Sunday, August 23, 2009

So I haven't written in a while

So I haven't blogged in while or posted more photos to my pictures gallery of the Las Vegas Honeymoon or of the Wedding. No I haven't fallen off of the face of earth...

I've just got Tendonitis in my right wrist and am resting it at night and on weekends. A full week after visiting the doctor it is somewhat better but is sore at times. As of today (Sunday) it feels better with the odd stiffness here and there.

So I will rest it one more day and then resume posting pictures.... Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

What happens in Vegas... sometimes videod!

On our Honeymoon after the Wedding, I did some videotaping of the interesting sights and sounds that I came accross and uploaded them to YouTube.

So without further ado here we go (for a full description of the video, click on the video and read from the Youtube page):

For photos of our Honeymoon in Las Vegas, Nevada please visit here.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

What has happenned to T.K.'s Food?

TK's Restaurant & Pub on UrbanspoonOn Friday night my Wife and I headed over to T.K.'s Restuarant and Pub (located at 265 Edward Street, Aurora, ON) for dinner.

Order: Pad Thai and Italian Sausage Penny with Sprite and Water to drink

Review: My wife and I have been to T.K.'s before and knew the service wasn't that good but at least the food was good.

On this visit the service was up to expecations of before (Read: poor!). We ate on the "bar side" of the restaurant in a booth. The bartender came down to the booth (we were the only ones in the booth area at the time with only four other people at the bar) and we ordered our drinks. When she returned with our drinks and we were about to order our food she said "your waitress will be with you in a moment".

In about 8 minutes (15 minutes since we sat down at the restaurant) the same person returned to take our food order! At this point if we had waited another 2 minutes my wife and I would have left $2.00 on the table for and left for another restaurant. But I digress... So we ordered.
The food took the usual twenty minutes to come.My Italian Sausage Penny was T.K's usual goodness with decent sauce, good sausage and noodles while decently but not steaming burn your mouth off hot in temperature.

My wife's Pad Thai was a different manner. Another reviewer put it perfectly:

"The Pad Thai is an over-spiced mess on Italian pasta" - Worst restuarant food ever post on

But at least we had a coupon from the Auroran newspaper for a buy one entree for over $10.00 and a drink and get the second one free.

The bartender had the nerve when we didn't even come close to eating the Pad Thai if we "wanted it rapped up." Obviously we said "NO THANKS!"

We're sorry to say we left a tip. But only because we didn't have the correct change to pay the bill to the penny and leave. We didn't want to hang around the usual 10 minutes for the service to scrape together the change. But believe me the food and the service weren't worth tipping for.

Return again?: Maybe in six months to a year to see if this place has improved.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wedding Day Memories

A few wedding day memories will be with me forever. Still, just over two weeks later, there are some that stand out.

I woke up the Wedding Day, Saturday July 11th, and flipped on the television in my old bedroom at my parents place in Aurora. I stopped at Rogers Sportsnet to catch the latest scores and to kill some time before getting out of bed.

The station was showing recaps from baseball at first. The San Francisco Giants were playing the San Diego Padres. The San Francisco Pitcher had been started in place of a hurting Randy Johnson (a major league All-Star pitcher) who was on the disabled list. The father of the starting of the pitcher had a made a long distance treck to visit his son for the first time at a Major League Baseball Park. The father had complained the trip was too expensive but the son insisted his Dad visit. So his father did.

Not only did the son replace an almost unreplaceble pitchers that day, the son through a no-hitter along with his Dad's first Major League Baseball game with his son pitching.

On my wedding day, this seemed pretty incredible and brought back memories of me saying to my own father "watch me Dad!" growing up. In this case, after the game was done, I think the pitcher must have been saying "Look at what I've done Dad!"

A few clips later the CFL recap from the Friday July 10th was on. The Hamilton Ticats were visiting the BC Lions. The Hamilton Ticats won the game over the BC Lions becoming the first team from the Eastern Time Zone (e.g. Toronto Argonauts, Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Ticats) in three years to defeat the BC Lions in Vancouver. A forward to my wedding day: My Uncle owns the Hamilton Ticat football team and my Bride's family is from the Vancouver area. Did I plan the wedding for this? No, I didn't even know the Hamilton Ticats were even playing the Friday before.

So eventually I rolled out bed, showered, got dressed and assisted with helping set up my parent's backyard for an after wedding party. It was an overcast day and then a song erupted in my head as it started to pour....

"Isn't it Ironic...don't you think. It's like rain on your wedding day." - Alanis Morissette's Ironic.

