Tag Archives: Tim Horton’s


Wendy posted her New Year’s Resolutions so I thought I would post mine.

  1. Take the stairs to the top of The Lighthouse at least daily.  This seems like a really good idea now that building is only four stories but when the new tower is nine stories this summer, it could be a really bad idea.
  2. Carry less crap.  There are days when I go to work with my DSLR, a video camera, my notebook, a Moleskine, an iPod, and my cell phone.  Do I really need that much stuff?  Well considering that I have never used all of it in a single day, probably not.
  3. Ride my bike more.  Wendy has a Dave King inspired goal of riding 750 kms this year.  I think I will join her although none of those miles will be done at Ice Cycle which I still think is insane, no matter how many people enjoy cycling in –40 weather.
  4. books and more booksRead more books in 2012Darryl Dash has a post on how he wants his reading to more focused which I tend to go the other way.  I want to read and explore topics that I haven’t explored before, understand new things, and then figure out how they fit together later.  In the spirit of Thomas Homer-Dixon’s book The Ingenuity Gap, I want to be a deep generalist.  Part of it is the column I write but part of it is cultivating a spirit of curiosity.  It may be because I am at a point of life when I have a lot to learn and I don’t have the need to be a specialist.
  5. Contribute more to the matrix of agencies that I am a part of as a staff member at The Lighthouse.  Some of those actions are proprietary but I can’t handle agencies that don’t play that well with others.  It comes from an atmosphere of fear and competition that doesn’t need to exist.  Hopefully we can model a different way.
  6. Spend more money locallySaskatoon Farmer’s Market, Souleio, Broadway Roastery, The Two Twenty, Collective Coffee… you know businesses that are Saskatoon born and bred.  Less Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, and fast food joints.
  7. Attend more University of Saskatchewan Huskies and Saskatoon Hilltops games.  The Huskies may have the best game day experience of any football team in Canada and the Hilltops because of what they did for Mark’s understanding of football in 2011.  That and all they do is win national championships.
  8. Post more photos.  Despite having a decent camera phone camera, a DSLR, and a pretty good compact camera, I took far too photos in 2011.  That needs to change in 2012.
  9. Keep losing weight in 2012.  I lost 40 pounds since my heart event this summer and I want to lose another 120.  I should have it lost by next Christmas.
  10. Listen to more music.  I love music but I rarely take time to listen to it.  It’s always a background activity and never a foreground one.

Those are my resolutions.  Good luck with yours.

The weekend

I am back from a week in Winnipeg and have just enough time to do some laundry, hug the kids, toss the ball to the dog before I have to head back to Winnipeg for some more meetings.  Of course it wouldn’t be so bad if the drive wasn’t so unbelievably boring.  The scenery doesn’t change from the time you leave Lumsden until you get to Winnipeg.  It’s just flat.  No rolling hills, no nothing.  Just windswept prairie.  There wasn’t even radio for part of the trip.

I did bring a couple of cameras along with me and manage to take some photos of what I found interesting in Winnipeg.  First of all, since it was mind numbingly cold there, I could not help but notice that they have some great covered and heated bus shelters

Bus shelters in Winnipeg

Bus shelters in Winnipeg

Each bus stop has two entrances/exits which keep the garbage from blowing in, a common characteristic of the city of Saskatoon bus shelters.  The doors also keep the heat in which are located under the bench seating.  The other feature that I liked is that it looks like there was some architectural creativity put into their design, not all of them are alike and quite a few had some great design characteristics (I would have taken more photos but I was driving).

As you can see, they also include real time updates on when the next bus is going to be there, which is quite helpful when out exploring the city and on an unfamiliar line or when you are trying to figure out if you have time to run to Tim Horton’s before you next bus comes along.

Bus shelters in Winnipeg

So there is at least one thing that Winnipeg does better than Saskatoon.  I may be hard pressed to find another one.

