Monday, January 30, 2012

Salmon Burgers - YUM!

I was in Saskatoon this weekend, and on Sunday night Robyn and I made salmon burgers!

They turned out AWESOME. And they were wickedly easy to make. We chopped about 650g of boneless, skinless salmon in a food processor, then mixed in (by hand) 1/4 cup chopped green onions, about 1/4 cup feta cheese (more would have been good), an egg, a cup of bread crumbs, a shot of lemon juice, and as much fresh dill as we could muster. Which was one package from the grocery store.

We formed patties and fried them in 1-2tbsp of olive oil in a pan for about 4 minutes per side. Also, I made "homemade tartar sauce****" which has four emphasis stars because really I just cut up pickles into tiny bits and mixed them into mayonnaise.

We found the recipe in Looneyspoons and it would have been way better if we had all of the ingredients (lemon zest, for one) BUT they were still amazing. Robyn made homemade buns (pictured) the day before so they were extra-awesome!

A very simple recipe: will make again!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Products That Are Awesome: Location-Based Call Screening for Android

This past December a spam caller started to phone me two, three, four, sometimes five times a day. Hitting "ignore call" each time is frustrating, so I searched for a better solution. I found built-in number blacklist in my Android phone. When a blacklisted number calls me, nothing happens. It's awesome. My phone doesn't make a noise and the screen doesn't turn on.

But that wasn't the greatest solution - new spam callers would start calling, or existing spammers would call from new numbers... and the built-in Android blacklist wasn't the easiest to use. I found a great way to solve these problems with a smarter app that handles area-code identification and blacklisting.

I found a fairly well-reviewed app called Instant Area Code. North American area codes are hard-coded into this app, so when you receive a call from a 604 number that's not in your contacts list, the phone will display "BRITISH COLUMBIA". Having the information hard-coded into the phone is a plus - it means that there is no delay showing you the area code location (some completing apps perform the lookup on the internet, so you have to wait a few rings for the location to show up).

Here's a screenshot I took of my phone receiving a call that I placed through Gmail's web interface.
You can see that the call is coming from Escondido, California (where Google must route their Gmail phone traffic through). Having this extra bit of location information is extremely useful in screening calls.

Just to be clear: the app doesn't show you the physical location of the caller. It just shows you where the area code of the number is used.

Android users, the downside to Instant Area Code is that the UI is ugly as sin, the app hasn't been updated in a while, and some blacklist-numbers-by-contact functions appear to be glitchy. That said, if you prefer function over form, and just want to know where your calls are coming from, it will do the job. Trust me, I tried a lot of free and trial version apps, and none of them could do this location-based identification right.

Long story short: If you have an Android, BlackBerry or iPhone and you've got Call Display, there are apps to help you identify the caller and/or where they're calling from, and blacklist spam phone numbers (or area codes) entirely. Find one, install it, and spend less time answering spam calls!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The McDonald's Wet Chocolate Caulk Pie

Most mornings in Montreal I grab a medium coffee with two milks from the McDonald's in the mall below my office. Plain McDonald's coffee (not the fancy McCafe stuff - I haven't tried it) is actually pretty good. And cheap! And all the cups have an air insulation layer inside. And the lids don't suck, like Tim Hortons.


Recently McDonald's has introduced what - to me - looks like the most vile and disgusting product ever to hit the shelves: The Oreo Pie.

Each day when I order my coffee, I have to look at a menu like this (this is not the exact menu, just an image that showed up on Google):

Maybe it's just me, but that picture is GROSS. Yeah yeah fast food is all gross etc, but come on - this is especially unpleasant to look at. The exterior cake looks overly moist while the cake near the frosting looks rock solid.

And the frosting... I can't look at it without thinking of this:

There you have it: The McDonald's Wet Chocolate Caulk Pie. Am I insane though? Does that picture look gross, or am I overreacting? I can tell you that the idea of an Oreo pie sounds great, in theory. It's just when I gaze upon the menu picture in the morning, I suppress the urge to gag.


Bonus: while searching for images for this blog, I found this insane cake recipe that combines ice cream sandwiches, Cool Whip, crushed Oreos and Jello chocolate pudding. Strangely, this homemade gargantuan calorie feast looks much more appetizing than McDonald's Wet Chocolate Caulk Pie.

