Friday, February 29, 2008

Back to School

Tomorrow I start my TESL course. My notebook, pen, pencil and eraser are all ready to go. Very exciting!

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Up at Les Pleiades, in August 2005.

Grandmaman was 94 at the time and for the first time in my life, she didn't outrun me. Even at her 90th birthday, she managed to outpace the entire family on a seemingly endless downhill hike.

Sadly those days are over now. Grandmaman died February 12, 2008, at about 11:00 a.m. (GMT +1)

She taught me how to cook, how to make bread and how to knit, even if I never really caught on to that one.

Here are a few things I will miss about Grandmaman.

I will miss her cooking. Cherry soup in winter with cherries from the trees in the front garden and homemade fried croutons. Tarte au fromage that would stink up the house with the smell from the cheese. Deep fried potato puffs eaten on the terrasse. Fresh out of the oven peach pie after a l-o-n-g hot walk up the road from town, after travelling all night. And above all - Curly Bread.

Then there was always her sheer joy on seeing me after long absences.

Her little giggle when she laughed, with her hand over her mouth.

And so many other fond memories now.

Here's a link to some pictures that have been taken over the years.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Flag Day

Check this out - two of my pictures are presently up on The Gazette's website, to celebrate Flag Day:

Canadian flag

Quebec flag

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Butter Fingers

Am thinking of having my name changed. To "Butter Fingers".

Invited my parents over for dinner tonight so I could try out a couple of new recipes from one of my new cookbooks. From The Flexitarian Table, I made a phyllo pie with lemon tofu, winter greens and mushrooms, as well as roasted winter vegetable salad with red onion vinaigrette. Both were delicious. Dad even had two helpings of both dishes!

Anyway, the reason I'm going to rename myself is because as I was taking the roasted vegetables out of the oven, I thought I put the pan on the counter properly. I did not. I put it on very wrongly. It immediately fell to the floor and ALL the potatoes and carrots and olive oil spread themselves across the better part of my entire kitchen floor. Heh. Luckily Mom was there to tell me what to do. Pick the pieces up gingerly and put them in the serving bowl. And that's what I did. Didn't have much choice because it's not like I had a back up pan in the oven or something. We ate them and they were delicious.

This is not the first time I've let a dish of food drop on the floor. Most recently at Nick & Sue's I dropped an entire load of cut fruit. At least that we were able to wash off and serve. It's a bit harder to wash oily potatoes and carrots. And I think I dropped some mini pizzas on the floor last spring. Couldn't do much about those though, the sauce went all over the floor and I draw the line at scraping sauce from the floor into my mouth.

I was very happy with both recipes. Particulary the phyllo lemon tofu and veggie pie. The tofu was delicious and lemony and not "tofu" tasting at all. Dad couldn't get over the dressing on the potatoes and said about the tofu, that if I hadn't told him what it was, he would've never known.

Mom brought dessert. She made some very yummy chocolate pannacotta. Mmm ... Thanks, Mom!

Now the dishwasher is doing its job and I've just finished washing the floor. For the second time. It's tough getting oil off the floor!

Friday, February 08, 2008

At Long Last

Miracles of miracles - my phone works!

After my last call to them at 5pm yesterday, I never thought my phone would be working about two hours later. But it was! All of a sudden, it was on the table ringing and vibrating at the same time and I wasn't quite sure what it was or what to do. Obviously I answered the phone and found out that it was working. I even made several calls to test out this new thing called "a phone that works". It's quite amazing. You dial a number, press send and then somebody talks to you from the other end! And not just a recording saying "3M1 - your telephone isn't connected to the network at this time. Please contact your service provider. This was a recording." (my translation)

I'm happy that this is over. My final comment on the whole thing is that Telus needs to revise their vocabulary. Escalate and expedite don't mean the same thing to them as they do to most other people. For Telus those words mean "we'll get to it when we can, so please stop bothering us." For the rest of the world (or at least me) escalate means to increase intensity and expedite means to accelerate a process or speed up. Silly me.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Still Nothing, Seriously

It's almost comical at this point.

Yesterday, my not-so-friendly customer service rep over at Telus promised me that the phone would be up and running by 11:00 a.m. today.