Review of the renovated Credit Union Centre

Credit Union Centre - Saskatoon

2010 World Junior Hockey Championships Logo I was in (the then Saskatchewan Place) for it’s first game in 1988.  It was a horseshoe configuration with the one end open on top and bottom while the other end was open in the upper bowl only.  Over the years the top bowl was completed on one end and for the World Junior Hockey Championships, the arena was totally filled in bringing capacity from it’s original 7,800 to 14,705.

Over the years I was there for the first hockey game (Saskatoon Blades beat the Brandon Wheat Kings), the 1989 Memorial Cup, the 1991 World Junior Hockey Championships, a Billy Graham Crusade, curling, lots of concerts, an uncountable amount of Saskatoon Blades games (most of them they lost) some Olympic hockey exhibitions, lots of tradeshows, and even played a couple of games there over the years.

Now that it is finally done (it only took us 21 years), here is my review.

The Good

  • Upgraded the video screen and added some automated cameras.  They were done really well.
  • 14,705 of us can fit in there now.  That’s almost NHL type capacity and double what many American franchises draw to their games.  Realistically we could move Atlanta, Nashville, and Phoenix to Saskatoon and still have room for the Saskatoon Blades.
  • They still offer free parking.  You have no idea how nice it is to go out there and not have to pay for parking. 
  • The seats are a lot closer to the action then other NHL stadiums and has a similar feel to Rexall Place in Edmonton (which I think had the same architect).  The result is that an already noisy stadium is even noisier.
  • We finally have luxury boxes.  From what I have seen they are pretty standard but I am hoping as time goes on they develop their own character.  Of course that depends on the lease but it’s a nice upgrade from the old temporary boxes.

The Bad

  • The LED ribbon board.  A ribbon board is supposed to go around the entire stadium.  Ours goes around each end and doesn’t connect.  It kind of reminds of Circle Drive (which isn’t a circle).  It looks wrong and like we decided to cut corners and save costs.  I wish they had never done it.  The other thing is that graphically, it looks really weak.  I don’t know if that is a limitation of the technology, how it was used or the IIHF’s use of it.  Either way it looked bad and cheesy.  Then again, maybe they have a 21 year plan to complete it.
  • 14,705 of us can fit in there now.  You thought that Credit Union Centre felt empty when the Blades only drew 1,800 people before, now imagine how it feels.
  • The concourses are really crowded and seem to be poorly laid out.  The northwest corner ground foot traffic to a halt during many games while the temporary concessions stands seemed really rushed and hurried.  There is more room in the west end of the stadium which was reserved for a place for Saskatoon visitors to get questions answered.  In a more balanced situation I am hoping they used in a better way.
  • The Team Store which hasn’t really changed that much.  I wish it would have been made a little bigger.  It’s too small for Blades games and you couldn’t even move in there during any of the World Junior Hockey Championship games which was unfortunate.  It took Mark and I ten minutes to get from one side of it to the till and it wasn’t much bigger then 20 feet across.  That was before the game started, it was inaccessible during the game.

What I Would Like To See

  • A restaurant or grill in the building.  There are times when I have been there when I really want something else other than a cheeseburger, pizza, or fries.  Well maybe I would like those things but I don’t want them from a concession stand.  In other words I really want a good cheeseburger and there isn’t one out there.  I would even be open to a VIP lounge that is accessible with a more expensive ticket (well, then again maybe not).
  • A standard design for outside concessions stands.  I think it would give some personality to the place, even for events like this and clean up the cluttered look that was seen during this tournament.
  • A Tim Hortons or Starbucks concession :: Not all of us drink beer at the game and the coffee was mediocre.
  • While the Blades have their banners hanging in the rafters I would love to see some more evidence that this is the home of the Saskatoon Blades.  When you go to Rexall Place, you know you are entering into the home of the Edmonton Oilers but I never get that feeling that I am entering into Credit Union Centre.

Phoenix Coyotes logo from 1996 In the end, despite all of the improvements, it’s still an obsolete arena by NHL standards but that’s moot as Saskatoon will never get a NHL team.  I know there is a plan to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Saskatoon for five or six games this year but I think that’s a reflection at how bad the team draws in Phoenix rather than how great Credit Union Centre is.