Just like thirty some odd years ago on my parents' wedding day, it was raining on mine. But I didn't really worry for long that my wedding day would be a wash out. No sir!

Around 11 A.M. the clouds started to clear and bright sunshine greated us. But at least I could say it rained on my wedding day....

Further on as I walked down the aisle shortly after 1 PM with my Bride at my side, I happenned to notice that my Cousin's 3 year old daughter Abigail was waving at me. I thought about waving back at the innocence of a three year old but thought better of it. I giggled later on that night over that simple innocent wave.

While sigining the Bridal Registry I felt a little weird. Not in a "finally I'm Married" type of way. But I realized that a ring was on my finger and I had never wrote (Newsflash! I'm left handed writer) with a ring on before. So to say the least my first signature wasn't the best I've done.

I noted the bright sunshine for the pictures that afternoon. It was like the best lighting artist in a movie was working the outdoor lighting for my wedding day. The skies were magnificent with bright blue skies and white puffy clouds. Such perfection.

That night I was one of the first to receive Strawberry Wedding cake that evening.

Again Abigail made an appearance wondering if she could have some cake too. I did some quick thinking as the youngster's Mom grabbed her hand to lead her away. Instead, I offered to put Abigail in my lap and to share my first slice of strawberry shortcake with her alternating feeding a forkful to her and a forkful to myself.

Wedding memories, there were a lot. But there were even more Honeymoon memories in Las Vegas as well. But that is a subject for a totally different blog entry. Some of the pictures are starting to go up here though....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

So I'm Married...

Yesterday I was married to the love of my life, Yvonne. It was the happiest day of my life. We'd been looking forward to the big day for quite sometime and prepared for quite sometime.

Our parents also helped out immensly with flowers and redecorating our apartment so the newly minted Mr. & Mrs. Suddard could start a new life together and continue on where we left off from before.

Also we'd like to thank our families, extended families and friends who attended the wedding ceremony and sent best wishes from afar. It was really touching to walk down the aisle with someone I love so much in my life.

I sit here staring at the ring that she put on my finger and realize how lucky I am to have someone who cares for me so much. It is really touching to know that whether we are together or apart we will always share a special bond.

Today I will marry my friend...
The one who shares my hopes and dreams
This is my beloved, and this is my friend.
- Song of Solomon 5:16

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rogers & Internet: How can they screw it up?

Back in May I reflected on my experiences with migrating my Aurora Cable Internet (ACI) to Rogers services. I've since realized that I haven't finished the story to include Rogers' incompetence in this migration process for Internet.

(As an aside, if Rogers can screw up the Cable and Internet migration from ACI to Rogers, how much better can the transition for Rogers Home Phone customers actually be? I will not know since my phone is not through Rogers....MEMO TO not approach me for Home Phone service as I'm not interested at this time and not for some time to come due to your incompetence of your Vice-President's "Specially Trained Advisors" and Store Staff when I migrated from ACI to Rogers' services for Cable and Internet...but then again...if your staff can't take down a simple cell phone number or bother to call me at work...Rogers' staff is probably not reading I digress....)

On Saturday May 9th I ventured over to Rogers Plus Store #311 at 14879 Yonge Street, Aurora to migrate my Aurora Cable Internet (ACI) Internet over to Rogers High Speed Internet. Yvonne and I had reviewed our needs and decided to go with the Rogers Lite Speed Internet for our use rather than the Rogers Express Speed Internet. Rogers was offering the Express Speed Internet at the same price as the old ACI Internet. Yvonne and I decided for the amount of Internet we used, Lite Speed would work and if, for whatever reason, we could always updgrade to Expess if the need arised.

Obviously with my experience with the incompetancies of the Rogers' "Specially Trained Advisors" in trying to figure out my cable needs, I didn't want to do it through them.

Yvonne and I got in line and waited thirty minutes to speak to a Rogers Associate to complete this migration. Yvonne had to run home to get a few things as I was dealing with the associate to complete the conversion. I explained and pointed out in the Rogers brochure that I wanted the Rogers Lite Speed Internet. The Associate circled what I wanted on the brochure and inquired if I had any questions. I didn't at this point as I had completed my own research and was happy with this particular package because I could always upgrade to something more if my Internet needs changed.

It took about ten minutes of typing and to cash out in order to complete the conversion from ACI to Rogers. I even took advantage of purchasing my own Rogers Internet Modem which gave me three free months of Internet and, following this, three dollars a month Modem rental fees. This basically gave me a free modem and savings each month of the modem fees.

As I was leaving the store I realized that nothing had been signed by myself and the Rogers Associate to show an agreement had been made. All I had was a receipt to show my purchase. So I called the Rogers Migration department as shown in the Rogers' Migration letter written and signed by Rogers' Vice President Phil Hartling (1-866-566-8306).