Well, guess what folks? It's not.

So I called them. Again. Today the rep passed me as quick as she could over to technical support and for the first time since all this brou-ha-ha started last Saturday morning, somebody was able to tell me exactly what happened.

Here's the story -

When I bought the phone and switched plans, the transaction that should normally take about 20 minutes to go through, did not go through. This is what they call a validation error.

How do they fix that? Well, apparently their technical support staff have to manually put through these data changes. And as luck would have it, it seems there were quite a few of these problems last week, so their tech support team is overloaded with these requests.

My ticket number has been escalated twice and that's as high as it goes with them. Now I'll just have to sit and wait for them to get to it. When will that be? It could be tomorrow but she would not guarantee me anything.

On the bright side, this call only last 13 minutes and 43 seconds. The shortest one by far! Yesterday I was on with them for nearly 45 minutes.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Still Nothing

Wednesday, 10:35 a.m.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Freaked Out

Maybe I've worked myself into a little bit of a state because of the whole non-phone issue but what happened last night kinda freaked me out.

Went to practice at Parc Jean-Drapeau. As I was leaving, I was walking up the little incline of the parking lot area to the main road, a car drove slowly by, stopped, backed up and waited for me to get up the hill. As I approached the road, the driver opened his window and asked if I needed a lift anywhere. I politely said no thanks and walked around the back of his car and onto the road. He drove on. But then a couple of hundred metres down the road, at the stop sign by the bridge that crosses over to where the metro station is, he stopped AGAIN. And he waited AGAIN. He waited there until I got to the stop sign and asked AGAIN if I needed a lift. So I repeated that I was fine, thanks but no thanks.

This time I crossed over to the wrong side of the road and walked s-l-o-w-l-y across the bridge and this guy drove across it and stopped at the stop sign. As I was walking my snail's pace, I noticed that he was taking an awfully long time to turn and go his merry way.

That's when I decided I would stop on the bridge and would not move an inch until he left. For the first time in a long time, I was scared and did not feel safe. I had two choices. (1) Turn back and return to the gym, even though I knew I was locked out, I might catch somebody leaving. (2) Wait as long as it took for this moron to leave and then run like hell for the metro and tell the ticket collector at the station.

In the end, after the longest minute of my life, the driver lifted his foot off the brake, turned left and drove away. As soon as I saw him go, I walked a normal pace to the end of the bridge, checked to make sure he really was gone. He was. And then I ran to the metro only to discover that there was no attendant at the booth. But I was safe, I was in a well-lit area and there were other people around and that alone made me feel miles better already.

Got home safely and even caught the bus for the last stretch home.

All this to say that in 7 years, I have never, ever had to use my cell for an emergency before. Wouldn't you know, the first time I'm alone, on a deserted road, late at night, without a phone (because I had to make sure everything was against me) - happens to be the the first time some ass decides to get his jollies by freaking me out.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Letter

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is to report a problem following the purchase of a new phone with Telus (see copy of invoice attached).

Telus has been my sole means of telephone communication since September 2000. I do not have a landline telephone. In December 2006, I finally replaced the first Telus phone I had purchased. While I was never pleased with the reception or clarity of the calls, I figured I could last the two years of the contract. However due to the battery becoming less and less efficient, most recently lasting less than one hour, I decided it was time to replace the phone.

On February 1, 2008, I called your toll-free number and was very pleased with the service I received from two of your agents. They were able to match the discount I could have taken with my corporate plan and even upgraded several services for me as thanks for my continued loyalty with Telus. Later that afternoon I went to your flagship store in Montreal to obtain a new phone and thus complete the transfer to the new plan. Once that transaction was complete, I was informed that the phone would be up and running in approximately an hour or two. It was about 6:00 p.m. Some five hours later I turned the phone on and attempted to place a call.

This is where the problems begin. As I placed the first call, I was surprised to hear a recording informing me that the phone was not connected to the network. I hung up, turned this new phone off and decided to try placing a call using my old phone. This phone was still working, despite having been told that once the switch was complete I would not be able to use it other than to scroll through the information in the contact list, etc. I made a second call, this time to your 611 number in an attempt to find out where the problem might be, only to discover that the call centre wasn’t open 24 hours a day.