It is too big for a WHL team but I can’t figure out why no one has moved a AHL team to Saskatoon.  A team for one of the Canadian teams would draw well, be close enough to get players easily and would solidify a fan base for the parent team.  Maybe some day. 

Team Canada

Hockey Canada Logo For those of you who are American and don’t appreciate how big the World Junior’s are in Canada, the only thing I can compare it to is the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.  The difference is that the entire country is cheering for the same team and all wearing the Hockey Canada Jersey.   Like the tourney though, we are deeply appreciative of good hockey and there are games where the fans cheer for both teams.  Well as Canadians we don’t so much cheer but rather “ooh and ahh” a lot at close goals and good saves but you get the point.

Christmas Gift Guide for the Homeless

This one is pretty close to my heart.  At work I get to buy the Christmas gifts for the guys at the Salvation Army Community Centre and I have a lot of fun doing it.

Last year I got them nice duffle bags and a watch/wallet gift set.  We also got a big donation of men’s boxer shorts from Wal-Mart and we let the guys sort those out.  It was hilarious because there was Simpson’s boxers, Montreal Expos boxers, and other funny boxers. We laid them out in the chapel on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning there was underwear soaring through the air like fish at Pike’s Market as guys figured out sizes and preferences.  I think they got a bigger kick out of the Saskatoon Gotch Market than anything that day.  Some of the guys had never owned a watch and were in tears.

In the past, we have given out fleece jackets, electric razors, Christmas stockings full of loot, and other bits of clothing.

This year we are going to give out some hoodies (Christmas brought to you by Bill Bilichick but we won’t cut off their sleeves) and a shaving kit full of shaving supplies, toiletries that we don’t keep in stock at the Centre and for the guys who are just passing through, winter survival kits. We are also giving out some leather bound NLT Bibles. (that’s the plan so far but all plans are subject to change)

We get a lot of requests over the holidays about what to get people in the shelter.  It’s a tough time for many guys who stay in shelters.  Being homeless is a tough experience anytime of the season but even harder at Christmas. I thought I would post a Christmas Gift Guide for those that are homeless and living in a shelter.

Take a look and see what you can help with and make Christmas a little nicer for those that live in a shelter.

Simple Luxuries

  • A couple of years ago someone donated some Old Spice Body Wash.  The tagline on it said, If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist. which brought a lot of laughs for the guys that we gave it to.  From places like Dollarama you can get imitation brands of stuff for $1 and it smells pretty good.  Guys love it.  If you are so inclined, get them a body scrub puff as well.
  • We give out free razors at the Centre.  The general rule is that when guys say thanks to us for them, we jokingly tell them not to.  They are that bad.  I have used them once and the screams could be heard for miles.  A great luxury is a decent razor.  Walmart and most pharmacies have their Gillette Sensor clones with inexpensive replacement blades.  Disposable packages of Gillette or Schick razors are awesome as well.  If you can toss in some travel packages of shaving cream, all the better.
  • Towels: No one ever has a towel and we always need more of them to give out.  I tend to agree with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban that a nice new towel is a wonderful luxury.  It’s a big source of frustration with me as some guys tend to demand towels and a towel service but others love them and take care of them.  All I know is we can always use more of them.  New towels, used towels, you name it.
  • A nice insulated travel mug with a secure leak proof lid :: One of thing that most people don’t understand is that most of our guys are working and some of them are working in really tough, hard, jobs in the bitter Saskatchewan cold.  An insulated travel mug is a prized possession for a lot of guys and something like this Starbucks tumbler would be great.  I am not saying that you need to get one of these, I am just saying a mug that won’t spill is a big deal.  Dollarama has some stainless steel mugs for $1 but their lids come off pretty quickly but they often have thermoses that would serve the same purpose.
  • McDonalds or Tim Hortons gift cards.  You have no idea how much guys appreciate a Tim Horton’s gift card around the shelter.  Gary Smalley could write a book about Tim Hortons as a love language and it is a comfort food for guys.  Now I know a lot of you who read this are in the U.S. but all you have to do is find out what the closest coffee chain is to the shelter.  Tim Hortons, Starbucks, or Dunkin’ Donuts… you get the idea.
  • Long Distance Phone Cards :: Some of the guys at the Centre have no family while others desperately miss theirs over the holidays.  This gives them a chance to reconnect.  We gave out $5 ones a couple of years ago but they can burn through them pretty quickly.
  •  I saw this hand crank radio the other day while in XS Cargo and I thought it was a great idea for the guys.  You crank it up for 30 seconds and it will run for 20 minutes.  It also includes some headphones to go along with it so they don’t drive guys around them crazy. While they run on batteries, they don’t need them.
  • Chocolate/Candy :: I am torn over this one as so many of our clients have diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed).  Then again I am going to have some candy and chocolate over Christmas so why not?  Basically if you like it, someone down at the shelter will like it.

