Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Balki Turns 9 Weeks!

It's been a busy couple of weeks for Balki.

He helped us unpack into a storage unit when our first apartment fell through.

Storage Unit 2

He battled deep footprints in the Toronto snow.

FootprintsClimbing Out

He learned how to do stairs on the most terrifying flight there is.

All those stairs? You must be kidding.

And he was exhausted after moving into our new place.

Wake me when the meal arrives

It's a shame the store didn't have any big bones.

All Mine

Of course there's more!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Slightly Different: Credit Cards

I've been using credit cards in the US for almost a decade now. I'm familiar with cash back cards, mileage cards, and why some people refuse to use cards. But that's not why you rang — we're not here for the pros or cons of what amounts to a personal decision. We're here to find out how credit cards are slightly different in Canada than the US.

The Smart Card

Oh sure, your US-based credit card will swipe just fine at most every store in the Greater Toronto Area, but you'll be about the only person around swiping a card. Most cards here have a smart card on them for the Interac network, and instead of being swiped, they're inserted into the bottom of the machine.

Interac PIN Terminal

Interac PIN Terminal by reinvented on flickr

The Transaction Is Yours

For years I've heard fears voiced at restaurants when a server takes a credit card to the register that "You just don't know what he or she is doing with it!" Apparently having the same distrust, but acting upon it, servers typically bring the terminal to you. Comically, the terminal comes to you in drive thrus as well, right out into the elements on a long cord.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chancellor Ruffelstiltskin T. Balkonovich, Esq.

Great news! I've got a puppy.

Argonaut Balki

He was born on December 26th, 2012. When we got Balki a few days ago, he was almost 7 weeks old. He's a lab/shepard mix who goes by the name "Chancellor Ruffelstiltskin T. Balkonovich, Esquire" or nickname "Balki"


  • You mean like Balki from Perfect Strangers? Yes!
  • Do you like him? Yes!
  • Are you and your girlfriend in some sort of Bronson Pinchot fanclub? No, but any friend of Axel Foley is a friend of ours.
  • Is he potty trained? He's rocking it for a 7-week-old.
  • Does he like the snow? Yes!
  • What kind of food is he on? He's transitioning from Purina Puppy Chow to Blue Buffalo Puppy
  • Do you have more pictures? Yes! Lot's more on Flickr.

note This post was edited for clarity on Feb 16, 2013 12:42 AM

Monday, February 11, 2013

Righting London

A little over a month ago, my girlfriend and I made a stop in London, Ontario. We were nearly short on the bill, but promised ourselves we'd go back and tip our excellent server.

Prince Albert's Diner

Prince Albert's Diner by Slack pics on flickr

Yesterday we imported just about everything into Canada. Along the way, we made a stop at Prince Albert's Diner. I parked the U-Haul in the parking lot, walked directly into the counter and made a rare request:

  • "Hey, I was in here the week after Christmas with my girlfriend and there was a shorter guy doing just about everything — do you know who that would be?"
  • "Dark glasses?"
  • "Yah"
  • "You're probably talking about Ken. Why?"
  • "We didn't realize it was cash-only until we ordered, the ATM wouldn't take our cards, we only had $23, and the bill was $22.85"
  • "Ah, so you want to leave a tip or something now?"
  • "Yes! Would you be able to give it to him?"
  • "Definitely. I'll actually be seeing him tomorrow, so I'll just make a note with this right now."

So Ken, if by some chance you happen to read this one day, sorry about the delay!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


We can all agree balance is important, right?

For the last few years I've had some pretty lousy balance. This weekend Ginger and I took a gigantic step toward regaining some of that balance by finishing a book. It's not that I haven't read in years, but finally I finished a book that was not about Java, Ruby, MongoDB, Groovy, Spring, C#, or Ruby-on-Rails...though it was about the rails of the Central Pacific Railroad and the four people who powered it.

In fact, I was so exicited that I joined Goodreads and posted my first review as well!

Goodreads Review #1

The Associates: Four Capitalists Who Created CaliforniaThe Associates: Four Capitalists Who Created California by Richard Rayner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Associates is an entertaining look at one of history's most important endeavors. The book touches on the extensive corruption used to get things done. Rayner covers many of the larger-than-life battles between The Associates and Union Pacific in addition to the lengthy-but-brutal defeat of Tom Scott's Texas & Pacific Railway. We also get to see the links to other important pieces of history, such as Leland Stanford's founding of his university while mourning his son and the role he played in funding the early development of motion pictures with Eadweard Muybridge to answer the age-old question -- if all four of a horses feet left the ground at the same time while galloping.

While very enjoyable, the writing style is a bit exhausting, often crafting lengthy paragraphs out of just a few extremely long sentences.

note you can check out Ginger's review on Goodreads too!