JoelDixon.com

"Uh, no, you got the wrong number. This is 9-1 ... 2." - Chief Wiggum, The Simpsons 8F17

Blog
General
Travel
Hockey
Technical
Gaming
Catalogue
Movies
TV Shows
Music
Video Games
Stats
Pages
Travel Plans
Live Music
Phone History
Monument Mounting
Things to Do
Links
About


Blog Archive
Current Blogs
April 2017 (3)
March 2017 (1)
July 2016 (1)
2015 (24)
2014 (1)
2013 (4)
2012 (39)
2011 (2)
2010 (18)
2009 (28)
2008 (25)
2007 (67)
2006 (23)
2005 (32)
2004 (10)

Blog Tags
General (13)
10 in '10 (4)
Books (1)
DVDs (3)
Funny (13)
Gadgets (5)
Hawt (1)
Movies (14)
Music (7)
Pets (4)
Recipe (17)
Running (3)
TV Shows (2)
Web (29)

Travel (75)
Akihabara (1)
Amsterdam (1)
Argentina (2)
Asakusa (1)
Barcelona (1)
Berlin (1)
Brussels (1)
Budapest (1)
Buenos Aires (1)
Cairo (1)
Calgary (2)
Cusco (1)
Dijon (1)
Dresden (1)
Edinburgh (1)
Edmonton (12)
Florence (1)
Gero (1)
Ginza (1)
Harajuku (1)
Himeji (1)
Hiroshima (1)
Iga (1)
inca-trail (1)
Ireland (1)
Japan (22)
Kamakura (1)
Kawaguchiko (1)
Killarney (1)
Kobe (1)
Krakow (1)
Kuala Lumpur (1)
Kyoto (1)
Lima (1)
Lisbon (1)
London (1)
Lyon (1)
Madrid (1)
Meguro (1)
Milan (1)
Montreal (1)
Nagoya (1)
Naples (1)
Nara (1)
New York (8)
Niagara Falls (3)
Nice (1)
Nikko (1)
Nile Cruise (1)
Odaiba (1)
Osaka (1)
Ottawa (1)
Paris (1)
Phuket (2)
Pittsburgh (8)
Porto (1)
Prague (1)
Provins (1)
Quebec City (1)
Rome (1)
Sakura (1)
Shibuya (1)
Shinjuku (1)
Takayama (1)
Toledo (1)
Toronto (1)
Ueno (1)
Valencia (1)
Vancouver (1)
Venice (1)
Vienna (1)
Warsaw (1)
Washington (4)
Whistler (1)
Yokohama (1)

Hockey (3)
Lemieux Fantasy Camp (2)
Pittsburgh Penguins (28)
Wolverines (1)

Technical (4)
.NET (3)
Java (4)
Software (3)
Work (2)

Gaming (6)
Commodore 64 (2)
Master System (1)
Mega Drive (1)
Rock Band (1)
Xbox 360 (16)
XNA (1)

The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Edmonton

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Little Things

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 25/10/2007 09:47:18
Updated by Joel Dixon at 14/07/2008 23:59:01


I've already blogged about some big differences between Australia and Canada - such as travel, customer service and language. But quite often I'm struck by some of the small differences that aren't much when looked at one-by-one - but they certainly add up.

Some things I didn't notice when I first wrote about differences in traveling are longboards and crosswalks. The number of people getting around on longboards is staggering - I'll see one at least every few weeks. Obviously this isn't a very high number - but considering I've never seen a longboard in use in all my years in Australia - it's pretty striking. Another potentially striking difference (HU HU - you'll see) is the cross walks over here - they are so dangerous. In the middle of the city, on a main road they have random cross walks setup. They have no traffic lights, the crossing lane marks are very faded (and they don't all have zebra marks), some are directly after blind turns and the only indication that they are coming is a small sign on the side of the road. I've already had the car I was traveling in screech to a halt a few times when a pedestrian comes out of nowhere.