Stuff for Work

  • In Saskatchewan, you have no idea what a difference that winter work gloves, winter jackets, fleece jackets (dress in layers), and winter coveralls can make.  It allows guys who may not have resumes or that extensive of work experience to go down to the day labour places and get some work.  Work brings in money but it also allows the guys to prove themselves.  Many of the guys in the shelter go out to a day labour place for a couple of days and get hired on by the company who brought them in.  A couple of years ago a donation came of winter work clothes, the stuff was given out and two guys found work the next day.  Within a short time they were out of the shelter and haven’t looked back since.  It’s a big deal.  You can toss in travel mugs and thermoses into this category as well.  They make working in the cold a lot easier to do.

Necessities of Life

  • The Centre has soap, shampoo, conditioner, and razors to give away for free.  We also have a clothes cave where we can give away clothes that are donated.  What we need is underwear (let’s be honest, no one donates underwear for good reason) and socks (who keeps old socks?).  We could always use new underwear and socks.  In addition, we could always use winter jackets.  During my time at the Centre, I have seen so many hitchhikers be brought in totally frozen by the RCMP or city police and the guy is in a jean jacket an that’s it.  What is frustrating is that the guys are like, I’ll just warm up and keep going in -40 weather while wearing just a jean jacket.  Generally we take them to our Clothes Cave and get some warm stuff.  Also, you have no idea how many cold kids we see who need something warm in extreme weather.  If it warms you up, we will put it to good use.

Reading Material

  • An easy to read translation of the Bible.  Over 50% of our guys at anytime in the Centre are functionally illiterate which makes the KJV translations that the Gideons give out pretty much useless.  Guys love the NLT, Message and CEV bibles when they come in and we can give them out.  Pocket versions are best as they don’t take up that much space is a pack.
  • Magazines :: Sports Illustrated, Men’s Health, National Geographic ¦ you get the point.

Don’t Give These Items

  • Personally I think a multi tool would be great for 97% of our guys and they would really appreciate them but for one or two guys, the damage they would create would be immense and shelters really don’t want knives in them because of the risk they pose.
  • Computer driven electronics. I know that you can get 1 gig MP3 players for under $10 now but where are they going to get charged up, where are the guys going to get the music. Like us, many shelters really don’t want USB devices plugged into their system because virus concerns and also a lot of guys use them to carry porn along with them. It’s not that I care that much what guys are carrying on their USB devices but I do care when I have a computer full of porn and viruses to deal with.

If you have any questions or doubts, contact your local shelter and see what they can use.

Christmas Day as it happens

8:00 a.m. :: I should be at work.  I am not.

9:00 a.m. :: Tim Horton’s is closed!  What?!  They are “celebrating” family values.  That may be a good thing but where do I get my coffee?

9:15 a.m. :: Found coffee at a 7/11.  English Toffee cappuccino has become my new friend.  My decision to have a Taquito and Cool Ranch Doritos for Christmas breakfast may come back to haunt me.

