Rory’s Graduation Dinner!

Our 12-year-old Rory has “graduated” from elementary school (Grade 7 here in BC) and will be going on to High School next year. We are extraordinarily proud of him (Honour Roll Student four years in a row!) and wanted to do something special for his last day.

I started us off with a little Boccini, Tomato, and Basil appetizer drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar:

Followed by pseudo Tuscan Pasta salad with Bison Meatballs:

And finished with an utterly decadent Dark Molasses Gingerbread Cake with Extra-Creamy Cooked Cream Cheese Icing:

Friday will be his first day off of school for the summer so Melissa and I will surprise him tomorrow morning when he wakes up with a banner, balloons, and Silly String. 🙂

I gotta say – I am *rocking* this whole stepfather thing!

Screwed by Amazon, Part Eleventy Billion

Every Canadian knows the pain of shopping at the US Amazon store. Here’s an example.

You find an inexpensive charcoal grill, say the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill (affiliate link). You check it out and it sounds like just what you’re looking for. You see the price is $63.69. Great deal. But then comes the kick in the groin.

The price doesn’t include “$217.05 Shipping & Import Fees Deposit to Canada” – three times the price of the grill itself!

So, you go to the Canadian version of Amazon and search for the exact same grill. The price? *398.00* – over a hundred dollars more.

This happens over and over to Canadians.

Good Bye Old Couch

It’s completely ridiculous but today, I’m a little sad and wistful.

After I moved to Nashville, TN from Vancouver, I found a nice little apartment. But it had no furniture. So, for the first time in my life, I went furniture shopping on my own.

I found this wonderful leather couch and loveseat combination. I loved the couch – its design, the suppleness of the leather, its length (I could lay down on it without body parts hanging off either end!), its depth, its softness, all of it. I was very proud of myself for striking a good deal with the sales guy and was very excited when it was delivered.

That couch remained with me for the next 16 years. It is the oldest object I own. Through twelve subsequent moves – eight different towns, two countries, four states and two provinces, that couch was there for me every day to rest on, watch TV on, eat on, talk on.

When I moved to Gibsons, we assumed the couch would join us. Sadly, the place I moved to has doors too narrow and windows too sealed to fit through. We tried and tried but it simply wouldn’t fit in the house. We thought we might be able to give it to a friend but they didn’t want it. In hindsight, I should have sold it while I was still in Vancouver.

So it’s been sitting on the deck for the past four months, getting moldy, rained on and neglected. Finally, we decided it had to go and today, we dismantled it and took it to the dump.

Except for a few cat scratch marks, that couch looked as good as the day I bought it. Even though I sat in the exact same end of it every day for 16 years, it showed no sign of age, sagging or collapse. The leather aged only slightly and even then, remarkably well. As we took it apart, we marveled at its inner workmanship. There were straps and connectors and bolts and all manner of carpentry inside to ensure it would last a lifetime.

Sadly, it didn’t. And I honestly feel bad that, in the end, I treated it so poorly. It deserved a better fate than to be destroyed and taken to the dump.

I’ll miss that couch.

Aukey’s 12,000mAh power bank for $12!

Amazon has a great deal on the “AUKEY 12000mAh Portable Charger”. I used a variation of this charger during my trip to Australia last month and it worked great.

It lists as costing $25.99 but check out this screenshot:

To get the deal, click on the drop-down menu where it says, “3 Applicable Promotion(s)”. Click on the bottom one where it says, “Save 54% each on AUKEY 12000mAh Portable Charger offered by Aukey Direct when you purchase 1 or more”. At checkout, you’ll see the price change to $12!

Barangaroo City View and screwing us over

On their website, @hotelsdotcom represents the property we booked for a two night stay in Sydney, Australia as a “Hotel”. “Book this hotel and collect nights”…”11 other people are looking at this hotel…” The email from @hotelsdotcom says, ”Hotel Details…” So we thought we were booking a *HOTEL*. Turns out, it’s some AirBnB-type place.

I hate AirBnB-type places. We wanted to book a HOTEL. It’s why I went to HOTELS .com and not I wanted the boys, Jasper and Rory, to have the “fun” of staying in a HOTEL.

So the property charged us the full room rate (a little unusual for a hotel but not a problem) but then came an *additional* $620 for various “fees” (“Security deposit” and “Cleaning fee”) ahead of time. When I email the property to tell them that was unacceptable (we’re OK with paying the fees but not OK with being charged for them two weeks in advance), I was told (short version) that I was shit out of luck and can’t cancel *ANY OF THE CHARGES*, including the booking itself.

