VIVA buses in order to get home after work. So I was not impressed when I got home at 7:30 P.M.

I filled out the YRT online form for customer feedback that very night (September 29th) and waited all weekend for a response. I shouldn't have had to wait the weekend considering the website notes that: "If you request a response, we will be contacting you within 72 hours."

So here is the online form I forwarded to the YRT customer service online:

Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2005 8:43 PM
To: Transitinfo
Subject: YRT Web Site: Conventional Transit Compliment/Concern

Name: Michael Suddard
Travelling day: 9/29/05
Time of day: 5:00
Route number: 20
Bus number: Don' t know....
Travelling direction: Northbound on Jane
Closest major intersection: Jane Street & Courtland Avenue
Description of Incident/Event:
I was on Courtland near Jane Street and saw the YRT route 20 go wizzing
buy at 4:55 P.M..

I normally catch the bus Route 20 Northbound at Jane and Courtland
around 5:04 P.M. (usually the bus is on time lately or a few minutes late...thelatest I have
caught that bus is 5:15 P.M.). The 5:04 P.M. northbound Jane bus never showed
and I was force to take the 5:24 P.M.

The no show of the 5:04 P.M. meant that my normal transfer at Rutherford
(5:22 P.M.) didn't happen. Therefore I had to get on the 5:37 P.M. bus. The
missing of the 5:22 p.m. meant missing the the right connection, after VIVA, with
Route 98 from Bernard northward to Aurora I literraly missed the northbound
Route 98 by 1 minute as I saw it make a right onto Yonge from Bernard. I then was
forced to wait thirty minutes with three other people with similar stories.

I am now considering taking GO Transit as this is the second time in a
week this YRT bus has had problems. I am always sure to get to the bus stop at
Jane & Courtland by 5 P.M. which should provide more than enough leeway if the
bus is early. This corener is a YRT schedule point that the driver should be
using to guage his/her route timing. Therefore, he/she should be holding there
until the appropriate time on the schedule like the route 20 & 85 does at Vaughan
Mills terminal.

I have been hearing and experiencing around the issue of bad connection
times between bus routes lately. Thus, I allow a minimum of 10 minutes
between YRT schedule times to transfer to deal with lateness.


***********************************************************************
This e-mail was generated from the online feedback form
at http://www.yorkregiontransit.com/feedback.asp
on Thursday, September 29, 2005 at 8:43:27 PM
***********************************************************************

On Tuesday I received the following response:

"Transitinfo" on October 3, 2005 at 1:59 PM -0500 wrote:
Hi Michael,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding YRT Route 20.

Your concern has been entered into our tracking system to be
investigated by our Operations department. Your ticket number is 24908,
and you will be contacted with a resolution to this matter as soon as
possible.

Should you wish to inquire about the progress of your ticket, please
contact our call centre at 905-762-2100 or 1-866 MOVE YRT (668-3978) and
one of our Customer Service Representatives will be happy to assist you.
The call centre is open between 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Friday
and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

At YRT we strive to meet and improve upon on our customer service
standards. We appreciate you taking the time to let us know your
concern.

Regards,

Laura Fudor
Customer Service Coordinator
York Region Transit
www.york.ca

OUR MISSION:

To provide quality public transit services which support the economic
vitality, environment sustainability, and health of the Regional
community.
----------------------

All fine and dandy except that the original promise of the 72 hours as posted on the YRT website had been broken.

I called on Wednesday in the afternoon to their customer service on the phone. I received a response that the problem was still being investigated. I then went onto question the representative about the e-mail response and the 72 hour issue. She said that was 72 hours in business hours. I pointed out that the website didn't say that and it should be fixed. (The website you will notice is still showing 72 hours from the time of submission and makes no mention of "business hours").

I then pointed out another interesting thing about the "ticket agent locations" in Aurora listings needed to be updated. This was because with the introduction of new fare media at the beginning of September there was now a two zone system in effect. There, the webpage needed to be updated to show which location had which type of tickets. This being Wednesday October 8th, this page had been like this for over a month. So much for "updating this page" as the webpage indicates. Does it really take over a month to update a simple webpage with 4 locations on it? Wouldn't it only take about half an hour including the time to phone these locations to see which tickets and passes they have? Apparently it does take over a month.

Uppity Update: YRT has finally, after taking ions to fix the problem, updated its ticket agent locations to reflect the new 2 zone fares. If you are going to introduce a two-zone fare system, wouldn't it be easier for people to check to make sure they can get the required tickets instead of having to call you? Just a thought for the next time around....if your going to change something...have it easily explained!

I then sent an e-mail this past Saturday (October 8th) with some strong wording to show my displeasure over how long it was taking to get a simple problem solved. All I am looking for really is an explanation on why that bus was so early. I already indicated what time the bus missed and what I thought was the right bus going by at an earlier time. So I still wonder what is taking more than a week to resolve. So here is the e-mail I sent (I also included the above two messages):


I have yet to hear about anything regarding to the [above] message. I called on Wednesday October 5 and heard the issue had yet to be resolved. The issue is now more than a week in length and there is still no answer?

Please forward me your answer as soon as possible. More than a week to investigate this simple problem? Perhaps the investigation team needs to be investigated. Why because obviously YRT does not believe in the following: " We appreciate you taking the time to let us know yourconcern." If YRT did believe this, a proper response would have already been forwarded.

