Another Day, Another Frustration

Today was a difficult day! It started with me putting in a cancellation order to Bell Sympatico. While each of my computers keeps getting faster and faster, my service with them gets slower and slower. Everytime I said I wanted to cancel, they would tell me my service was 5Mbps with unlimited bandwidth and they’d talk me into trying to fix the problem. Well, today, after almost 2 years, I got an honest person on the phone, who told me my line would only permit 1.1 Mbps. Well I don’t even think it’s that. I even tried to download their internet checkup software. The screen said it would only take 2 mins on a high speed connection, the download manager said it would take 34 minutes. So, I’m paying hi-speed prices for a connection that’s pretty much the same speed as dial up. Stuff downloads at 8kb/s. I actually remember getting higher speeds on dial up.

So anyway, I took the plunge and switched to Rogers Express service – 7 Mbps. I have limits on my bandwith (60 GB) but I usually only download 2-3 GB per month anyway, so I should be okay. It will be nice to have REAL hi-speed – for the same price! I picked up the modem tonight and set it up. Works great! Now I need to connect the router and setup the rest of my network which will involve moving printers, etc. because I’m now looking a cable connection instead of a phone line. And I don’t watch a lot of TV, so cable locations are limited… for now.

So, that was a bad thing that turned good. The rest of the day was not as kind to me. I tried to install the new VPN software from work, which is mandatory for me since I telecommute a few days each week. I installed it on my laptop first and couldn’t get it to work, so then I installed it on a desktop, where it did work. It emphasized how slow my DSL connection was though – working that way was brutal. Well, thank God that’s almost over.

After all the upset, I got a migraine just before my husband got home. We helped a friend with their DSL setup (and yes, I did give them my opinion of Bell DSL) and then went to Newmarket to get the Rogers modem. We stopped at Wendy’s for dinner – the one on Yonge Street just north of Davis Drive (in case anyone wants to know). ALL of the tables were filthy except for the one that rocked as bad as a circus ride. I remembered why I never go to that Wendy’s anymore, but too late. I did get someone there to wash the tables, but geez!! why did I have to ask?? In the end, I couldn’t eat the burger, I was feeling so nauseous. I hate unpleasant days.

Maybe I’m just tired from a late night last night. I’ve started going to a comedy workshop to learn how to be a standup comic. Ha-ha!! Can you see me being funny????

But that’s a post for another day!

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This work by Suzette Leeming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.

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When a friend dies…

A friend died today. We hadn’t been close over the past few years, ever since my mother passed away, actually. Stuff happened; words were exchanged. It was a difficult time for both of us. I was going through the grief of losing my parents and was thrown unexpectedly into menopause; Rita had a lot of health & family issues. Eventually we drifted apart.

In the past couple of years, we had talked again. Not about important stuff, she wanted help to buy a new computer, then she needed help to fix her computer. We kept the conversation light, and said we should get together for bingo sometime (she was my bingo buddy years ago and we would go to games a couple of times a week). We never actually did go to bingo though. I had been thinking of her recently, of calling her and getting together for bingo. Neither one of us had been to bingo in years.

I had no idea she wasn’t well. She had had a bypass operation years ago, but I thought she was doing well. The last time I saw her, she had lost weight and had quit smoking. I was amazed at how well she looked. She had two grandchildren, and she was so proud of them! She had also gotten in touch with some relatives in Nova Scotia and went down there every year to visit.

I waited too long to call. When I got home from work, there was a message on my phone from Jim, her husband. She’d gone into the hospital for angioplasty, but the surgeon said the blockage was too severe and booked her for another bypass, which she had yesterday. This morning at 9:30 a.m. she went into cardiac arrest and passed away.

Rita and I were very close in age; my birthday is on January 13, while hers was on December 24, so we were less than a month apart.

So, how did this affect me? I am grieving for my friend. Time and distance and differences separated us, but I will always remember her and I will always regret that I didn’t call her to get together for bingo sooner. I will also take better care of myself – I’m overweight, have dangerously high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Losing the weight is the first step.

51 is too young to leave. I hope you’re in a better place Rita. You will really be missed.

Goodbye my friend, rest in peace.

Rita Lepine
December 24, 1956 – June 6, 2008

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This work by Suzette Leeming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.

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Ethics Lost

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ethics and morality that exist in our world today, or not.

We’ve been through Bill Clinton having oral sex in the White House, the Jean Chretien’s Liberal Adscam, Stephen Harper’s Conservativea circumventing the election rules, Martha Stewart’s inside trading, the head of Canada Post forced to retire because of outrageous expense reports, Brian Mulroney making deals with criminal people while in office, Worldcom’s accounting fiasco and the resulting aftermath, and so on and so on.