Blog link:

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Fine Meat Sauce

For supper tonight - and for several of my lunches next week - I made a meat sauce using ground-up hot Italian sausage in my wok. It turned out awesome:

Ingredients: 1 package Bowtie pasta, 450g spicy Italian sausage broken (skins removed, broken apart while frying), one red pepper, one onion, green onions, 5 huge mushrooms, can of diced tomatoes, can of tomato paste, and a shot of balsamic vinegar for aroma and flavour. Seriously, balsamic vinegar is awesome in Italian meat sauces.

Turned out great, will make again!

Monday, January 16, 2012

TV Review: National Geographic's Drugs, Inc.

I'm really digging this new show produced by National Geographic, called Drugs, Inc. As a NatGeo production it is, obviously, a non-fiction show.

(image source: website screenshot)

Each one-hour episode of the show is a fascinating look into a specific drug that makes up part of the global illegal drug trade. Only eight episodes have aired so far, covering drugs like cocaine, heroin, cannabis, ecstasy, and meth.

National Geographic has really done their research on this show. Every episode features footage, interviews, and information with and about the following:

  • End-users;
  • Dealers;
  • Distributors;
  • Traffickers;
  • Producers/Growers;
  • Scientists (who talk about what the drug does to the brain);
  • Law enforcement (in regards to enforcement issues);
  • Doctors (in regards to personal health impacts);
  • Sociologists (in regards to societal impacts);
  • Politicians and lawmakers (in regards to legal history and current legal issues);
  • Pro-legalization groups (when applicable, obviously. No one wants to legalize meth, but the cannabis episode highlighted the current debates in that realm, and apparently acid and other hallucinogens have some valid therapeutic uses);
  • Just-say-no groups. 
And they really do go global - they visit poppy fields in Afghanistan, coca fields in Peru, hashish fields in Morocco, and grow-ops in North America. 

The end result is an incredibly balanced and informative show that is not trying to present an agenda, just the facts. The show boldly tackles issues that lots of people would rather not talk about. Interestingly, the US Government and the US Drug Enforcement Agency directly support the show's production, even though some of the facts don't always agree with the law. 

Here are a few of the things you can learn from this show. 
  • Hard-drug growers (poppy growers in Afghanistan or coca leaf growers in Peru) usually have exceptionally poor families. This is not because growing the ingredients for drugs provides a bad income. In fact, growing ingredients for drugs is often several times more profitable than growing non-narcotic crops. They are trying to earn money so their kids can eat and go to school, and they are well aware (and sometimes ashamed) of the irony: they're taking money and food out of other people's mouths to do it. 
  • Acid can be produced in two ways. One way is to synthesize it in a lab. The other involves refining a byproduct of the Sassafras tree - the same tree we get Root Beer flavour from! 
  • Hard drugs (meth, heroin, crack cocaine) are terrifyingly addictive, which is also why they are expensive - hardcore addicts will do almost anything to get them. Drugs like heroin and crack cocaine change the chemistry of the brain in such a way that the user undergoes incredibly painful withdrawal symptoms if they haven't had a "hit" within a few hours. Once I saw how these people live on a day-to-day basis, my perception of them changed from criminals to victims - their lives are being controlled by hard drugs. 
  • In North America, as a rule, the further North of the Mexico-USA border you are, the more expensive drugs are. 
  • In the United States, the Federal Government regards cannabis (marijuana) as illegal - you can go to jail for a long time on a pot charge. However, 16 US states defy this ban and have decriminalized cannabis for medical purposes. In an M. Night Shyamalan twist, the Federal Government legally mails four people legal cannabis for medical purposes every month (see also). They used to mail it out to 14 people but... 10 died. 
  • Traffickers and the cartels behind them are usually the real bad guys. Not so much the growers, not even the dealers and end-users, but the traffickers, where there is big money to be made. 
I think people from all backgrounds and preconceptions will find this show really interesting. It's neutral enough that hardcore anti-drug people and hardcore pro-legalization people will both exclaim "I told you so!" after watching a few episodes. 

This neutral balance contributes a LOT to the viewers' understanding of the drug in question, and lets the audience draw their own conclusions. My reaction to every episode with hard drugs (crack cocaine, meth, heroin) has been "holy shit, I'm glad I have never and will never touch the stuff." For other drugs like cannabis, acid and ecstasy, I am left with the impression that they should be controlled and people should be able to safely make their own choices about them. Hey, don't judge me - Steve Jobs dropped acid

Anyway. I wish I watched this in high school instead of a Just Say No video - Just Say No focuses on the "no", not on the "knowledge". Hey-o! 

