Canada Post Kiosks!

I still communicate with some people and organizations by mail which means I am frequent visitor to the post office. Unfortunately it’s usually an unpleasant experience on account of the lines and incredibly slow wait times for even the most simple services.

Today, however, I was intrigued to see a pair of self-serve kiosks at Vancouver’s main post office on W. Georgia St. I’ve seen similar machines in the States that dispense stamps but this machine, a Wincor Nixdorf ProPostal 2000 stamp vending kiosk, allows you to weigh parcels as well.

I am quite pleased with how quick and easy it was to send off a parcel to Yukon. – it was as simple to use as a bank machine or one of those self checkouts at the grocery store.

Of course, I do worry that these new self-service kiosks may cost some people their jobs a Canada Post employee if said that it’s too early to tell and the machines are only in a limited number of locations.

Canada Post Kiosk at the main Vancouver post office.
Canada Post Kiosk at the main Vancouver post office.

Weighing my package to Whitehorse.
Weighing my package to Whitehorse.

Printing off the stamp and receipt.
Printing off the stamp and receipt.

My stamp.
My stamp.

Taking the city bus from Vancouver to Seattle

Vancouver to Seattle
Vancouver to Seattle

Have you ever considered taking the city bus from Vancouver to Seattle? Not the Greyhound, car, or Amtrak but public transit. I considered it, found out it was possible.

I was curious to see how far south I could go on public transit. I was hoping there’d be a way to go all the way down to San Francisco on public transit commuter buses but I can’t seem to find a way to go further south than Olympia without hopping on an Amtrak or Greyhound.

My friend and I wanted to go down to the US border on transit for a day of fun and happiness in Blaine, Washington. But I was like “Screw Blaine, let’s go to Seattle!” She was like “Okay!” But I just looked at all the long bus trips and connections and am like “Blaine will be fine!”

Here’s what such a trip might look like:

  1. Take the SkyTrain at 5:30 in the morning and then transfer on three Surrey buses until you get to 8th Ave. and King George Highway at approximately 6:50 a.m.
  2. Walk (or bike) approximately 2 km to the US border station. I don’t know if they have a walk-through section or anything. Hopefully they are more accomodating than the McDonald’s drive thru.
    US Border Crossing
  3. Head to downtown Blaine and catch the 70X Bellingham/WWU at 7:51 a.m. Arrive in Bellingham at 8:41 a.m.
  4. Catch the 80X Mt. Vernon bus at Bellingham Station at 9:40 a.m. Arrive at Skagit Station in Mt. Vernon at 10:22 a.m.
  5. KILL SIX HOURS IN MT. VERNON!

    Mount Vernon, Washington
  6. Hop on the 90X County Connector – Everett Express bus at 4:15 p.m. and arrive at Everett Station at 5:00 p.m.
  7. Take the 510 Everett – Seattle bus at 5:20 p.m. and get off in downtown Seattle at 6:10 p.m.
  8. Have dinner at the Space Needle!

    Space Needle Restaurant
  9. Hmm… I don’t think I’ll be going to Seattle this way…

Nathaniel.ca reader responds!!

I got this email last night in response to an article I wrote in 2006. I don’t know this person, and am not sure how or why they stumbled on my site but it’s cool to get feedback…

I just finished reading – Building a stronger two-spirited community by
Nathaniel Christopher.

First, Sporting spiky blonde highlights and a bright World Cup track jacket, Mitchell Mack exudes the image of an energetic young Vancouverite, adapting to changing times while staying true to his spiritually.

Should be changed to – Sporting spiky blonde highlights and a bright World Cup track jacket, Mitchell Mack exudes the image of an energetic young Vancouverite, adapting to changing times while staying true to his
spirituality.

Second, “There are many different reasons for holding a pow-wow but it’s mostly about bringing communities together,” he explains. “The dances and ceremonies come from our ancestors so when we perform them we are often thinking about our grandmothers, grandfathers. We let their spirits live on
through us in these ceremonies. It’s about getting in touch with the Creator.

Should be changed to – “There are many different reasons for holding a pow-wow but it’s mostly about bringing communities together,” he explains.”The dances and ceremonies come from our ancestors so when we perform them we are often thinking about our grandmothers, grandfathers. We let their
spirits live on through us in these ceremonies. It’s about getting in touch
with the Creator².

If you need an editor, please let me know

All the best,
C****** G*********
MA, BA Candidate

Singing the praises of Dolly Iris

When I shop at Safeway I notice the only dessert they have at the deli is this stuff called ambrosia salad. It’s so good but it’s kind of expensive at $1.19 for every 100 grams.  I really enjoy eating it but I spend too much on it. I’ve been spending some quality time both in person and in blog land with my dear friend Dolly Iris.

I really suck at basic life management skills like cooking, financial management and household organisation.  It’s a weak point with me and has really impeded my life in more ways than I’d like to count. Dolly, however, understands where I come from and never makes me feel ashamed for asking what others might consider a shockingly stupid question such as “What are the basic staple foods you buy every month to keep a kitchen going?”

Anyways, she inspires me in so many ways. So yesterday I decided I would try to actually make all my meals this week. Not from frozen dinners, but scratch.