And now the Toronto Catholic School Board trustees, living high off the hog while they operate the school board on a deficit. Expenses such as car allowances, cell phones they’re allowed to keep, Dominican Republic vacations, extravagant dinners, and gold plated benefits. Even lingerie was expenses – now how does that relate to education?

Recently, Ryerson University wanted to expel a student who put together a study group on Facebook to solve an engineering problem they were supposed to work on individually. The school called it cheating. HELLO!?!?

Why are we surprised when we catch our children cheating or even wandering into grey areas? They see the news, they know what’s happening. It’s become the business style du jour. Grab what you can before they kick you out – if they catch you!

Call me naive, but I expect more from our government than having them act like pigs at the trough. I expect more from major corporations than having them think up more creative ways to screw us. And I really expect more from a group that puts a religious name on themselves. They’re greedy, selfish, pigs, marauding as pious Christians, which makes me sick.

I’m more sympathetic in situations where someone steals (call it what it is) because they are in financial need, but these are people who are already rich – looking to get richer. The people who end up paying are the poor and the working class.

How long are we going to take it? The only way to approach this situation is to start charging people AND SENDING THEM TO JAIL!! At least our children will then realize that it’s wrong. We need to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. Let’s throw out the corrupt politicians, and charge them for their misdeeds, or at least for breach of public trust. The laws were created for all of us, but authorities seem to leave the rich alone while they harass the rest of us.

Have we become such a complacent society that we will just keep taking this? The one thing I really hate about getting older and wiser is that I don’t like what I’m learning – what I’m seeing and hearing. I’m becoming disillusioned.

Am I the only one that feels this way?

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What is Toastmasters?

Amazing how quickly a month goes by. I should at least set up a day of the week on which to post.

It was pointed out to me (thanks Paul!) that I never really explained what Toastmasters is.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. The organization currently has 226,000 members in 11,500 clubs in 92 countries. Some well-known Toastmasters include Peter Coors of Coors Brewing Company, Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies, Tom Peters, management expert and author, and Linda Lingle, Governor of Hawaii.

Toastmasters has been helping individuals develop communication and leadership skills since 1924. Toastmasters is for anyone over the age of 18 and members come from all walks of life. One thing they have in common is a strong desire for self–improvement and helping others. We learn best by doing. Each Toastmaster Club is a learning laboratory where you’ll enjoy experimenting, discovering and developing your potential.

Simcoe Shores Toastmasters meet on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Wednesdays of each month at Belhaven Hall on Warden Avenue (just north of Old Homestead) from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Guests are always welcome to join us at our meetings.

Effective July 1st, I’ll be taking on the role of President for the club. I’m a little overwhelmed, but shall endeavour to do my best, which after all, is the best any of us can do. I’m also trying to keep in mind that this is a learning opportunity. My first role in Toastmasters was Secretary/Treasurer, then I was VP Public Relations last year, and now I’ll be President. With each step, I feel my confidence growing and I know I will learn a lot from this experience.

Wish me luck!

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What if…

Toastmasters changes lives. I heard this phrase quite a bit when I first joined Toastmasters, but I have to admit… I didn’t believe it. Oh sure, it was something worthwhile doing, sort of an educational/social/volunteering kind of thing, but changing lives?? A stretch… or so I thought.

Then I attended the Toastmasters District 60 Conference held a few weeks ago at the Sheraton Conference Centre on Hwy. 7 and Leslie. This was a last minute decision for me, as I tend to avoid large crowds, especially conference-wise. I worry that someone will try to talk to me and I’ll be forced to chit-chat and I’m not good at that. I’ll either babble on about myself, create a social faux-pas, or make a fool out of myself somehow. So, I attended the conference reluctantly, but that’s getting off-track. I listened to some of the most inspiring, insightful speeches, and heard people talking about what they have achieved in life as a result of what they learned in Toastmasters. By the end of the conference, I’d come to the realization that… wait for it!!! TOASTMASTERS CHANGES LIVES! Will it change mine? I don’t know or expect that, but what if?

And, as the current VP Public Relations, I would be remiss if I didn’t get this plug in…

Simcoe Shores Toastmasters, of Georgina Ontario, meets on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Wednesdays of each month at the Belhaven Hall, on Warden Avenue, just north of Old Homestead, from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. We welcome guests and you owe it to yourself to come and see what Toastmasters is all about. And ask yourself… What if?

Simcoe Shores Toastmasters website

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TomTom and Garmin Lose Their Way

An article today in the Technology section of Business Week outlines the difficulties currently faced by GPS/Navigation devices.