I reached out to @hotelsdotcom via Twitter. They tried for 7 hours to get in touch with this property with no luck (that itself seems suspicious to me). I called @hotelsdotcom support and was told they also couldn’t get in touch with the property. After explaining the situation, including the misleading description on the website, I was told nothing could be done. After having to be forceful with the first telephone rep (she didn’t want to transfer me to her “manager”), I got a second rep and explained everything all over again.

(BTW, at NO TIME did I ever raise my voice or use inappropriate language. I understand the telephone reps are just the frontline people and I would never treat them badly).

The 2nd rep (I don’t believe he was a manager) basically said the same thing with one additional detail: “I could “transfer the name of the booking to someone else.” “Who!?” I asked. he was suggesting I literally just ask complete strangers to take the booking over and then “they could pay me directly”. WTAF?

I asked to speak to yet another supervisor and then things got STUPID. This second rep claimed that there was no one “higher than him” that I could speak to. “Oh. I didn’t realize I was speaking to the CEO of Nice to meet you sir.” When I called him on that, he said I couldn’t speak directly to his manager and that, if I wanted to contact him, I could write a letter – yes, a physical, actual letter. He even offered to give me the postal address – because his manager “doesn’t have a phone”.

OK. Now I’m pissed off. I get he’s trying to deflect but being stupid and lying to me is NOT the way to do it.

He reiterated the idiotic idea that I could ask someone else to take over the booking (!) and continued to refuse to allow me to escalate the issue any further.

So now *I’M* escalating it.

Our next step will be to dispute the charges with our credit card company. Followed by the pretty obvious reviews I’ll leave here, on Yelp, on TripAdvisor, etc about the utter ridiculousness of this situation.

I honestly don’t understand how, in this day and age, a customer’s satisfaction is not a company’s highest priority. It’s no skin off of anyone’s nose if the Barangaroo City View Hotel were to simply refund the money *AND CHARGE IT BACK TO US WHEN WE GO THERE*. Instead, they’ve been uncommunicative and uncooperative.

I don’t understand how can’t see that the way they represent this property is at the very least misleading if not downright deceptive. The fact they won’t stand behind their own statement – “ is a leading provider of hotel accommodation worldwide” but we didn’t book a *HOTEL* – is ridiculous.

So bravo to and the Barangaroo City View. You’ve pissed off a customer for no readily apparent reason. We’ll still stay at a hotel in Sydney. It might even be the Barangaroo City View “hotel”. But, rest assured, both the hotel and will lose money over the issue. And it’s simply because they didn’t want to satisfy a customer.

Fucking morons.

Just trying to find out simple information…

From a cell phone provider here in Canada – Rogers. Now, to be fair, I have no doubt this online chat session would not have gone much differently with Telus.

Chat Start Time: 10/27/2017 01:28:52 PM
Chat End Time: 10/27/2017 02:46:40 PM
Chat Transcript

01:29:21 PM [Mishita] Hi, I’m Mishita from Rogers in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. How can I help you today?

01:29:49 PM [Shawn King] Hello Mishita. I’m trying to figure out pricing on the Rogers website but it is a torturous and painful process. Trying to find out pricing for a Family Plan. I’m a Rogers customer, fiance and her son are not.
Continue reading “Just trying to find out simple information…”

Witness the Strength of Street Knowledge


The headline of this story is the first line Dr. Dre says in “Straight Outta Compton,” and I often think more people could use a good dose of street knowledge, especially considering the putrid wave of self-affirmation bullshit that has swamped the world of entrepreneurship.

I think the lessons learned in the ‘hood are far more valuable than the type of motivational crap about “being special” that you see posted on your Facebook wall. So without further ado, here are seven things I learned on the streets that I think will serve you well.

Witness the Strength of Street Knowledge

Running of the Bulls overshadowed, 36 dead in annual Running of the Indy Cars tradition

Chaos and tragedy reigned supreme in the annual Running of the Indy Cars event today, as 36 people died and over 200 were injured in anticipation of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 race.

The event, modeled after the famed Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, is held in downtown Indianapolis, where daring fans can take to the streets in an attempt to outrun a dozen Indy cars that have been let loose by race officials. While the event allows fans to get up close and personal with some of their favorite drivers, it has been responsible for hundreds of deaths since 1996, its inaugural year.

Running of the Bulls overshadowed, 36 dead in annual Running of the Indy Cars tradition