I started with this ambrosia salad. When I looked up the ingredients I was surprised to notice that I hate each one on their own, but all together it tastes divine and it’s mostly healthy ingredients.

This is what it looked like:
ambrosia

Ingredients:

1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup sour cream

Gently mix together all ingredients. The sour cream version can be immediately put into serving bowls as it will be firm enough when made. The yogurt version might be a little runny so you may want to refrigerate it for a couple of hours first.

Canada Post vs. Nathaniel

So, when I opened the mail today I received a letter in the strangest envelope.

It was a cheque I was expecting, but there was no return address and the postal marks were very strange. It was stamped as “Short Paid Unit” and something about 104 cents:

There was a little card stapled to the back which read: “Postage Due: With this card you received mail that was sent without enough postage. To avoid delay and inconvenience, the amount due was not collected at the time of delivery. Please affix postage on the other side of this card to cover the amount due, and mail the card.”

I put two stamps on the back and will put it in the mail before five. I should probably invoice the place that sent the letter for $1.04! It was lame for them to forget postage! Heh What do you think?

BEING TWENTY – SOMETHING

My friend Dolly posted an inspirational email on her blog the other day. It struck a deep chord with me and where I’m at in my life these days.  So, here it is:

They call it the “Quarter-life Crisis.” It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are many things about yourself that you didn’t know and may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.

You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren’t exactly the greatest people you have ever met, and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you don’t recognize is that they are realizing that too, and aren’t really cold, catty, mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you.

You look at your job… and it is not even close to what you thought you would be doing, or maybe you are looking for a job and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and that scares you.

Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and are constantly adding things to your list of what is acceptable and what isn’t. One minute, you are insecure and then the next, secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly, change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past with dear life, but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away, and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward.

You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you. Or you lie in bed and wonder why you can’t meet anyone decent enough that you want to get to know better. Or maybe you love someone but love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you know that you aren’t a bad person. One night stands and random hook ups start to look cheap. Getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic.

You go through the same emotions and questions over and over, and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision. You worry about loans, money, the future and making a life for yourself… and while winning the race would be great, right now you’d just like to be a contender!

What you may not realize is that everyone reading this relates to it. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out.

Send this to your twenty-something friends…maybe it will help someone feel like they aren’t alone in their state of confusion……..

How to get free Coke

I drink a lot of Coke and so when I run out I get a bit crazy. I usually keep an emergency stash of Coke for times like this, or failing that I always have lot of cans and bottles that I can cash in to buy some more.

Today I had none of that.  I am without Coke and no backup.  But my brother had a brilliant idea.

We were having dinner at McDonald’s and suggested I take advantage of the free refill policy.

Empty McDonald's cup

“Just bring a giant jug, get a bunch of refills and pour them into the jug,” he advised.  It’s a great way to survive through the Coke lulls.

How to get good food for free

Okay, so I went to the food bank today. I went there a few weeks ago and they were out of food. So I came back earlier today, at about 8:45 and waited an hour until they opened up. By that time the lineup behind me had grown considerably.

Many of the volunteers are from the Tzu Chi Foundation, which is this international Buddhist missionary organisation. They find ways of putting their Buddhist teachings into practice around the world. They added a very nice energy to the place.

And the food is quite good. Here is Khan investigating the food bank bounty:

Khan guards the food I got from the food bank

I got: tomatoes, a yellow pepper, potatoes, carrots, pasta sauce, canned ravioli, pasta, crackers, eggs and coffee. I’m probably going to make an ice spagetti dish this weekend and then save the potatoes for a nice potato salad. I’m not sure what I’ll do about the coffee. I don’t drink coffee and my housemate, who is not a picky eater at all, recoiled in horror when I presented him a pound of coffee from a defunct grocery store chain.  He says the coffee is “crappy” and asked if it was “food bank coffee” before I even told him I’d gone.

So… does anyone want some coffee? 🙂

McDonald’s double cheesburger shortage

burger.jpg

 

I love McDonald’s. In fact, I live off of their Value Menu. It’s where I seem to get most of my food these days.

 I have some friends here in Vancouver who have expressed their reservations about my tendency to eat at McDonald’s.  “Eew,” they moan. “How can you eat that crap?” or “Do you know what that does to your body?” and my favourite “Haven’t you seen that movie, ‘Supersize Me’?”

 Firstly, I kind of like McDonald’s. I enjoy their burgers. They seem to be consistent wherever I go.

 Secondly, McDonald’s is really convenient and quick. It’s right next to my house. When I’m hungry I just run over there and dinner’s ready in under 10 minutes.

 Thirdly, and most importantly, I’m poor and McDonald’s is cheap. For  about $1.50 I can get a filling, tasty burger. It’s not the healthiest lunch, but usually I bring it home and cook some vegetables to go with it. When things get really tight, I can usually scrape together $1.50 in spare change to get some dinner.

 Sadly, this may soon change.

According to the New York Daily News McDonald’s might discontinue the double cheeseburger from their menu due to the rising price of cheese. Some American franchises have already replaced the item with a double hamburger or a double hamburger with one slice of cheese. 

 If McDonald’s replaces the item with a double hamburger or a double hamburger with cheese, I can live with that. Times are tough, we all have to make due. But if they eliminate the item all together then I’ll be very sad, and hungry.

I think I’ll write a letter.