Among my family and friends, I tend to be known as the gadget queen. If there’s a gadget out there, chances are I have it. I even have a wireless glove, connected by USB, that I can use on my PC similar to a mouse. When playing solitaire, I can just point at the card I want and drag it to where I want it. It would also be neat with role playing games… “Okay – I want to move these guys from over here to over there… prepare to do battle”. Neat. You may notice I said “can use” which is not to imply that I do use it. Other than testing it out, I have never actually used it.

In the kitchen, I have almost every gadget designed to save time. Three types of cheese graters, automatic apple/potato peelers, automatic slicers, plastic wrap dispensers, powered wine cork removers, egg slicers, etc. I’ve got a pasta maker, waffle maker, dough maker, and so on. I’m running out of room to put my gadgets.

But I don’t have a GPS – a fact that surprises people that know me. You see, a GPS is a portable device, and there’s only so many things I can fit in my purse. I have my cell phone, and my PDA and already that’s too much. Also, the good GPS devices seem to be several hundred dollars and I don’t want to buy a piece of crap just because it’s cheap.

I believe for a new technology to be effective, it needs to be (a) affordable and (b) convenient. So what I want is a GPS device that keeps a charge for close to a month and I don’t want to pay more than $150.

I’ve looked for some type of GPS software for the PDA, but I need to do a lot more research, and quite frankly I don’t have time. I have a plan though… when I need to update my cell phone, I will get one with a PDA and GPS device built in. That will be a couple of years from now and by then the prices will be cheaper. Until then I just have to look up my routes on an old-fashioned map or print out directions from mapquest or google maps before I set off.

Maybe the gadget queen is getting old (and cheap).

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What’s up with hairstylists?

Just after Christmas, my longtime hairstylist moved from Ontario to New Brunswick. A bit far to travel. I really hate looking for a new hairstylist.

There’s a salon not too far from me called Allure. So I made an appointment and went in. The stylist, Jenn, had bleached blonde hair, with very dark roots. Not very inspiring. I thought I’d take the chance though, and try a new look. So I asked her, if you could do anything to my hair, what would you do? I was thinking perhaps a shorter, sassier look, perhaps some highlights, whatever… I was game.

Well, she had no ideas other than “match my hair colour to my eyebrows”. That meant going darker, back to my natural colour of chestnut brown. It looked really good, they gave me a scalp treatment and she styled my hair using a straightener. It looked fabulous! And for all this, I was charged $32, after taxes. Wow! I was onto something good here!

As my hair grew (which it has a tendency to do very quickly) the fact that my hair is almost completely white was very obvious with the contrast between the white and dark (now I remember why I went lighter). So, a month later, back I went. I asked for a bit of a trim this time. Okay, so the trim took off a couple of inches – no worries, it will grow back (and quickly). The charge this time was over $60. I can live with that, after all, she did cut it.

Fast forward to today – those darn roots were back, so back to Allure I went. Jenn had done her own roots, so she looked much more professional. No trim this time, just touch up the roots. I had her pull the colour through as well, since that tends to brighten up the colour. Well, she left the colour on for 45 minutes while she did others’ hair (is it good for the hair for the colour to be on that long?). Then she washed it out and blow dried it. The charge? $61. Huh? What would it have been with a trim? $80? $90?

Don’t salons usually follow a price schedule? Did I get a really good deal the first time? Was that a mistake? Hmmmm.

It looks fabulous – even though my bangs keep falling in my face. I was thinking of trying one of those root touch-up kits to stretch the time between visits, but I’m worried about ruining my hair. How dangerous can that be though, if the salon leaves the colour on for sooo long?

I think I’ll call my previous stylist in New Brunswick and get her opinion. Meanwhile, I should grab a headshot of me while I’m still looking good. Linked In, Facebook, and even this even this blog would probably look good with a photo of me.

My cheapness aside, Allure is a nice salon, and Jenn is a very good stylist. I really do look good!

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All GM Dealers are NOT the Same!

I remember when I first purchased my new 2002 Pontiac Montana minivan from Slessor Motors in Newmarket. The first time I had to take it in for service, I parked at side of the building and walked into the service department. The women behind the desk referred me to the service advisor. I went out to speak with him, and he yelled at me! It seems I was supposed to pull the van up to the door, which would open for me to drive in. Welllll, excuuuuuse me! How was I supposed to know that?

The van died in 2007, seven months before my payments were finished. Thanks GM. After replacing the Intake Manifold and two cracked cylinder heads, I dumped that piece of crap as fast as I could, borrowed a friend’s car until my payments on the Montana were finished, and then went shopping for a used car.