Longboard
A longboard

Crosswalk
One of the crosswalk signs that you won't notice driving around Edmonton

It's also been weird for me to live in a place that doesn't value water above gold. Because of Canada's geography, water is an abundant resource and there's no real need to be a water saver. Water features and fountains are in common (and not drained), I've yet to hear the term "Wally" and they don't even have a "half-flush" button on the toilets.

While not related to water (but still important to the environmentally conscience) - plastic bags are handed out like candy here and I've even been asked if I want my items double bagged from time to time. I did however buy re-usable cloth bags - the Australian in me feels like a criminal whenever I'm given a plastic bag!

While they may be wasting water and plastic here, they seem to be doing the right thing about power saving. Almost all of the lights at work are operated on a timing switch, and power saving propaganda is frequently advertised on TV. I do remember some power saving going on at home - but it's nothing like Canada (in my experience so far).

Fan
The cool breeze of this energy-efficient fan almost makes up for the exertion you feel from powering it all day

Something that I had noticed a lot in North American sitcoms and school dramas was hand towel distributors. You can't just pull the paper out of the dispenser - you have to either hand-crank it, flick some switch repeatedly or press some button. I'm going to take a complete guess and suggest that this is to prevent somebody stealing the paper towel without supplying great annoyance (or to stop the kids from messing with it). It's taken a bit of getting used to - and I'll feel no great loss when I get back home!

Towel
You can see the small handle on the right hand side of this paper towel dispenser

There's also even smaller things that are different - such as stamps costing $1.10 here. Also, people have really embraced bluetooth headsets more than in Australia. It's appears people aren't ridiculed for this as much as they should - I've been playing my part - and usage is somewhat frequent.

But the biggest little difference that I've encountered here - is that everyone (about 5 or 10 people) that I have said "Maccas" to have no idea what I'm talking about. Even when I'm discussing fast food restaurants and say something like "Yeah, I really like Maccas nuggets" it's met with "Maccas?" (it's McDonalds if anyone from Canada's reading this ). They use Mickey D's (which I thought was more American) or just plain McDonald's. Thinking about it, if it followed the typical Australian nickname generation algorithm it should probably be shortened to Macco's (Jonno, Richo, Dicko etc). A quick look on Wikipedia lends a few more nicknames:

Quoting Wikipedia:
The brand is known informally as "Mickey D's" (in the US and Canada), "Macky D's" (in the UK), "McDo" (in France, Quebec, the Philippines, and the Kansai region of Japan), "Maccer's" (in Ireland), "Maccas" (in New Zealand and Australia) or "de Mac" (in the Netherlands).

The UK seem to be a cross between here and North America with "Macky D's", but "de Mac" is where I want to be eating!

Hmmm, (fast) food for thought



Comments (2) | Add Comment

Monday, October 22, 2007

Waltzing around West Edmonton Mall

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 22/10/2007 08:01:10
Updated by Joel Dixon at 07/03/2008 11:00:57


A few weekends ago I took a trip to the West Edmonton Mall with my camera to provide content for this blog. Even though it was the world's largest mall for a 23-year period, it didn't really feel that much bigger than large shopping centres in Australia.

World Waterpark

Huge Water slides
Apparently the blue water slide starts higher than the red one - but I'm sure you pick up a little extra speed on the red one!

More slides
Another yellow water slide in the distance

Wave Pool
The Wave Pool - not very wavy at the moment

Beach
A bit of beach atmosphere, parents can watch their kids on generic white deck chairs

Flamingos
There is a small enclosure with a few flamingos tooling around - quite a shock to see when you're in a shopping centre

Galaxyland

Galaxyland
Galaxyland is an indoor theme park, why not?