The producers venture deep into realms that I thought would be impossible to capture on film. The semi-taboo subject matter just makes the show more interesting to watch. Watching this documentary TV show is like watching Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Law & Order, and Cheech & Chong's Up In Smoke all at once. It's surreal. 

Check the show out, I highly recommend it! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

How Most Canadian Cell Phone Contracts Work, and How To Get The Best Phones for $0 (Over Time)

Edit September 2016: This post remains my #1 all-time trafficked post, but much of the information is outdated or obsolete. Please take the advice with a grain of salt. My philosophy on phones has changed - I buy the premium Nexus phones straight from Google, and put them on a monthy Virgin Mobile plan ($53/mo after taxes for 5GB of data and unlimited calls/texts).

Original post is below. -BN


Since I started becoming interested in both consumer rights and mobile technology, I've encountered a lot of confusion at the intersection of those two ideas: just what rights do consumers have with their cell phones; what are they allowed to do? Here's a BIG collection of those answers. I expect to be directing quite a few people towards this post!

Scroll down the blog post for answers to the following:
  1. Do I own my cell phone?
  2. What if I break my cell phone? What if I hate using it?
  3. I'm on a 3-year contract and I lost my phone. My carrier wants $200 to cover the remaining months. Seems like highway robbery to me. What do you think?
  4. Other than a carrier's store/website, where can you buy a phone?
  5. SIM Cards and Changing Phones
  6. The $0 Phone is (Almost Always) a Bad Investment
  7. A Personal Example: How to Get Top-of-the-Line Phones for $0 (over time)
  8. Cell Phone Number Portability in Canada
  9. I live in {X Province}. I will be spending a few weeks/months in {Z Province}. What's the best way to ensure coverage? 

1. Do I own my cell phone?

This is not a dumb question, because to most everyday users it is not clear. The answer is yes. You own the physical piece of hardware (the cell phone) that you bought and paid for from the carrier. That iPhone belongs to you, and only you.

A $50/month, three-year contract equals $1,800 of your money paid to a cellular carrier over that time period. Given that guaranteed revenue stream, most carriers in Canada and the United States will subsidize the cost of the cell phone itself. So even if you've received a $0 cell phone with your new cell phone contract, that piece of hardware belongs to you. You're free to modify it, scratch it, put a sticker on it, or sell it.

2. What if I break my cell phone? What if I hate using it?

If you drop your cell phone and it breaks, or if you truly dislike using it, you are welcome to replace it with a new cell phone at any time, whether you have a contract or not. You do not have to wait for your contract to expire to change phones. In fact, it pains me when people tell me they're "waiting out" their contracts while paying $40-80 dollars a month to use hardware they hate!

Since the cell phone belongs to you (not the carrier), the carrier doesn't really care what you do with your physical phone as long as you maintain your contractual agreement. If your phone needs replacing, you have a few options:

1) Buy a new phone from the carrier. You're welcome to walk into a SaskTel store, pick out a shiny new iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android and say "I want this phone on my current contract". The downside: if you're in the middle of your contract, you will be ineligible for a subsidized cell phone. That new iPhone may cost $600 - which represents the true, unsubsidized cost of the phone.

2) Buy a new or used phone, anywhere else, so long as it's compatible with their network (see next section for more information).

Something thing to be aware of: most carriers charge a "new device activation fee" for bringing a different phone onto their network. This is a one-time fee; at SaskTel it is $25.

3. I'm on a 3-year contract and I lost my phone. My carrier wants $200 to cover the remaining months. Seems like highway robbery to me. What do you think? (added this question Nov 25/2012)

Sadly, there is no such thing as a "free" phone.

As an example: Telus (or Rogers, or SaskTel, or whoever) will give you a $300 phone for $0 if you agree to a 3-year contract. They know that they can lose a bit of money on the phone, but make it (and much more) over the 3 year contract.

A $75/mo plan over 36 months is $2700 in Telus' pocket, but some of that monthly fee pays back the $300 they LOANED you when they "gave" you that phone for "free" - I use quotes not to be facetious, but to emphasize that the phone didn't REALLY cost nothing and it wasn't REALLY free.

If you lose your phone or want to cancel your contract, suddenly Telus can't make 3 years' worth of money from you, AND you (or your daughter) effectively lost $300 that Telus loaned you.