9:45 a.m. :: Arrived at work with coffee for staff that is working.  It was right, I have stomach ache.  Where is the Pepto Bismol?

10:00 a.m. :: The cook just gave me an amazing breakfast.  Right place at the right time.

11:00 a.m. :: Gathered all of the guys in the chapel where we gave them their Christmas gifts.  Everyone got a nice duffle bag, wallet, and a dress watch.  Wal-Mart donated a whole bunch of underwear and pajamas so the guys all got some new pjs which inspired a lot of jokes by the staff and the residents.  Some of the guys actually cried when we gave them their gifts.

I spent some time working as well.  Over the holidays we find that people with mental health problems wander from city to city and end up in the hostel and are off their medication and are a long ways away from home.  The problem is getting them back home again.

12:00 a.m. :: Lee brought Mark back home after a night of playing the Playstation 3 and Wii.  Turkey soup for everyone.  We got out Mark’s remote controlled helicopter.  It needs 160 feet in each direction to be operated safely.  We tried it out in our living room.  The manufacturers’ instructions were correct after all.

3:00 p.m. :: A friend of ours from work came by with her daughter.  We opened some gifts with them and had a good time.  There are now two Nintendo DSs in the house and we got them sync’d up and they are playing Sonic Tennis and trash talking each other.

3:45 p.m. :: Mmmm, appetizers.

6:00 p.m. :: Mark got his butt kicked in Guitar Hero World Tour when it was a head to head challenge but when the battle mode was on he held his own.  I also got beaten by Michaela which led to a lot of mocking.  Tomorrow Mark and I watch Rocky 3 and then start training for our rematch.

7:20 p.m. :: We are watching the movie Enchanted which was a lot better than I thought it would be.  I can’t tell the difference between the guy in the movie and Robert Downey Jr.

10:00 p.m. :: The house is empty and even the dogs are in bed.  I watched some NBA highlights but this years games didn’t have the same attraction as Larry vs. Magic or Jordan vs. Isaiah in the 80s and 90s.

Live Blogging Christmas Eve

With the power of the iPod Touch and the fact that I won’t be far from the interweb this year, I thought I would live blog the minutia of the holiday season.

7:00 a.m. :: Good news, the car started.

7:45 a.m. :: Used the command start to start the car again.

8:05 a.m. :: I pulled into Tim Horton’s and was startled to find that it was almost empty.  There were 20 employees all waiting to get my two coffees, an extra-large Double Double Decaf and a large black coffee.

8:30 a.m. :: Doh!, two large coffee stains on my Calgary Flames bunny hug already.

9:00 a.m. :: Voice mails all taken care of and no new e-mails to work.

9:25 a.m. :: Ollie was given a stuffed giraffe from a co-worker that even has an adoption certificate.

9:40 a.m. :: Just talked to Wendy, we need to get a present for a friend.  It’s Wal-Mart to the rescue.  I have never shopped on Christmas Eve before in my life.  Wendy tells me it isn’t so bad crowd wise after lunch.

It’s weird living in Saskatoon right now.  Our city and province is booming and seeing a lot of prosperity while around the world economies are crumbling, a lot of good people are out of work and have lost everything.  It feels a bit like I am experiencing Christmas in a bubble.  I hope in midst of the turmoil, people can find a bit of peace over the next couple of days.

11:00 a.m. :: Did a bank deposit against my will.  The cart broke and… well I don’t want to talk about it.  I think I am banned from RBC for the rest of my life.

11:30 a.m. :: Set up over 70 duffle bags of gifts for the guys for Christmas morning.  Thanks to a couple of co-workers, it went really fast.  The guys are getting nice duffle bags, dress watches, and wallets for Christmas.  In addition to that, Wal-Mart donated a lot of new clothes for the guys as well.

1:30 p.m. :: Everywhere but the shelter and the kitchen is closed for the holidays.  Still at work despite not being paid.  That’s okay, I am just chatting.

2:00 p.m. :: I just drove by Wal-Mart at Confederation Mall.  It looks like the fall of Baghdad when anarchy and the looting hit.  Who leaves all of their shopping for Christmas Eve?