Ferris Wheel
My kinda ride - I've only felt like throwing up on three ferris wheels in the past

Roller coaster
A pretty impressive indoor rollercoaster

Galaxyland
It feels a little unsafe walking directly under the rollercoaster track

Deal or No Deal
Deal or No Deal is extremely popular here (and hosted by Howie Handel). Here's the arcade game version (it dispenses tickets instead of cash)

Sea Life Caverns

Daily Seal Show
Sea Life Caverns is an indoor lake with a daily seal show as the main attraction

Pirate Ship
The lake also houses a big-ass pirate ship

Submarine
The coolest part of Sea Life Caverns (IMO) is a submarine-ride. The subs go down a few meters and drive around on a track

Little Ride
Some kind of ride, these things seem to be driven by the ride-taker

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street, a small section of the mall themed to resemble the Bourbon Street of New Orleans

Hooters
One of the classy restaurants in Bourbon Street

The Comic Strip
A comedy club - though in the real Bourbon Street I'm sure this would be a strip club that features comedians taking their kit off

Movie Theaters

Movie Board
The mall has two movie theaters, and this is what was playing in one of them the day I was there

Yoda Statue
I had to take a photo of this awesome Yoda statue/thing hanging from the roof

General

Christmas Tree
The movie Christmas in Wonderland was shot in the mall, and the Christmas decorations haven't been taken down. Pity I missed my chance to meet with Carmen Electra - one of the actors in the movie!

Ice Palace
NHL regulation sized ice rink in the mall. The Edmonton Oilers used to train here occasionally back in the Gretzky days. I remember when Knox Shopping Centre had an indoor ice arena which was about the size of my apartment's living room

Skate Park
West 49 (a skate shop) has a small skate park downstairs

Chinatown
It's weird, directly above Bourbon Street is Chinatown

Putt in the dark
The mall is host to two mini-golf courses - this one is a "putt in the dark" experience

Mini Golf
The second mini-golf course - apparently this one is based on Pebble Beach

Fantasyland Hotel
The in-mall hotel - is it just me that finds the name a little suggestive?

Casino
A casino inside the mall. They had a few table games (Caribbean Stud poker, roulette) but no proper Hold'em table - it was mainly pokie machines

Segway Scooters
A little course was setup to test-drive Segway Scooters

Dollar Kindom
The Dollar Kingdom, where everything is "$1 or more". Does that sound stupid to anyone else? Their selling point is that they sell nothing under $1

Police Station
Every good mall needs a police station



Comments (11) | Add Comment

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Customer (dis)Service in Edmonton

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 20/10/2007 10:31:01
Updated by Joel Dixon at 23/02/2008 12:36:27


As I may have already mentioned, Edmonton (and Alberta in general) is going through a boom right now. Fueled mostly by the natural resources in the region, Alberta has the lowest personal and corporate tax rates in all of Canada - and Albertans don't have to pay sales tax. This has caused the job market in places like Edmonton go wild.

Driving around the streets, it's impossible to miss the high number of "help wanted" ads. Everyone is hiring, from typical industrial types working with Alberta's resources (mostly oil) to fast food joints and department stores. My local doctor's office does not provide any late appointments anymore, as they do not have enough staff. It's hard to get a taxi around here as they are currently low on drivers (not a problem I'm used to experiencing in Melbourne). This is great for the job hunters, but not so good for the companies.

Help Wanted

I personally believe that this is why I've found the customer service in Edmonton to be sub-par at best. With so many opportunities, the jobs that would generally be viewed as not enjoyable (customer facing roles) are left unfilled - or filled by whoever's available. This has put me on the annoying side of customer service issues, which I am going to whine about now:

  • My first example of this was attempting to hook up my IV (Internet, Cable TV, PVR and phone). I called to book an installation almost as soon as I got here - at which point I was told it would take two and a half weeks before a technician can visit (and I needed to be home between 9 am and 12 pm). When the technician finally arrived (2 pm), he had forgotten to bring my new fangled PVR device, so he had to install a regular set top box. I wasn't too upset (as I finally had Internet), so I organised another appointment (in another week and a half) for a new technician to come with the PVR and swap it over.

    When a technician didn't turn up at all on the scheduled day, I gave Shaw a call. After verbally wrestling with the automated assistant (see below), I was told that an extra work order was never made against my account - but I was welcome to make another appointment in two weeks to get a technician to my apartment. I ended up going to a Shaw dealer and picking up the PVR and "installing" it myself (by plugging it in). After a few complaints on my behalf - I did receive a discount on my first month's fee, but I would have much preferred to have it all setup a few weeks earlier.