4. Other than a carrier's store/website, where can you buy a phone?

This one's easy: virtually anywhere. You can look on eBay, Kijiji, or see if your nerdy friend has an extra phone lying around.

You need to be sure that your new phone will be compatible with your carrier's network. If you order a phone directly from Japan, chances are it won't work in Canada. But if you buy a used phone from a SaskTel customer, you know that phone will work on SaskTel's network.

Often times it may not be clear if a phone will work on SaskTel's (or your carrier's) network. I recommend collecting as much info on the phone as you can (brand name, model number, serial number, etc) and send that information to your carrier. In the past, SaskTel has been very helpful answering compatability questions that I've had.

5. SIM Cards and Changing Phones

A SIM card is a tiny removable chip in your phone. If you're on Rogers, or if you're on SaskTel or Telus' new 4G networks, you have one. It's wafer-thin, about an inch long and looks like this:

SIM stands for "subscriber identity module" which gives you a hint about what it does: it identifies you to cell phone towers, which then know what services you should be billed for (voice, text, data, etc).

In "the old days", a carrier like SaskTel would manually program your cell phone number into the phone when you purchased it. On the newer networks with newer phones, a SIM card eliminates the need for that manual entry: any phone you insert your SIM card into will be the one that rings when someone calls your cell phone number.

If the following conditions are true...

  • You have an active contract with a cellular carrier (eg, SaskTel)
  • You have a SIM card
  • The phone(s) that you have are compatible with your SIM card and cellular carrier
...ANY phone that you put your SIM card into will just start working, with no need to talk to your carrier (or be charged a $25 device activation fee). Again, your carrier only cares that you pay for your contract, they don't care what phone you use. Knowing this, it's possible to own multiple cell phones, and put your SIM card in the one you want to use at the start of the day.

In short, a SIM card allows you to access the services your carrier provides to you, through any cellular device of your choice.

6. The $0 Phone is (Almost Always) a Bad Investment

If you have a "dumbphone" (a non-smartphone), chances are your bill is around $40/month, which is $1,440 over three years paid to a carrier. If you have a smartphone, chances are your bill is around $75/month, which is $2,700 over three years.

Especially to smartphone buyers: if you're paying close to $3,000 for your contract, why accept a mediocre device? $0 phones are often older, out-of-date phones that lack the cool features of the newest phones. Their cameras are bad, their user interfaces are frustrating, and certain apps may not work - or worse, they may not support apps at all! Imagine, a phone without Angry Birds.

If you're signing up for a new contract or renewing an existing one, I urge you to take advantage of the subsidies that carriers give high-end smartphones for 2- and 3-year contracts. Spend $160 on a top-of-the-line phone! After all, the unsubsidized price of top-of-the-line iPhones and Androids is upwards of $600. Buying an top-of-the-line iPhone or Android for $160 (with a three-year contract) is like taking advantage of a 75% off sale!

If you or someone you know is not very tech-y but you still want a smartphone, buy an iPhone. I'm not a huge fan of them for a bunch of nerdy, obscure reasons, but they're extremely high-quality, capable and most importantly, easy-to-use devices.

On the other hand, if you accept a years-old $0 phone with a new contract (old BlackBerrys are often freebies), you're going to be using a slow device with a bad camera, bad apps, bad user interface, and bad screen resolution for the next three years! If you look at your phone more than five times a day, you owe it to yourself to use a functional, non-frustrating, usable piece of technology.

7. A Personal Example: How to Get Top-of-the-Line Phones for $0 (over time)

Here's my system to get the best phones and pay (essentially) nothing. In fall 2011, I was eligible for a subsidized hardware upgrade with SaskTel. A hardware upgrade is essentially a reward for making it through 24 months of a 3-year contract; carriers let you buy a new phone at the three-year subsidized price IF and ONLY IF you renew your contract with them for an extra two years.

I bought a Samsung Galaxy S II at the subsidized price of $160 plus tax. I removed the SIM card from my old phone - a Samsung Vibrant - and put it in my new phone. I turned it on and it worked. Easy!

Later that week, I unlocked my old phone so it would work on any carrier's network (which required some Googling and some hacking). This is not required, but it increases the number of potential buyers since someone could take it to Telus and use it there. Then I listed my old phone for sale on Kijiji. Within a few days, I sold it to a guy for $250. Hello, profit!