I swore I wouldn’t buy another GM product again, but I couldn’t help it – I grew up with GMs and no other type “feels” right. So I bought a 2001 Cadillac Catera. Was it a mistake? Time will tell. Meanwhile, I really do love the car.

Last week, my low coolant light came on. I checked and the coolant level is fine. So I brought it into Colonial Chev Olds in Newmarket for diagnosis and service (even though Slessor Motors is the Cadillac dealer in Newmarket). What a difference! The doors were opened as soon as I pulled up (which never happened at Slessor), nobody yelled at me; they even gave me a shuttle lift to the mall and then came to pick me up after. The sensor needs replacing. The sensor is connected to the overflow reservoir, so the whole thing needs to be replaced. $340 – ouch! No matter. It’s not that important a part, but still worth replacing.

So they have ordered the part in, and here I am, sitting at one of their computers (they call it their internet cafe, but there’s really just one computer), posting on my blog. Sweet! The service advisor (Ryan) is extremely polite, respectful and well, nice.I don’t mind getting my oil changes or other minor work done at a local garage, but let’s face it – nobody knows a car as well as a dealer. They’re specially trained in servicing GM vehicles. Yes, it’s more money, but I think it’s worth it to have something done right. The service manager at my local Canadian Tire came from Golden Mile Chevrolet – which is where my father bought all his cars when they lived in the city, so I trust him to know GMs, but a dealer is the best place to go if you have a car with lots of options/features on it.

Especially when you have a dealer that treats you well!

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Hello Rogers!

I did it! I switched both my husband and myself to Rogers Wireless! We carried our numbers over and WOW am I impressed! Service everywhere… no dropped calls! I’m also impressed that they give their customers 3 months unlimited local calling, so you have time to figure out which plan works best for you.

We did our research, visited a few stores and plans and ultimately ended up ordering over the phone (because I wanted to port our numbers and you can’t do that online) from Amritech. They really had good deals. Getting through to them was a tad difficult – I kept getting an automated response that all their representatives were busy and to leave my name and number for someone to call me back. Their mailbox was full though, so it would tell me to try again later… very, very frustrating. I did eventually get through though and when I mentioned my difficulties reaching them, they were really apologetic and gave me the phones for free (not that they were that much for a 3 year term). The phones also came with free car chargers, leather cases (one of which was broken, no big deal) and hands-free kit (only one for some reason, although we had two phones).

The phones took longer than expected to arrive and I had to call them and ask them NOT to switch over the numbers on the date arranged, because I didn’t have the phones yet and I didn’t want to be without a cell phone for the day. The phones arrived that night, and I called and gave the all clear to port the numbers over.

It took me ages to make the decision to switch, but I have no regrets. so far, this appears to be one of my best decisions.

Now to find another internet provider and get away from sympatico…

Bell Mobility

Do you ever have the feeling that it takes a long time to learn a lesson? Well, I had that feeling today. Almost five years ago, I got cellphones for my husband and me over the phone. It was a 2 for 1 special. I wrote down all the details – such as a 24 month term. After a few months I noticed my invoice said 3 months. I won’t go through all that transpired, but in the end, I had to complain to the CRTC about Bell’s false advertising. A deal is a deal, right?

Anyway, we’ve been unhappy with our phones for the past year and the time has come to update and move to Rogers (CDMA vs GSM). When I called to cancel Bell, they kept offering me more and more, until finally I decided I at least owed it to them to look at their phones. They offered me a cheaper plan, $250 per phone towards a new phone, a 2 year term, and 10% off the top of the plan.

Tonight we went to the Bell World store in Keswick. Turns out they really DON’T have GSM phones – just the Blackberry. The person there looked up my file, and the really was $250 on a 3 year term or $150 on a 2 year term. There was no mention of needing to sign a contract in the earlier conversation. AND, if the phones don’t get a good enough signal, I can return them in 15 days or 15 minutes of use for a refund on the phones, but I’d still be locked into the contract.

But as I write this, I have to ask myself – whose fault is this? My earlier dealings with Bell had shown me their character, but I guess I really wanted to believe they had changed and didn’t stoop to lying and misleading anymore. I was wrong.

I’ve heard that Bell Mobility is the most expensive provider and I don’t mind paying a premium, but it seems Bell has become as sleezy as the competition.

Good riddance – I’ve decided to sign up with Rogers, through Amritech Rogers Wireless. I might even be able to use it, as I’m told it gets a better signal than Bell (kind of like comparing Cable Internet vs. DSL). I’ve even considered changing my internet – I should be getting at least 3X the speed at the price I’m paying Sympatico. Then I need to check and see about getting a digital home phone.

Farewell, Bell!