  • As mentioned earlier, customer "help lines" are very difficult to navigate (much worse than Australia). Everything's automated ("Why don't you tell me the movie you want to see"), even though the voice recognition is terribly dodgy (perhaps it's my accent). What really annoys me is when the help line has voice prompting without the backup of pressing numbers on the keypad (the good ones at least offer "If you wish for me to sacrifice a goat in your honor, say 'goat' - or press 4"). Sure, if you mumble garbage into the phone for long enough, you'll eventually get to speak with an actual person (5 to 10 minutes later) - but it's very inconvenient. At least get voice recognition right before forcing it upon us.


  • Product knowledge is definitely lacking in some of of the staff that I dealt with. For example, I saw an ad on TV which featured some dashing Sidney Crosby casual gear that was only available at SportChek stores. I went to SportChek to pickup a Crosby jacket, asked a kid in the clothing section where the blue Crosby jackets were, and he took me to a non-Crosby (and not even blue) rack of jackets. I explained that it was a new line of Crosby clothing that SportChek sold - and he informed me that they only sold T-shirts at this store. Fair enough - to make sure I went to the hockey section, when I was told that they only sell Crosby sticks and gloves - no clothing. Still not convinced (especially as the store had signs posted advertising the new gear), I went to the front of the store and found a "new arrival" table to be full of the Crosby gear. Sure, they were new items - but considering the amount of TV ads done by SportChek you'd hope they would invest in a little training for staff.


  • Stopping at the local electronics store one weekend, I asked if they had a certain Xbox accessory for sale, which they didn't. Fair enough - I asked if they knew when they were getting it in, "nope" was the non-commital reply. OK - "I shop here a fair but, and I'm willing to come down and give you my money if you just give me a ring when this product comes in" to which the kid replied with "Sorry, we don't do that". Is it just me - or is it not a normal request for a customer to be called when a product comes in? Sure, it wasn't the most expensive product - but I've already spent a few hundred dollars in the store, and will probably be taking my further business elsewhere.

The strange thing about this is, pretty much all government employees I've dealt with have been great. From my quick and easy immigration process to applying for and receiving a Social Insurance Number (SIN) - I've received helpful and friendly service. Government workers in Australia don't have the greatest reputation for customer service - but here they seem to be great.



Comments (0) | Add Comment

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bi ... Lingual

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 16/10/2007 13:16:24

Canada's official languages are both English and French, even though virtually nobody speaks French in Edmonton (the Francophone population are mainly living in Quebec, and other areas in the east). It's the first time I've lived in a country with two official languages, and it's been an experience.

It's interesting how dual languages affect product packaging and signage around town. Even though I never hear the French language, I certainly do see it. By law, products have to have the text in both English and French which really clutters up their look (I think). Some products have each word copied a line below with the same word in French, whereas others use the front and back of the product's packaging as the "front" for labeling purposes.

Bilingual Juice
An example of the kind of bi-lingual packaging I see a lot. It's not too obvious, but does crowd up the packet a little

Also, every automated help line I've had the displeasure of using asks what language you want to use as soon as you start. Maybe that's why I've been having problems with customer service over here - perhaps they're expecting me to speak French!

This environment is actually a good place to start learning the French language. Obviously it would be more advantageous to be living in Quebec (with a lot of the population speaking French and English), but I've been picking up a few words here and there. It's useful having a translation of simple words on each of piece of product's packaging (such as menthe underneath mint, or fromage under cheese).

Some of the translations are quite funny, or the product names are very different for the French label. For example, Chips Ahoy! is translated as something like Mr. Christie's nuggets of chocolate. Appetizing! There's also occasions that I see the French side of an item and it throws me a little. Like a soda that is raisin flavoured (grape), or a gel that is labeled for the douche (that one put me off a little - it means shower).

Chips Ahoy
I feel like a chocolate nugget right now!