The representative picked up the call and reminded me the call may be recorded for the usual "Quality Assurance Purposes" (insert guffaws here). I explained I just finished migrating my ACI Internet Service over to Rogers and was double checking what speed Internet I had just signe up for at the Rogers Plus Store. To my shock and amazement: "Extreme Speed" was the response.

I turned back around to the Rogers Plus Store #311 and got back into line again. This time I started to talk to the other ACI Customers around me about my experience of that day. To say the least, it wasn't long before I was invited to get out of the line and to talk with the Rogers Plus Store Supervisor, Jay about my issue.

Jay quickly refunded the "Rogers Express Service" and put on the "Rogers Lite Service". He signed the receipt and I signed the receipt as well.

I walked outside the store and called the "1-866-566-8306" number again. I received the same information as before that I was still signed up for the Rogers Express Internet Service. I inquired how this could be when the Rogers Plus Store Supervisor, Jay, had done it. The Agent said she would reattempt but couldn't because my account had been locked by someone at the store who were working on it. I inquired as to who the Rogers Plus Store #311's store manager was. I didn't get a reply on the phone but did in front of me. Deb, who was assisting another customer, said she would be right with me. I hung up my cell phone and waited.

Deb inquired what the issue was. So I started at the beginning with the cable issues. She inquired if I wanted cable now and I replied that I wasn't interested as if Rogers couldn't answer a simple question on the first try on one of it's "bread and butter" services the obviously couldn't complete a connection involving a guy on a latter as that may prove too complicated.

I then went through the disaster of hooking up with Rogers Internet at this store. I then said that I would give them one last chance to make this right otherwise I would be requesting a full refund and leaving Rogers' services for good. Deb didn't take kindly to that saying it was only "a threat". Recognizing that she was probably using the Rogers Customer Service lines to try and guiltify the customer into backing down I continued on. I replied that at this point it is "a threat" and that if she wanted me as a customer she should get to work on resolving the issue where her staff had failed before or "the threat" may come true.

Deb then investigated the billing system, it was completed right. She then had the associate call the store's technical contact. The technical contact fixed the issues and confirmed with me on the phone what I ordered and that the billing and Work order matched. I was now, after 2 hours of screwing around with Rogers' "Specially Trained Customer Service Agents" and in the store satisfied.

On May 13th, the day my ACI service was turned off and my Rogers service was turned was interesting. I unhooked my ACI Cable modem and began hooking up my Rogers Modem. No problems so far. I flicked on my computer and began surfing. Everything seemed to be working fine (GREAT!). Next, I signed up for a Rogers online account entering in all the numbers that were supplied to me, etc. I was shocked to find I owed fifteen and change. Of course since I hadn't received my first bill, the charges weren't explained. So I called 1-877-236-7208 included in the modem package and selected the appropriate option and waited a minute before a Rogers Agent picked up the phone.

To my shock and horror the person actually: 1. Spoke plain Canadian English. 2. Knew exactly what she was talking about and 3. Was able to resolve my issue.

The Rogers Agent explained the charge was for activation of the Internet. I explained the story about how I came to be a Rogers customer. The Rogers Agent agreed that theoretically I was more of an "Adopted Customer" rather than a "New Customer". She said a credit back for the activation was in order but she would have to check with the supervisor on how to properly do this so there wouldn't be any issues in the future. After a couple of minutes on hold the Rogers Agent came back on the line to say she had put through the credit and it would show up on my next bill. She also confirmed my three free months of internet were there and I was still signed up for Rogers Lite Speed Internet. I told her I was satisfied and hung up.

To say the least, Rogers Customer Service needs an overhaul. With the exception of the Rogers Agent who fixed the Activation fee billing, I've dealt with incompetence from start to finish. It is no wonder Rogers continues to be sucking up money left, right and centre.

As I review my history (most of it pretty recent) with Rogers, I wonder why I'm still with Rogers and haven't transferred to Bell. Oh wait a minute, Bell has similar issues with Customer Service, Billing and other issues.