In fall 2013, when I am eligible for another hardware upgrade, I will once again buy the latest-and-greatest phone for the subsidized price of about $200. I will also sell my Samsung Galaxy S II on Kijiji for about $200-300. This is possible because I purchased my current phone at its subsidized price, not its true retail value of $600-700. Because these are higher-end phones, they retain value much better than the $0 phones.

The market for used high-quality smartphones is strong, so by purchasing subsidized top-of-the-line smartphones and selling them two years later at their used, but unsubsidized value, I'm essentially paying $0 for the best phones available. This is infinitely better than the people who get stuck in the free/$0 cell phone cycle - their hardware costs over time are the same as mine, but I get to use the better phones :-)

How do you figure out what price to sell your old phone for? Just search Kijiji and see what other people are charging.

8. Cell Phone Number Portability in Canada

If you decide to switch from SaskTel to Rogers, or Telus to Bell, or MTS to TBayMobile, as a Canadian you have the right (by law) to keep your phone number. This is called Wireless Number Portability, and you can find more info on it here:

The main restriction is that you must be within the same metropolitan area. If you're moving cross-country, you may not be eligible.

You also have the right to port your landline number to wireless. So for you dinosaurs who have a landline but no cell phone, you have the right to move your landline's phone number to a cell phone (or vice versa).

The most important thing to remember is not to cancel your old account before signing up for the new account - your new carrier (or existing carrier, if you're going from landline to cell but staying with the same company) will initiate the process of porting your number for you. This number portability process should be free, even if there are other fees on your account (like SaskTel's $25 new device activation fee). And it should always be possible to port numbers - within the restrictions outlined on the linked site - so don't let an uninformed service representative tell you it's impossible.

9. I live in {X Province}. I will be spending a few weeks in {Z Province}. What's the best way to ensure coverage? (added Dec 22/2012)

If you're going to be in another province for a few weeks or months (but not years):

1) Go pre-paid, but the provider doesn't really matter. For a Rogers, SaskTel, Bell, Telus, Fido, etc pre-paid phone plus a month of phone and data is probably going to run you $50-100 for a cheap phone, $20 for a month of calling, and $20 to add on some data. Do some research to see who has better coverage in that province if you will be travelling around.

2) Roam on your existing provider's number. Depending on your use, if you're in another province for a few weeks or months the roaming charges may be less than the $100-200 you might otherwise spend on a pre-paid phone plus minutes and data.

That's all I can think of! Please leave a comment or shoot me an email if you have a question - I do enjoy updating this post and making it a useful resource. Please note that I don't know the "best" details of every plan, provider, etc, so I often can't recommend a particular plan, phone, or provider. Unless you're in Saskatchewan, go SaskTel :-)

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Wise Cubical Visitor

There's an older gentleman at my office in Montreal who enjoys getting to know random people on this floor. He'll wander by my cubical a few times per week and chat with me, but before wandering away he usually tries to pass along some wisdom.
He's a totally nice guy and I mean no offense to him whatsoever, but the magnitude of his wisdom varies greatly day-to-day.
Today I said I'd like to "settle down" in Saskatoon. He said that was unlikely; once you start accepting travel assignments (as I have in Montreal), you never want to stop moving around. This pushed me deep into thought, as right now I DO I want to settle down in Saskatoon and I can't see that changing. I focused my thoughts inward and tried to think of a scenario where I'd want to pick up and move. I couldn't think of anything, but he still made me challenge an important idea that I hold true.
Yesterday he told me to take my dress shirts out of the dryer when they're still damp so I could skip ironing.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Guitar! So Metal.

I bought a new guitar today with some money I got from my parents for Christmas!!!!

It is a Jackson Rhoads RR3, made in Japan, with a Floyd Rose licensed tremelo and Seymour Duncan humbuckers (pickups). The guitar was designed by the late Randy Rhoads, who played with Quiet Riot in the late 70s and Ozzy Osbourne in the early 80s, before a dying in a plane crash in 1982.

Although Randy Rhoads designed the Jackson Rhoads guitar, he (tragically) never played it. He played the prototype and sent feedback to the guitar makers, but died before the revised prototypes were completed. Although Rhoads was only 25 when he died, he had a massive impact on the metal scene with some original guitar work in classic songs like Crazy Train, Diary of a Madman and Mr. Crowley.