I don't expect to be wearing a beret and hanging garlic around my neck in a striped shirt when I get back to Australia, but I should at least understand Jean Girard a little more the next time I watch Talladega Nights.

Frenchie
Ah, oui oui - I'm home



Comments (0) | Add Comment

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

God Bless the United Provinces of Canadia

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 26/09/2007 12:38:46

This trip to Edmonton has helped me in shedding some of the generalised misconceptions that I have had about Canada up until now. An obvious example is that very few of the population here ice fish during their lunch break. One of the biggest surprises I've experienced since staying here is the level of patriotism of the Canadians.

During my years living in Australia, I have formed the (generalised and stereotypical) opinion that America is a very patriotic country. I don't think I'm going out too far on a limb here - television, movies, and sport all point towards Americans being very "American-focused". Things like the "World Series" of baseball comprising of 29 American teams and 1 Canadian team, and the typical American-only travel pattern of a large percentage of the population help reinforce this. But I didn't expect Canada to reach the same level of inward-focus.

My perception of Canadians were of a nice, hockey-loving people - and perhaps a little slow-moving (I'm not alluding to intelligence here, but suggesting a relaxed attitude). For the most part, this perception has been pretty correct. It's definitely a little slower-moving around here, the people are very nice, and the level of interest in hockey is as high as I had hoped. I also expected Canadians to have pride in their country (they seem to be doing a few things right) - but not to the extent that I have experienced.

Firstly, they love their maple leaf. When walking around the city in the afternoon, or on a weekend, the Canadian flag is everywhere. A lot of people wear clothes with a huge maple leaf on it, or even just "Canada" emblazoned very prominantly. Some people wear tracksuits with a huge flag of Canada on the front, and some patriotic message on the back. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't think back to a time where I've seen somebody wearing an Australian flag as regular casual wear. Scratch that, there is one dope that occasionally walks around with an Australian tracksuit - but he's a special case.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if people wore the same kind of patriotic clothes in Australia (with the Aussie flag or Southern Cross displayed front and center) - they'd be viewed as dorks (at least by me). And I'm not talking about sporting attire (although the number of people wearing Canadian sporting gear is definitely higher than those wearing similar Australian gear back home), these are just items of clothing that bear the Canadian flag, a maple leaf, or "Canada" in huge letters.

It doesn't stop with clothing, I've been on walks with Canadian flags hanging from windows, on the front of cars and even on the pattern of a dog lead. I'm positive this doesn't happen with the same frequency at home.

Flag outside

Flag plate

The prevalence of the maple leaf is increased ten-fold when you start looking at various companies' logos around town. I've been told that, at one point, a Canadian company would be given a tax rebate for designing their logo with a maple leaf symbol in it. Even though I can find no Internet evidence of this (after two google searches), I can only assume it's correct as the Canadian companies certainly have responded! Even McDonald's have altered their globally omnipotent, multi-million dollar symbol to chuck a maple leaf in the center.

McDonalds

Canadian Tire

Arbys

Another stereotype I have acquired in my years was a general dislike between Americans and Canadians. Admittedly most of my evidence has been from the America side (Blame Canada, Canadian jokes, etc), but I just figured Canadians harbored a distaste for Americans as well. Maybe that one time a few Canadians burned down the White House in the war of 1812 had a little something to do with that. But the reality of an anti-Americanism sentiment from the Canadians was a lot less than I had expected.

Certainly - there is a definite desire of Canadians to remain independent of the American identity, there's a distaste towards American politics (specifically George W) and I have heard "Yankee" being used in a derogatory manner a few times. But apart from that, Canadians don't seem to have much resentment towards the U.S. of A at all. In fact, I'm given the impression that a fair number of Canadians are trying to emulate American culture (much the same as in Australia). In general, there seems to be a respect from Canadians towards Americans - with the obvious exception of the "leader of the free world".