On Saturday, February 2, 2008, I attempted to make another call using the new phone. I got the same message telling me that the phone was not connected to the network. Once again, I turned on the old phone, called 611 and went through the process of reaching a customer service representative. The agent who answered the call wasn’t able to fix the problem because apparently there were some errors in the file. What type of errors these were, she was unable to explain, except that the call was being escalated to technical support. I then spoke to a support technician who assured me that the problems were being fixed and that the phone would be working in about an hour. However, she also advised that if the phone still wasn’t working by that time, I would need to call back so they could look at the problem again.

Following the instructions I was given and approximately one hour and 15 minutes later, I had my father, who was sitting beside me at the time, call me. The call went directly through to my voicemail even though I had the new phone turned on. (Yes, the old phone was off.) Luckily I was at Promenades St. Bruno shopping mall and was able to stop by your store. Your agent at the service counter was able to check my account and verified that the phone was indeed activated but she too was unable to place a call. She then contacted technical support and ended up with a “Ticket number” because they were investigating the problem. She also told me that it could be Monday (February 4, 2008) or Thursday (February 7, 2008) before the problem would be solved.

I was not pleased with this response and thought perhaps that returning to the store where I bought the phone there might be a better solution available. This was not to be. At the Downtown Montreal store, your agents simply pointed me to a phone that dialed directly to the customer service centre. The first phone I used had so much static that by the time I did get to speak to an agent, I discovered it was almost impossible to hear what the agent was saying, and then after spending nearly 30 minutes on the phone with her, the phone cut out in the middle of our conversation! The in-store agents weren’t terribly concerned with my problem and directed me over to another phone. I started the whole process over again, on an equally static telephone. Call, hold, wait, reach a new agent, explain the situation for what seemed the umpteenth time, and finally was transferred back to the person I had been speaking with originally. As much as I appreciate the agent was being as helpful as possible, there was so much static, and added to that the music playing in the store and the conversations taking place around me, it was extremely difficult to understand what the agent was trying to say about the situation. In the end, I became so frustrated and overwhelmed by the whole process that I had to apologize to your agent and hang up with no idea on how or when the problem may be resolved.

Sunday I tried repeatedly to use the phone to no avail. This morning, Monday, February 4, 2008, I called your toll-free number from my office and was told that the problem had been escalated to a second level technician and might be looked at today but probably only Wednesday or Thursday.

Being that the cell phone is my only telephone, it was unacceptable to me that I remain without a phone for nearly one week. As mentioned above, I do not have an alternate phone that I can pick up and use at will. The Telus cell phone is my only phone. It is my home phone, my emergency phone and to borrow the American Express tagline, I don’t leave home without it. Surely you understand my frustration in being told nothing but "our technicians are working on it." This was categorically the response I got from your telephone agents and your in-store sales representatives. I have been a long-standing and loyal customer for more than seven years. I have paid thousands of dollars in monthly fees during this period and do not feel this is any way to treat a client.

I have now been without a phone for more than 48-hours and have no idea when my phone will be in working order. I don’t know how anyone in my personal life will reach me in the next week. I don’t know how I will reach anyone should an emergency arise. Will a technician or customer service representative try to reach me to inform me that the phone is working? If so, where will they call?

Please understand that I want to remain a Telus customer for many more years to come but this entire process has soured my opinion of your service and your company to the extreme. It is incomprehensible that you have no other solutions to offer your clients other than "our technicians are working on it."

Should you have any questions concerning this matter ...

No Phone

If you tried to phone me this weekend and weren't able to reach me, I'm not screening my calls or ignoring you. Telus messed up the transfer from my old phone to my new phone and so I have basically been without a phone since Friday at 6:00pm. Telus is telling me that it could be fixed by today or by Thursday (nearly a full week later) but in the meantime I better not need the phone, you know, FOR AN EMERGENCY OR SOMETHING!!!

I'm a little upset. Can you tell? All this negative energy I've been harbouring all weekend is taking its toll. I'm exhausted.

Updates to come soon. Primarily in the form of a nasty letter to Telus. It needs some tweaking though because I wrote the first draft in the heat of the moment.