I bought the guitar from Italmelodie in Montreal where a guy named Dino was super helpful, letting me play on a crappy practice amp (to simulate the crappy amp I have here in Montreal) and a huge Marshall stack in a soundproof room. He was great - he left me alone to play for 40 minutes or so, stopping by every once in a while to ask how I was doing or tell me he liked a song I was playing (I was playing a lot of Randy Rhoads stuff, and he's a huge fan). A+++ would shop again! 

It is hard to take a picture of yourself holding a guitar and also looking cool.

Here's a little video I recorded this evening. I'm playing part of a song called Paraphrase by Swedish guitar sensation Yngwie Malmsteen. I couldn't get an cut with no mistakes so I said "eff it" and uploaded this version. 

I've only put a few hours of play into this guitar but I already love it. The action is super low and the notes just jump off the fretboard. My Gibson SG has no tremelo/whammy bar so it will take some time to get used to the whammy on the RR3. The only downside: it's not easy to play sitting down. But that's okay, sitting is not very metal. I might upload a few more videos of me playing guitar in the future, we'll see! 

Thanks Mom and Dad! 

Friday, January 6, 2012


I was talking to Robyn on the phone the other night and I asked her, "have you ever just walked around without your glasses on? I walked home without my glasses today and it was awesome."

She laughed and said no, but that her sisters sometimes did and they called it "blindwalking."

I was excited to hear that other people without glasses sometimes do this too, and that it's not just me being crazy.

My vision is fairly poor: I'm nearsighted with a -4.5 and -5.5 prescription on whatever scale prescriptions are on. In layman's terms, I need to have my looking-balls about 10 inches away from size 12 font to have any hope of reading it. To have any hope of recognizing a person when I'm not wearing contacts or glasses, they need to be less than 5 feet away (and they need to be even closer for me to figure out if they're making eye contact).

When I walk around without glasses, it's like being teleported into a colourful, blurry, and isolating world. Why isolating? When your vision is poor and you don't wear your lenses, you can't see people's eyes, which prevents you from seeing their intentions. You don't pick up any social cues like eye contact, smiles, raised eyebrows, etc. Everyone is just a blob moving from A to B and you're moving around in this fuzzy version of reality. This isolating feeling is strangely (and consistently) peaceful, even in a busy, loud place like downtown Montreal.

The thing I love most about terrible vision (no sarcasm, I promise!) is lights. Lights on cars, street lights, digital billboards, neon signs, and Christmas trees all look more magical. When I look at a Christmas tree in low light without my glasses, I can't make out the ornaments. Rather, I see a tree covered in GIANT orbs of colourful light. This is one of my favourite things to do at Christmas - take of my glasses and look at trees.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Difficult Day

I just got back to Montreal, and so far today I've had what Eugenie Fernandes would call A Difficult Day.

I'll get all of my complaining out of the way at once:

  • My Saskatoon apartment's sink is backed up. We can't drain anything, and whatever our upstairs neighbour drains comes up through our sink. Oh joy! Here's my attempt at plugging the sink with Gladware to prevent overnight floodage (it didn't work)
  • I slept poorly last night, due to the one-man highland dance troupe living upstairs. 
  • One of my flights was cancelled so I was bumped to a later flight, guaranteeing that all of my daylight hours were spent in airplanes or airports. 
  • My bags were last on the carousel (#firstworldproblems)
  • The drug store in my building wouldn't sell me a box and bubble wrap because only the post office (inside the drug store) is allowed to sell them?? Umm, the post-related inventory is mixed right into the stationary isle, why can't I give you some money in exchange for some shipping supplies?! "Oh, the post office part is closed, so you can't have the items on this shelf in this open store."
  • Most strangely, apparently my apartment's management showed my apartment to at least one "client" while I was on Christmas break in Saskatoon. What? People were in my apartment? Okay, there was an advance notice of this visit slipped under my door, but when they visited a week later would they not have seen that undisturbed, unopened notice on the floor? No consent was given to enter and I did not see the notice until today. I am very annoyed. Nothing is missing, but how do you feel when someone enters your personal space without permission? It's creepy. I called the "agent" and left a message asking her how many people were in here and when. These so-called clients are welcome to see my apartment but only if I have actually received the notice and only if I actually give consent. 
Life is not all bad; I suppose my tiredness just magnified all of these relatively minor issues. On the upside, today I saw some friends on the plane who I haven't seen for a long time, and I had a really, really, really great Christmas break at home in Saskatoon. Lots of food and fun with friends and family (eff, that's some fine alliteration!). 

I should have some interesting, non-complainy blog posts up within the next week or two. Happy New Year!