Now, I may have given an impression at the start of this entry that I'm not a proud Australian, which is incorrect. This trip has definitely reinforced my view that I'm glad I was born in Australia, and given unlimited funds I would retire in Melbourne (and only visit North America in the hockey season)! I can also support the impression that Canadians love Australians, from my limited experience so far. Although since arriving a few people have said that I don't have an accent, and they didn't know I was from overseas. I might have to start wearing a tracksuit like this to advertise my homeland a little more!

Tracksuit



Comments (0) | Add Comment

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cable TV + PVR = Crazy Delicious

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 24/09/2007 11:27:20
Updated by Joel Dixon at 01/11/2015 10:59:17


Apologies to the hilarious SNL skit Lazy Sunday for the blog title

Note: Some links in this post are NSFW (due to words of naughtiness)

While in Edmonton I decided to get the premium digital television package from my communications provider - as I knew I'd have a fair amount of spare time on my hands. I also took the option of buying a PVR device, to prepare myself for the hockey season. I made a good decision, if I do say so myself.

The first thing I did was check out the extensive Electronic Programming Guide. With the hundreds of channels and a week-long programming guide - I filled up my PVR's 80 Gb hard drive very quickly. As the hockey season hasn't started yet, I stuck mainly with movies. There's at least 6 channels that are dedicated to movies, as well mainstream channels running weekly movies.

I've been able to see movies I've been meaning to catch for a while now (such as Monty Python's Meaning of Life, Scarface and Half Baked), some old favourites (Fletch 1 and 2, Die Hard and The Firm) as well as some movies I'd never heard of.

One such movie that I hadn't previously heard of was Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story. It caught my attention immediately, as the opening scene involves He-Man figurines involved in a staged paintball scene. I highly recommend this movie - it's a bit of a mix between Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and The Office. Here's the trailer for the DVD:



But the thing I like the most about my cable and PVR mix is coming home, cooking dinner and sitting down to watchable, pause-able, fast-forward-able and rewind-able television (without the expense of DVDs).

I'm surprised Australia hasn't been bigger in the PVR space. The closest is Foxtel iQ, which is pretty good but doesn't cover all of the free-to-air channels. You can also buy a regular PVR to attach to your regular TV - but the programming guide only goes two days in the future.

I have heard that Tivo is coming to Australia soon - which is about time - but there still isn't an all-channel programming guide available. Since coming to Canada, I'm really aware that Australia is getting shafted in both the Internet and television industries. Perhaps I will have to keep purchasing those DVDs.



Comments (0) | Add Comment

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Edmonton Walkabout

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 12/09/2007 09:10:46
Updated by Joel Dixon at 09/09/2008 14:32:43


This past Saturday I needed to go to the local Save on Foods grocery store, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to provide a short guided tour of downtown Edmonton.

Around the town in Edmonton

Edmonton Building

Now, a disclaimer: I won't be showcasing the nicest parts of the city, but it's fairly representative of Edmonton. Firstly, my personal hill:

My Daily Hill

I've gotta climb this hill at least once a day, maybe twice. I'm getting used to it now - but it was hell the first few times. I surely didn't notice the hill when I was researching the place!

Construction
An example of the very common Edmonton construction

Go
Canada has US style crossing signs. I don't know, call me colourist, but I prefer the green guy.

Car Park
There are heaps of these single-story, unfenced public car parks throughout the city.

Newspapers
Street newspaper stands

Chaser Canada
A certain Australian comedy group made big news over here as well - probably wouldn't have heard of it if they didn't pretend to be Canadian

Phone  Booth
There's more phone booths over here, as far as I can tell

No Ordinary Plumber
No ordinary plumber? You're damn right!

Save on Foods
My local foodary

Future Shop
The local electronics store, Future Shop. They've got lots of cool stuff - but their customer service leaves a lot to be desired

I've also added geotags to all of my photos - so if you go to my flickr page you can see a map of where each photo was taken, for example:

Photo Map



Comments (2) | Add Comment

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I've got a golden ticket!