Kudos to either Bell or Rogers who will stop advertising in the Toronto Star and other newspapers about how Rogers beats Bell on Home Phone service and how Bell beats Rogers on Wireless and Television service and instead advertise how one or the other has better Customer Service. But then again, if one had better Customer Service than the other then this wouldn't need be adverised, Customers would just know and flock to that company. But that again makes too much sense. And apparently Rogers, at least, doesn't care about making too much sense with Customer Service because if they did their Vice Presidential called "Specially Trained Advisors" would know what they are talking about and be able to resolve my issues and, shudder, copy down a telephone number without it having to be repeated five times. Only if...but then again, I've been called too practical sometimes. Apparently Rogers can't be too practical as that would be too easy.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Fire Trucks & Fridge Magnets

The Toronto Star reported the results of their investigation this morning in the paper. The investigation took a look at the high response times of Toronto firefighters to fires within the city of Toronto. Of course the City of Toronto officials weren’t that helpful in the investigation. Toronto Fire chief, Bill Stewart, did provide some documentation and some statistical analysis. But when the Star reporter asked a few more questions (i.e. the call time starts in the reports when the dispatcher first saved the call to the computer system, but what is the actual time when the call came in?) Stewart’s reply was “You as a reporter should not be looking at this information.” That obviously smells that something is being covered up for either a purposeful reason (i.e. Toronto Fire has something to hide) or to avoid possible legal issues. The only people to know this reside within the Toronto Fire department. But this isn’t the only worrisome issue.

Further along in the same article the process of dispatching trucks is mentioned. The average response time in North American standards is six minutes from when the call first comes in. The standard breaks down that the 911 dispatcher takes and dispatches the call (1 minute), the firefighters get to their truck and onto the street (1 minute) and the time the truck has to get to the fire or emergency scene (4 minutes). In terms of Toronto’s most recent largest fire, the fire at Sunrise Propane, Toronto fire took way longer than 6 minutes to arrive at the explosive fire scene.

The breakdown of the sequence of events at Toronto Fire during the Sunrise Propane fire scene just boggles the mind. The times provided by the City of Toronto and reported by the The Toronto Star makes a Toronto resident’s heart skip a beat. The first dispatch time recorded by the Toronto Fire dispatcher’s computer is 3:49 A.M. “It took close to two minutes for dispatch to notify and contact fire crews in several stations, all about 2.5 kilometres away.” (Toronto Star Article). At the fire hall it took the crew of Pumper 145 two and half minutes to get onto the road to the fire. Pumper 145 was the first on the scene 10 minutes after the first original call was recorded. Let’s also keep in mind the travel time in Toronto of Pumper 145 wasn’t hampered by traffic on the way to the fire as fire occurred overnight on a Saturday to Sunday when traffic is virtually non-existant. Which the Star reported: ” none of the these vehicles were more than a few minutes’ drive away.”

Perhaps one of the largest issues the Star found is the antiquated dispatch system Toronto Fire uses to dispatch their equipment to emergencies. The equipment is tracked using magnets on a magnetic map of Toronto. Each fire is recorded on the map and then the magnet of a dispatched piece of equipment is moved to it. Apparently this is the system that has been in use since the amalgamation of Toronto in 1998. So basically, Toronto Fire dispatchers keep track of location of their equipment with fridge magnets at all times. Meanwhile over at the the city’s public transit department (TTC) each surface vehicle (e.g. streetcar, bus, etc.) is tracked by GPS units so that transit control knows exactly where each unit is. Surely th Toronto Fire Department can create a dispatch system that uses this already in use GPS technology to track its vehicles, location of fire halls and situations on the go. But there is no promise from the Toronto Star investigation that this is the case.

The City of Toronto needs to wake up and improved it’s dispatching system. The evidence the Toronto Star uncovered may only be the the tip of the iceberg of issues at the fire department. A complete review of the dispatch system first needs to be undertaken. First an audit of the existing system needs to be completed to find the deficiencies. Second a review of other municipal fire systems in North American cities and suburbs should be looked at for best practices that could be included in a new Toronto Fire dispatch system. Finally a plan needs to be put together for a new Toronto dispatch system from when the 911 call comes in to when the first fire truck is on the scene.

But Fire Chief Bill Stewart needs to be told empatically by the Mayor and the citizens of Toronto that this statement will not suffice in terms of this new system (as the Toronto Star reported): “[Bill Stewart] As president of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, he is backing a move to change the standard to allow firefighters longer to get out the door to a blaze [by 20 seconds].” This is unacceptable as the current standard is one minute for the firefighters to get to their trucks and out the door. When, as has been espoused to youngsters across Canada over and over by firefighters, ‘in a fire every second counts’ a request of just give them an extra twenty seconds is strictly unacceptable. But then again, if the city of Toronto continues to a five year old’s fridge magnets to track their million dollar pieces of equipment then perhaps it will take firefighters that much longer to get to a fire. What a sad state of affairs it is at Toronto fire when the City’s own transit system has a better dispatch and location program in place than the Toronto fire department does.

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