Michael

----------------------------------------

So in true bureaucractic form, York Region Transit, is taking forever in trying to investigate an easy situation. Why? Couldn't a simple inquiry into who was driving the bus in question and why was he/she there so early be an easy thing to do? I guess not, that would be too easy for a bureaucratic organization to do.

I await an answer, but don't really expect one!

Uppity Update: I received the following from the York Region Transit inspector who looked into my complaint:

Hello Michael,
I regret that you suffered this experience because of a schedule adherence problem on September 29th. We have contacted the contractor and they have reminded their operators to pay attention to their schedules and keep to the timing points as the public uses this as their guide to transportation.
Please look forward to improved service in the immediate future. Please do not hesitate to call me should the need arise.
Thank you,


Beverly Berry
Transit Inspector,
York Region Transit
Regional Municipality of York
50 High Tech Road
Richmond Hill, ON
L4B 4N7
--------------------------------------------------------------

Right, so this took little more than a week to figure out? Bureaucracy is alive and well at York Region Transit. Now about that webpage.....

Your Inner European

Something I didn't know....Thank goodness for the quiz!

Who's Your Inner European?
Your Inner European is French!





Smart and sophisticated.

You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

I am Canadian

Nothing like being a Canadian like the following Joke will tell...

My name is Bob, and I am Canadian.

I am a minority in Vancouver, Banff, and every casino in this country.

I was born in 1972, yet I am responsible for some native's great, great grandfather who screwed himself out of his land in the 1800's.

I pay import tax on cars made in Ontario.

I am allowed to skydive and smoke, but not allowed to drive without a seat belt.

All the money I make up until mid July must go to paying taxes.

I live and work among people who believe Americans are ignorant.

These same people cannot name this country's new territory.

Although they are unpatriotic and constantly try to separate, Quebec still provides my nation's prime ministers.

95% of my nation's international conflicts are over fish.

I'm supposed to call black people African Canadians, although I'm sure none of them have ever been to Africa, or east of Halifax for that matter.

I believe that paying a 200% tax on alcohol is fair.

I believe that the same tax on gasoline is also fair.

Even if I have no idea what happened to that old rifle my grandfather gave me when I was 14, I will be considered a criminal if I don't register it.

I believe spending $15 billion dollars to promote the French language in the rest of Canada is fair, when the province of Quebec doesn't support or recognize the English language

I'm led to believe that some lazy ass unionized broom pusher who makes $30 an hour is underpaid and therefore must go on strike, but paying $10 an hour to someone who works 12 hour shifts at forty below on an oil rig is fair.

I believe that paying $30 million for 3 Stripes ("The Voice of Fire") by the National Art Gallery was a good purchase, even though 99% of this country didn't want it, or will ever see it.

When I look at my pay stub and realize that I take home a third of what I actually make, I say "Oh well, at least we have better health care than the Americans".

I must bail out farmers when their crops are too wet or too dry, because I control the rain.

My national anthem has versions in both official languages, and I don't know either of them.

Canada is the highest taxed nation in North America, the biggest military buffer for the United States, and the number one destination for fleeing terrorists

I am not an angry white male. I am an angry taxpayer who is broke.

My name is Bob, and I am Canadian

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Games Room!

Kick ass games!

Love the disk golf. Took a little while to get used to. But anybody with a mouse can play this... Just my level :)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Thanksgiving

What am I thankful for?

The eternal question that always comes up this time of year in Canada (in November in the United States).

Traditions seem to live on from year to year. Thanksgiving is always stuffing yourself with turkey and asking "what are you thankful for?" Next is Halloween and watching the children and those wishing they were still younger than 10 run around looking for sugar, er....candy. Then comes Christmas and the usual trees with lights and prayers for snowfall by December 24th. Following christmas is everyone's favourite, getting drunk on champagne on New Years Eve. Every year, year in and year out.

So back to the present time...thanksgiving.

What am I thankful for?

My time in New York City last year. I had left looking to start my teaching career and dissapointedly had to return to Aurora after being screwed by the New York City Department of Education over. However, I am glad I went down there to check out another city. Seeing Harvey Fierstein & Andrea Martin on Broadway, Yankee Shea Stadiums during games. Also, visiting the beaches of both Rockaway, Coney Island/Brighton Beach and Jones are amongst the top highlights of my time in New York. I also have a larger appreciation for the public transit system of a large city.

I am also thankful for Aurora. I love returning to Aurora no matter what. I always feel comfortable here with the people I know. There is just something about this town that is welcoming no matter what condition you are in.

I am also thankful to Coldex and others who have welcomed me back with employment and moral support.

I also am thankful for the future possibilities that may arise, whatever they may be.

What more do I have thankful for? Everything!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Quiz time!


Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!


Hmmm...apparently I am a bear. My mother always said I was like a bear, now I know the truth! Interesting!

Workin' on getting work

I've been looking around while temporarily working for Coldex and Spec Furniture.

I'm eyeing some other jobs in the education sector that are not in the classroom right now. Why? They are more office positions at tutoring companies that look pretty apetizing if they work out.

I am currently also working Sunday mornings at the church as the morning caretaker.

So slowly my life is coming back together. One step at a time. Other than that, nothing has really changed....get up early take 4 buses to work, work at Coldex/Spec then come home on the same 4 buses. It takes a while to go to and from work, but I find it enjoyable because a lot of it are the same people everyday and we have fun!

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