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 08/09/2007 19:32:25

Las Vegas gold, that is

My number 1 work location preference would be Pittsburgh in the US - because I'm a huge Penguin's fan. I never really put a lot of effort into getting a job in Pittsburgh though, as financially it wouldn't work out while organising it from Australia. I'm interested in visiting the rest of the US - but probably would not want to work there.

I have, however (and obviously), wanted to work in Canada. A combination of the status ice hockey holds and the beauty of the Canadian countryside has tempted me for a long time.

Now that I'm here, I was hoping to have the best of both worlds by visiting Pittsburgh (a short flight) at some point and catch a few games.

As Pittsburgh and Edmonton are in different NHL conferences, there is only a 1 in 3 chance that the Penguins are going to travel here for one game against the Oilers. Thankfully - I lucked out and Sidney Crosby and the boys are making the trek to Edmonton later this year.

Edmonton are very supportive of their team and season tickets are already sold out for this coming season. I didn't want to try my luck on waiting for a game day ticket, so I entered the Mini-Pack lottery program and won!

I'm now the happy owner of an Oiler's "Hat-trick Pack" of three tickets, including the Pittsburgh vs Edmonton match up for the 5th of December! I'll probably only be one of very few people in the arena wearing a Penguin's jersey - but I'll wear it proud!

Penguins Jersey



Comments (0) | Add Comment

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 30/08/2007 13:02:45
Updated by Joel Dixon at 29/01/2008 16:49:33


Well I've been here for a while now, and starting to regret my decision a little less. My workmates are nice and as more essentials items are bought for my apartment I'm getting a little more comfortable. I thought I'd take the time to discuss the transportation options available to me in Edmonton.

I chose the location of my apartment because it is very close to most of the clients of my new company. Unfortunately, I happen to be working for a client for whom the work is done out of the main office - a 30 minute drive from my place (and me without a car). Thankfully, I live very close to a work colleague that has been giving me a lift to and from work each day. Also fortunately, it has given me an insight into what the commuters of Edmonton deal with each day.

First thing I noticed, was that my work friend's windshield had a very large spiderweb-shaped crack all through it. I had figured it was recently in an accident and just not repaired yet, until I noticed that about 1 in 20 of the cars on the road have similar cracks in their windshields.

I found out that the roads in Edmonton can only be repaired during a few months of each year (when they aren't covered in snow), and as Edmonton is in the middle of a boom right now there is a lot of roadwork required. It basically equates to poorly maintained roads, which means more stones are shot into your windshields. What begins as small stars evolve into large cracks by the constant bumping around through dodgy potholes and other such annoyances. I was also surprised at the number of people breaking the road rules by speaking on their telephones while driving - until I found out it's still legal here. I think I might get myself a "learn to drive" booklet before I attempt to cruise the streets.

Another phenomenon around here is the number of "pickup trucks" on the roads. A pickup is basically a four-door ute, but the whole thing is huge. I guess a four-wheel drive vehicle would be useful in the Winter months, but it looks odd seeing so many of them driving around in the nice weather. Edmonton also allows a driver to start learning at 14 years of age, and have a full licence at 16. There's no "P-plates" here for probationary drivers, but you do see an occasional home-made sign indicating a "new driver" resting against the back window. Reassuring.

Pickup truck
One of the many pickups on Edmonton's roads. To be honest - I wouldn't mind driving a bad-boy like this

Edmonton doesn't have an extensive train system, which makes getting around much harder. There does seem to be a lot of different bus routes, but almost anywhere I want to go will require a change at three different bus stops. Edmonton also do not have trams, but they do have "trolley buses". They're basically a normal bus (wheels and all) driving on the left lane of regular roads, attached to an electric cable running over head for power. They run smoothly and don't emit greenhouse gases - but man they look funny!

Trolley Bus
An artists rendition of a trolley bus

There's also a number of taxi's driving around the city - a lot less than in Melbourne. It's difficult to catch a cab without actually phone ordering it. There's three main taxi companies (and many smaller ones) - but legislation states that they all need to charge the same fares. So even though the dodgy "barrel" brand of taxis are not maintained as well as the nicer "Checker" cabs - they both charge the same fare. You can guess which cab company I'm going to call.