3:10 :: Lee just walked in with a load of presents.  He wants to open them all now.

3:30 :: Lee gave Oliver an Amazon Rain Forest playset.  It was too big to wrap so Mark and Lee assembled it.  Oliver is loving it while Lee, Mark, and Wendy are whining that we vote on when we open presents.  I vetoed their decision.

4:30 :: Turkey is served.  Kristi has come over.  She is sick but is allowing me to play with her Nikon D80.

5:30 :: Out came the stockings.  I got a couple of McFarlane figures, Joe Mauer and Nomar Garciaparra, U2 concert DVD, a new wallet and passport holders, and some Old Spice cologne.

6:30 :: The gifts are opened. 

I gave Wendy a CBC reporters bag and a Coleman watch, while Mark gave her some photo frames and ear rings.  Ollie gave her a hand made journal from Ten Thousand Villages while Maggi gave Wendy a bake set.  In both hers and Mark’s stocking is a portable iPod case/speaker set which is designed to keep us all happy at the cabin.  Neither one of them are big headphone people.

I gave Ollie a Megablocks boat and this iPood shirt, Wendy gave him a glowing Winnie the Pooh, Mark gave him a Winnie the Pooh tub set.  Santa brought him a Lullaby Glo Worm and some Winnie the Pooh books.  Lee gave him a rain forest play set, and a Winnie the Pooh blanket.   (There seemed to be a strong Winnie the Pooh theme this year).

Wendy and I gave Mark a remote controlled helicopter that really needs to be flown outside.  Wendy gave him a learning how to draw book.  Maggi gave him a cookbook and a fishing tackle box.  Ollie gave him a 3D puzzle.  Santa brought him a skateboard, an Air Hog, and a full sized hockey net.  Lee gave Mark a Nintendo DS Lite while Hutch gave him Lego Batman.  He also gave him a Star Wars playset.  Wendy and I also got him a Sonic Superstars Tennis game, a couple of PS2 games (the advantage of having a PS2 is that games are extremely cheap), and a case for the DS.   Along the way was a Nerf soccer ball that has done a surprising amount of damage to the house.  While Mark is the most excited about the Nintendo DS, I was the most excited about getting him a tackle box.  I am looking forward to fishing with him this summer.

For Lee I gave him season one of Battlestar Galactica on DVD and a shirt from Jinx that says, “I am only here because my server is down.” Mark gave him Farcry for the Wii as well as a fishing rod (to take him fishing), while Ollie gave his uncle a gun for the Wii.   Wendy gave him a nice waffle maker as well as some mix.

For myself, Wendy gave me Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Outliers, Mark gave me Ghost Recon 2 for the PSP, Ollie gave me a Kanye West CD (which he isn’t going to be allowed to listen to), Lee gave Mark and I Guitar Hero World Tour with two wireless guitars and he gave Wendy and I a Tim Horton’s coffee maker with a massive tin of Tim Horton’s coffee.  Maggi gave me a Roughriders Road street sign which will hung at the cabin in the spring.  Wendy really struggled with depression this Christmas and shopping for me isn’t easy at the best of time but I was pretty happy with what I was given.  There was some confusion on what kind of fishing rod she was going to get but there is a lot of time between now and the start of fishing season.  The gift that I was the most happy with is my new passport holder.  I hate the one I have now and the leather one that she got me is nicer to travel with and a lot less dorky looking than my old one.

7:15 p.m. :: The Guitar Hero wars have begun.  Mark is beating Wendy quite badly right now.

8:00 p.m. :: Lee took Mark to his apartment for a night of playing PS3 and the Wii.  Mark grabbed his DS and Wendy and I had a far quieter house to ourselves. 

9:00 p.m. :: Wahooooooo! Notre Dame is actually winning a bowl game.  I need to sit down.  It’s a bottom feeder bowl game but the streak may be over soon.

10:00 p.m. :: I have to be up early Christmas morning for work, I am calling it a night.