After living in Edmonton for a short time, I'm thinking more and more about leasing / renting a car while I'm here. It's just too hard to get around the city without one, and my place of work offers free parking. Until I finally make that decision, I'm walking a shit-load more than I'm used to!



Comments (4) | Add Comment

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Day 1 in Edmonton

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 09/08/2007 10:03:51
Updated by Joel Dixon at 23/09/2007 10:00:36


Don't worry - I won't be doing an Edmonton travel log for the whole year I'm here

I woke up on Tuesday morning surprisingly chipper, and eager to start the day. My boss took me to Denny's for breakfast, and filled me in on the company I was going to be working for and he caught up on all the Melbourne happenings. I ordered a small orange juice and one of the cheapest breakfasts on the menu - and started to get an understanding of the "larger portions" prevalent in North America.

The orange juice would definitely be classified as "large" in any Melbourne eatery, and the breakfast certainly filled me up. Two standouts were the real hash browns (just grated potato fried up - not the McDonald's perfectly rectangle reconstituted goop) and some grape jelly on my toast. I got a taste for grape and cherry jelly during my previous visit to New York - and I'm glad it's back! After a very satisfying breakfast, it was off to work.

Work was work, nice people and they actually had my computer setup for my start date (although no user account). I was asking my immediate manager whether I would need to let him know when I started working more than 40 hours a week (as I'm currently a contractor) and he just looked at me funny. Apparently everyone here works their 40 hours, then goes home. They actually lockup the building at 5:30, overtime is rarely required - it was a welcomed change! Working hours are 8 am to 5 pm with a lunch break, and pretty much noone turns up after 8:30. Guess I need to buy an alarm clock.

I stopped into Wendy's for lunch, which again reminded me of old times. After work I went back to my apartment to view it for the first time. Thankfully it isn't that bad.

My Edmonton Apartment
Throne, Sweet Throne

The building also has a pool table room, gym, spa and sauna as well as a big screen TV room. But walking in to a completely empty apartment did shock me a little bit. Thankfully, someone at work was able to lend me a single bed allowing me somewhere to sleep - al biet without a pillow. Although I was missing Belinda terribly, putting my bags away in my room did feel a little nice. As soon as internet, cable tv and a phone line are installed - I will be feeling a lot nicer!



Comments (0) | Add Comment


Next Page
Blog Search

Advanced Search


Recent Blogs
Marc-André Fleury still giving high fives to his injured buddy
Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 2 (Contract Signing, Training and Game)
Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 1 (Registration and Penguins Stadium Series)
Pittsburgh Arrival - Border Security Magic, 2017
Pittsburgh Penguins - 2016 Stanley Cup Champions!
The Inca Trail, Peru - 2015
Lima & Cusco, Peru - 2015
Sakura & Bonus Wrap-up, Japan - 2015
Takayama & Gero, Japan - 2015
Nagoya, Japan - 2015

Feed
Subscribe to feed Blog Entries

Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!

Recent Comments
Pittsburgh Arrival - Border Security Magic, 2017
posted 1 month ago by joeldixon
Welcome Mac - Love to see you here Mac! Speaking of the ice - shame that your big break ... link

Pittsburgh Arrival - Border Security Magic, 2017
posted 1 month ago by MacBeltKarate
Bad-ass Trip Bro - Woah dude! You played hockey with Mario Lemieux!? That bozo is up there as one of ... link

Living up to my title
posted 6 months ago by joeldixon
Yeah, I don't think it's working link

Living up to my title
posted 6 months ago by DonaldWhick
Test, just a test link

Living up to my title
posted 6 months ago by joeldixon
Was the test a success? link


Comment Standings
1. the man with no name (45)
2. Hoff (39)
3. Hitman (33)
4. Gav (27)
5. Brad (24)
6. Eryc-Ads (13)
7. milly (7)
8. Deep Lurker (6)
9. thefury (5)
10. Dieter (4)
About This Site | Contact Me | I have started Penguins training camp!